o-localhawaiian

 Speak Hawaiian Like a Local ;-)

The truth of the matter is Hawaiian-speaking locals are a small minority, albeit a fast-growing one with the cultural renaissance and the revival of the Hawaiian language. Like most locals, I grew up learning a number of Hawaiian words. We liberally peppered our daily conversations with them, although we never spoke Hawaiian as a language, per se.

These are glosses, to be sure, but the words on this list is sure to give a beginner a measure of confidence, if not a major headstart in learning Hawaiian as a language. These are words that are commonly used in "localspeak." Try substituting appropriate Hawaiian words in your conversations; in no time, you too may be speaking Hawaiian like a local. Then, you can start working on speaking Hawaiian… like a Hawaiian.

Remember: anything worthwhile or of true value requires time, effort, commitment, and patience.


Source: Pukui, Mary Kawena & Elbert, Samuel H.,
Hawaiian Dictionary, Revised
and Enlarged Edition, University Of Hawai`i Press, Honolulu, 1986.

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 Pronunciation Guide

KA `ÔLELO HAWAI`I (HAWAIIAN):

KA `ÔLELO HAOLE (ENGLISH):

COMMENTS:

`Â.
[AH']

 

 

Um.

English speakers say "um" when they pause or stammer while thinking what to say next. Hawaiians say, "`Â."

Aiâ!
[ai (Y)AH' !]

 

 

Oh no! (Gasp!) Ouch!

Use this when something goes wrong. It is also used to express surprise, as from sudden expected pain.

A hui hou!
[ah hui hou!]

Good bye! See you later!

Lit., "Till (we) meet again".

`a`â
[ah AH']

rough, clinkery lava

Vs., pâhoehoe (smooth lava).

`a`ama
[ah ah' mah]

large, black edible crab

Often seen scampering on the rocks. Eaten raw and salted, soft-shelled as caught when shedding old shell.

ahahana
[ah hah hah' nah]

 

 

a taunting sing-song phrase, meaning "You're gonna get it!"

Other versions:
Ahana [ah hah nah],
Ahana kôkôlele
[ah hah' nah KOH' KOH' leh leh]…you brok' my `ukulele!

aikâne
[ai KAH' neh]

friend, pal, buddy; friendly

 

`ahi
[ah' hee]

 

yellow-tail tuna

Makes `ono (delicious) poke (marinated raw fish chunks). Delicious, seared and served rare. More on Hawaiian fish.

`âina
[AI' nah]

land, earth

As in, "Aloha `Âina" , (love of the land or of one's country)

akamai
[ah kah mai']

smart, clever, wise, intelligent

Learn more about describing people.

Akua
[ah koo' (w)ah]

God

Preceded by ke (the), as in "ke Akua" [keh (y)ah koo (w)ah].

`âkulikuli
[AH' koo lee koo lee]

 

 

Ice plant, a succulent, cultivated at elevations of 1000 feet or more.

Iridescent flowers are made into lei; 500 blossoms if strung by fives to make a lei `â`î (lei for the neck):370 for a lei po`o (head lei) or a lei pâpale (hat lei).

ala
[ah' lah]

Ala Moana is pronounced [ah' lah moh (w)ah' nah]. Absolutely not: [alley-mo-wan- nah]

road, path / rise, awaken

Ala Moana Boulevard is redundant terminology:

Ala = road
moana = open sea boulevard = broad avenue (in French).

alanui
[ah lah noo' (w)ee]

street, road

Lit., "big path".

ali`i
[ah lee' ee]

 

chief / chiefess, royalty, /nobility/ a member of the chiefly class

These days, airlines use this word to signify "first class" , as in ali`i class.

Aloha
[ah loh' hah]

 

 

love, greetings, goodbye, pity, compassion, mercy, affection, farewell ; spirit of love, affection, kindness

As in: Aloha wau iâ `oe (I love you); Aloha `oe (Farewell to you). Click here for more on Aloha.

ânuenue
[AH' noo (w)eh noo (w)eh]

 

 

rainbow

Mânoa Valley, O`ahu, where the University of Hawai`i, Mânoa is situated, is famous for its rainbows. No surprise, that the students and athletes are known as "The Rainbows".

`auana
[au (w)ah nah]

to go from place to place; wander; to drift

As in modern style of hula. Learn more about the different kinds of hula.

`au`au
[au' au]

to bathe

As in, E `au`au ! (Go bathe!)

Auê!
[au WEH'!]

 

 

Alas! Oh no! Drat! Oh dear! Oh boy! Too bad! Goodness! Oops!

This word is probably the best known expression of emotion in Hawaiian. It is a socially acceptable expletive to express wonder, fear, scorn, pity, disgust.

`aumâkua
[au MAH' koo (w)ah]

ancestral, guiding spirits

More here on `aumâkua.

`Auwî !

[au WEE'!]

Ouch!

Learn more interjections.

`awapuhi
[ah wah poo' hee]

 

wild flowering ginger plant, a forest herb

Fragrance of its flowers are heavenly ambrosia for the olfactories. Ingredient of Paul Mitchell's shampoo of the same name.

 

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