Hawaiian Language Hints for the Beginner

10 07 2010

Shoreline up on the Kohala Coast

The 5 vowels a,e,i,o and u as well as the 7 consonants h,k,l,m,n,p, and w make up the entire Hawaiian alphabet.

In the Hawaiian language a consonant is always followed by a vowel which also means all Hawaiian words end in a vowel.

Names and words are more easily pronounced when they are broken down into single syllable chunks. Take the name of Hawaii’s state fish, humuhumunukunukuapua’a, and pronounce it hu-mu-hu-mu-nu-ku-nu-ku-a-pu-a-a. Phonetically pronounced who-moo-who-moo-new-coo-new-coo-ah-poo-ah-ah.

Sometimes the letter W is pronounced the same as V as in the traditional pronunciation of Hawai’i which is phonetically pronounced huh-vi-ee rather than huh-why-ee.

Stressed vowels
a – ah, as in car: aloha
e – a, as in may: nene
i – ee, as in bee: honi
o – oh, as in so: mahalo
u – oo, as in spoon: kapu

Unstressed vowels
a – a, as in about: ali`i
e – eh, as in met: kane

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