Many words in use in the Bonins even in the late twentieth century are thought to be derived from the contact with Pacific Island languages that occurred from the 1830s until the end of the nineteenth century. Today these lexemes are used not only in the English of the Bonins, but in Ogasawara Japanese and the Ogasawara Mixed Language as well. Hawaiian words form the majority of the Oceanic-language words we find in the Bonins. Since Polynesian migration to the islands occurred only in the early history of the settlement, it seems clear that most of these words came to the island during the first half of the nineteenth century.
I’ll list some of the most straightforward examples, where the meanings and the sounds correspond most closely. The following list presents the Hawaiian word first, then its various derivatives in the Bonins, where the pronunciation has been influenced not just by Japanese and English phonology (and the lack of orthographic standards), but by varieties of Hawaiian that are now nonstandard (for instance, those that retained t in place of King Kamehameha’s k).
- Haw. kamani, tamani ‘hardwood tree, Calophyllum inophylum’ > Bonin tamana, tamena, tremana
- Haw. lahaina ‘type of sugarcane’ > Bonin rahaina ‘sugarcane’
- Haw. lau hala ‘pandanus leaf’ > Bonin rawara, rawarawa, rauhara, rowara, rohara, roharo, rūwara, rohawo, lohala ‘pandanus tree’
- Haw. moe ‘sleep’ > Bonin moe-moe, moi-moi ‘sex, copulation’
- Haw. puhi ‘moray eel’ > Bonin puhi
- Haw. uhu ‘parrotfish’ > Bonin ūfū, uhu
- Haw. wiliwili ‘leguminous tree, Erythrina sandwicensis’ > Bonin biide-biide, bari-bari, uri-uri, ude-ude ‘Erythrina boninensis’