Hawaiian language

Hawaiian language
ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi
Spoken in Hawaiʻi: concentrated on Niʻihau and Hawaiʻi, but speakers throughout the Hawaiian Islands and the U.S. mainland
Ethnicity Native Hawaiians
Native speakers 2,000 (1997)[1] to 27,200  (2005)[2]
Language family
Writing system Latin (Hawaiian alphabet)
Official status
Regulated by No official regulation
Language codes
ISO 639-2 haw
ISO 639-3 haw

The Hawaiian language (Hawaiian: ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi)[3] is a Polynesian language that takes its name from Hawaiʻi, the largest island in the tropical North Pacific archipelago where it developed. Hawaiian, along with English, is an official language of the state of Hawaii. King Kamehameha III established the first Hawaiian-language constitution in 1839 and 1840.

For various reasons, including Territorial legislation banning the language in schools, the number of native speakers of Hawaiian gradually decreased during the period from the 1830s to the 1950s. Hawaiian was essentially displaced by English on six of the seven inhabited islands. As of 2001, native speakers of Hawaiian amount to under 0.1% of the statewide population. Linguists are worried about the fate of this and other endangered languages.[4]

Nevertheless, from about 1949 to the present, there has been a gradual increase in attention to, and promotion of, the language. Public Hawaiian-language immersion pre-schools called Pūnana Leo were started in 1984; other immersion schools followed soon after. The first students to start in immersion pre-school have now graduated from college and many are fluent Hawaiian speakers. The federal government acknowledged this development. For example the Hawaiian National Park Language Correction Act of 2000 changed the names of several national parks in Hawaiʻi observing the Hawaiian spelling.[5]

A creole language spoken in Hawaiʻi is technically called "Hawaii Creole English", abbreviated "HCE". It developed from pidgin English and is often called simply "Pidgin". It should not be mistaken for the Hawaiian language nor for a dialect of English.

The Hawaiian alphabet has 23 letters, ten vowels and eight consonants, including the ʻokina for glottal stop which is not found in the Latin alphabet.



The Hawaiian language takes its name from the largest island, Hawaii (Hawaiʻi in the Hawaiian language), in the tropical North Pacific archipelago where it developed, originally from a Polynesian language of the South Pacific, most likely Marquesan or Tahitian. The island name was first written in English, in 1778 by British explorer James Cook and his crew members. They wrote it as "Owhyhee" or "Owhyee". Explorers Mortimer (1791) and Otto von Kotzebue (1821) used that spelling.[6]

The initial "O" in the name is a reflection of the fact that unique identity is predicated in Hawaiian by using a copula form, o, immediately before a proper noun.[7] Thus, in Hawaiian, the name of the island is expressed by saying O Hawaiʻi, which means "[This] is Hawaiʻi."[8] Note that the Cook expedition also wrote "Otaheite" rather than "Tahiti."[9]

The spelling "why" in the name reflects the [hw] pronunciation of wh in 18th century English (still in active use in parts of the Anglosphere). Why was pronounced [hwai]. The spelling "hee" or "ee" in the name represents the sounds [hi], [i], or [i].[10]

Putting the parts together, O-why-hee reflects [o-hwai-i], a reasonable approximation of the native pronunciation, [o hɐwɐiʔi].

American missionaries bound for Hawaiʻi used the phrases "Owhihe Language" and "Owhyhee language" in Boston prior to their departure in October 1819 and during their five-month voyage to Hawai'i.[11] They still used such phrases as late as February 1822.[12] However, by July 1823, they had begun using the phrase "Hawaiian Language."[13]

In Hawaiian, ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi means "Hawaiian language", as adjectives follow nouns.[14]

Family and origin

Hawaiian is a Polynesian member of the Austronesian language family.[15] It is closely related to other Polynesian languages, such as Marquesan, Tahitian, Māori, Rapa Nui (the language of Easter Island), and less closely to Samoan, and Tongan.

According to Schütz (1994), the Marquesans colonized the archipelago in roughly 300 AD[16] followed by later waves of immigration from the Society Islands and Samoa-Tonga. Their languages, over time, became the Hawaiian language.[17] Kimura and Wilson (1983) also state, "Linguists agree that Hawaiian is closely related to Eastern Polynesian, with a particularly strong link in the Southern Marquesas, and a secondary link in Tahiti, which may be explained by voyaging between the Hawaiian and Society Islands."[18]

Methods of proving Hawaiian's family relationships

The genetic history of the Hawaiian language is demonstrated primarily through the application of lexicostatistics, and the comparative method.[19][20]

Lexicostatistics is a way of quantifying an approximate evaluation of the degree to which any given languages are genetically related to one another.[21][22] It is mainly based on determining the number of cognates (genetically shared words) that the languages have in a fixed set of vocabulary items which are nearly universal among all languages.[21] The so-called "basic vocabulary" (or Swadesh list) amounts to about 200 words,[23] having meanings such as "eye", "hair", "blood", "water", and "and."[24] The measurement of a genetic relationship is expressed as a percentage.[21][25] For example, Hawaiian and English have 0 cognates in the 200-word list, so they are 0% genetically related. By contrast, Hawaiian and Tahitian have about 152 cognates in the list, so they are estimated as being 76% genetically related,[26] according to the lexicostatistical method.

