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Thread: What does "hapa" mean?

  1. #1
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    Default What does "hapa" mean?

    When I was growing up, my Filipino dad used to refer to me as "hapa." In our predominantly white community, most people who saw me assumed both my parents were Filipino, but my mother was white. "Hapa" was the word Dad used to explain my bi-ethnicity.

    I came across a website recently that suggests the word "hapa" has a very specific meaning--half-Hawaiian, half-something else. In this case, my dad would have been incorrect in applying the term to us.

    What's correct? Do most people simply say "mixed" or "half-_____/half-______"? Is Pukui's definition outdated? Does "hapa" have a different meaning than it did, say, 50-, 100 years ago?
    ~'Ailina

  2. #2
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    Default Re: What does "hapa" mean?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ailina
    When I was growing up, my Filipino dad used to refer to me as "hapa." In our predominantly white community, most people who saw me assumed both my parents were Filipino, but my mother was white. "Hapa" was the word Dad used to explain my bi-ethnicity.

    I came across a website recently that suggests the word "hapa" has a very specific meaning--half-Hawaiian, half-something else. In this case, my dad would have been incorrect in applying the term to us.

    What's correct? Do most people simply say "mixed" or "half-_____/half-______"? Is Pukui's definition outdated? Does "hapa" have a different meaning than it did, say, 50-, 100 years ago?


    Like many Hawaiian words it can have many meanings. According to the context.

    all meexem up insai
    is one.
    Half Hawaiian half anyting else,
    anodda one.
    part Hawaiian, most erryting else,
    anodda def.

    many races in one
    still anodda.


    and more:
    Of mixed blood.
    part Hawaiian
    Portion, fragment, part, fraction...

    If they say
    mixed,
    they from da mainland.
    dey say "hapa", they either like go se sum good kine Hawaiian contemporary music wit two bruddahs, or they steh local, describing da koko.

    Pukui never outdated. If you think it's outdated, straighten up, fly right and study it more and help prevent mainland influence and slang from watering down pidgin and/or island language.
    Last edited by kimo55; April 19th, 2005 at 11:08 AM.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: What does "hapa" mean?

    "Hapa" is a Hawaiianization of the English word "half", and yes, it was originally used to mean half-Hawaiian and half-haole. Usually it was used as part of the term "hapa-haole".

    The Asian-American community has picked up the term "hapa" and uses it to mean part-Asian, part something else, usually white, although I have heard it used to mean Asian-black mixes as well. This has become a really popular meaning on the mainland, where they are trying to find a term that's less derogatory than "half-breed" or "mutt" to describe themselves.

    Sometimes people confuse "hapa" with the Japanese term "hafu", which also derives from the same English word but specifically means part-Japanese. This one comes straight from Japan, and as far as I can tell isn't in common use in Hawai'i.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: What does "hapa" mean?

    Mahalo, Kimo & Glen, for answering my question. The website I saw suggested the use of "hapa" in any other context other than meaning "half-Hawaiian + half-something else" was disrespectful and ignorant. It got me wondering if I should discontinue using the term "hapa" to describe myself and my siblings.

    I don't personally view Pukui as outdated. To me, the text is "gospel"; I rely on it almost exclusively. I do get confused when I see websites--like the one I mentioned--that seem to conflict with Pukui.
    ~'Ailina

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    Default Re: What does "hapa" mean?

    Boy, they do sound angry, don't they.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: What does "hapa" mean?

    Oh boy. I've witnessed some serious trainwrecks linked to that group. See also Wannabe Hawaiians, which hunts down people declaring themselves of Hawaiian ancestry online and declares them fake unless they state their geneology. There was a bit of a kerfuffle in the hapa community at LiveJournal... it's been debated in USENET as well.

    "Read the dictionary!" is the cry. My Pukui/Elbert says:
    hapa. 1. nvs. Portion, fragment, part, fraction, installment; to be partial, less. (Eng. half.) Cf. hapahā, hapalua, etc. Ka `ike hapa, limited knowledge. Ua hapa nā hae, the flags are at half-mast. ho`o.haa. To lessen, diminish. 2. nvs. Of mixed blood, person of mixed blood, as hapa Hawai`i, part Hawaiian.
    Given the primary definition, and the secondary one which notes that "hapa Hawai`i" means half Hawaiian, I think one can use "hapa" to describe any mixed-race individual, part Hawaiian or not.

    I can see where they're coming from, what with Hawaiian lineage once being something to be ashamed of or attacked for. But the word "hapa" has been adopted in good faith, as far as I'm concerned, by a community that is itself also struggling with issues of identity and prejudice. Soon enough, everyone will be hapa, but until then, it's a label I see being used with pride.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: What does "hapa" mean?

