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State driver's license test will soon be available in Hawaiian

By Jennifer Sinco Kelleher / Associated Press

POSTED:
LAST UPDATED: 06:56 p.m. HST, Feb 14, 2014


Even though Hawaiian is one of the official languages of the state, local residents won't be able to take driver's license exams in the language until next month.

The state Department of Transportation is preparing to make Hawaiian an exam language at the end of March. It will be one of the few official transactions that can be conducted in Hawaiian.

In 2001, the state began offering the exam in several languages, including Tagalog, Japanese, Mandarin, Korean, Vietnamese, Samoan and Tongan. But those tests were no longer offered when new questions were added. It's not clear when the state stopped offering those translated tests.

But those languages will be reinstated, and others will be offered for the first time, department officials said. The new languages will be Ilocano, Spanish, Chuukese, Marshallese and Hawaiian.

It's not clear how the department's plans to offer the languages will affect an ongoing federal lawsuit claiming Hawaii discriminates against immigrants by only allowing driver's license tests to be taken in English.

"I will be thrilled if they ultimately do it," said Gavin Thornton, deputy director of Hawaii Appleseed Center for Law and Economic Justice, one of the organizations that filed the lawsuit in September. "But I don't have any confidence that we'll actually see something in March."

Thornton said lawyers defending the state against the lawsuit have suggested in court filings that allowing those who don't speak English to drive is dangerous.

"Issuing driver's licenses to persons unable to read and comprehend traffic control signs would clearly be irresponsible, and would place other motorists and pedestrians at risk from drivers unqualified to use a motor vehicle on public roads," the state attorney general's office argued in court papers.

DOT spokeswoman Caroline Sluyter said the department can't comment on pending litigation.

Making the translations available has been a goal for several years, said Clifton Harty, the department's acting civil rights coordinator. He said the department used Census data to help determine which languages to offer.

According to Census data, of about 1.2 million people in Hawaii, nearly 300,000 spoke a language other than English at home from 2006-08.

Translations of the written, multiple-choice exams are complete, and the department is finalizing details such as formatting, Harty said.

The process involved making sure the translations are accurate, especially because of some of the technical terms in the exam.

"We want to make sure these exams hold up and people can pass the exams," Harty said.

The translations cost the department about $6,980, Sluyter said, not including staff time.

Offering the translated exam is "very important for the local community," Harty said. He said including Hawaiian is especially important as a way to honor its status as an official language of the state.







