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Hawaiian and Cebuano

Aloha kākou!

So if you're unfamiliar with me, I am on the forums a lot talking about the language Cebuano/Bisaya (the second most spoken Philippine language) because it's my heritage language. I am not Hawaiian, and Filipinos are not considered Pacific Islanders according to many geographers (which makes no sense imho because we share so much language with people as far as Hawaii!).

For example, in many Philippine languages, the default syntax is also VSO. And the numbers 1-9?

Hawaiian Cebuano/Bisaya
'Ekahi Isa
'Elua Duha
'Ekolu Tulo
'Ehā Upat
'Elima Lima (My favorite Austronesian Number)
'Eono Unom
'Ehiku Pito
'Ewalu Walo
'Eiwa Siyam

And the third person singular pronoun?
ia in Hawaiian
And in Cebuano, there are four ways of saying it, but the BASE of them all is: iya (Siya, Niya, Iya(ha)ng, Kaniya)
There is no gender distinction in either language with these pronouns.

Cebuano/Bisaya has Austronesian Alignment (which is kind of one of the many variations of Split Ergativity). Hawaiian is no longer such, it's more so another form of Ergative-Absolutive Alignment if I remember correctly. Hawaiian, as far as I know, no longer uses case markers and topic markers, then changes its verbs according to such; had it ever. But they're still so similar in grammar!

In Hawaiian, you could say: "Aia au i ka hane." I'm at the house.
In Cebuano, you would say: "Naa koy sa balay."
"Aia" and "Naa" both are used for some sort of placement or existence in a place. "Au" and "ko" (exclude the 'y' for another Cebuano discussion) both mean "I" the first person singular. With "i ka" and "sa" both give this vibe of "in/at/on". And finally, "hane" and "balay" both mean "house."

That's as much as I can remember and write down to mention for the similarities between both languages. I think it's super cool and interesting, and I'm glad that it feels easier for me to learn Hawaiian because of my background in Cebuano/Bisaya.

I hope you enjoyed this post! Mahalo for reading this far if you did. Mālama pono!

November 26, 2018



They are both Austronesian languages, so they would definitely share vocabulary and grammar structures. This comparison is interesting, thanks for sharing. :)


Same Lima/Elima is my favorite number, because in pidgin (butchered hawaiian) it's butt. My anty's would always say they would hit my butt if i didn't listen xD Anyways, I just recently found out that on my grandma's side, she is from cebu. I want to at least pay respects to that by learning beginner level bisaya. Sadly, i can't find anything since Austronesian languages are preferably taught by immersion and word of mouth. Do you have any suggestions for what resources i can use?


Elemu is better than saying okole! Somehow the word for butt cheeks - elemu. Got switched to okole - butthole.


Filipinos are not Pacific Islanders because culturally we are Asian (influenced by Chinese, Indian and Malay) and we have more in common with them than Hawaiians. A lot of other Austronesian languages have lots of words in common with Hawai'ian as well but that doesn't make them Pacific Islanders. Almost any Filipino from the Philippines would tell you they are Asian and have never considered themselves Pacific Islanders.

According to history, the reason we share so much in common in terms of language and culture is because they actually descended from us! Our common ancestors immigrated from Taiwan (Taiwanese Aboriginals) in the beginning and migrated to much of Southeast Asia and Polynesia.


I totally agree. We Filipinos are not Pacific Islanders and definitely not because of language similarities with Hawaiian. Otherwise, the Malagasy and Taiwanese Aboriginals would be considered Pacific Islanders then, which wouldn't make sense. Otherwise, the Philippines wouldn't be with the geopolitical organization called "ASEAN". Filipinos are Southeast Asian.

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