The shaka sign, sometimes known as "hang loose" is a gesture with friendly intent often associated with Hawaii and surf culture. It consists of extending the thumb and smallest finger while holding the three middle fingers curled, and gesturing in salutation while presenting the front or back of the hand; the wrist may be rotated back and forth for emphasis. The shaka sign is similar to the letter Y in the American manual alphabet in American Sign Language. The shaka sign should not be confused with the sign of the horns, where the index and pinky finger are extended and the thumb holds down the middle two fingers.

The "shaka" sign

Origins edit

A shaka sign foam finger used in Brian Schatz's 2014 Hawaii senatorial campaign

According to the Honolulu Star-Bulletin,[1] prevailing local lore credits the gesture to Hamana Kalili of Laie,[2] who lost the three middle fingers of his right hand while working at the Kahuku Sugar Mill. Kalili was then shifted to guarding the sugar train, and his all-clear wave of thumb and pinkie is said to have evolved into the shaka as children imitated the gesture.[3][4][5][6][7][8][unreliable source?][9][10]

Another theory relates the origin of the shaka to the Spanish immigrants, who folded their middle fingers and took their thumbs to their lips as a friendly gesture to represent sharing a drink with the natives they met in Hawaii.[11][12][13][14][15][16]

The late Lippy Espinda, a used car salesman and Oahu-based entertainer, has also been named as a possible creator of the shaka.[17][18] Espinda, who frequently appeared as an extra in Hawaii Five-O as well as The Brady Bunch episodes shot in Hawaii, used the term and the sign during his television ads in the '60s. Though the claim that he is the originator of the shaka sign is debatable, he is credited with increasing its popularity and that of Hawaiian Pidgin as well.[1] The shaka has achieved great popularity in Australia, primarily among teenagers on social media sites such as Instagram and Facebook.

The word shaka is also used as an interjection expressing approval, which may predate its use for the shaka sign. According to The Oxford English Dictionary the origin of the word is uncertain, but it may come from Japanese, where it is a byname for the Buddha.[19]

Meaning and use edit

Shaka Santa and Tutu Mele by Honolulu Hale
A skateboarder displaying the shaka sign while riding her longboard

Residents of Hawaii use the shaka to convey the "Aloha Spirit", a concept of friendship, understanding, compassion, and solidarity among the various ethnic cultures that reside in Hawaii, lacking a direct semantic to literal translation. Drivers will often use it on the road to communicate distant greetings along with gratitude.[citation needed]

In California, the shaka sign may be referred to as "hang loose" or "hang ten", both associated with surfer culture.[citation needed]

In coastal Brazil, the shaka sign, known as the "hang loose" (also derived from an eponymous clothing brand, which uses the shaka as a logo), is a common gesture. Ronaldinho usually celebrated the goals he scored by giving the crowd a double shaka. It is also associated with the Brazilian jiu jitsu community internationally.[citation needed]

There are several emoticon representations of the shaka sign, including \,,,/, \m/, and \,,,_. The earliest known use of the first two, with three commas or a lower case "m" corresponding to a hand's three middle fingers, is from 2006.[20] The last, similar to the first except that it represents the thumb extended horizontally (as if perpendicular to the wrist) is reported, together with the first form, from Brigham Young University in 2016.[21]

Similar gestures edit

Chinese number gestures edit

Chinese "six" gesture

The sign has some similarities to the Chinese number gesture for "six".

Beverages edit

The sign can also be used to indicate the imbibing of a bottled drink, either alcoholic or non-alcoholic, as attested to below, by placing the thumb to the mouth and motioning the little finger upward as if tipping up a bottle's bottom end. A similar meaning can be achieved by pressing the thumb up against the tip of the nose with the little finger raised upwards parallel to the bridge of the nose. It is referred to as "schooies" in Australia (Australian slang for a schooner)[22][23]

Telecommunications edit

"Call me" gesture

With the thumb held near the ear and the little finger pointed at the mouth, the gesture is commonly understood to mean "call me", as it resembles the handset of a traditional landline telephone.

The Unicode 9.0 emoji 🤙 "Call me hand"[24] can be interpreted as the shaka sign.

