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  5. "Write with a marker."

"Write with a marker."

Translation:E kākau me ka peni māka.

November 10, 2019



If the translation is supposed to be "A marker", why is "ka" required? Wouldn't that translate as "THE marker"? Is the definite article really that flexible in translation?


Aloha e @Artikyulet, this is one of the hardest things for beginning oceanic language learners to grasp from approached from other mother-tongues.

Ma ka ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi, when "ke/ka" is used in a lala (branch) part of a sentence, it doesnʻt necessarily operate as a definite article as in English. It operates more in a general way (especially in this type of sentence pattern). This stems from the rules of Hawaiian particles need to always be present in front of words/parts of sentence.

Contrast the following in English: - I eat the banana. - I eat a banana. - I eat bananas. - I write with the marker - I write with a marker. - I write with markers.

In English, "the marker" is known through context as being a specific marker. Both "a marker" and "markers" are a bit different, but essentially convey the idea of generality. In Hawaiian, we canʻt just omit "ke/ka" to create generality; that violates the rule that there must be a particle there. Instead, we understand that "ke/ka" does not imply "the marker (that you and I specifically know about)," but instead just simply "the marker (in general)" , which translates better to "a marker" or "markers" in English.

If specifics need to be conveyed, then other markers are used in place. "ia" might be more closely translated to the definite "the" as in English. "E kākau me ia peni māka." Write with the/that marker (that you and I know about).

Hope this helps a bit! Best to remember that oceanic languages are a different language family and canʻt be 1:1 translated like many other languages can.


Great explanation! Mahalo!


I'm having a hard time knowing why this is "me ka peni māka" rather than "i ka peni māka"


me = with. i = to, towards, at, in, on, by, because of, for, due to, by means of.

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