The comparative method is a technique developed by linguists to determine whether or not two or more languages are genetically related, and if they are, the historical nature of the relationships.[19][27] For a given meaning, the words of the languages are compared.[28] Linguists observe:[29]

  1. identical sounds,
  2. similar sounds, and
  3. dissimilar sounds, in corresponding positions in the words

In this method, the definition of "identical" is reasonably clear, but those of "similar" and "dissimilar" are based on phonological criteria which require professional training to fully understand, and which can vary in the contexts of different languages. Basically, a sound's phonetic manner and place of articulation, and its phonological features, are the main factors considered in investigating its status as "similar" or "dissimilar" to other sounds in a particular context. When linguists find in compared languages that compared words of the same or similar meaning contain sounds which correspond to one another, and find that these same sound correspondences recur regularly in most, or in many, of the comparable words of the languages, then the usual conclusion is that the languages are genetically related.[30][31]

In both methods, it is very important to exclude loan words from the analysis.[32]

The following table, Decimal Numbers, provides a limited data set for ten meanings. The Proto-Austronesian (PAN) forms are from Li (2004:4). The asterisk (*) is used to show that these are hypothetical, reconstructed forms. The Tagalog forms are from Ramos (1971), the Tongan from Churchward (1959), and the Hawaiian from Pukui & Elbert (1986). In the table, the year date of the modern forms is rounded off to CE 2000 to emphasize the 6000-year time lapse since the PAN era.

Decimal Numbers 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
PAN, circa 4000 BC *isa *DuSa *telu *Sepat *lima *enem *pitu *walu *Siwa *puluq
Tagalog isá dalawá tatló ápat limá ánim pitó waló siyám sampu
Ilocano maysá dua talló uppát limá inném pitó waló siam sangapúlo
Cebuano usá duhá tuló upat limá unom pitó waló siyám napulu
Chamorro maisa/håcha hugua tulu fatfat lima gunum fiti guålu sigua månot/fulu
Malay satu dua tiga empat lima enam tujuh lapan sembilan sepuluh
Javanese siji loro telu papat limo nem pitu wolu songo sepuluh
Tongan taha ua tolu nima ono fitu valu hiva -fulu
Samoan tasi lua tolu lima ono fitu valu iva sefulu
Māori tahi rua toru whā rima ono whitu waru iwa tekau (archaic: ngahuru)
Marquesan e tahi e 'ua e to'u e fa e 'ima e ono e fitu e va'u e iva 'onohu'u
Hawaiian kahi lua kolu lima ono hiku walu iwa -hulu

Note 1. For the number "10", the Tongan form in the table is part of the word /hoŋo-fulu/ ('ten'). The Hawaiian form is part of the word /ana-hulu/ ('ten days'), however the more common form used in counting and quantifying is /ʔumi/, a different root.

Application of the lexicostatistical method to the data in the table will show the four languages to be related to one another, with Tagalog having 100% cognacy with PAN, while Hawaiian and Tongan have 100% cognacy with each other, but 90% with Tagalog and PAN. This is because the forms for each number are cognates, except the Hawaiian and Tongan words for the number "1", which are cognate with each other, but not with Tagalog and PAN. When the full set of 200 meanings is used, the percentages will be much lower. For example, Elbert found Hawaiian and Tongan to have 49% (98 ÷ 200) shared cognacy.[33] This points out the importance of data-set size for this method – less data, cruder result; more data, better result.

Application of the comparative method will show partly different genetic relationships. It will point out sound changes,[34] such as:

  1. the loss of all PAN word-final consonants in Tongan and Hawaiian;
  2. lowering of PAN *u to Tagalog [o] in word-final syllables;
  3. retention of PAN *t in word-initial and word-medial position in Tagalog and Tongan, but shift to /k/ in Hawaiian;
  4. retention of PAN *p in Tagalog, but shift to /f/ in Tongan and /h/ in Hawaiian.

This method will recognize sound change #1 as a shared innovation of Hawaiian and Tongan. It will also take the Hawaiian and Tongan cognates for "1" as another shared innovation. Due to these exclusively shared features, Hawaiian and Tongan are found to be more closely related to one another than either is to Tagalog or PAN.

The forms in the table show that the Austronesian vowels tend to be relatively stable, while the consonants are relatively volatile. It is also apparent that the Hawaiian words for "5" and "8" have remained essentially unchanged for 6000 years.


For Hawaiian language history before 1778, see Family and origin above.

1778 to 1820

In Hawaiʻi

In 1778, British explorer James Cook made the first reported European discovery of Hawaiʻi.That marked a new phase in the development and use of Hawaiian. During the next forty years, the sounds of Spanish (1789), Russian (1804), French (1816), and German (1816) arrived in Hawaiʻi via other explorers and businessmen. Hawaiian began to take form as a written language, but largely restricted to isolated names and words, and word lists collected by explorers and travellers.[35]


The people responsible for "importing" those languages were also responsible for "exporting" the Hawaiian language into new territory, because there were some adventurous native speakers of Hawaiian who opted to do some exploring of their own by leaving Hawai'i and sailing off to "see the world" aboard the wooden ships of the Caucasian explorers.[36] Although there were not enough of these Hawaiian-speaking explorers (and apparently no females) to establish any viable speech communities abroad, nevertheless, there were a few here and there, in various parts of the world, who may be said to have spread the use of the language, at least a little bit. One of them, a male in his teens known as Obookiah (ʻŌpūkahaʻia), had a major impact on the future of the language. He sailed to New England, where he eventually became a student at the Foreign Mission School in Cornwall, Connecticut. He inspired New Englanders to support a Christian mission to Hawaiʻi, and provided information on the Hawaiian language to the American missionaries there prior to their departure for Hawaiʻi in 1819.[37] Some adventurous native speakers of Hawaiian worked aboard American and/or European ships of that period, thereby expanding, albeit slightly, the geographical area in which Hawaiian could be spoken. However, no viable Hawaiian speech communities were ever established abroad.

Missionaries arrive and royals travel

In Hawaiʻi

The arrival of American Protestant missionaries (from New England) in 1820 marked another new phase in the development of the Hawaiian language. Their evangelical mission had been inspired by the presence of several young Hawaiian males, especially Obookiah (ʻŌpūkahaʻia), at the Foreign Mission School in Cornwall, Connecticut. The missionaries wanted to convert all Hawaiians to Christianity. In order to achieve that goal, they needed to learn the Hawaiian language so that they could publish a Hawaiian Bible, preach in Hawaiian, etc. To that end, they developed a successful alphabet for Hawaiian by 1826, taught Hawaiians to read and write the language, published various educational materials in Hawaiian, and eventually finished translating the Bible. Missionaries also influenced King Kamehameha III to establish the first Hawaiian-language constitutions in 1839 and 1840.


