Hawaii English Dictionary
Convert any word from English to Hawaiian and vice versa!
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Hawaii is well known for it’s splendid climate, great beaches and beautiful scenery. Once you arrive in Hawaii, you find out that it is much more. You find an inviting and rich culture much different than the one you may experience on the mainland. While the Hawaiian language is no longer widely spoken, you will immediately be surrounded by it. At the airport, someone will say Aloha (hello) to you, then, you will hop on a wikiwiki (quick) bus to get to the main terminal where you may purchase a lei (flower garland). One way to better experience this rich culture, and to keep the “Aloha Spirit” alive, is by learning some of the language.
Hawaiian is a very old language which belongs to the Polynesian language family. It is closely related to other Polynesian languages which are spread over a large, triangular area of the Pacific Ocean with Hawaii at the northern most point, New Zealand (where Maori is spoken) to the southwest and Easter Island (where Rapa Nui is spoken) marking the southeastern point. There are many theories on how exactly the Hawaiian language came to be. Generally speaking, it appears that foreign immigrants (perhaps Marquesans or Tahitians) colonized the archipelago around AD 1000. These settlers were the original Hawaiians and their language over time, grew into the Hawaiian language we know today. This would make the Hawaiian language approximately ten centuries old.
Hawaii is the only state in America to have two official languages – English and Hawaiian. There is a 3 rd offshoot language which is widely spoken in Hawaii commonly referred to as Pidgin. While charming and a lot of fun, Pidgin is not an official language and thus will not be covered going forward. You will certainly pick some of it up while you are in Hawaii.
In order to speak Hawaiian, it is helpful to understand the alphabet first. When Captain Cook first arrived in the Hawaiian islands in 1778, he discovered that the Hawaiians had no written version of their language. In 1820, western missionaries began to develop and standardize a written version of the language. The written language they developed featured 8 consonants, 5 vowels and several special symbols.
H – as in English
K – as in English
L – as in English
M – as in English
N – as in English
P – as in English
W – after I and e pronounced v
- after u and o pronounced like w
- at the start of a word or after a, pronounced like w or v
‘ – ‘Okina – a glottal stop which will be covered shortly
A – pronounced like the a in far
E – pronounced like the e in bet
I – pronounced like the ee in beet
O – pronounced like the o in sole
U – pronounced like the oo in boot
The ‘Okina looks similar to an apostrophe and is known as a glottal stop. The glottal stop is a brief break in a word and features a sound that really isn’t a consonant in English. It is hard to describe the sound as it is not made with the tongue or lips. This subtle sound comes from the vocal chords and the best reference to the sound in English is the sound made between the first oh and the second oh when you say “oh-oh”.
In the Hawaiian language, the ‘Okina is an official consonant. An ‘Okina will never be the last letter in a word, will appear in front of a vowel but never before a consonant.
The Kahak ō:
In the Hawaiian language, the Kahak ō is a stress mark or “macron” that appears only over vowels. While the basic sound of the vowel is the same, the Kahak ō tells you to hold the sound slightly longer. The stress mark is helpful in correctly pronouncing the Hawaiian language. You have a much better chance of pronouncing Waikīkī correctly if you hold the i sounds which are stressed, longer.
While these symbols appear to have minor effects on the way a word is spoken, not including them can not only change the way the word sounds, but also it’s meaning. For example, the word “moa” (mo-ah) means chicken and the word “mo’a” (mo ah) means cooked.
For your enjoyment, we have included a Hawaiian dictionary on-line. This on-line dictionary contains several thousand words in English to Hawaiian fashion. These words were chosen because they are frequently used. Please keep in mind that many Hawaiian words have multiple meanings and the true meaning comes from the context of what is being said as a sentence. We hope you will find the above information and the on-line dictionary to be a helpful and fun reference. We feel that it is important for the Hawaiian culture to preserve and continue the use of the Hawaiian language. This dictionary is for entertainment purposes and also to encourage your interest in the official language of the state of Hawaii .
“An interminable language……it is one of the oldest living languages of the earth,
As some conjecture, and may well be classed among the best
…….the thought to displace it,
Or to doom it to oblivion by substituting the English language,
Ought not for a moment to be indulged.
Long live the grand old, sonorous, poetical Hawaiian language.”
- The Rev. Lorenzo Lyons (Makua Laiana), 1878