Slack key: today’s lesson in Hawaiian tone

Honolulu Star-Advertiser, August 16, 2013, page A9:


On the island of Hawaii, where slow-moving lava flows have been affecting the real estate market continuously since 1983, a flow will sometimes divert itself around both sides of something in its path, leaving a little area untouched in the middle of the new black rock. This little island of green is called a kipuka. It usually doesn’t remain undevastated for long.

When I think of the word oasis, the image that comes to mind is of a man scrabbling at a tiny flow of muddy water in the middle of an ocean of sand. Cue the music from Lawrence of Arabia.

In this context, what does sheltered mean? I’m not sure, but I think it’s intended to co-connote in tandem with gated. The only poetic problem with that is an unstable relationship among sheltered, oasiscommunity, charming, and gated. The differing ranges of tones around the words create a disharmony. Something in the paragraph feels unresolved.  Nurse Ratched, you’re wanted on the emerald green fairway.

Below the fold is one more term to be glossed: the location of this kipuka, Ewa Beach. Ewa Beach (the first word is pronounced “evva”) is a small town on the Waianae coast of Hawaii’s urban island, Oahu. Distant from the centrality of Hawaii’s tourist economy in every way, it’s uneducated, impoverished, high-crime. It’s to distant zones like Ewa Beach that Hawaii’s Hawaiian people have been relegated.

Listen for the words, therefore. On the streets of Ewa Beach you may be able to hear the Hawaiian language spoken. All you’d have to do is venture beyond the gate.