Quick Overview of The Hawaiian Alphabet and Language

In short, the Hawaiian alphabet only has 13 letters – five vowels and eight consonants. Here’s an easy guide to the Hawaiian alphabet:

Keep in mind that:

  1. Each of the five vowels are pronounced with only one sound.
  2. All consonants sound as they do in English, except for two, as noted below.

Vowel Pronunciation

A – ah, as in father: e.g aloha
E – a, as in way: e.g nene
I  – ee, as in bee: e.g honi
O – oh, as in no: e.g mahalo
U – oo, as in spoon: e.g kapu

Consonant Pronunciation

H  – As in English
K  – As in English
L  – As in English
M – As in English
N  – As in English                                                                                                               W – After i and e, it is pronounced v
After u and o, it is pronounced like w
At the start of a word or after a pronounced like w or v
– ‘Okina – a glottal stop (more on this below)

In addition, recall that each letter in the alphabet is pronounced separately. This is true even when there are several vowels in a row.

The most important thing to remember is not to be daunted by the seemingly difficult words. After a lesson in pronunciation (you can use the one below) and some practice, you will become more fluent and natural sooner than you probably expect.

Go here for a more in-depth overview of the Hawaiian language.