1. Forum
  2. >
  3. Topic: Hawaiian
  4. >
  5. "My mom adopted her nephew."

"My mom adopted her nephew."

Translation:Hānai koʻu māmā i kāna keiki kāne hanauna.

December 19, 2019



I suppose "Ua hānai ..." would be wrong (not make sense)? Three months later, I think the sentence should be interpreted sort of like "My mom foster-childs her nephew." With "ua" I suppose it would mean she doesn't do it anymore.


This confused me, too. I would think it should be "Ua hānai," also, for the past tense of "adopt."


Ua should NOT have been left out. And "ua lawe hānai" would be even better.


I wish I knew commentators' credentials. It seems likely to me that hānai represents a continuing status. Among its verbal meanings in Pukui and Elbert are "foster" and "to care for." One example: "Hānai maila 'oia iāia i ka meli" "He FED him the honey." But "lawe" is an action, so with "lawe hānai" of course the "ua" is important.


Credentials? My first Hawaiian language teacher was a schoolteacher from Niihau in 1972, and I've been teaching Hawaiian here on Kauaʻi for over 45 years. For the past 25 years, I've been a full-time teacher at Ke Kula Niʻihau O Kekaha, a public charter school for children of Niʻihau families dedicated to perpetuating the Niʻihau dialect of Hawaiian. Also author of ʻŌlelo ʻŌiwi which will have a revised edition coming out sometime this year. My perspective does tend to be Kauaʻi/Niʻihau oriented, but I've also had a lot of experience with Hawaiian speakers on other islands. Does that help? Or did I get carried away in answering your concern? Kala mai.


My goodness, HC. You forgot to mention your children's book. Haha, I recognized you right away. I was hoping you might have considered becoming an "official" moderator. I am pretty confident you can pass the fluency test.
Please don't leave the forums, Kumu. We need you.


Aloha Rabelon. Mahalo for your comments. Lots of free time at home every day thanks to the CoronaVirus. So I head back to DL when it gets too boring just being around the house all the time. HC


Mahalo. I hoped that would be the case for someone who made such a strong statement. But I take Pukui and Elbert as well credentialed as well, and they seem to show that "Hānai koʻu māmā i kāna keiki kāne hanauna" could be grammatically perfect.


Me again. Sorry, I got so carried away with my "credentials" the first time around, I missed something in your question. Believe it or not, "Hānai maila ʻo ia iā ia i ka meli" IS a past tense statement because the MAILA indicates past tense. Doubt if that will ever be taught in DL, but it's interesting that you noticed it as a past-tense sentence. Good catch.


I had three choices. The one that started with Ua hānai... read Ua hānai ko'u makuahine i kāu keiki kāne hanauna. If you had the same choice, it would be easy to choose the wrong answer.


Can you use Ua hanai as in , already adopted?


Mahalo for that clarification. I was adopted as an infant and that was always considered to be a one-time event that confers lifetime status as a part of the 'ohana, therefore putting it in a past tense. But I was born, adopted, and raised on the mainland, and was assuming, based on this sentence, that here, hanai is an ongoing process, since language and culture are tightly bonded together. I think i need to have some more conversations relevant to this topic with more of my Hawaiian friends.


In relation to a family, I consider the verb "adopted" to refer to a legal/ceremonial/conscious process that, once finished, creates a new official status in the family. As an adjective, it is a never-ending status, like being a biological child. Without context, this sentence refers to an event that has (already) happened in the past. My beginner-Hawaiian gut thought ua should be used here. Thank you, HklaniClee. Geraldmath4 may have supplied the key that Duolingo meant fosters. (My credentials in English are: native U.S. speaker, B.S. & M.A. in English . . . .) Are foster and adopt different words/concepts in Hawaii?


I notice my first comment on this issue was a year ago, but to answer your new question, "keiki hānai" could refer to either a foster child or an adopted child (I double-checked with some native speakers from Ni'ihau here at school). If you wanted to specify that a child has been legally adopted, however, you should add "hoʻohiki": keiki hānai hoʻohiki. That comes from "to legally adopt": lawe hānai hoʻohiki.

"Adopting" children is very common in Hawaiian culture, whether it's done informally or legally. In many families, a couple's first child is often "given" to grandparents who no longer have a young child at home, and this may--or may not--be done with legal paperwork.

Here on Kaua'i, if you look at obituaries or go to a funeral for Ni'ihau people, nephews and nieces are also often listed as "hānai children," mainly to show a close relationship with these individuals; this term may even be used to describe younger "special friends" who would otherwise probably not be listed in a traditional obituary.

As for another earlier question in this discussion, keep in mind that "hānai" and "lawe hānai" are both transitive verbs. Both can be made passive by adding ʻia: hānai ʻia, lawe hānai ʻia. Also, either of these can be used in any tense: ua lawe hānai ʻia, e lawe hānai ʻia, e lawe hānai ʻia ana, ke lawe hānai ʻia nei. (Come to think of it, I've been too busy to do much in DL for the past year, but I sort of remember that the passive may not have been taught in DL; if that's true, e kala mai! But it's important to know the passive if you want to speak--or understand--Hawaiian.)

Learn Hawaiian in just 5 minutes a day. For free.