‘Hammajang’ added to Oxford English Dictionary
  • Tuesday, February 19, 2019
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‘Hammajang’ added to Oxford English Dictionary

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Hammajang, a Hawaii pidgin term for messed up, is now listed as an adjective to the Oxford English Dictionary.

It is one of more than 600 new words, senses and phrases added to the dictionary in December, along with Burkini, hashtagging and “to drain the swamp.”

It is defined as: “in a disorderly or shambolic state; messed up.” The dictionary notes it is used chiefly as a predicative, especially as “all hammajang.”

The suggestion for the addition of the word came about last year, when Oxford English Dictionary started making public appeals to expand its regional vocabulary in celebration of its 90th birthday. Oxford asked members of the public to submit words particular to their English-speaking region as part of a “words where you are” campaign.

An Oxford blog post says hammajang was suggested via Twitter, where a user described it as meaning all mixed up, askew, or wonky. On e-hawaii.com’s Pidgin dictionary, hammajang is defined as “messed up; criss-cross.”

In the post, Oxford English Dictionary associate editor Eleanor Maier noted the word entered English via Hawaiian Creole. She added that the origin of the Hawaiian Creole word was unknown, but may be related to the Hawaiian word “hemahema,” which means inept, combined with the Hawaiian Creole adjective “junk,” which means bad.

“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 Fall 1988 issue of Hawaii Review,” she wrote.

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