Turning Every Stone

Posts tagged “language

Misunderstanding and Misuse

It is understandable (although not always true) that when traveling and doing touristy things, you may lead yourself to believe that you understand the people, culture, and language of where you are visiting after just a handful of days there. Millions of tourists visit Hawaii annually, and unfortunately, “learn” information that is usually regurgitated by a guide, concierge, server, or someone else without docent-type knowledge of Hawaiian culture. And because humans tend to teach how and what they’re taught, (mis)information is passed along in such a way.

Here, a well-meaning sales or marketing person at Cost Plus World Market in Lynwood, Washington, tried to capture some essence of Hawaii to hawk its goods (Photo Credit: Robyn Weber)



First, the erroneous spelling bugged me. Second, I assumed that he or she participated in a large scale dance to the Hukilau at a luau while on a trip to Hawaii, and got confused between the two. Third, I thought that it was a wonderful day for emailin’ the old Internet way.

I kept it short and respectful. After all, I have been a tourist before, and I am sure that I was ignorant about something while traveling–not that I am not ignorant at home. Anyway…. Here is what I wrote to World Market’s Customer Service Department:

It’s not exactly my experience, but a friend who was shopping at the Cost Plus World Market store in Lynnwood, WA, posted a picture on Instagram of signage near Hawaiian products. The sign states, “Are you hungry for a hu ke lau?” I just wanted to point out that 1) It should be spelled “hukilau” and that 2) the question makes almost zero sense, as a hukilau is a type of Hawaiian fishing technique. The products near the sign have nothing to do with fishing.


Thank you,



Fifteen minutes later, how great is this?! A response. A form letter nonetheless, but there is hope that someone learned something, and the sign will be corrected.