o-moreonnumbers

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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