‘Hammajang’ is now a word in the Oxford English Dictionary
The commonly used Hawaiian pidgin word meaning “all screwed up” will be included in 2019 dictionary revisions.
Be thrilled – you can now legitimately use the Pidgin Hawaiian words “hammajang” and “howzit” in your Scrabble game.
As part of the Oxford English Dictionary’s 90th anniversary celebrations, the respected reference last year asked the public for regional vocabulary suggestions, and the word ‘hammajang’, used in Pidgin to indicate that something is ‘all messed up, crooked or wobbly”, was proposed via Twitter.
In a blog post, Eleanor Maier, associate editor of the Oxford English Dictionary, noted that the word entered English via Hawaiian Creole.
“However, the origin of the Hawaiian Creole word is unknown; it may be related to the Hawaiian word hemahem meaning ‘inept’ and the Hawaiian Creole adjective wasteor ‘bad’,” she wrote.
“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 Autumn 1988 issue of Hawaii Review.”
And for the curious, the word “hammajang” is worth 24 points in Scrabble. Not bad!
The Oxford English Dictionary publishes four updates a year. The next update will be added to the dictionary in 2019. You can see the complete list of new word entries here.