‘Ōlelo Hawai’i #1

This year marks the second year my precious Goddaughter has been enrolled in the Hawaiian Immersion program here on Maui. The program is gaining popularity every year it seems, and it is a blessing to see so many people passionate about their children learning and living the beautiful Hawaiian culture.

Nā Kula Kaiapuni O Maui: The Hawaiian Immersion Schools ensure students achieve the “Hawai’i Content and Performance Standards” like all other public schools; however the content and means of delivery are based on traditional Hawaiian knowledge and perspective.

So far the program is K-5, but hopefully will continue by the time Healani reaches fifth grade. The entire time my Goddaughter is in school with her classmates they are learning and speaking the Hawaiian language. Thankfully, there is also an after school tutoring program available for the children to learn formal English as well.

It is encouraged, if parents don’t already speak Hawaiian ‘Ōlelo to learn in order to support their children in development and at home. I am so blessed to be part of this program with my friends and Goddaughter… Every Monday evening the adults are taught and about three weeks ago commenced my first class!

The caption above essentially translates to: My name is Jennifer, What is your name? These two books are crucial to learning the Hawaiian language, and this is the same curriculum taught at the University of Hawai’i!

I’d like to start publishing weekly posts; however, I really don’t want to come across as if I’m teaching the language–I am by all means a beginner! How about I simply post my notes from class and go from there?

At the very least, I will be reiterating what I learned, helping me memorize the information, and you, well, perhaps you will learn to pronounce everyday basic Hawaiian words–which will be excellent if you ever find yourself in Hawai’i!!

Lesson One: Short and Sweet — The Hawaiian Alphabet… 

A … [pronounced: ah]
E … [pronounced: a] 
I … [pronounced: e]
O … [pronounced: oh]
U … [pronounced: ooh]
‘Okina (glottal stop) [pronounced: oh-key-na]

Kahakō (macron) [pronounced: kah-ha-ko]

H … [pronounced: he or hey]
K … [pronounced: ke or kay] 
L … [pronounced: la]
M … [pronounced: mu or moo]
N … [pronounced: nu or new]

P … [pronounced: pi or pee]
W … [pronounced: we or vay] 
Get used to saying Ah, A, E, Oh, Ooh, ‘Okina, Kahakō, He, La, Mu, Nu, Pi, We…

Let’s spell in Hawaiian!

1. Aloha
[ah, la, oh, he, ah – aloha]

2. ‘Okina
[‘okina, oh, ke, e, nu, ah – ‘okina]

3. Kahakō
[ke, ah, he, ah, ke, kahakō, oh – Kahakō]

When spelling (especially out loud), remember to express the ‘okina and kahakō appropriately (prior to the vowel) … ‘Ōlelo = ‘okina, oh, la, a, la, oh – ‘Ōlelo)

Try to spell the following words as I did above in the comment section below: 

a) Kālā [pronounced: kaa-la] (money)
b) Kala [pronounced: ka-la] (crayon)
c) Ka lā [pronounced: ka-laa] (the sun)

Can you see how the kahakō placement changes the pronunciation of the word, thus the meaning of the word?

Here’s another example:

ae [pronounced: eye] Kae (doodoo)
ai [pronounced: ah-ee] Kai (ocean)


We’re not going to get into the technical side of things and end on that note. Next post, we will continue practicing spelling words verbally in Hawaiian and introduce speeches we will eventually memorize!

Does this kind of post interest you?
What languages do you speak?
Are you familiar with the Hawaiian Language?

Answers: ɥɐ ‘ōʞɐɥɐʞ ‘ɐן ‘ǝɔɐds ‘ɥɐ ‘ǝʞ (ɔ ɥɐ ‘ɐן ‘ɥɐ ‘ǝʞ (q ɥɐ ‘ōʞɐɥɐʞ ‘ɐן ‘ɥɐ ‘ōʞɐɥɐʞ ‘ǝʞ (ɐ

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4 thoughts on “‘Ōlelo Hawai’i #1

  1. This is really interesting. Thanks for sharing. I found myself trying to pronounce everything as I read along. Thanks for the gentle reminder that I need to practice my Spanish more!

  2. I was totally saying these out loud while I was reading! 🙂 I wish that I had learned how to speak the language when I was younger; my Poppa speaks Hawaiian but my Momma does not, so the happy medium was to just teach me English! I think it is admirable that you are trying to learn the language (I don't have that kind of patience these days); I hope you continue to post some of the lessons, because I'd be interested in reading along!

    My Hubs is 1/2 Russian and speaks it fluently; I tried learning the language before we got married and really struggled with it. I think the younger you are, the more pliable your mind!


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