Summer Learning–ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi

Hilo is rich with languages. If you visit the Hilo Farmer’s Market, you will hear many languages from both vendors and customers–such wonderful music for our ears.

Did you know that Hawaii’s two official languages are English and Hawaiian? To date, Hawaiian is the most widely studied Native American language and it is the only Native American language that is used officially by a state government. Established in 1997, UH Hilo’s College of Hawaiian Language, Ka Haka ʻUla O Keʻelikōlani, was named in honor of Ruth Keʻelikōlani Keanolani Kanāhoahoa, the 19th-century high chiefess known for her strong advocacy of Hawaiian language and culture.img_3802Last summer, the Hale Kuamoʻo Hawaiian Language Center of Ka Haka ʻUla O Keʻelikōlani College of Hawaiian Language at the University of Hawaii at Hilo supported Hawaii Community College and the University of Hawaii at Hilo faculty and staff by offering a series of introductory level Hawaiian language workshops to promote the use of Hawaiian on campus. Each class consisted of fun activities and lessons on Hawaiian pronunciation, spelling, vocabulary, and simple sentence patterns.img_3803I went to a class and received basic instruction in the alphabet and pronunciation. The Hawaiian alphabet consists of five vowels and eight consonants. The vowels are the key to good Hawaiian pronunciation. Luckily, I have some Japanese language skills and the sounds of Japanese and Hawaiian are very similar and so were very familiar to me.

Some commonly mispronounced Hawaiian words include:

  • kuleana (often mispronounced as kuliana)
  • poke (often mispronounced as poki)
  • Honolulu (often mispronounced as Hanalulu)

I love learning more about the language and culture of Hawaii. I wish I had more time for learning. Living Hilo Style.


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