Aloha, can someone teach me about the word poʻe? In Duolingo we learn it means "people," but I've come to find out through Ulukau that it is also a plural marker for other words. How does that work? Why does it have these two oddly separate meanings? How do I use it?

Mahalo nui :)

January 26, 2020


Aloha nō e @MitchTalmadge. This is a good question. My manaʻo from context and my own learnings on "poʻe" is as follows:

  • Poʻe is not so much "people" as kānaka means people (humans). Poʻe is more like a group of people/living things. It is more commonly used as "ka poʻe hawaiʻi" - Hawaiian people (living things); where the end is modified for whatever people you are talking about. And though context, just "poʻe" will be understood to mean "ka poʻe ___".
  • since it is a grouping for living things, you can think of it as "a herd of" or a "swarm of"..."a cluster of" as in: ka poʻe pōhaku (a family of rocks - rocks are living things in Hawaiian culture), ka poʻe nalo meli (a swarm of bees), ka poʻe manu (a flock of birds); etc.

Hope this helps you a bit!

some other words to remember that have similar meaning: - ka lāhui (the race/nation) - nā kānaka (the people -- has the connotation of referring to indigenous Hawaiians) - ka poʻe _. (the people "of "; ka poʻe Kepanī, Japanese people; etc.) - nā ʻoiwi (the ones "of the bones")--> refers exclusively to the indigenous on the land that you are on or referring to (that you are not physically on) through context. - and I am sure there are more I am forgetting rn haha

Mahalo e @KekoaMonkey!

That helps a lot. What do you think: if I wanted to say "people" in general, indefinitely unlike "the people," would one of these be correct?

  • "Poʻe"
  • "Mau kānaka"
  • "He mau kānaka"
  • "Poʻe kānaka"

I'm certain some (or all) of them are wrong and I'm sure you can see that I'm a bit confused about the usage of he and mau, but I'm trying to learn. :) From what I understand, he can replace ke/ka and is indefinite, and adding mau makes it plural (or, "nullifies the singularity" of he). But I could be wrong.

po'e means: 1. people; persons; personnel; population; assemblage; group of; company of. example: Eight groups of warriors. 'Ewalu ka po'e kaua. 2. (plural marker) [similar to the use of "mau" as a plural marker] example: The women. Ka po'e wāhine. Houses. Po’e hale.

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