the Hawaiian phrase for the the language of the people of
Hawai'i, which shares many similarities in pronunciation and
meaning with other Polynesian languages and dialects.
Hawaiian alphabet, devised by Protestant missionaries in the
19th century, uses 12 letters (a, e, h, i, k, l, m, n, o,
p, u, and w) plus two diacritical marks. At times, one
will see T in place of K; R in place of L; and B in place
of P. Examples: kalo = taro and kapu = tabu.
In English the diacritical marks are called a "glottal
stop" and a "macron." In Hawaiian, they
are called 'okina
and kahakô. They
are critical to both pronunciation and meaning.
'okina is a sound similar to what comes between uh and oh
when we say "uh-oh!". There is a hesitation
or catch that separates the two sounds so they are not blended
together. The 'okina is only used between vowels or
in front of a vowel at the beginning of a word, such as the
word 'okina itself.
kahakô is a straight line over a vowel, similar to that
used in English language dictionaries to represent a long
vowel sound. The long vowels in Hawaiian do not change
as strongly as in English, rather the sound is elongated or
lengthened -- ah becomes ahh, for example.
The Internet has posed a challenge because true fonts cannot
be read by most browsers. On this site we use a
^ (circumflex) for the "macron"
or kahakô and a ' is used to replace
the "glottal stop" or 'okina. If you will
be reading documents online using true Hawaiian fonts, you
them from here.
Diacriticals are not used
is not appropriate to use diacriticals when a Hawaiian word
has been anglicized. Hawaiian is a good example!
This is an English word and therefore Hawai`ian is INCORRECT.
The word for Native Hawaiian is Kanaka Maoli which does not
need to be capitalized in normal usage. Adding an
s or 's
also serves to anglicize the word because plurals and possessives
are not handled this way in the Hawaiian language.
and Using the Language
The resources on the Web for learning and using the Hawaiian
language seem to be expanding at an awesome rate. The very
best source for keeping up with what's new is the Hawaiian
Language Links page maintained by Sweet Lei.
are several online dictionaries. Coconut
Boyz Cyber Hawaiian Online Dictionary is the easiest
to access and uses Pukui and Elbert as a reference, bringing
5,000 entries to your fingertips. The Hawaiian Language Center
(Hale Kuamo`o) at the University of Hawai`i--Hilo also has
a searchable online dictionary, Mamaka
Kaiao, that is considered supplemental to the
Pukui and Elbert reference. Hawaiian fonts are needed
and can be downloaded from the site.
ability to include sound files online has greatly enhanced
the learning aids for pronunciation found at Hawaiian language
web sites. An excellent example is Native
Tongue, Hawaiian Glossary where you can hear how the
words should be pronounced by a native speaker, E. Kalani
Flores. Additional pronunciation resources: Hawaiian
Alphabet/Basic Vowel Sounds and Hawai`i
`Ôlelo Hopuna: Hawaiian Pronunciation.
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