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Hawaii pidgin word added to Oxford English Dictionary

February 7, 2019

HONOLULU (AP) — A Hawaii pidgin adjective for the phrase “messed up” has been listed in the Oxford English Dictionary.

The word hammajang was among the more than 600 new words and phrases added to the dictionary in December, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported this week.

Hammajang is defined as “in a disorderly or shambolic state.” The dictionary notes the word is used mainly as a predicative, such as “all hammajang.”

The dictionary last year requested people to submit words unique to their English-speaking areas as part of an effort to expand its regional vocabulary.

Hammajang was submitted through Twitter in April, where the user defined it as “all mixed up, askew, or wonky,” according to the dictionary’s blog post.

The word entered the English language through Hawaiian Creole, wrote Eleanor Maier, an associate editor of the Oxford English Dictionary.

The word’s origin is unknown, but it could be related to the Hawaiian word for inept, which is hemahema, Maier wrote. That was possibly combined with the Hawaiian Creole adjective junk, which means bad.

“The earliest example we have found so far in an English context is from the short story ‘My Friend Kammy’ by Gary Pak, which first appeared in the Fall 1988 issue of Hawaii Review,” Maier wrote.

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Information from: Honolulu Star-Advertiser, http://www.staradvertiser.com

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