Adelbert von Chamisso might have consulted with a native speaker of Hawaiian in Berlin, Germany, before publishing his grammar of Hawaiian ("Über die Hawaiische Sprache") in 1837.[38] When Hawaiian King David Kalākaua took a trip around the world, he brought his native language with him. When his wife, Queen Kapiʻolani, and his sister, Princess (later Queen) Liliʻuokalani, took a trip across North America and on to the British Islands, in 1887, Liliʻuokalani's composition Aloha ʻOe was already a famous song in the U.S.[39]

1834 to 1948

In Hawaiʻi

Headline from May 16, 1834 issue of newspaper published by Lorrin Andrews and students at Lahainaluna School

This is the 115-year period during which Hawaiian-language newspapers were published. Missionaries introduced newspaper publishing in Hawaiian and in English, and played a significant role in publishing a vocabulary (1836)[40] grammar (1854)[41] and dictionary (1865)[42] of Hawaiian. Literacy in Hawaiian was widespread among the local population, especially ethnic Hawaiians. Use of the language among the general population might have peaked around 1881. Even so, some people worried, as early as 1854, that the language was "soon destined to extinction."[43] In spite of a huge decline in the use of Hawaiian, compared to the era of its peak, those fears have never been realized.

The increase in human travel to and from Hawaiʻi during the 19th century was the means by which a number of diseases arrived, and potentially fatal ones, such as smallpox, influenza, and leprosy, killed large numbers of native speakers of Hawaiian. Meanwhile, native speakers of other languages, especially English, Chinese, Japanese, Portuguese, and Ilokano, continued to immigrate to Hawaiʻi. As a result, the actual number, as well as the percentage, of native speakers of Hawaiian in the local population decreased sharply, and continued to fall.

As the status of Hawaiian dropped, the status of English in Hawaiʻi rose. In 1885, the Prospectus of the Kamehameha Schools announced that "instruction will be given only in English language" (see published opinion of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, Doe v. Kamehameha Schools, case no. 04-15044, page 8928, filed August 2, 2005).

For a variety of reasons including punishment of Hawaiian children who spoke Hawaiian in school[44] starting around 1900, the number of native speakers of Hawaiian diminished from 37,000 to 1,000; half of these remaining are now in their seventies or eighties (see Ethnologue report below for citations). There has been some controversy over the reasons for this decline.

One school of thought claims that the most important cause for the decline of the Hawaiian language was its voluntary abandonment by the majority of its native speakers. According to Mary Kawena Pukui, they wanted their own children to speak English, as a way to promote their success in a rapidly changing modern environment, so they refrained from using Hawaiian with their own children.[45] The Hawaiian language schools disappeared as their enrollments dropped: parents preferred English language schools. Another school of thought emphasizes the importance of other factors that discouraged the use of the language, such as the fact that the English language was made the only medium of instruction in all schools in 1896 and the fact that schools punished the use of Hawaiian (see "Banning" of Hawaiian below.) General prejudice against Hawaiians (kanaka) has also been blamed for the decline of the language.

A new dictionary was published in 1957, a new grammar in 1979, and new second-language textbooks in 1951, 1965, 1977, and 1989. Master's theses and doctoral dissertations on specific facets of Hawaiian appeared in 1951, 1975, 1976, and 1996.

Kaona or Hidden meaning

According to Mary Kawena Pukui and Samuel Elbert in the definitive Dictionary, kaona (kao-na)[46] is a "Hidden meaning, as in Hawaiian poetry; concealed reference, as to a person, thing, or place; words with double meanings that might bring good or bad fortune." Pukui lamented, “in spite of years of dedicated work, it is impossible to record any language completely. How true this seems for Hawaiian, with its rich and varied background, its many idioms heretofore undescribed, and its ingenious and sophisticated use of figurative language.” On page xiii of the 1986 Dictionary she warned: "Hawaiian has more words with multiple meanings than almost any other language. One wishing to name a child, a house, a T-shirt, or a painting, should be careful that the chosen name does not have a naughty or vulgar meaning. The name of a justly respectable children's school, Hana Hauʻoli, means happy activity and suggests a missionary author, but among older Hawaiians it has another, less 'innocent' meaning that should not concern little children. A Honolulu street (and formerly the name of a hotel) is Hale Leʻa 'joyous house', but leʻa also means orgasm."

Understanding the kaona of the language requires a comprehensive knowledge of Hawaiian legends, history and cosmology.

"Banning" of Hawaiian

The law cited as banning the Hawaiian language is identified as Act 57, sec. 30 of the 1896 Laws of the Republic of Hawaiʻi:

The English Language shall be the medium and basis of instruction in all public and private schools, provided that where it is desired that another language shall be taught in addition to the English language, such instruction may be authorized by the Department, either by its rules, the curriculum of the school, or by direct order in any particular instance. Any schools that shall not conform to the provisions of this section shall not be recognized by the Department. [signed] June 8, 1896 Sanford B. Dole, President of the Republic of Hawaiʻi

This law established English as the medium of instruction for the government-recognized schools, but it did not ban or make illegal the Hawaiian language in other contexts. The law specifically provided for teaching languages "in addition to the English language," rendering Hawaiian the status of a foreign language. However, Hawaiian was not taught initially in any school, including the all-Hawaiian Kamehameha Schools, and many children who spoke Hawaiian at school, including on the playground, were disciplined. Beginning in 1900, Mary Kawena Pukui, who was later the co-author of the Hawaiian–English Dictionary, was punished for speaking Hawaiian by being rapped on the forehead, allowed to eat only bread and water for lunch, and denied home visits on holidays.[47] Winona Beamer was expelled from Kamehameha Schools in 1937 for chanting Hawaiian.[48]

Hawaiian-language newspapers were published for over a hundred years, right through the period of the supposed ban. Pukui & Elbert (1986:572) list fourteen Hawaiian newspapers. According to them, the newspapers entitled Ka Lama Hawaii and Ke Kumu Hawaii began publishing in 1834, and the one called Ka Hoku o Hawaii ceased publication in 1948. The longest run was that of Ka Nupepa Kuokoa: about 66 years, from 1861 to 1927.

