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https://www.duolingo.com/adamyoung97

Ka ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi: He ʻōlelo mua muku (The Hawai'ian language: A brief introduction)

adamyoung97
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E komo mai!

I've decided to write a short lesson on Hawai'ian. I don't speak it fluently by any means, but I am learning it, and so I thought I'd share what I do know here.

The alphabet/Ka pīʻāpā Hawaiʻi

A (ʻā) - "ha"
E (ʻē) - "bed"
I (ʻī) - "be"
O (ʻō) - "top"
U (ʻū) - "to"
Ā (ʻā kahakō) - "father"
Ē (ʻē kahakō) - "rain"
Ī (ʻī kahakō) - "see"
Ō (ʻō kahakō) - "lone"
Ū (ʻū kahakō) - "soon"
H (hē) - Same as English
K (kē) - Same as English
L (lā) - Same as English
M (mū) - Same as English
N (nū) - Same as English
P (pī) - Same as English
W (wē) - English 'v'
ʻ (ʻokina) - Glottal stop (the pause made in "Uh-oh")

There are also 11 diphthongs: ai, ae, ao, au, ei, eu, iu, oe, oi, ou, and ui. These are pronounced by gliding the two vowels in the diphthong together, for example "Kai" (Sea water) is pronounced "k-eye", where the 'a' and the 'i' glide into the sound heard in the word 'eye'.

Also, make sure to fully use the glottal stop when speaking Hawaiian, as it can change the meaning of a word, like the words "Koʻu" (My) and "Kou" (Your).

The articles

The indefinite article is "He", for example "He kula" (A school).

The definite article in the singular is (generally) "Ke" for words beginning with K, A, E, or O, and "Ka" for all other words. For example, "Ke kula" (The school) and "Ka wahine" (The woman). Remember that the ʻokina (the ʻ) is a consonant, and therefore words that begin with it take the article "Ka" (Hence why "The Hawai'ian language" is "Ka ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi" even though the first 'letter' in "language" is 'Ō').

The definite article in the plural is "Nā". So, "Ke kula" (The school) becomes "Nā kula" (The schools), and "Ka wahine" (The woman) becomes "Nā wāhine" (The women). You'll have noticed that the first vowel on "Wahine" is lengthened in the plural - this occurs with some words, where the antepenultimate vowel (the vowel before the second-to-last vowel) is lengthened. Another word in which this occurs is "Kanaka" (Person), which becomes Kānaka (People).

The pronouns

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  • Singular, Dual, or Plural?

Singular is used when the subject is just one person.

Dual is used when the subject is exactly two people. For example, if you were talking about two of your friends, you would use "Lāua".

Plural is used when the subject is three or more people. For example, if you were talking to a group of friends, you'd use "ʻOukou".

  • Inclusive or Exclusive?

Inclusive is used when the person you are addressing is a part of the pair/group.

Exclusive is used when the person you are addressing isn't part of the pair/group.

For example, if you and your friend win a prize draw you both entered, and you are telling a different friend about it, you would use "Māua". However, if you were informing the friend that entered that you had both won, you would use "Kāua".

Basic grammar and phrases

In Hawai'ian, the word order is VSO (Verb, Subject, Object). So to say "I go to school" you would say "Go I to school" (Hele au i ke kula). If the sentence is negative and has a pronoun (like "You") as the subject, the word order is SVO (Subject, Verb, Object) - "I don't go to school" is "Not I go to school" (ʻAʻole au hele i ke kula).

In Hawai'ian, like other languages such as French and Spanish, the adjective follows the noun it's describing (He keiki liʻiliʻi - A small child). By placing the adjective in front of the noun, you can make a simple describing sentence: Nani ka ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi - Hawai'ian is beautiful)

To form a basic Noun 1 = Noun 2 sentence in Hawai'ian, you use the structure He + Noun 2 + Noun 1. For example:

He aha kēia? (What's this?)
He koʻu ʻīlio ʻo ia. (It's my dog.)

Hawai'ian verbs are very simple, especially compared to some languages like Hungarian or Arabic. In Hawai'ian there is no verb conjugation - you simply state the verb and the pronoun/name. As an example, the verb "To read" is "Heluhelu". "I read" is "Heluhelu au", "You read" is "Heluhelu ʻoe", "He/She reads" is "Heluhelu ʻo ia", etc.

Finally, the word ʻo shows the subject of a sentence, and is often used before "ia" (He/She), "wai" (Who), and names. For example: I kēia lā, maʻi ʻo James (Today, James is ill).

That is enough basic grammar knowledge to be able to form simple Hawai'ian sentences. Here are some examples:

Hele lākou i ka hale ʻaina. - They go to the restaurant.
ʻAʻole au hana i he kula. - I don't work at a school.
He ka Moku Kapu ʻo Niʻihau. - Ni'ihau is the Forbidden Island.
Maʻi nā keiki. - The children are ill.

To finish off, here are some pictures of Hawai'i.

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And here is one of the only uses of Hawai'ian for public signposting in Hawai'i, apart from "Aloha" and "Mahalo":

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2 years ago

12 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/Espeonage24

Sweet! Hey Duolingo, can you guys make a Hawaiian course? This guy proved that you should.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/CodyORB
CodyORB
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Cool! I've been to Hawaii- It's beautiful! Duolingo needs a Hawaiian course, it's at the risk of extinction D:

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/adamyoung97
adamyoung97
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I've also been to Hawai'i - those last two pictures of it are actually mine. What island did you go to? :)

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/CodyORB
CodyORB
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Oahu :)

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/KevanSF
KevanSF
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Great work! There really should be a Hawaiian course. Perhaps there are some Hawaiian language college professors (or retired professors) who have the knowledge, time and interest to do all the work necessary to make the course. I think it would be worth it, because it would expose this beautiful language to thousands (millions?) of people who might otherwise not think to learn it, or have access to a fun, easy way to study it.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Krinadoodle
Krinadoodle
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Yes! I've been wanting a Hawaiian course for sooo long! I live on Oahu, so we actually do speak a few Hawaiian words but I wanna learn more :P

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Himawari34

Yay Hawaiian!! Is it alright if I add them to the list of lessons? ^^

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/adamyoung97
adamyoung97
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Yes :)

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/txredeyes
txredeyes
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Hawaiian grammar seems like a breeze to learn :'D. I have been interested in learning for a while, because it looks so interesting and it would be awesome if there was a course for it on Duo since it's not widely spoken.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/adamyoung97
adamyoung97
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Yeah, it's amazingly simple. It almost feels too simple, especially as I'm learning Amharic, where you can have a word like ስላልነገራችሁኝ "Because you didn't tell me". I think a Hawai'ian course on Duolingo would be awesome! :)

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Espeonage24

OMG i did not expect that to happen!

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Noah_B_16
Noah_B_16
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I never really thought about/ cared to learn Hawaiian, but now I definitely want to! Thanks so much! Hopefully a course will be made for it very soon.

2 years ago