Posted by: kauaikolea2 | July 25, 2011

From Aloha to Mahalo to Humuhumunukunukuapua’a

As you travel about the island of Kaua’i, you will certainly hear “Aloha” and “Mahalo”, but the Hawaiian language is more than these 2 words!  You may find it interesting to learn a few, the learning of which may help you as you read landmark signs and street names.

Remember, that very few people on the island speak Hawaiian (it was outlawed during the Territorial times), but the language is taught now and you may also happen upon some elderly residents chatting away in Hawaiian. The Ni’ihau dialect — these residents are the only people who still speak Hawaiian exclusively — is thought to be truest to the roots of the language.  If you do hear Hawaiian speakers, stop and listen to the words and the rhythm.

The Hawaiian alphabet has 12 letters (A, E, H, I, K, L, M, N, O, P, U, W), but some say that there are 13 if you count the ‘okina (best explained as a glottal stop; like the break in the middle of the word “oh-oh”, and written as a backward apostrophe).  Every Hawaiian syllable ends with a vowel, which gives the language a great musicality.  Some scholars believe that the vowels helped the Hawaiians memorize traditional stories in chant format; others disagree.

In any case, some Hawaiian phrases to try are:

A hui hou kakou Until we meet again
Aloha kakahiaka Good morning
Aloha `auinala Good afternooon
Aloha ahiahi Good evening
Aloha `oe Farewell
A`ole pilikia No problem
Hana Hou! One more time!
Kipa hou mai Come visit again

Mahalo Thank you
Mahalo nui loa Thank you very much
Mau Loa Forever
Nau wale no Just for you
`O wai kou inoa? What is your name?
Pomaika`i Good Luck

The ultimate test of “speaking Hawaiian” is the state fish; see if you can do it!


(For those of you who need some help, it is pronounced as hu-mu-hu-mu-nu-ku-nu-ku-a-pu-a-a, with a glottal stop between the last 2 “a”s)

See, that was easy!

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