Counting in Hawaiian
Learning to count 11-50 in Hawaiian is much easier to learn than in English, as its sequencing is logical and orderly:
11 = umikûmâkahi = umi (ten) + kûmâ + kahi (one)
20 = iwakâlua = iwakâ + lua (two)
21= iwakâlua (twenty) + kûmâ + kahi (one)
30 = kanakolu = kana + kolu (three)
40 = kanahâ = kana + hâ (four)
Ka Hâ (The Four):
I ka wâ kahiko (in the old time), Hawaiian thinking and spirituality influenced the number nomenclature after 49.
Four is a sacred number, as it represents The Four great gods of Hawai`i): Kû, Kâne, Kanaloa, and Lono. And thus:
50 = kanahâ me ka umi = "40 with (the) 10" = 40 + 10
60 = `akahi kanahâ me ka iwakâlua
= "one forty with (the) twenty" = 40 + 20
70 = `akahi kanahâ me kea kanakolu
= "one forty with (the) thirty" = 40 + 30
80 =`elua kanahâ = "two forties" = 2 X 40
Ka Lau (The Four Hundred):
After the four great Gods came the lesser, but mighty, gods to Hawai`i. They were known as Ka Lau, The Four Hundred. Today, many of them are unknown; among those still prominently known and revered are Hina, Haumea, Nu`akea, and Pele. And thus:
600 = ho`okahi lau a me nâ kanaha `elima
= "one four hundred with (the) five forties"
= (1 x 400) + (5 x 40)
Ke Kini Akua (The Forty Thousand Gods):
Wherever one walks in Hawai`i, other gods are found. Not just Ka `Ehâ and Ka Lau, but the four thousand and the four hundred thousand gods, collectively called Ke Kini Akua.
10,000 = `Alua mano me nâ lau `elima
= "two four thousands with (the) five four hundreds"
= (2 x4000) + (5 X 400)
Greater than 10,000, the term nalowale (out of sight) was used.
Source: Taylor, Clarice B., HAWAIIAN ALMANAC, Mutual Publishing, 1995.
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Aloha a hui hou, Leilani
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