continent vs. mainland

i just found this draft that i never posted…

so in my thesis, i regularly used mainland Hawaiians to act as the name of those Hawaiians who live in the continental United States.  I used the term mainland becuase this is how I’ve heard these Hawaiians described by Locals and mainland Hawaiians themelves.  It wasn’t until Spring Quarter of 2008 that I heard the term “continental Hawaiian” used in lieu of mainland Hawaiian.

part of the reasoning behind using continental Hawaiian instead of mainland Hawaiian is the connotations that come with the term mainland – as in the Main Land, making Hawai’i like a sub-land and not as good as the continent, where as the term continent is supposed to be more neutral and non-indicative of value judgments towards the ‘aina. at least thats how i’ve come to understand it.

i agree with the use of contient, but it just sounds so odd to me, especially as i’m writing my thesis.  For instance, normally I would have a sentence like: “Mainland Hawaiians do X”.  I don’t say Mainlander Hawaiians typically, but I can’t say Continent Hawaiians do X, i need to say Continental Hawaiians do X.  I’m not sure if its the pidgeon that makes me not say Mainlander or just my own poor grammar, but continental hawaiians sounds even weirder than mainlander hawaiians, although continental hawaiians is the proper grammatical use of the term.

i broached the idea of using the term continent instead of mainland with some diasporic Hawaiians i know and they near had a fit.  One made the point that Mainland implies the western U.S. whereas Continent implies the entire North American Continent, grouping in Canada and Mexico as well.  And I have to say that when I think of a mainland Hawaiian, i don’t usually include those in Canada and Mexico.  I would call those diasporic Hawaiians.  But do I now call them Continent Hawaiians?  Where does the term Continent Hawaiian stop?  I guess I keep it just to the US.  For instance, sales are often only for the “Continental United States” so really using the term implies Continental US and I’m just taking out the US part.

Theres a lot of implications for using both terms and although using Continent feels weird, i know that its only because its new and different, but better for the community as a whole.


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