Duolingo has joined the plight to make Hawaiian more widely spoken by adding the language to its app, reminding us that Hawaiians do have a language of their own.
If you have ever visited the great state of Hawaii, you'll know that it's easy to forget that it is even a part of the United States. The group of islands is almost 2,500 miles away from its closest neighbor state, California. It has also been voted the happiest state in America. Unsurprising, since it is basically paradise.
Something else that sets Hawaii apart from other US states, and something not a lot of people know, is that it has its own language. Yes, everyone knows that in Hawaii, people say "aloha" rather than "hello", but it used to extend beyond just that. Unfortunately, since English has also become an official language in the state, Hawaiian has fallen by the wayside.
That is something the Hawaiian people have been trying to reverse for a while, and now Duolingo is on board. Duolingo is an app that allows users to learn another language without going through the process of taking classes, which honestly can be very time and money consuming. As of August 2018, Duolingo boasted 37 new different languages on its app, and on October 8th of this year, it added Hawaiian to that list. The language was added on that day to coincide with Indigenous People's Day.
Considering the limited amount of people that speak Hawaiian in the present day, creating a course based around the language was no easy task. Duolingo worked with a team of bilingual Hawaiian language specialists, as reported by Travel + Leisure. The hope is that Duolingo's contribution will further the efforts of native Hawaiians to make the language as widely spoken in the state as English, just like it used to be 200 years ago.
Despite all of the work done to bring Hawaiian back to the islands, it is still estimated that only 0.1% of the state's population are native speakers. There are clearly steps being put in place to change that though, and not just by Duolingo. There have been Hawaiian language immersion pre-schools in place since 1984, the first students of which are now adults who have graduated college. It may still be considered an endangered language by UNESCO, but all signs currently point to Hawaiian making a comeback.