1949 to present

In 1949, the legislature of the Territory of Hawaiʻi commissioned Mary Pukui and Samuel Elbert to write a new dictionary of Hawaiian, either revising the Andrews-Parker work, or starting from scratch.[49] Pukui and Elbert took a middle course, using what they could from the Andrews dictionary, but making certain improvements and additions that were more significant than a minor revision. The dictionary they produced, in 1957, introduced an era of gradual increase in attention to the language (and culture).

Efforts to promote the language have increased in recent decades. Hawaiian-language "immersion" schools are now open to children whose families want to introduce Hawaiian language for future generations.[50] The local NPR station features a short segment titled "Hawaiian word of the day" and a Hawaiian language news broadcast. Honolulu television station KGMB includes a Hawaiian language segment during their morning local news program Sunrise on KGMB9.[51] Additionally, the Sunday editions of the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, one of Honolulu's two major newspapers, feature a brief article called Kauakukalahale written entirely in Hawaiian by teachers, students, and community members.

Today, on six of the seven permanently inhabited islands, Hawaiian is largely displaced by English, and the number of native speakers of Hawaiian is under 0.1% of the state-wide population. Native speakers of Hawaiian who live on the island named Niʻihau have remained fairly isolated and have continued to use Hawaiian almost exclusively.[52]


Niʻihau is the only area in the world where Hawaiian is the first language and English is a foreign language. Because of many sufficiently marked variations, Niʻihau people, when visiting or living in Honolulu, substitute the Oʻahu dialect [sic] for their own – apparently easy to do – saying that otherwise people in Honolulu have trouble understanding them. Niʻihau people speak very rapidly; many vowels and entire syllables are dropped or whispered.[53]

The island named Niʻihau, aka 'the Forbidden Island' to tourists, off the southwest coast of Kauaʻi, is the one island where Hawaiian is still spoken by the entire population as the language of daily life.[52] Children are taught Hawaiian as a first language, and learn English at about age eight. Reasons for the persistence include:

  • Niʻihau has been privately owned for over 100 years;
  • visiting by outsiders has been only rarely allowed;
  • the Caucasian owners/managers of the island have favored the Niʻihauans' continuation of their language;
  • and, most of all, because the Niʻihau speakers themselves have naturally maintained their own native language, even though they sometimes use English as a second language for school.

Native speakers of Niʻihau Hawaiian have three distinct modes of speaking Hawaiian:

  1. an imitation and adaptation to "standard" Hawaiian;
  2. a native Niʻihau dialect that is significantly different from "standard" Hawaiian, including extensive use of palatalizations and truncations, and differences in diphthongization, vowel raising, and elision;
  3. a manner of speaking among themselves which is so different from "standard" Hawaiian that it is unintelligible to non-Niʻihau speakers of Hawaiian.

The last mode of speaking may be further restricted to a certain subset of Niʻihauans, and is rarely even overheard by non-Niʻihauans. In addition to being able to speak Hawaiian in different ways, most Niʻihauans can speak English too.

Elbert & Pukui (1979:23) states that "[v]ariations in Hawaiian dialects have not been systematically studied", and that "[t]he dialect of Niʻihau is the most aberrant and the one most in need of study". They recognized that Niʻihauans can speak Hawaiian in substantially different ways. Their statements are based in part on some specific observations made by Newbrand (1951). (See below, Processes, under Phonology.)

Orthography (writing system)

Hawaiians had no written language prior to western contact, except for petroglyph symbols. The modern Hawaiian alphabet, ka pīʻāpā Hawaiʻi, is a variety of the Latin alphabet. Hawaiian words end only[54] in vowels, and every consonant must be followed by a vowel. The Hawaiian alphabetical order has all of the vowels before the consonants,[55] as in the following chart.

Aa Ee Ii Oo Uu Hh Kk Ll Mm Nn Pp Ww ʻ
/a/ /e/ /i/ /o/ /u/ /h/ /k~t/ /l/ /m/ /n/ /p/ /v~w/ /ʔ/


This writing system was developed by American Protestant missionaries during 1820–1826.[56] It was the first thing they ever printed in Hawaiʻi, on January 7, 1822, and it originally included the consonants B, D, R, T, and V, in addition to the current ones (H, K, L, M, N, P, W), and it had F, G, S, Y and Z for "spelling foreign words". The initial printing also showed the five vowel letters (A, E, I, O, U) and seven of the short diphthongs (AE, AI, AO, AU, EI, EU, OU).[57]

In 1826, the developers voted to eliminate some of the letters which represented functionally redundant allophones (called "interchangeable letters"), enabling the Hawaiian alphabet to approach the ideal state of one-symbol-one-sound, and thereby optimizing the ease with which people could teach and learn the reading and writing of Hawaiian.[58] For example, instead of spelling one and the same word as pule, bule, pure, and bure (because of interchangeable p/b and l/r), the word is spelled only as pule.

  • Interchangeable B/P. B was dropped, P was kept.
  • Interchangeable L/R. R was dropped, L was kept.
  • Interchangeable K/T. T was dropped, K was kept.
  • Interchangeable V/W. V was dropped, W was kept.

