Diacritical Marks: `Okina and Kahakô - http://hawaiianlanguage.com

Diacritical Marks:
The Kahakô and The `Okina


Diacritical mark: a mark placed over, under, alongside or attached to a letter to indicate pronunciation, stress, or other value.

The kahakô (also called mekona for macron) and the `okina (glottal stop) are diacritical marks which make the proper pronunciation and meanings of many Hawaiian words possible, especially for the beginning student.

The kahakô indicates that the vowel sound is to be elongated. The `okina indicates a break in the breath, as in "Oh-oh!"

Unfortunately, to date, these diacritical marks are neither universally, nor uniformly available on the Internet. In its true form, the kahakô is a line directly above the vowel and the `okina is an up-side-down apostrophe (also described as "a little 6 with the circle colored in").

The `okina is considered a consonant. Just as you would never drop essential consonants in your spelling (ear for dear, for example), do not drop the `okina. It is well-depicted with a " ` ", which precedes vowels with `okina:`a, `e, `i, `o,` u. An easy depiction of the kahakô is still, however, not universally available on the Internet.

On PC-written net documents, the closest approximation that I have seen for a kahakô is a caret [kahr et']. Myself, I refer to it as the pâpale (hat or a cap) over the vowel. For example: â. To obtain these letters with kahakô on my desktop PC*, I hold down the "Alt" key, then strike the number code in sequence, using the NUMERIC (calculator-type) KEYPAD on the right side of the keyboard -- with the Number Lock "on". DO NOT use the row of number keys above the alphabet keys; they will not work for this purpose.


To obtain these letters with kahakô:

Hold down the "Alt" key, as you strike the number codes in sequence:

To obtain these letters with kahakô:

Hold down the "Alt" key, as you strike the number codes in sequence:





















*On my PC laptop, I must hold down both "Alt" key and the "Fn" key, while I strike in the numeric code, as the my numeric pad is embedded into the central keyboard with letters. I repeat: do NOT use the number keys on the top row above the alphabet keys, as they do not work for this purpose.

A suggestion: Print out this page, cut out the above table and post it alongside your computer for easy reference.

As you can see, a minimum of 5 keystrokes is needed to obtain one letter with a kahakô! While it does become less unwieldy with repetition, these sequences are a hindrance to the speed, ease, and fluidity of "writing" and "conversing" on the Internet.

Thus, in personal correspondence and occasionally here, you will see me reverting to a quicker, less "accurate" depiction of the kahakô. I shortcut the number sequence method by representing the kahakô with a " ~ ", which immediately follows vowels with kahakô: a~, e~, i~, o~, u~ . Conveniently, both " ~ " and " ` " are located on the same key.

So bear with these approximations of the true forms. In the meantime, let us look forward to the eventual universal and uniform availability of the kahakô and the `okina on the Internet.

E ho`omanawanui kâua!
(Let us be patient!)

E Ho`iho`i i ka Luna
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Aloha a hui hou, Aunty D

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