Kuapo ʻŌlelo
Hawaiian Hawaii & English


Hawai‘i is a very special place because it has the unique distinction of having its own native language. States such as New York, Texas and California cannot claim such a distinction. France, Korea, and Italy have their own native language but countries like Austria, Brazil and Canada do not. The Hawaiian language is indeed something very special and unique to us in Hawai‘i.

The seeds of Hawaiian were brought here over a thousand years ago over many, many miles of open ocean. The language spread throughout Hawai‘i and all of the islands were given the Hawaiian names by which we know them today. With the arrival of the modern age, Hawaiian became legally recognized as the national language of Hawai‘i and was used in our legislature until 1910. When everyone in Hawai‘i spoke Hawaiian, Hawai‘i had a higher literacy rate than the United States or any country in Europe. It continued to be printed on voting ballots until the 1950s. In 1978, Hawaiian was recognized as one of two official languages of Hawai‘i, along with English, by the Hawai‘i State Legislature.

Hawaiian was spoken by many of our forefathers, both those of Hawaiian ancestry and those of other ethnic backgrounds. As a result, Hawaiian has had a strong influence on the way we speak English in Hawai‘i. Today, a large majority of people do not speak Hawaiian, but Hawaiian words and names are an important part of our daily vocabulary. We should know how to spell and pronounce these words correctly just as we should know how to spell and pronounce English correctly.

This booklet employs modern Hawaiian orthography which includes the use of the ‘okina (‘) and the kahakō ( - ). These marks are not new to the language, having always been a part of spoken Hawaiian. Their usage in written Hawaiian provides a more accurate representation of the spoken language. It is hoped that this booklet will make everyone who uses it, both native and non-native speakers alike, aware of the value of perpetuating correct Hawaiian spelling and pronunciation.

There are many books from which to learn English, but very few from which to learn Hawaiian spelling and pronunciation. Thus this booklet has taken form and is presented to you with the Hawaiian thought:

"Li‘ili‘i kahi lū‘au me ke aloha pū."

"We don't have any food to share with you except these few lū‘au leaves, but we offer them with a lot of love."

- Kalena Silva & Kauanoe Kamanā

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