Windtalkers on Montlake?

Remember the movie 'Windtalkers'? Where Native Americans, who speak the ancient language of the Navajo, are sent to the Pacific Theater front lines in World War II to speak in code immune to Japanese code-breakers.

Now we also know that, when talking about football, each program uses it's own terminology to differentiate themselves from their opponents, with the idea that their own language couldn't be cracked.

But what if you were able to develop a sub-language, one that was so unique to the game that no one knew what you were talking about and you'd have no problems passing information back and forth along the lines of scrimmage? I'm not saying that pidgin is the answer, but with so many Polynesian players playing along the offensive and defensive lines at the University of Washington lately, could it perhaps be used in some shape or form as an actual tool?

"Me and Brandon (Ala) used to come up with some funny calls for some things, but we never did it in a game. Just practice," junior defensive end Daniel Te'o-Nesheim told Dawgman.com Wednesday.

Let's back up a little bit. What is Hawaiian pidgin? The Pidgin written language uses the English alphabet, but only has 12 letters: a, e, i, o, u, h, k, l, m, n, p, and w. The letters h, k, l, m, n, and p are pronounced as in English. When after i and e, w is pronounced as a v; when after a, u, and o, and at the beginning of a sentence, w is pronounced like the w in English. Hawaiian Pidgin is spoken by many people who live in Hawaii, but mostly by teenagers. The majority of the words and phrases are versions of English slang, with words from the other languages that make up Pidgin, making it sound like un-grammatical English.

An example of a shortened English phrases is no can (cannot), talk stink (speaking bad about someone), and wat doing? (what are you doing?). A Pidgin phrase that sounds like English with bad grammar is "If I come stay go, an you no stay come, wat foa I go?" ("If I come and you're not there, why should I go?") (www.extreme-hawaii.com). (The pronunciation and accent used in Hawaiian Pidgin is hard to detect in the spelling and written words).

The following is A Mother Goose nursery rhyme The Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe translated into Hawaiian Pidgin:

Dere waz one ol Tutu
Stay living in one slippa
She get choke kids
Planny braddahs and one sistah
She geev um lau lau
But no mo da poi
Den broke dere okoles
And sent dem moi moi

Vocabulary:
1. Tutu- grandmother
2. Slippa- sandals
3. Choke- a lot
4. Planny –plenty
5. Braddahs- brothers
6. Sistah- sister
7. Poi- a Hawaiian food made from taro plant
8. Okoles- butt
9. Moi Moi- sleep (www.extreme-hawaii.com)

Even though English is the language taught in the schools, the people of Hawaii today still speak their own Hawaiian Pidgin. Bookstores in Hawaii sell books that help tourists to understand Pidgin. These books have a list of vocabulary and also phrases that are said in Pidgin and their translation into Haole (Caucasians or foreigners, and anything pertaining to Caucasians including language). Although it is called pidgin, Hawaiian Pidgin has developed into a unique creole language.

And even though players from Hawai'i speak english first, Hawaiian Pidgin comes a close second. "We just hang out a lot, tell stories, get the pidgin talk going, where nobody understands," Washington defensive tackle Wilson Afoa told Dawgman.com Wednesday. "It makes you feel like you are already home."

New defensive end Kalani Aldrich, from the Big Island campus of the Kamehameha School, is another player that will break into pidgin now and again. "It's fun listening to Kalani, because when you first get off the island, your accent is really thick," Te'o-Nesheim said. He played on the Big Island as well, at Hawai'i Prep Academy. "And I think the Big Island is way thicker than Oahu.

Near where I went to school, there were people I couldn't understand."

The Husky Haoles have tried their best to get in with the pidgin talk, but all that does is crack up the islanders. "Jordan Reffett tries to bring out his little pidgin talk, and he's actually getting it a little bit," Afoa said. "But it's funny to hear it, because it just doesn't sound right."

But the question remains; could the Hawaiian players use Hawaiian Pidgin as a tool to communicate even more covertly along the defensive line than they already do? "Sometimes we try to think of something, but it's more inside stuff," said Te'o-Nesheim. "Me and Wilson (Afoa) could do that sometimes, because we play right next to each other.

"We could speak Samoan too, but I don't know it as well as Wilson does."

And even if the Hawaiian players got comfortable enough 'windtalking' on the line, would they ever actually break it out in a game? Te'o-Nesheim is skeptical.

"We'd have to get really comfortable with everything we have," he said. "We're just learning the playbook again and trying to fine-tune everything. Maybe when game week comes, we could think of something."


Dawgman.com Top Stories