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Hawaiian Language

The Hawaiian language contains 13 letters: A, E, H, I, K, L, M, N, O, P, U, W and the okina (‘). The okina is a glottal stop like the sound between the ohs in oh-oh and is considered a consonant. The kahako or macron (–) is placed over a vowel to prolong the sound. The okina and kahako are often used to help clarify pronunciation.

The following are some common Hawaiian words you may see or hear in Hawaii:

Aloha: Hello, goodbye, love
E komo mai: Welcome
Hana hou: Do it again, encore
Haole: White person, foreigner
Kamaaina: Hawaii born or long time Hawaii resident
Kane: Man
Kapu: Forbidden, keep out
Keiki: Child or children
Lua: Bathroom
Mahalo: Thank you
Makai: Toward the ocean. A common way of giving directions.
Mauka: Toward the mountains. A common way of giving directions.
Ohana: Family
Pau: Finished
Wahine: Woman

Due to limitations in displaying the Hawaiian diacritical markings accurately on various computer operating systems and to ensure integrity of the information, the okina and kahako used in Hawaiian words have been excluded from all copy that appears on this website.

However, in all printed materials, HVCB recognizes the proper spelling of Hawaiian words and names including the use of the okina (‘) and the kahako (line over the vowel).

Please click here to download a detailed explanation (in PDF format) on the use of the Hawaiian language, its alphabet, and proper usage.

For more information on the Hawaiian language online, visit the following sites: