Monday, August 10, 2009


To keep asking questions; inquisitive, curious, plying with frivolous questions.

In relation to last week's word, mahaʻoi, we have its trusty companion, nīele. I received a few emails wanting clarification.

I know if you were raised in Hawaiʻi, youʻve heard this word. Heck, I would put money that it was directed at you! What child was not called nīele by their parents, grandparents, or siblings? Gee, my mom still calls me nīele at times! Whereas mahaʻoi refers to boldness or rudeness, nīele is just plain old inquisitive. Too many questions. And not very thoughtful (as in taking the time to really think about it first before asking) ones at that. In Hawaiian style, when learning something new, the rule of thumb is to watch, listen and keep your mouth shut. Nānā ka maka, hoʻolohe ka pepeiao, paʻa ka waha. And that is how you learn. You do not learn by talking all the time, asking frivolous questions because what that really means is that you are not paying attention! If someone calls you nīele it means that you are asking too many unnecessary questions and not paying close enough attention.

He keiki nīele ʻoe - You are an inquisitive child.

Nīele kēlā wahine - That woman is full of questions.

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