Until the 1820's, the Hawaiian language was only spoken.
History was passed down from generation to generation through the memorization of chants and by dancing the hula. When missionaries arrived from New England, they began to record and write, phonetically, the Hawaiian words.
Today, in order to keep the culture alive, the Hawaiian language is still being taught in schools and is enjoying a resurgence in usage in contemporary Hawaiian song lyrics. Now, let's learn some basic Hawaiian to use on your trip to the islands...
Ko Aloha Makamae E Ipo ~ you are so precious to me!
|The entire Hawaiian alphabet has only 12 letters|
In formal or traditional settings, the ' W ' is sometimes pronounced like a ' V ', but this only happens when the ' W ' is in the middle of a word, as in Huh-(v)eye-ee instead of the more common Huh-why-ee.
Sometimes you will see a word spelled with an apostrophe between two vowels, as in Ali'i.
This is called an "okina" (oh-kee-nah), or a glottal stop; a special consonant represented by a symbol that can change the meaning and pronunciation of a word, and creates an abrupt break or momentary pause by the speaker when the word is spoken.
Vowels may follow each other, as in Hawai'i, where the double vowel is then pronounced as 'eee'. Consonants are always followed by a vowel, creating syllables with only two letters.
Popular Hawaiian Words and Phrases!
Words never end in a consonant, so all Hawaiian words end with a vowel, and because there is no "S" in the Hawaiian language, nouns are not pluralized. As in, "Wow, there go two Humuhumunukunukuapa'a!" (The Hawaii State fish).
Note, here too there is an okina at the end of the word, which means the person would say, ah-ah
|ali'i||a Hawaiian chief, noble or royalty - Pronounced ah-lee-ee|
|A hui hou||goodbye|
|aloha||means both hello & goodbye, welcome or farewell, romantic love, affection, or best wishes|
|Aloha hiahi||good evening|
|Aloha au ia oe||I love you|
|Aloha kakahiaka||good morning|
|Aloha nui loa||much love, fondest regards|
|hale||house or building - Pronunced hah-lay|
|hana||work - "Pau Hana" means I'm done for today - Usually said on Aloha Fridays|
|haole||Caucasian - originally meant foreigner, now a rather bitter term for a mainlander - 'How-lee'|
|Hauoli la hanau||Happy Birthday - Pronounced How-oh-lee La Huh-now|
|Hauoli makahiki hou||Happy New Year - Pronounced How-oh-lee Mah-kah-hee-kee How|
|Heiau||temple, ancient worship ground - Pronounced 'Hay-ow'|
|hele||go or walk around|
|hui||a group, meeting, or society|
|hula||native Hawaiian dance - (A hula hale is a hula school house)|
|imu||an underground oven used to steam cook foods on bed of heated rocks covered by earth|
|ipo||sweetheart, lover, girl- or boyfriend|
|ipu||gourd - also an instrument used in hula|
|kahuna||teacher or priest|
|kama'aina||native born, long-time island resident, local (literal translation - "Of the land")|
|kane||man (Seen on many restroom doors in Hawaii) -|
|kapu||forbidden - no tresspassing - Pronounced: Kah-poo|
|keiki||child - also used to discribe new baby orchid plants|
|komo mai||please come in, enter, welcome (E Komo Mai) - "My hale is your hale"|
|kokua||help - As seen in Jame's Michener's book "Hawaii" - 'Paki Kokua' (Chineese helper)|
|ku||Ancient Hawaiian god of war, usuallly carved as a tiki|
|lanai||porch or patio (Also a Hawaiian island when capitalized)|
|lei||traditional garland of flowers or vines (An open lei is 'formal', a closed round lei is festive)|
|lomi lomi||traditional Hawaiian massage (or a luau dish made with salmon)|
|lua||toilet, restroom, water closet|
|luau||a Hawaiian feast featuring poi, cooked pork in an imu and drinks with little umbrellas in them|
|Ma'alaea||Beautiful seaside village on Maui, where your condo is located - Pronounced: Mah-ah-lie-yah|
|Mahalo nui loa||thank you very much - pronounced: 'Mah-ha-low, New-ee, Low-ah'|
|Mai'ai||come and eat|
|makai||toward the sea|
|mauka||toward the mountains, inland - as in "Mauka Showers" heard on the weather reports|
|mele||a Hawaiian chant or song|
|Mele kalikimaka||Merry Christmas - Pronounced: May-lay Kah-lee-kee-mah-kah|
|menehune||a mystical Hawaiian elf|
|mu'u mu'u||dress (Please note that the pronunciation is: moo-oo-moo-oo, not 'moo-moo')|
|nuha||sad & blue|
|Okole maluna||cheers, bottoms up|
|ono||delicious, delightful, the best also a type of fish, which can lead to, "Wow, that was ono ono!"|
|'o'opu||fish - pronounced - 'oh-ah-pu' - as in: 'We used to catch 'o'opu in the mountain stream'|
|pali||cliff - pronounced 'pah-lee' - as in take the pali highway|
|paniolo||a Hawaiian cowboy - pronounced 'pan-nee-oh-low'|
|pau||finished - (See Hana above)|
|Pehea'oe?||How are you?|
|pua||flower - pronounced 'poo-ah' - as in pua carnation|
|puka||a hole of any size - as in a puka shell necklace|
|pupu||an appetizer, snack, hors d'oeuvres - as in pupu platter|
|tapa||traditional paper cloth made from beaten bark|
|wahine||woman (Also used on the ladies room doors in restaurants and hotels)|
Aloha Au Ia 'Oe ~ I Love You
Aloha Aku No, Aloha Mai No ~ I give my love to you, you give your love to me
Aloha Kaua ~ may there be love between us (said to one person)
Aloha Kakou ~ may there be love between us (said to more than one person)
Aloha No Au Ia 'Oe ~ I Truly Love You
Aloha Nui Loa ~ All my love
Aloha Pumehana ~ warm love, affection
E Hoomau Maua Kealoha ~ May our love last forever
E Ku'u Aloha ~ My Love
Eia Au, Eia 'Oe ~ Here I am, here you are E ku'u ipo ë, eia au ke mihi nei.
E kala mai ia'u, aloha nö au 'iä 'oe. ~ Sweetheart, I am [here] apologizing.
Forgive me, I do love you
Ho'i Hou Ke Aloha ~ Let us fall in love all over again
Hokeo - to secretly love
Ia Iho Ke Aloha ~ To my love
Ka Honi Mai Me Ke Aloha ~ And with love is a kiss
Ke Aloha ~ Beloved
Kipona Aloha ~ Deep loveKo Aloha Makamae E Ipo ~ Sweetheart you are so precious
Ko'u Aloha ~ My Love
Ku'u Lei ~ My beloved
Ma'ane'i No Ke Aloha ~ For love is here and now
Mau Loa ~ Forever
Mea Aloha ~ loved one
Me Ke Aloha ~ With love
Me Ke Aloha Pumehana ~ With the warmth of my love
Nau ko'u aloha ~ My love is yours
Na'u 'oe ~ You're mine
No Kau a Kau ~ For Eternity
No Keia La, No Keia Po, A Mau Loa ~ From this day, from this night, forever more
Nou No Ka 'I'ini ~ I desire you
'O Ku'u Aloha No 'Oe ~ You are indeed my love
Tiki - Ku
Click Here to Contact Us for Reservations or More Information