However, hundreds of words were very rapidly borrowed into Hawaiian from English, Greek, Hebrew, Latin, Syrian, and Chaldean.[59][60][61] Although these loan words were necessarily Hawaiianized, they often retained some of their "non-Hawaiian letters" in their published forms. For example, Brazil fully Hawaiianized is Palakila, but retaining "foreign letters" it is Barazila.[62] Another example is Gibraltar, written as Kipalaleka or Gibaraleta.[63] While [z] and [ɡ] are not regarded as Hawaiian sounds, [b], [ɹ], and [t] were represented in the original alphabet, so the letters (b, r, and t) for the latter are not truly "non-Hawaiian" or "foreign", even though their post-1826 use in published matter generally marked words of foreign origin.

Glottal stop

A modern Hawaiian name for the symbol (a letter) which represents the glottal stop is ʻokina (ʻoki 'cut' + -na '-ing').[64] It was formerly known as ʻuʻina ('snap'[65][66]).

For examples of the ʻokina, consider the Hawaiian words Hawaiʻi and Oʻahu (often simply Hawaii and Oahu in English orthography). In Hawaiian, these words can be pronounced [hʌˈʋʌi.ʔi] and [oˈʔʌ.hu], and can be written with an ʻokina where the glottal stop is pronounced.[67][68]


As early as 1823, the missionaries made some limited use of the apostrophe to represent the glottal stop,[69] but they did not make it a letter of the alphabet. In publishing the Hawaiian Bible, they used it to distinguish koʻu ('my') from kou ('your').[70] In 1864, William DeWitt Alexander published a grammar of Hawaiian in which he made it clear that the glottal stop (calling it "guttural break") is definitely a true consonant of the Hawaiian language.[71] He wrote it using an apostrophe. In 1922, the Andrews-Parker dictionary of Hawaiian made limited use of the opening single quote symbol, called "reversed apostrophe" or "inverse comma", to represent the glottal stop.[72] Subsequent dictionaries have preferred to use that symbol. Today, many native speakers of Hawaiian do not bother, in general, to write any symbol for the glottal stop. Its use is advocated mainly among students and teachers of Hawaiian as a second language, and among linguists.[73]

Electronic encoding

The ʻokina is written in various ways for electronic uses:

  • turned comma: ʻ, Unicode hex value 02BB (decimal 699). This does not always have the correct appearance because it is not supported in some fonts/browsers (mainly Internet Explorer before version 6).
  • opening single quote, aka left single quotation mark: Unicode hex value 2018 (decimal 8216). In many fonts this character looks like either a left-leaning single quotation mark or a quotation mark thicker at the bottom than at the top. In more traditional serif fonts such as Times New Roman it can look like a very small "6" with the circle filled in black: .

Because many people who want to write the okina are not familiar with these specific characters and/or do not have access to the appropriate fonts and input and display systems, it is sometimes written with more familiar and readily available characters:

  • the ASCII apostrophe ', Unicode hex value 27 (decimal 39),[74] following the missionary tradition.
  • the ASCII grave accent (often called "backquote" or "backtick") `, Unicode hex value 60 (decimal 96)[75]
  • the right single quotation mark, or "curly apostrophe" , Unicode hex value 2019 (decimal 146)[76]


A modern Hawaiian name for the macron symbol is kahakō (kaha 'mark' + 'long').[77] It was formerly known as mekona (Hawaiianization of macron). It can be written as a diacritical mark which looks like a hyphen or dash written above a vowel, i.e., ā ē ī ō ū, and Ā Ē Ī Ō Ū. It is used to show that the marked vowel is a "double", or "geminate", or "long" vowel, in phonemic terms.[78]

As early as 1821, at least one of the missionaries, Hiram Bingham, was using macrons (and breves) in making handwritten transcriptions of Hawaiian vowels.[79] The missionaries specifically requested their sponsor in Boston to send them some type (fonts) with accented vowel characters, including vowels with macrons, but the sponsor made only one response and sent the wrong font size (pica instead of small pica).[72] Thus, they could not print ā, ē, ī, ō, nor ū (at the right size), even though they wanted to.


Due to extensive allophony, Hawaiian has more than 13 phones. Although vowel length is phonemic, long vowels are not always pronounced as such,[78] even though under the rules for assigning stress in Hawaiian, a long vowel will always receive stress.[80][81]



Labial Alveolar Velar Glottal
Nasal m n    
Plosive p t ~ k ʔ
Fricative       h
Sonorant w ~ v l    

Hawaiian is known for having very few consonant phonemes – eight: /p, k ~ t, ʔ, h, m, n, l, w ~ v/. It is notable that Hawaiian has allophonic variation of [t] with [k],[82][83][84][85] [w] with [v],[86] and (in some dialects) [l] with [n].[87] The [t][k] variation is quite unusual among the world's languages, and is likely a product both of the small number of consonants in Hawaiian, and the recent shift of historical *t to modern [t][k], after historical *k had shifted to [ʔ]. In some dialects, /ʔ/ remains as [k] in some words. These variations are largely free, though there are conditioning factors. /l/ tends to [n] especially in words with both /l/ and /n/, such as in the island name Lānaʻi ([laːˈnɐʔi][naːˈnɐʔi]), though this is not always the case: ʻeleʻele or ʻeneʻene "black". The [k] allophone is almost universal at the beginnings of words, whereas [t] is most common before the vowel /i/. [v] is also the norm after /i/ and /e/, whereas [w] is usual after /u/ and /o/. After /a/ and initially, however, [w] and [v] are in free variation.[88]


Hawaiian has five vowel qualities.


