Why Oh Wai Oh Waiwai?

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Akaka Falls, Hawaii

As I waited in my cardiologist’s lobby to be called in for test results today, I flipped through one of the many copies of National Geographic that typically lay on my coffee table unread. I was struck by a commentary on living in Hawaii pre-Western days. The author noted that wai was the word for water while waiwai was the word for wealth.

In other words, he who owned or controlled water sources was also someone who enjoyed the perks that come with abundance, in this case, of nature’s number-one natural resource as it relates to raising and reaping. Nowadays, that resource is generally controlled by government agencies or by semi-government entities on the dole.

The rest of us are expected to shift parts of our wealth to that agency or entity so we can hydrate, bathe and irrigate.

When I receive my monthly water bill, my expression is usually “why oh why” has the cost doubled in ten years even as I’ve halved my usage from adequate to subsistence.

Categories: Grammar Notes Legal

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