About the Author
Here’s my abbreviated curriculum vitae. I’m an Emeritus Professor of Linguistics at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa (B.S., Purdue University; PhD, Cornell University).
In 1960–61 I did a survey of Fijian dialects, recording speakers from 105 different villages. In the 1970s, I served as the first Director of the Fijian Dictionary Project. My major works on Fijian are The Languages of Fiji (1972), The Fijian Language (1985), and Fijian Reference Grammar (2014).
I’ve also written about Hawaiian: The Voices of Eden: A History of Hawaiian Language Studies (1994), All about Hawaiian (1995), Things Hawaiian: Pocket Guide to the Language (1997), and (with Gary N. Kahāho‘omalu Kanada and Kenneth William Cook) Pocket Hawaiian Grammar (2005). In addition, I’ve studied and written about Nguna (a language in Vanuatu), Tongan, Samoan, and Māori.
This linguistic, bibliographic, and geographical span across the Pacific seems an unlikely history for someone who was reared on an Indiana farm, and counted 4-H and Future Farmers of America as important parts of his life, culminating in a Gold Medal in livestock judging at the American Royal Livestock Show in Kansas City! But that’s another story.
History of the Book
In 1967–68, Ratu Rusiate Komaitai and I developed the language materials for the first Fiji Peace Corps training program and recorded audio tapes to match the lessons. This text morphed into Spoken Fijian (University of Hawai‘i Press, 1971). Although the second edition has been out of print for some years now, I still occasionally get requests for Fijian instructional material, including tapes.
Say it in in Fijian has its own history. When I suggested the project to Pacific Publications Pty. Ltd. one of the managers responded “Well, I don’t have much faith in tourists as book buyers …” As it turned out, this prediction was far off the mark, proving that tourists can be faithful book buyers!
The book, which resulted in a tiny reputation in Fiji for its author, was always an excuse to visit most of the small bookstores on drives around Viti Levu. One occasion in particular sticks in my mind. A friend and I had stopped at Sigatoka for lunch, after which I was prepared to don my bookseller’s persona and check a nearby bookstore to see if it carried Say it in Fijian. Not only was the book prominently displayed, but the owner seemed pleased to meet an actual author. We were promptly invited to his living quarters and served tea and biscuits. This felt better, and was much more satisfying, than any large book-signing ever could have done.
Adding sound and pictures for the first e-book edition of Say it in Fijian has been an exciting and challenging experience. I’m sure that these new dimensions will greatly enhance every user’s experience with the book.