Short Long
Front Back Front Back
Close i u
Mid ɛ ~ e o
Open ɐ ~ ə

Hawaiian has five short and five long vowels, plus diphthongs. The short vowels are /u, i, o, e, a/, and the long vowels, if they are considered separate phonemes rather than simply sequences of like vowels, are /uː, iː, oː, eː, aː/. When stressed, short /e/ and /a/ tend to become [ɛ] and [ɐ], while when unstressed they are [e] and [ə]. /e/ also tends to become [ɛ] next to /l/, /n/, and another [ɛ], as in Pele [pɛlɛ]. Some grammatical particles vary between short and long vowels. These include a and o "of", ma "at", na and no "for". Between a back vowel /o/ or /u/ and a following non-back vowel (/a e i/), there is an epenthetic [w], which is generally not written. Between a front vowel /e/ or /i/ and a following non-front vowel (/a o u/), there is an epenthetic [j] (a y sound), which is never written.


Short diphthongs 
 Ending with /u/   Ending with /i/   Ending with /o/   Ending with /e/ 
 Starting with /i/  iu      
 Starting with /o/  ou oi    
 Starting with /e/  eu ei    
 Starting with /a/  au ai ao ae

The short-vowel diphthongs are /iu, ou, oi, eu, ei, au, ai, ao, ae/. In all except perhaps /iu/, these are falling diphthongs. However, they are not as tightly bound as the diphthongs of English, and may be considered vowel sequences. (The second vowel in such sequences may receive the stress, but in such cases it is not counted as a diphthong.) In fast speech, /ai/ tends to [ei] and /au/ tends to [ou], conflating these diphthongs with /ei/ and /ou/.

There are only a limited number of vowels which may follow long vowels, and some authors treat these as diphthongs as well: /oːu, eːi, aːu, aːi, aːo, aːe/.

Long diphthongs 
 Ending with /u/   Ending with /i/   Ending with /o/   Ending with /e/ 
 Starting with /o/  oːu      
 Starting with /e/    eːi    
 Starting with /a/  aːu aːi aːo aːe


Hawaiian syllable structure is (C)V. All CV syllables occur except for ;[89] wu occurs only in two words borrowed from English.[90][91] As shown by Schütz,[59][92][93] Hawaiian word-stress is predictable in words of one to four syllables, but not in words of five or more syllables. Hawaiian phonological processes include palatalization and deletion of consonants, as well as raising, diphthongization, deletion, and compensatory lengthening of vowels.[83][94] Phonological reduction (or "decay") of consonant phonemes during the historical development of the language has resulted in the phonemic glottal stop.[95][96] Ultimate loss (deletion) of intervocalic consonant phonemes has resulted in Hawaiian long vowels and diphthongs.[96][97][98][99]


Hawaiian is an analytic language and a VSO language. While there is no use of inflection for verbs, in Hawaiian, like other Austronesian personal pronouns, declension is found in the differentiation between a- and o-class genitive case personal pronouns in order to indicate inalienable possession in a binary possessive class system. Also like many Austronesian languages, Hawaiian pronouns employ separate words for inclusive and exclusive we, and distinguish singular, dual, and plural. The grammatical function of verbs is marked by adjacent particles (short words) and their relative positions to indicate tense–aspect–mood.

Some examples verb phrase patterns:

  • ua verb perfective
  • e verb ana imperfective
  • ke verb nei present progressive
  • e verb imperative
  • mai verb negative imperative

Nouns can be marked with articles:

  • ka honu the turtle
  • nā honu the turtles
  • ka hale the house
  • ke kanaka the person

ka and ke are singular definite articles. ke is used before words beginning with a-, e-, o- and k-, and with some words beginning ʻ- and p-. ka is used in all other cases. is the plural definite article.

To show just "part" of a group, the word "kekahi" is used. To show a bigger part, you would insert mau to pluralize the subject


