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Webinar: Talking Story wit da Pidgin Guerilla, Lee Tonouchi

Thursday, April 20, 2023
3:00 PM - 4:00 PM (EDT)

Event Details

In this webinar, a panel of Pidgin scholars and supporters will ask Lee Tonouchi to share some of his experiences as a Pidgin speaker, writer, and advocate in Hawaiʻi. He will read some of his creative works related to the attitudes and views about Pidgin that circulate in the islands, and he will be invited to share examples of his many experiences advocating for Pidgin as well as how he uses Pidgin in all kine contexts. The panel will invite Lee to talk story about his experiences as the editor of Da Kine Dictionary, a grassroots Pidgin dictionary, and as a court expert for a case about the Pidgin word "ono". He will share his views on changing perspectives on Pidgin in Hawaiʻi and the role of scholars, writers, educators, and everyday people in dismantling myths and promoting better understandings about Pidgin and other marginalized languages.


Lee Tonouchi is a passionate language advocate in Hawaiʻi, where he is known as “Da Pidgin Guerilla” due to his support for the use of Pidgin, the creole language of Hawaiʻi.

Lee has published five books in Pidgin which not only tell engaging, humorous, and poignant stories, but which also invite readers to deeply reflect on the role of Pidgin and its treatment in society by families, teachers, naysayers, and people in power. His first book, Da Word (2001) was a collection of his short stories, including a story about his own revelation that Pidgin is often not considered a language by many people since its words cannot be found in a (English) dictionary, an oft-cited (and misguided) source of linguistic authority.

Lee is an accomplished writer, public speaker, community activist, and educator. Above all, he is a warrior for Pidgin speakers. In Hawaiʻi, as in many creole contexts, Pidgin has been positioned as a form of “broken English” and as a language of the working class that keeps people from climbing the socioeconomic ladder. Lee has worked to challenge this deficit view of Pidgin head on, through articulating wisdom and wit in Pidgin in his writing and public engagements.