Can texting teens save a threatened Hawaiian language?

To stay alive, languages must be used. It helps if they are hip, too, says Amy Kalili, a native Hawaiian.

Six decades ago, Hawaii’s native tongue was close to vanishing with only a few dozen youngsters left speaking it.

Scared of losing their lingo, islanders led a “cultural renaissance” in the 1970s and 1980s by teaching children the dying tongue, Kalili said. Nowadays, schools educate 3,000 students a year in Hawaiian. But to cement these gains it must keep up with the times.

“For languages to survive, kids have to speak it. Therefore it needs to be cool. They have to be jazzed about it,” Kalili, 44, told Al Jazeera.

“They have to see it on television and use it on their iPhones and computers. It’s important for their psyche that they speak a language of capacity.”

Read more: Al Jazeera

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