  • One of the cows

kekahi pipi

  • Some of the cows

kekahi mau pipi

See also

Portal icon Hawaii portal
Portal icon Languages portal


  1. ^ Lyovin (1997:258)
  2. ^ U.S. Census (2005)
  3. ^ Mary Kawena Pukui and Samuel Hoyt Elbert (2003). "lookup of ʻōlelo". in Hawaiian Dictionary. Ulukau, the Hawaiian Electronic Library, University of Hawaii Press. http://wehewehe.org/gsdl2.5/cgi-bin/hdict?j=pk&l=en&q=%3Cspan+class%3D%22okina%22%3E%26%23x02BB%3B%3C%2Fspan%3E%C5%8Dlelo&d=D15294. 
  4. ^ see e.g. (Hinton & Hale 2001)
  5. ^ Hawaiian National Park Language Correction Act of 2000 (S.939)
  6. ^ Schütz (1994:44, 459)
  7. ^ Carter (1996:144, 174)
  8. ^ Carter (1996:187–188)
  9. ^ Schütz (1994:41)
  10. ^ Schütz (1994:61–65)
  11. ^ Schütz (1994:304, 475)
  12. ^ Schütz (1994:108–109)
  13. ^ Schütz (1994:306)
  14. ^ Carter (1996:3 Figure 1)
  15. ^ Lyovin (1997:257–258)
  16. ^ Schütz (1994:334–336; 338 20n)
  17. ^ Elbert & Pukui (1979:35–36)
  18. ^ Kimura & Wilson (1983:185)
  19. ^ a b Lyovin (1997:1–12)
  20. ^ Schütz (1994:322–338)
  21. ^ a b c Lyovin (1997:8)
  22. ^ Schütz (1994:331)
  23. ^ Schütz (1994:332–333)
  24. ^ Lyovin (1997:3)
  25. ^ Schütz (1994:331–333)
  26. ^ Schütz (1994:333) citing Elbert
  27. ^ Schütz (1994:332–335)
  28. ^ Lyovin (1997:2–3)
  29. ^ Lyovin (1997:3, 11–12)
  30. ^ Lyovin (1997:2)
  31. ^ Schütz 1994:324–325
  32. ^ Lyovin (1997:3–5, 8, 10)
  33. ^ Schütz (1994:333)
  34. ^ Lyovin (1997:8–12)
  35. ^ Schütz (1994:31–40)
  36. ^ Schütz (1994:43–44)
  37. ^ Schütz (1994:85–97)
  38. ^ Elbert & Pukui (1979:2)
  39. ^ Carter (1996:7, 169) example 138, quoting McGuire
  40. ^ Andrews (1836)
  41. ^ Elbert (1954)
  42. ^ Andrews (1865)
  43. ^ quoted in Schütz (1994:269–270)
  44. ^ Mary Kawena Pukui, Nana i ke Kumu, Vol. 2, p. 61–62
  45. ^ Mary Kawena Pukui, Nana i ke Kumu, Vol. 2 p. 60–61
  46. ^ Mary Kawena Pukui and Samuel Hoyt Elbert (2003). "lookup of kaona". in Hawaiian Dictionary. Ulukau, the Hawaiian Electronic Library, University of Hawaii Press. http://wehewehe.org/gsdl2.5/cgi-bin/hdict?j=pk&l=en&q=kaona&d=D7005. 
  47. ^ Mary Kawena Pukui, Nana i ke Kumu, Vol. 2 p. 61–62
  48. ^ M. J. Harden, Voices of Wisdom: Hawaiian Elders Speak, p. 99
  49. ^ Schütz (1994:230)
  50. ^ Warner (1996)
  51. ^ KGMB9.com[dead link]
  52. ^ a b Lyovin (1997:258)
  53. ^ Elbert & Pukui (1979:23)
  54. ^ Wight (2005:x)
  55. ^ Schütz (1994:217, 223)
  56. ^ Schütz (1994:98–133)
  57. ^ Schütz (1994:110) Plate 7.1
  58. ^ Schütz (1994:122–126; 173–174)
  59. ^ a b Lyovin (1997:259)
  60. ^ Schütz (1994:223)
  61. ^ Elbert & Pukui (1979:27, 31–32))
  62. ^ Pukui & Elbert (1986:406)
  63. ^ Pukui & Elbert (1986:450)
  64. ^ Pukui & Elbert (1986:257, 281, 451)
  65. ^ Schütz (1994:146)
  66. ^ Elbert & Pukui (1979:11)
  67. ^ Pukui & Elbert (1986:62, 275)
  68. ^ In English, the glottal stop is usually either omitted, or is replaced by a non-phonemic glide, resulting in [hʌˈwai.i] or [hʌˈwai.ji], and [oˈa.hu] or [oˈwa.hu]. Note that the latter two are essentially identical in sound.
  69. ^ Schütz (1994:143)
  70. ^ Elbert & Pukui (1979:11)
  71. ^ Schütz (1994:144–145)
  72. ^ a b Schütz (1994:139–141)
  73. ^ Schütz (1994:146–148)
  74. ^ "Hawaii County Real Property Tax Office". http://www.hawaiipropertytax.com/. Retrieved 2009-03-03. "This site was designed to provide quick and easy access to real property tax assessment records and maps for properties located in the County of Hawaiʻi and related general information about real property tax procedures." 
  75. ^ "Hawaiian diacriticals". http://pipwerks.com/journal/2009/02/22/hawaiian-diacriticals/. Retrieved 2009-03-03. "Over the last decade, there has been an attempt by many well-meaning locals (Hawaiian and non-Hawaiian) to use substitute characters when true diacriticals aren't available. ... This brings me to one of my pet peeves and the purpose of this post: misuse of the backtick (`) character. Many of the previously-mentioned well-intentioned folks mistakenly use a backtick to represent an ʻokina, and it drives me absolutely bonkers." 
  76. ^ "Laʻakea Community". http://www.permaculture-hawaii.com/. Retrieved 2009-03-03. "Laʻakea Community formed in 2005 when a group of six people purchased Laʻakea Gardens." 
  77. ^ Pukui & Elbert (1986:109, 110, 156, 478)
  78. ^ a b Elbert & Pukui (1979:14–15)
  79. ^ Schütz (1994:139, 399)
  80. ^ Pukui & Elbert (1986:xvii–xviii)
  81. ^ Elbert & Pukui (1979:14, 20–21)
  82. ^ Schütz (1994:115)
  83. ^ a b Elbert & Pukui (1979:22–25)
  84. ^ Kinney (1956)
  85. ^ Newbrand (1951)
  86. ^ Elbert & Pukui (1979:12–13)
  87. ^ Elbert & Pukui (1979:25–26)
  88. ^ Elbert & Pukui (1979)
  89. ^ Pukui & Elbert (1986) see Hawaiian headwords.
  90. ^ Schütz (1994:29 4n)
  91. ^ Pukui & Elbert (1986:386)
  92. ^ Pukui & Elbert (1986:xvii-xviii)
  93. ^ Elbert & Pukui (1979:16–18)
  94. ^ Kinney (1956))
  95. ^ Robert Louis Stevenson, In the South Seas, 1891 page 12, quoted in Schütz (1994:134)
  96. ^ a b Carter (1996:373)
  97. ^ Lyovin (1997:268)
  98. ^ Pukui & Elbert (1986:164, 167)
  99. ^ Elbert & Pukui (1979:107–108))


