Learning The Basics About Hawaiian Pronouns
In Hawaiian, we call the pronouns papani. In this lesson, you’ll learn the Hawaiian papani for “I”, “you”, “he”, and “she”.
Many students of Hawaiian language encounter trouble when first introduced to Hawaiian papani, since they differ somewhat from English language pronouns. That is not to say that Hawaiian papani are actually harder to learn than English pronouns; in fact the contrary is true if you consider having to learn English pronouns for the first time, especially as a second-language speaker of English, since there are just so many pronouns in English. (For more discussion on the large number of English pronouns, see this excellent article in Wikipedia.)
There are 11 basic papani to learn in Hawaiian. This lesson is the first of a set that will introduce you to all 11. We will start with the singular pronouns “I”, “you”, “he” and “she”, since they are perhaps the easiest.
|Hawaiian Personal Pronouns|
|Third||he / she||ʻo ia|
The Pronunciation of “Au”
Note that for the first person singluar pronoun “I” we can opt to either use au or wau. Au is most likely the oldest form of this papani and is widely used in Eastern Polynesia (Tahiti being the exception). The papani “wau”, if you choose to use it, should be pronounced with a leading soft w-glide, /w/ sound, or soft /v/ sound, never a greatly aspirated /v/ sound like the one we often use in English where we allow a lot of air to escape the lips (eg. “very” or “vivacious”). I suggest that you pronounce it and write it as au even though there’s a case to be made that it’s harder to pronounce properly than wau.
You will not really be able to get a sense of how to pronounce au properly until you start putting it into phrases and, later, sentences. The most common problem I hear is students putting an ʻokina before it – so try your best to run it together with the word that preceedes it.
“ʻO ia” Is Written As Two Words
When we write he/she in a sentence, we write it as two separate words these days. Prior to the 1978 “Spelling Convention” in Honolulu which codified many of the spelling practices we use today, he/she was written as ” ʻoia ” or “oia” (without ʻokina). I will not explain the reason for the change in this lesson, but suffice it to say, it is done and there appears no going back. Of course, when you pronouce ʻo ia, you cannot tell if there is a space or not.
Following this lesson, you will need to learn about something very important indeed in Polynesian thinking: the concept of “inclusive” versus “exclusive” papani. So after you are done with this video, go on to the second video in this series, 0703V Papani Pronouns #2: Kāua and Māua, which will explain the concept.
- Papani are pronouns
- There are 11 papani in Hawaiian
- These are the 3 easiest
- Au, ʻoe (I and you)
- ʻO ia (he or she); does not mean “it”
- Practice Haʻawina 0702H
- Next up
Length: 11 minutes
Video Links for V0702 Papani Part I
Streaming or Downloading Videos
All videos are in MP4 format except the WebM file and the OGG file (if available). The MP4’s should play on all Macs, Windows PCs, iPads, iPhones, and most Android or similar devices. Most up-to-date web browsers on both desktops and mobile devices should be able to play the MP4 files. Just select the small, medium, or large link to match your network connection speed (bandwidth).
Note that you may have to wait up to 30 seconds on a medium speed connection for the video to load enough to play.
If you are using Firefox on Windows, you may find that the MP4 versions do not play. In this case, try playing the WebM file in your browser, or else download it and play it using VLC Player on your PC.
If you wish to download any of the files rather than showing them in your web browser, you should right-click on the links above and select “Save Linked File As…” or whatever similar choice your browser has. You can use QuickTime Player or VLC Player on Macs or Windows PCs to play the files on your desktops and there are many apps which can play videos on tablets such as iPad, including VLC Player for iOS and Android.