New Zealand gangs edit

In New Zealand, shaka sign is a gang salute for the Mongrel Mob.[25]

Austrian Leiwand edit

A similar gesture was common among criminals in Vienna in 1935, accompanying the word of approval or appreciation "Leiwand".[26]

Usage examples edit

Since 2015, fans of Brigham Young University (which has a satellite campus in Hawai'i and is also known colloquially as "the Y") have started using the gesture, in deference to newly hired Kalani Sitake, BYU's Polynesian head football coach, and because of its similarity with the letter Y in the American manual alphabet in American Sign Language. It is also used as a nod of respect to Hamana Kalili, a native Hawaiian Latter-day Saint who, according to locals, is the founder of the popular sign.[21]

Texas A&M - Corpus Christi in Corpus Christi, Texas uses the shaka as a gesture for students and faculty there. "Shakas up!" is often spoken when giving the shaka hand sign.

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ a b Watanabe, June (31 March 2002). "Wherever it came from, shaka sign part of Hawaii". Honolulu Star-Bulletin. Retrieved 13 January 2011.
  2. ^ "Honoring the Founder of the Shaka Hamana Kalili". This Week Hawaii. 16 June 2017.
  3. ^ "The Shaka". Polynesian Cultural Center. Archived from the original on 22 June 2011. Retrieved 13 January 2011.
  4. ^ "The history of the famous surfing shaka sign". SurferToday.
  5. ^ "Press Release: Polynesian Cultural Center's New Hukilau Marketplace Brings Back the Spirit of Old Laie". Archived from the original on 27 August 2017. Retrieved 27 August 2017.
  6. ^ Dylan Heyden (15 June 2016). "Everything You Wanted to Know About the History of the Shaka". The Inertia.
  7. ^ Joe Kukura (30 July 2015). "How Four Small-Town Oahu Natives Went on to Change the World". Polynesian Cultural Center.
  8. ^ A Tribute to Hamana Kalili. 28 July 2001. Archived from the original on 12 December 2021 – via YouTube.
  9. ^ Shawn Young (November 2008). "Shaka, Brah!". The Surfer's Journal. p. 135. via Shawn Young. "The Origin of the Shaka Sign".
  10. ^ "Hamana Kalili, Originator of the Shaka Sign". 24 March 2013.
  11. ^ "Hawaii's shaka symbol". Retrieved 23 October 2013.
  12. ^ Bob Krauss (25 September 2005). "Theorizing about birth of shaka". The Honolulu Advertiser.
  13. ^ "World-Famous Shaka Started By Hawaiian Latter-day Saint".
  14. ^ "The Origin of the "Shaka" Sign". Archived from the original on 22 February 2003.
  15. ^ Sean Reavis (18 March 2016). "The Shaka- History of the Hawaiian "Hang Loose"". Boarders. Archived from the original on 25 March 2016.
  16. ^ Céline Nguyen. "SURFIN' USA". Surf Library. See Appendix.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: postscript (link)
  17. ^ "The Funniest People in Hawaii". Honolulu Magazine. Retrieved 26 December 2014.
  18. ^ "Theorizing about birth of shaka". The Honolulu Advertiser. Retrieved 26 December 2014.
  19. ^ Katherine Connor Martin, Head of US Dictionaries (December 2016). "Release notes: Bama and shaka: how two local words went global". Oxford University Press. Retrieved 8 February 2021.
  20. ^ Geal, Alan (1 October 2006). "Aux armes · mottoes: clarere audere gaudere & ζητεῖν τὴν ἀλήθειαν". Retrieved 2 July 2016. an innocently hedonistic call of American West Coast youth in the 1960s, Surf's up! : \,,,/ or \m/ Hang loose!
  21. ^ a b Walker, Michael R. (Summer 2016). "World-Famous Shaka Started by Hawaiian Latter-day Saint". BYU Magazine. Retrieved 10 August 2016.
  22. ^ "Schooie". Slang Dictionary. Retrieved 25 July 2016. Australian Slang: schooner of beer
  23. ^ "Definition of Schooie". Babylon. Retrieved 25 July 2016. Australian Slang: schooner of beer
  24. ^ "U+1F919: CALL ME HAND" (PDF).
  25. ^ Newbold, Greg; Taonui, Rāwiri (12 November 2012). "Gangs – Māori gangs and Pacific youth gangs". Te Ara – The Encyclopedia of New Zealand.
  26. ^ "Ein Beitrag zur Sprache des Wiener Verbrechertums". Öffentliche Sicherheit. 15 (8): 32. 1935.

External links edit