  • Andrews, Lorrin (1836). A vocabulary of words in the Hawaiian language. Press of the Lahainaluna high school. http://books.google.com/?id=BFUsAAAAYAAJ. 
  • Andrews, Lorrin; notes by William de Witt Alexander (1865). A Dictionary of the Hawaiian Language. Originally published by Henry M. Whitney, Honolulu, republished by Island Heritage Publishing 2003. ISBN 0-89610-374-9. http://books.google.com/?id=JjcOAAAAIAAJ. 
  • Carter, Gregory Lee (1996). The Hawaiian Copula Verbs He, ʻO, and I, as Used in the Publications of Native Writers of Hawaiian: A Study in Hawaiian Language and Literature (Ph.D. thesis). University of Hawaiʻi. 
  • Churchward, C. Maxwell (1959). Tongan Dictionary. Tonga: Government Printing Office. .
  • Dyen, Isidore (1965). A Lexicostatistical Classification of the Austronesian Languages. Indiana University Publications in Anthropology and Linguistics . Memoir 19 of the International Journal of American Linguistics.
  • Elbert, Samuel H. (1954). "Hawaiian Dictionaries, Past and Future". Hawaiian Historical Society Annual reports. http://hdl.handle.net/10524/68. 
  • Elbert, Samuel H.; Pukui, Mary Kawena (1979). Hawaiian Grammar. Honolulu: The University Press of Hawaii. ISBN 0-8248-0494-5. 
  • Hinton, Leanne; Hale, Kenneth (2001). The Green Book of Language Revitalization in Practice. Academic Press. 
  • Kimura, Larry; Wilson, Pila (1983). "Native Hawaiian Culture". Native Hawaiian Study Commission Minority Report. Washington: United States Department of Interior. pp. 173–203 .
  • Kinney, Ruby Kawena (1956). "A Non-purist View of Morphomorphemic Variations in Hawaiian Speech". Journal of the Polynesian Society 65 (3): 282–286. .
  • Li, Paul Jen-kuei (2001). "The Dispersal of The Formosan Aborigines in Taiwan" (PDF). Languages and Linguistics 2 (1): 271–278. http://www.ling.sinica.edu.tw/publish/LL2.1-15-Li-supplement.pdf. .
  • Li, Paul Jen-kuei. (2004). Numerals in Formosan Languages. Taipei: Academia Sinica. 
  • Lyovin, Anatole V. (1997). An Introduction to the Languages of the World. New York: Oxford University Press, Inc.. ISBN 0-19-508116-1. 
  • Newbrand, Helene L. (1951). A Phonemic Analysis of Hawaiian (M.A. thesis). University of Hawaiʻi. 
  • Pukui, Mary Kawena; Elbert, Samuel H. (1986). Hawaiian Dictionary. Honolulu: University of Hawaiʻi Press. ISBN 0-8248-0703-0. 
  • Ramos, Teresita V. (1971). Tagalog Dictionary. Honolulu: The University Press of Hawaii. ISBN 0-87022-676-2. 
  • Schütz, Albert J. (1994). The Voices of Eden: A History of Hawaiian Language Studies. Honolulu: University of Hawaiʻi Press. ISBN 0-8248-1637-4. 
  • Warner, Sam L. (1996). I Ola ka ʻŌlelo i nā Keiki: Ka ʻApo ʻia ʻana o ka ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi e nā Keiki ma ke Kula Kaiapuni. [That the Language Live through the Children: The Acquisition of the Hawaiian Language by the Children in the Immersion School.] (Ph.D. thesis). University of Hawaiʻi. 
  • U.S. Census (2005). "U.S. Census Press Releases"]. http://www.census.gov/Press-Release/www/releases/archives/facts_for_features_special_editions/004522.html. [dead link]. Public Information Offce.
  • Wight, Kahikāhealani (2005). Learn Hawaiian at Home. Bess Press. ISBN 1-57306-245-6. 
  • Wilson, William H. (1976). The O and A Possessive Markers in Hawaiian (M.A. thesis). University of Hawaiʻi. 

External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Игры ⚽ Нужно сделать НИР?

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Hawaiian Studies — is an academic discipline dedicated to the study of Hawaiians. It evolved in the second half of the 20th century partly in response to charges that traditional disciplines such as anthropology, history, English, ethnology, Asian Studies, and… …   Wikipedia

  • Hawaiian — may refer to: * Hawaiian language * Native Hawaiians * The Hawaiians, a football team in the World Football League from 1974 to 1975 * Hawaiian Airlines, a commercial airline * Hawaiian music * Hawaiian shirt or Aloha shirt, a type of colorful… …   Wikipedia

  • Hawaiian hibiscus — The maʻo hau hele is the state flower of Hawaiʻi Scientific classification Kingdom …   Wikipedia

  • Hawaiian phonology — This article is a linguistic description of the phonological system of Hawaiian based on documented experiences of the people who developed the Hawaiian alphabet during the 1820s and scholarly research on the Hawaiian language conducted by… …   Wikipedia

  • Hawaiian sovereignty movement — Part of a series on Hawaii Hawaiian sovereignty movement Main issues Overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom Legal status Opposition to the Overthrow Governments Kingdom Provisional Government Republi …   Wikipedia

  • Hawaiian name — A Hawaiian name is a name in the Hawaiian language. Such names are popular not only in Hawaiian families, but also among other residents of Hawaiokinai, and even in the United States mainland among both non native and native Hawaiians.Meanings of …   Wikipedia

  • Hawaiian Renaissance — The Hawaiian Renaissance (also often called the Hawaiian Cultural Renaissance) was the Hawaiian resurgence of a distinct cultural identity that draws upon traditional kānaka maoli culture, with a significant divergence from the tourism based… …   Wikipedia

  • Hawaiian grammar — This article provides a brief sketch of grammar in the Hawaiian language.yntaxHawaiian is a verb subject object language. The only exception is if the sentence has a negative mood and the subject is a pronoun, in which case word order is subject… …   Wikipedia

  • Hawaiian honeycreeper conservation — Hawaiian honeycreepers (Fringillidae), of the subfamily Drepanidinae, were once quite abundant in all forests throughout Hawai i. cite journal|title=Distribution and abundance of forest birds in low altitude habitat on Hawai i Island: evidence… …   Wikipedia

  • Hawaiian Islands — Mokupuni o Hawai‘i True colour satellite image of the Hawaiian Islands …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”