The Mashed Radish will be off the next week or so. I’m happy to be celebrating a family wedding on the island of Maui in Hawaii. Technically, that’s in Maui County, which seems like such an incongruous thing to say. One just does not associates islands with counties.
Aloha–which, in English, has come to be used as a greeting and a valediction–is Hawaiian for “love,” “compassion,” “affection,” “peace,” or “mercy.” It is cognate to the Maori aroha, and linguists have posited the Proto-Polynesian *qarofa as its yet older ancestor. Proto-Polynesian: I don’t get to type that every day.
As far as I can tell, only Hawaii has an official state language other than English–Hawaiian, of course, which impresses me with its economical eight consonantal phonemes. But that’s sounds a bit patronizing, don’t you think? A language does what it needs to do. As W.P. Marshall wrote in Afloat on the Pacific in 1876:
Every one replied to my salutation of ‘aloha oe’ with a pleasant smile;…those two words were about all the Hawaiian I knew.
Here’s to less Proto-Indo-European and more Proto-Polynesian.
m ∫ r ∫