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Pronunciation of leading ʻokina

One thing Iʻm wondering, how to voice a leading ʻokina, like, well, that one. If you were to say ʻokina and okina, without a part of the word preceding the ʻokina to emphasize the glottal stop, is there much of a difference in the sound? Hoʻokahi for instance is more emphasized since the "ho" hits a sharp glottal stop on the ʻokina.

I had wondered this before but the following example, errr, made this a bit more pressing a concern: Letʻs eat! E ʻai kāua!

Drop the ʻokina and the meaning of that invitation changes, well, rather significantly (ai vs ʻai...Iʻll let you look it up)!!!

January 15, 2020



I used to wonder the same thing, until the day several years ago when I went to the Hawaiian language department at University of Hawaii at Hilo to see if I could find some books to help with Hawaiian. I did end up getting a pretty cool dictionary, childrens' vocabulary book with pictures, and language learning book. But I also got to talk to one of the teachers there, and asked her this question. She seemed surprised, almost like I didn't even know what ʻokina is at all. But once I was able to clarify that I am comfortable with glottal stops in between syllables, she was still a little puzzled but gave me some examples, saying words or syllables on their own with and without ʻokina at the beginning. To her the difference was really really obvious, to me it was subtle but I could hear it, and after a few tries I was able to consistently do it right so she could hear it. You really can make a glottal stop right at the beginning of a vowel and it does sound a bit different, itʻs just a difference thatʻs completely meaningless in English and all Indo-European languages as far as I know, so we learn early in life not to notice it.

[deactivated user]

    You don’t voice an ʻokina. No difference in sound, just pause/stop. If a sentence comes before another sentence that starts with an ʻokina than there is a pause. Example: ʻO Kāhealani koʻu inoa. (pause) ʻO wai kou inoa? English: My name is Kāhealani. (pause) What is your name? NOT My name is Kahealani. What is your name? E ʻai kāua! would be Eai kāua! without the ʻokina. Hope this helps.

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