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Why is the 4th unit so Christian-focused?

Just started the "polite expressions" unit, and every phrase in the first test was either Jesus be with you or God be with you. Is this actually really common in Hawaiian culture? Iʻve never heard it, even after watching a series of Hawaiian language lessons from Aha Pūnana Leo and I donʻt remember it from the language books I got at University of Hawaii at Hilo, either. It feels very offputting to me, but if itʻs genuinely an important part of Hawaiian culture to greet people with expressions of God and Jesus, Iʻd understand. If not, why does the course have a unit that emphasizes it so much? Can anyone tell me one way or the other?

January 22, 2020



Aloha e @Cos.. I also do not know why this is here. This is spoken in Hawaiian language Christian churches, but no, this is not common in day to day...and since there are also different religions in Hawaiian speaking communities including the traditional Hawaiian spiritual practice and religion mai ka wā kahiko mai... I am not sure why this is included. This to me is just the continuation of the colonizing force of what people decide should be the "main religion" for a specific culture (here it is Christianity) present on Duolingo. Duolingo should probably leave this section out if they are not going to represent it correctly and instead perpetuate a colonial tone through this form of language transmission.

Update ------ Or maybe they should just create a new section called Religious expressions; that way everyone knows whatʻs going on. But PLEASE just add one actual polite expression that is used in Hawaii to this section.


I agree that it would make sense to have a separate "Christianity" section somewhere in this course that could include these. It's just really weird that the "polite expressions" section, near the beginning of the course, is all about Christianity. And very offputting, too!


I have to say it was pretty off putting for me too. I speed through that turd chapter. I definitely don't think it is a polite thing to tell people that may not be Christian, "Jesus be with you.".. I'm no missionary and I have no desire to be one. It reeks of colonial oppression.

Hawaii does has a huge LDS presence so I get it. Doesn't mean I have to like it. The whole Polynesian culture center doesn't serve alchohol and you can very clearly see the morman presence there. BYU stinks up that whole side of O'ahu. I think they honey picked Polynesian culture to try to further justify LDS.

If anything it needs to be re titled Christian Expressions.


It's very weird. I've never had anyone, anywhere say 'Jesus be with you'. Not in Hawaii, and not in the American South where I was raised.


I am struggling with the same question. Of all the cultural aspects of Hawaiian one needs to know to be able to communicate Jesus is not what I would focus on. It feels oddly out of place in grammar lessons.


Aloha e @Zacaris, your intuition about it this spot on. For us Hawaiians, if you feel that something is off, then it is. The fact that so many people here are questioning this and feel that something is odd further confirms that there is a problem either in how the lesson was included, or the context in which it was included while other more culturally significant points have been left out.


Mahalo! I can only assume whoever in Duolingo has the job of overseeing the material in these lessons understands that Ke Akua pū is no more a common greeting in Hawaii as it is here where I live in Michigan but went ahead and OK'd it anyway which I find highly troublesome. Up to this point I've had no reason to question the material Duolingo presents but this section feels like it belongs in a Sunday school classroom, not a serious language course.


'Ae, mahalo nui no kou mau mana'o. Honestly DL has a very hands-off approach to portrayal of languages here. They basically okay anything community contributed (which is not a bad thing, but when the actual community does not have representation on the platform to guide it, then we have a problem). An additional facet here that the largely spoken languages do not suffer from, is the fact that the Hawaiian language community is not unified by a single standard language or in agreement on how Hawaiian can and should be taught on an online platform. There are many Kumu 'ōlelo who are trying it, but they are all quite different approaches. For most western languages the methods employed have not changed too much. Those that have new methods of teaching remotely can develop from a foundation that was already there (textbooks, grammar books etc.). Also, many people can "read into" or "guess" based on the context of drawing connections to their own languages (many times more readily available due to globalization and mixing of cultural values over time between many world cultures that have influenced a "similarity" in cultural norms expressed in language, or by being a part of the same language branch). I have seen Hawaiian lessons here on DL that go from a more formal written/grammatical structure in one lesson to very colloquial spoken Hawaiian in the next. Also, there are are some lessons that have grammar notes and others that don't; and some lessons with direct translations and others with modified translations that would fit what a western-minded English speaking audience would understand (without any explanation of the original cultural significance). Many of these issues the kūpuna and other Kumu 'ōlelo had perceived and is why they did not want to get involved. What you end up with here is something that gives you an introduction to a language, but is too incohesive to go much further than that. A case in point is the cultural portrayal of christianity in Hawaiian language. Although it does exist and is important to those who need it to be, christianity is by no means an integral part of Hawaiian language or even a very significant part. There are not enough Hawaiians or speakers of 'Ōlelo to be able to defend or educate everyone online; it's hard enough to do this within our own colonized communities in Hawaii. Mahalo hou iā 'oe for participating in this conversation ^_^

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