"That police officer is smart."
Translation:Akamai kēlā mākaʻi.
Could someone explain the syntax of this sentence for me please? It seems like the order is: adjective + demonstrative + noun. Is this true for all phrases with an adjective and demonstrative?
Basic sentence structure (with some other formulas that will be introduced for locators and for equators) is Verb + subject + other parts of the sentence. Many words can be used as both an adjective and a verb, as is the case with "akamai". Following a noun it is the adjective "smart" and at the beginning of the sentence it is the verb "to be smart". So your breakdown of the sentence is exactly correct, except that when putting the adjective at the beginning of the sentence it is acting as an adjectival verb. Thus, "kēlā mākaʻi akamai" means, "that smart police officer" and "Akamai kēlā mākaʻi," means, "That police officer is smart."
Thank you so much for your quick reply! So when the order is Dem + Noun + Adj, the word is acting as a true adjective. But when the adj. comes before the demonstrative, it behaves like a verb. Got it!
That's basically it, though I will caution against thinking of the adjective as being before the "demonstrative" and rather thinking of it as being at the beginning of the sentence. You could have a sentence like, "He mākaʻi akamai koʻu makua kāne." In this case, "akamai" occurs before the "demonstrative" ("koʻu") for "makua kāne", but it is not behaving like a verb. It is following the noun "mākaʻi" and is modifying that noun. It would have to be before any and all nouns in the sentence (or "at the beginning of the sentence") to be behaving like a verb.
Ah, okay! I do believe I understand it now. Thank you again, you are an awesome mod and contributor!
Just for clarity, I hold no official position in the Hawaiian course. All of my ambassador hats are for the Klingon language. However, I am an avid student of languages/linguistics and a huge fan of Hawaiian. So as a fellow student who has already had to struggle through figuring these things out, I try to help out as I can.