    Half-breed, shunned by both sides. Unless your name is Trask

  8. #8
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    Default Re: What does "hapa" mean?

    it's a nickname for that old 50's era cowboy.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: What does "hapa" mean?

    Quote Originally Posted by pzarquon
    Oh boy. I've witnessed some serious trainwrecks.... Wannabe Hawaiians


    Oh.
    "Watanabe Hawaiian"

    yea, that would be "hapa".

  10. #10
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    Default Re: What does "hapa" mean?

    Actually I don't declare myself to be Hawaiian at all. That would be disgraceful. What I do dislike are those Hapa Haoles that proclaim their lineage to the Hawaiian culture yet hate the lineage from their other half.

    I'm 100% Japanese born and raised in Hawaii. My kids are part Hawaiian from my wife.

    I've never "felt" the anguish of the Hawaiian and in another post I've even said so in due respect to their plight. Being Kanaka Maoli is a birth right, being of Hawaiian spirit is something that grows within you and has nothing to do with being a wannabe. I'm local and there's nothing wannabe about that. I am true to the lifestyle and don't have to hide behind some fake pidgin talk to understand it cuz braddah I wen grow up keiki time talking la dat.

    That's being local, not Hawaiian or Hawaiian wannabe. What's sad is when you see Hawaiians trying to act black or Jawaiian. Wassup with that, now that's messed up.

    Hawaiian wannabe, no way. Local...cuz das what I am braddah and proud of it. And being local no mean restricted to color or race. Oops sorry Kimo we're not brothers. I didn't want to imply my relation to you in the cultural sense. It was...a figure of speech. Jus ask Don Ho: Hey Braddah!
    Last edited by craigwatanabe; April 22nd, 2005 at 05:05 PM.

  11. #11
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    Default Re: What does "hapa" mean?

    no, wasn't saying YOU were.
    wannabe
    watanabe.
    joke.
    this time really.
    No relation to you.
    like that delima song.

  12. #12
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    Default Re: What does "hapa" mean?

    I'm cool with that Kimo it's ironic though that I know more about the Hawaiian culture than I do of my own ethnicity, Japanese.DOH!!!

  13. #13

    Default Re: What does "hapa" mean?

    i had a neighbor back in 2nd grade. She was in 6th grade of course. she was hella fine, half chinese mandariin and half white. Her moms was chinese and pops white. Anyway, peeps call them hapa. so nowadays, whenever is hear hapa, i always think of her. It's gotta be a fine azz grill. then again, there are some fugly hapa's too. yall either turn out hella fine, or fugly. Usually when the moms is asian the kid turns out good, weird huh. As far as the cultural and prejudice side, i can care less, cuz hapa means fine azz girl in my book. So it's a good thing.

  14. #14
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    Default Re: What does "hapa" mean?

    interesting thread. I always related hapa to being half usually haole. I can now say I'm hafu dis, hafu dat

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    Default Re: What does "hapa" mean?

    Quote Originally Posted by BZB
    i had a neighbor back in 2nd grade. She was in 6th grade of course. she was hella fine, half chinese mandariin and half white. Her moms was chinese and pops white. Anyway, peeps call them hapa. so nowadays, whenever is hear hapa, i always think of her. It's gotta be a fine azz grill. then again, there are some fugly hapa's too. yall either turn out hella fine, or fugly. Usually when the moms is asian the kid turns out good, weird huh. As far as the cultural and prejudice side, i can care less, cuz hapa means fine azz girl in my book. So it's a good thing.
    What the hell are you talking about? Are you writing in English? And what's a "fine azz grill" anyway?

  16. #16
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    Default Re: What does "hapa" mean?

    Being Hapa
    JCCH Fifth Floor, Lounge
    Tuesday, June 7, 5:30 p.m. – 7 p.m.

    How do you define being hapa in Hawai‘i? Does being an ethnically blended individual influence your identity? What are the positive and negative aspects growing up hapa in Hawai‘i? And finally, how do we parent our hapa children to encourage awareness, responsibility and fulfillment forming their own identities? The Japanese Cultural Center of Hawai‘i (JCCH) will raise these and other questions relating to ethnic identity in its public forum, Being Hapa. This informal discussion—the third in the JCCH’s Japanese American Social Issues Series in Hawai‘i—will focus on the Japanese American multiethnic experience in Hawai‘i. Attendees are encouraged to participate in the informal discussion. Admission is free.
    There's a little more information here.

    I'm going. Anyone wanna meet at Bubbies afterward to discuss?
    Last edited by scrivener; June 2nd, 2005 at 04:46 PM.
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    Default Re: What does "hapa" mean?

