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message 1: by Meri (new)

Meri Elena (merielena) | 2 comments I'm working on one of my books and was just giving a character a name, when I came across an unexpected problem that I'm just hoping against hope someone out here in the writerly world might have a solution to. Being a white person and all, I didn't realize that Hawaiians do not traditionally have surnames, or at least so the internet is telling me now that I'm trying to give a surname to a Hawaiian character. Family names were passed down and added onto during a person's lifetime, and the legal names that Hawaiian families carry now are still spiritually important, so it would be disrespectful to stick a real person's name onto my character.

However, I feel like it would also be a little disrespectful for the Hawaiian guy to be the only major character without a last name, soooo does anyone have any suggestions for building my own Hawaiian surname?


message 2: by Bonnie (new)

Bonnie Milani (bonniemilani) | 7 comments Meri wrote: "I'm working on one of my books and was just giving a character a name, when I came across an unexpected problem that I'm just hoping against hope someone out here in the writerly world might have a..."

Why not simply follow the rules you've laid out? Your characters take their names from their occupations (or family occupations). What's your name-hungry person do? What's his clan's trade? Find the Hawaiian word for that trade & voila! You've got a name.

Note, Hawaii is the most diversified population in the entire US. Most Hawaiians nowadays do indeed have family names - and those run the gamut from traditional Hawaiian to Japanese, Phillipino, Chinnese, to Smih & Jones....


message 3: by Timothy (last edited Aug 28, 2018 04:53PM) (new)

Timothy Jang | 2 comments It's probably a bad idea to make up a Hawaiian surname. Most people that live in Hawaii are mixed race nowadays. Finding somebody that is 100% native Hawaiian is pretty uncommon. My wife is from Hawaii and I've been there a bunch. If your story takes place in the present, you can use any Asian last name and you wouldn't offend anyone.


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