Is dat dog you’re eating? Mock Filipino, Hawai‘i Creole, and local elitism

Mie Hiramoto


This paper explores both racial and socioeconomic classification through language use as a means of membership categorization among locals in Hawai‘i. Analysis of the data focuses on some of the most obvious representations of language ideology, namely, ethnic jokes and local vernacular. Ideological constructions concerning two types of Filipino populations, local Filipinos and immigrant Filipinos, the latter often derisively referred to as “Fresh off the Boat (FOB)” are performed differently in ethnic jokes by local Filipino comedians. Scholars report that the use of mock language often functions as a racialized categorization marker; however, observations on the use of Mock Filipino in this study suggest that the classification as local or immigrant goes beyond race, and that the differences between the two categories of Filipinos observed here are better represented in terms of social status. First generation Filipino immigrants established diaspora communities in Hawai‘i from the plantation time and they slowly merged with other groups in the area. As a result, the immigrants’ children integrated themselves into the local community; at this point, their children considered themselves to be members of this new homeland, newly established locals who no longer belonged to their ancestors’ country. Thus, the local population, though of the same race with the new immigrants, act as racists against people of their own race in the comedy performances.

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