General Overview of The Hawaiian Language
The Hawaiian language (ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi) is one of the oldest surviving languages in the world. Today, Hawaiian along with English are the official languages of the state of Hawaii.
Over the years, the language has undergone several changes and developments. Although few people speak the Hawaiian language today, there are many individuals interested in learning it, like you are…
A Short History of The Hawaiian Language
In 1778, British explorer James Cook arrived in Hawaii. Before his arrival, the Hawaiian language was purely oral. Cook and his men noticed that the language was similar to the French Polynesian Tahitian and Maori languages of New Zealand. He and his men proceeded to record the Hawaiian language for the first time in 1778.
In his report, Cook wrote the name of the islands as “Owhyhee” or “Owhyee”. It was later, in 1822 that a writing system based on one similar to the new New Zealand Grammar was developed and printed by American Protestant missionary Elisha Loomis. This original version consisted of an alphabet that included five vowels and twelve consonants. By 1826, the missionaries had fully developed the Hawaiian alphabet (piapa). This way, they were able to teach Hawaiians to read and write the language and translated the Bible into Hawaiian.
The Hawaiian Language Banned
Following the annexation of Hawaii as a territory of the United States in 1898, the original Hawaiian language was subsequently banned from official use (in schools and government). Regardless of the official ban, Hawaiians still spoke the language on a daily basis, when not in an official setting.
Renaissance of the Hawaiian Language
As the decades passed, the original Hawaiian language remained popular among locals. In 1978, the Hawaiian language was recognized as one of the official languages of the state of Hawaii (with the other being English).
Fast-forward top today and there are about 8,000 people who are able to speak the Hawaiian language and about 1000 native speakers (just over 0.1% of the population).
The Hawaiian language lives on.
How To Pronounce Hawaiian Words
A short and simple rule to follow is to pronounce constants as you would in English and break up words into syllables, so they are easier to say, for example Waianapanapa sounds like Wai-a-napa-napa and humuhumunukunukuapuaa sounds like [hoo-moo-hoo-moo-noo-koo-noo-koo-ah-poo-ah-ah]
In addition, pronounce vowels as follows…
How To Pronounce Hawaiian Vowels.
A – [ah] as in “far” or as in “Ahh! This is delightful”
E – [ay] as in “hay” or as in “Hooray!”
I – [ee] as in “week” or as in “See!”
O – [oh] as in “no” or as in “So?”
U – [oo] as “moon” or as in “Oops!“