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"E ola loa me ka pōmaika‘i", or how to translate Spock's "Live Long and Prosper" into Hawaiian

December 8, 2009

You may perhaps call this an ultimate expression of dorkiness, but with the recent release of J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek on DVD, I have found myself wondering how to say some of the series classic lines ma ka ‘ōlelo Hawai‘i. While this may seem entirely purposeless, one way that the Hawaiian language will survive centuries into the future is for it to embrace pop culture and therefore make it its own. Futhermore, let me add that after I caught a student-dubbed version of the 90s cult classic To Wong Foo earlier this year at UH-Mānoa, I can’t imagine Huaka‘i Hōkū, or Star Trek, would do any harm.

Of all Star Trek’s one liners, my favorite by far is Spock’s classic farewell greeting, “Live long and prosper”. As farewells go, it’s hard to be the positivity in this one, at least, in my opinion.

Going through the Hawaiian Dictionary, I thought the word pōmaika‘i would be best as it conveys multiple eyes I think Spock would approve of: “Good fortune, blessedness, blessing, profit, prosperity; prosperous, fortunate, beneficial, blessed, lucky; good luck, improvement (of property), welfare, benefits”.

It felt strange to just say “E ola loa a pōmaika‘i”. So I went ahead with “E ola loa me ka pōmaika‘i!”, which would reverse translate along the lines of “Live long with prosperity or good fortune”.

There is the secondary greeting that Star Trek’s Vulcans have used, probably not to sound redundant: “Peace and long life”. For this one, I went for a similar phrase as the one above: “E ola loa me ka maluhia.”

On a more humorous note, there is the plethora of Dr. Leonard McCoy’s “Dammit, Jim! I’m a doctor, not a….”

I took the oft repeated “I’m a doctor, not an engineer”, an added a few emphatic phrases for extra oomph. What I arrived at was “Tsa! He kauka nō au! ‘A‘ole ho‘i au he wilikī!”

Of course, I am not a professional translator and my Hawaiian skills are not necessarily the best, so if you have a better translation, let me know. This is always something to pass onto the lexicon commitee!

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