    Hi, Scrivener. Of course, I won't be able to attend the discussion because I'm here in Louisiana, but I am intensely interested. Do you know who I could contact about getting an audio or video of the meeting? Maybe a transcript?
    ~'Ailina

  18. #18
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    Default Re: What does "hapa" mean?

    I'll find out Tuesday night. Please p/mail me if I forget to post the info. Thanks!
    But I'm disturbed! I'm depressed! I'm inadequate! I GOT IT ALL! (George Costanza)
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  19. #19
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    Default Re: What does "hapa" mean?

    Quote Originally Posted by scrivener
    How do you define being hapa in Hawai‘i? Does being an ethnically blended individual influence your identity? What are the positive and negative aspects growing up hapa in Hawai‘i? And finally, how do we parent our hapa children to encourage awareness, responsibility and fulfillment forming their own identities?
    I wonder about having a conversation like this in Hawai'i, where so many people are of mixed ethnicities. Unlike in most parts of America, it's not like it's an anomaly here to have ancestors from vastly divergent backgrounds. To the contrary: in high school, I was one of the odd ones in my gang of friends for being "pure" Japanese rather than some kind of mix like most of them were.

  20. #20
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    Default Re: What does "hapa" mean?

    Quote Originally Posted by Glen Miyashiro
    I was one of the odd ones in my gang of friends for being "pure" Japanese rather than some kind of mix like most of them were.
    That's interesting. Among my current friends, I am one of three (out of maybe fifteen or so) who are of mixed ethnicity. When we plan get-togethers, I often say to one of the other hapas, "Now that we have this organized, let's call everyone. You call the haoles, I'll call the asians." It works out to about half-half. In my high school class of eighty, I can think of four of us who were half asian, half caucasian. There were a few more of mixed asian ethnicities. I'm going to have to grab my senior yearbook and count.
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  21. #21

    Default Hapa haole pride takes hold on Mainland

    Interesting story in today's LA Times about the recognition of "hapa" culture on the Mainland. Lucky you live in Hawai'i, where people of mixed ethnicities are more prevalent and common and that really really good looking person who walks by more than likely is a "Heinz 57" mixture of Asian plus lots of other things.

    Miulang

  22. #22
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    Default Re: Hapa haole pride takes hold on Mainland

    Another instance of ignorant mainlanders jacking something from Hawaiian culture...

    If you're gonna call yourself hapa, you should be part Native Hawaiian.

    If you're Japanese and Irish (or whatever other mix), you ain't hapa. You're bi-racial, mixed race, whatever... but you ain't hapa.

  23. #23
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    Default Re: Hapa haole pride takes hold on Mainland

    Previously discussed here.

    There are, indeed, those that feel strongly that the word "hapa," generally translated as "half," shouldn't be used generically to mean any bi-racial or multi-racial mix, but only when one of those parts is kanaka maoli.

    I'm not one of those people. Though I'm glad to say my kids are hapa by either the narrow or inclusive definition!

    I'm basically happy another Hawaiian word is making its way into American culture... though I guess whether it's "jacking" or naturally "adopting" in the linguistic sense depends on one's point of view! (Pity what happened to "kahuna," eh, Kimo?) I'm also heartened to see that multiracial families are something to cherish and explore, rather than something to be ashamed of.

  24. #24
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    Default Re: Hapa haole pride takes hold on Mainland

    the article is headed:
    "perceptions of a multiracial group historically made to feel like outsiders."
    another whiney irresponsible lil cult trying to blame the world for its plight by approiating an unrealted 'exotic' sounding word for their own warped ends.

    again. these crybabies missed the week when schooling taught them that eleanor roosevelt quote. and what it meant.

    I don't see the word as generally translated as half. otherwise we would say at morning coffee:
    "pass me the hapa hapa..."
    It is part of our culture; we know it as meaning mixed islander koko; part Hawaiian, part something else.

    a few years from now, we just may say:
    "Pity what happened to the word "hapa", eh?!"
    Last edited by kimo55; July 16th, 2006 at 09:19 PM.

  25. #25

    Default Re: Hapa haole pride takes hold on Mainland

    Arriving on the Big Island for my high school years, I was informed by my classmates, most of whom were mostly Hawaiian/Hawaiian mix (e.g., Kanaka Maoli), that I am hapa. Some would specify, "Hapa Japanese," but it was THEY who labeled me hapa.

    I have heard hapa MOSTLY used, to refer to those of Japanese/Caucasian ethnicity.

    I was told by a Japanese national, during a high-school exchange trip to Japan, that using the word "hanbun" (half) in Japanese, was NOT a good way to refer to myself, as it had a negative connotation. "Hah-fu" (Americanized pronunciation of the word HALF, was preferred, he said.
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