[Ads-l] ohana = mother-in-law unit, 1981

Benjamin Barrett mail.barretts at GMAIL.COM
Sun Jan 24 08:47:04 UTC 2016

For the Hawaiian word ‘ohana, Wiktionary (https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/ʻohana <https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/%CA%BBohana>) says, "family, relative, group of kin group” and provides collocations meaning "extended family.”

About the English word ohana, Wiktionary (https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/ohana <https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/ohana>) says, "An extended Hawaiian family unit.”

According to Gary Okihiro's "Cane Fires: The Anti-Japanese Movement in Hawaii, 1865-1945” (http://bit.ly/1Qs7ojh <http://bit.ly/1Qs7ojh>, p. 3), the word derives from ‘oha, meaning taro root. Looking through the GB hits, it seems that the concept has undergone popularization from an earlier meaning for the ali’i.

In addition to meaning “family/familia/close friend,” the word “ohana” is today used to mean “mother-in law unit.” A search on Craig’s List in Hawaii under rentals (http://bit.ly/1PvaE8a <http://bit.ly/1PvaE8a>) for ohana yields rich results. (https://honolulu.craigslist.org <https://honolulu.craigslist.org/> in case my link becomes outdated.)

Evidently, the word appears in the 1887 "An English-Hawaiian Dictionary: With Various Useful Tables: Prepared for the Use of Hawaiian-English Schools” (http://bit.ly/1RGDR6r <http://bit.ly/1RGDR6r>).

1. 1940 (1970 reprint of the 1940 edition) - family/familia/close friend
http://bit.ly/1RGDY22 <http://bit.ly/1RGDY22>
Hawaiian Mythology
by Martha Warren Beckwith

Each such ruling chief represented a family group (ohana) claiming a divine ancestor of whom he was the oldest male of pure blood in direct descent, or lacking such, the female of highest rank, and through whom he inherited the land rights for his district, commanded the services of his relatives and hangers-on, and appointed hi heir at death.

2. 1991 - mother-in-law unit
http://bit.ly/1ScoT78 <http://bit.ly/1ScoT78>
Honolulu's Ohana Zoning Law: To Ohana or Not to Ohana
by Jody Lynn Kea

In 1981, the State of Hawaii enacted legislation requiring each county to amend their zoning ordinances to permit the construction of “ohana” dwelling units. The resulting “ohana zoning law” enabled qualifying property owners to build additional dwellings on their residentially zoned lots…. In 1982 the Honolulu City Council (City Council) amended the Comprehensive Zoning Code (C.Z.C.) to include an ohana zoning ordinance.

The current 1981 statute can be seen at http://1.usa.gov/1SFbmpY <http://1.usa.gov/1SFbmpY>.

3. 1997 - mother-in-law unit
http://bit.ly/1S2P1mE <http://bit.ly/1S2P1mE>
Home in the Islands: Housing and Social Change in the Pacific
by Jan Rensel, Margaret Rodman

In 1981, the Honolulu City Council passed a zoning regulation that borrowed from traditional Hawaiian living arrangements to allow for what is termed 'ohana housing: incorporating relatives into an existing structure or building an “ ‘accessory to the principal permitted single-family dwelling’ for extra residents” (Kea, 1991, 505)."

Benjamin Barrett
Formerly of Seattle, WA
The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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