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droid wrote:
The state attorney general's office is making a blanket assumption if it’s stating that simply by taking a driver’s test in one’s native language that it somehow means one cannot read ANY English at all. It’s amazing that whoever made that statement passed the bar — and obvious why the Honolulu Star-Advertiser gave no attribution.
on February 14,2014 | 02:44PM
GONEGOLFIN wrote:
They may want to consider translating pidgeon as well since so many on the comment board seem to only understand pidgeon.
on February 14,2014 | 02:47PM
hanalei395 wrote:
You may want to consider to use the spelling of your sarcasm in order to complete it.
on February 14,2014 | 03:39PM
GONEGOLFIN wrote:
You are correct. It woulda made more sense.
on February 14,2014 | 04:54PM
NanakuliBoss wrote:
Still missed it. Tap dancing.
on February 14,2014 | 06:07PM
Terii_Kelii wrote:
Your lack of orthographic prowess reflects your lack of enlightenment on the topic. Please, stick to golf.
on February 15,2014 | 04:14PM
bsbsbs wrote:
WHY?
on February 14,2014 | 02:48PM
Kumukai14 wrote:
thats cool. but who's going ot correct the exam. are they going to have someone on staff that speaks/understands it fluently..that would be awesome.
on February 14,2014 | 02:58PM
Ronin006 wrote:
Good point. Let’s face it, readers. Hawaiian is not the native language of anyone living in Hawaii, with the possible exception of people born, raised and living on Niihau. It is a learned language taught by people who also had to learn it in order to teach it.
on February 14,2014 | 04:18PM
hanalei395 wrote:
In Hawai'i, before Aug. 12, 1898, English was a foreign language.
on February 14,2014 | 05:02PM
hanalei395 wrote:
"Hawaiian is not the native language of anyone living in Hawaii" ......... What Rodin is trying to say, Hawai'i 'olelo is a foreign language in Hawai'i.
on February 14,2014 | 05:19PM
Ronin006 wrote:
The name is Ronin006. I am not saying Hawaiian is a foreign language in Hawaii. It is an official language in Hawaii. What I am saying is that Hawaiian is not the native language of anyone now living in Hawaii with the possible exception of those born, raised and living on Niihau. Native means the language spoken at birth and during formative years. Present day people who claim to be Native Hawaiian, most being of the Chop Suey kind, do not speak Hawaiian as their native language or even as a learned language and would fail miserably if they took the test in Hawaiian. Where am I wrong?
on February 14,2014 | 06:52PM
hanalei395 wrote:
"Hawaiian is not the native language" ........ Right off, those words were a turn-off.
on February 14,2014 | 07:22PM
Ronin006 wrote:
Read my definition of native language and then tell me the percentage of Hawaii residents that speaks Hawaiian as a native language. I am not referring to people who can say Aloha, mahalo, mauka, makai and such common Hawaiian words. Even visitors learn and use them quickly. I am talking about people whose first language is Hawaiian and who can converse intelligently in the language. I dare say they are few and far between.
on February 14,2014 | 08:53PM
hanalei395 wrote:
Don't worry about it.
on February 14,2014 | 09:03PM
Terii_Kelii wrote:
Do you mean like how your parents learned English in order to teach it to you? (Sadly, you still cannot use it properly anyway.)
on February 15,2014 | 04:38PM
Ronin006 wrote:
Let’s face it, readers. Hawaiian is not the native language of anyone living in Hawaii, with the possible exception of people born, raised and living on Niihau. It is a learned language taught by people who also had to learn it in order to teach it. But since the driver test soon will be given in the native Hawaiian language, I think that everyone who claims to be Native Hawaiian should be required to take the test in their native language and that licenses be revoked immediately for those who fail the test. What say you all?
on February 14,2014 | 04:12PM
Ronin006 wrote:
Hawaiian is not the native language of anyone living in Hawaii, with the possible exception of people born, raised and living on Niihau. It is a learned language taught by people who also had to learn it in order to teach it.
on February 14,2014 | 04:17PM
Ronin006 wrote:
Since the driver test soon will be given in the native Hawaiian language, I think that everyone who claims to be Native Hawaiian should be required to take the test in their native language and that licenses be revoked immediately for those who fail the test.
on February 14,2014 | 04:19PM
Kuokoa wrote:
Are they going to have all the road signs in Hawaiian too?
on February 14,2014 | 05:00PM
hanalei395 wrote:
Don't worry about it. Just remember these signs: "Kapu", "Wahine", "Kane", and you'll be all right.
on February 14,2014 | 05:40PM
NanakuliBoss wrote:
Funny hanalei. I remember during the 80s, McDonalds in Waikiki put "Mahalo" across their trash bin doors. After that when tourist bought things from a store the clerk would say "Mahalo" some thought they were being called "trash". Lol.
on February 14,2014 | 06:11PM
Ronin006 wrote:
I suppose that means petroglyphs etched in stone.
on February 14,2014 | 08:54PM
BourneHawaii wrote:
Talk about "moving forward a step and going backwards 10 steps". What next? Multi-lingual traffic signs? So, when one of these drivers runs a stop sign and kills someone, they can say, "Oh, I didn't understand the non-Hawaiian meaning of the sign." Then an attorney for the "Sovereign Nation of Hawaii" will claim that the driver is a victim of the State's failure to coddle a driver who's lack of competency in the English language placed the driver in their predicament. Who ever proposed this change has way too much time on their hands, because they're just wasting tax payers' money.
on February 14,2014 | 10:03PM
kuhioprince wrote:
Since Hawaiian is different from all the other additional languages (in that it is an OFFICIAL language of the state), doesn't it make sense to offer the road test in Hawaiian, too?
on February 14,2014 | 11:24PM
paulokada wrote:
I don't get it. Aren't the traffic signs in english? What's next Hawaiian traffic signs?
on February 14,2014 | 11:48PM
Terii_Kelii wrote:
Hawaiian language traffic signs??? Yes, please! Then, we can move on to Hawaiian language as a core requirement of all students K - 12.
on February 15,2014 | 05:03PM
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