Modern Hawaiian Orthography Using Macrons (Kahakō)
Welcome to the second video in the Pronunciation series. This is where you should be if you are just starting out with Hawaiian and want to understand the meaning of the bar line on top of certain vowels in written Hawaiian (for example, “manō”). We call these lines “kahakō” in Hawaiian, or “macrons” in English.
If you have arrived here and somehow missed the first video in the Pronunciation series, please go to 0401V Pronunciation #1: The Hawaiian Alphabet.
The Macron Diacritical Marker (Kahakō)
The macron line is technically known as a diacritic or diacritical marker in English:
- diacritical (di·a·crit·i·cal) marker
- a mark or a sign serving to indicate a different pronunciation of a letter above or below which it is written.
Audible Examples of Kahakō
Click on either one of the speaker icons below to hear both words being pronounced one after the other. Do you hear how the second word (“lōlō”) has longer sounding vowels? Try saying them along with the reader.
|paralyzed, numb; Fig., stupid or crazy
You can see that there are lines over each letter “o” in “lōlō”. Those are the macrons. As mentioned above, we call them “kahakō” in Hawaiian; the word is made from kaha, a mark or line + kō, to draw out or lengthen.
In the video below, you will learn how kahakō change the pronunciation and meaning of those words in which they appear, as well as some other facts about modern Hawaiian orthography. You will be able to practice your pronunciation by comparing pairs of words with and without kahakō. The links for the video are at the bottom of this page.
Vocabulary Used In The Video
The following section has been included in case you wish to learn the meaning of some of the words in included in the video (below). I don’t expect that you go and try to memorize all of these words; the most important thing at this point is that you practice actually saying the variations with and without kahakō. Therefore, the words are included in a box with a “disclosure triangle” which you can use to either show or hide the list. (I think the disclosure triangle defaults to being open in Firefox, however.)
Vocabulary List (click to drop down)
Words from 0402V in the order presented
|macron (literally, a lengthened sound)
|stiff-backed (same as nanai)
|a veranda, porch, or deck
|a place of learning or working (as in a hālau hula, hula school)
|sore, as after working out or exercising too much
|a patch of ground for planting food
|to forgive; a type of fish with a rough skin
|money (from the American “dollar”; sometimes written dālā)
|to be ready or prepared; to be capable of doing something
|a light breeze
|the sound you make when you breathe a sigh of relief
|possibly a type of puffer fish
|tall or far apart (essentially unused today)
|the sound you make when you say “gosh”, “oh my”, “alas”, etc.
|a common mispronunciation of the place name
|a place on Kauaʻi (lit, hana+pēpē, crushing bay)
|the sound you make when hurt, like “ouch!”
|a spot high up in the air
|to entwine, as a vine; to be infatuated with someone
|deep inside something
|an earwig (insect)
|a wolf (from Latin lupus or Greek lukos)
|possibly same as ulupō, dark color of dense forest growth
|many (about 4000)
|wheezing (from hānō, asthma or similar problem)
|smallness, either actual or imputed to convey affection, scorn, etc. (cf. “wee” in Scottish)
|a shell; something small to eat (like an appetizer)
|shade or protection
|underhanded or secretive (as in doing something bad)
|“goosepimples” or “chicken skin”
|to sprout out of the ground, as a plant
|to gel or thicken, as a sauce or gravy (cf. mākū)
- 1. the word “auē” is often written “auwe” or “auwē”, but we should not continue this practice, because it is not possible to ever say “auvē” (with the V sound). The word contains a “w-glide” which American missionaries wrote using a “w” because that’s how they were used to writing such things. There are several words of this type in Hawaiian.
- 2. as with “auē” above, you may see this written with a “w-glide” as “auwi” or “auwī”. It is never possible, however, to say “auvī”, so we must drop this artifact of English-American spelling.
Following this video is 0402P Pronunciation Practice for Kahakō which will allow you to practice distinguishing similar pairs of words both with and without kahakō. Then, you should move on to the next video in this Series, 0403V Pronunciation #3: The Glottal Stop all about what we call the ʻokina.
If you wish to see a listing of all the content in the 0400 Series on Pronunciation, please find it here.
- Markings over letters
- The Macron (Kahakō)
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