No Ke Kāmelopadi #1 (3302T)

Pronunciation Practice Text With Audio

This free reading practice is available to both members and non-members of ʻŌlelo Online.


This short excerpt comes from a set of articles written in the very first few issues of the very first newspaper in Hawaiʻi, Ka Lama Hawaii, published in 1834 by Bostonian missionaries on their heavy and hard-working printing press at Lahainaluna Seminary (now Lahainaluna High School on Maui).

The series was written to teach Hawaiian readers about foreign four-footed animals such as the hippopotamus, deer, bison, and giraffe. The latter is the subject of this first couple of paragraphs of the article from March 7th, 1834 in the fourth edition of the newspaper.

How To Use This Lesson

This resource is primarily targeted at the beginner level student who wants to practice pronunciation. There are several great ways to use the lesson:

  • listen to the entire audio a few times and then try to replicate what you heard on your own
  • see if you can read along at the same time and with the same pacing as the reader
  • listen to the audio while trying to “shadow” the reader by simultaneously repeating what he says immediately after you hear it without stopping
  • find a friend who is also learning Hawaiian to work with and use the PDF printout to read to your partner (who does not have the paper) and have your partner shadow you
  • record yourself reading the passage and listen back to it

In all cases above, you should listen to your own voice and continually analyze the quality of both your phrasing and your pronunciation. You must become good at doing this all the time when learning a new language, and even when you think you are completely fluent! Now is a good time to start building that skill. When you listen to your own recording, put aside what you think is your “funny sounding voice” (because that’s how we all hear you anyway!) and focus on the quality of your spoken language.

Lesson Resources

The resources for this lesson include marked-up PDFs and audio readings for Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced levels.

Following the resources links below is the complete text (in Hawaiian) along with an English translation to help you understand what the Hawaiian was talking about.

No Ke Kāmelopadi

Ua kapa ʻia kēia lio he kāmelopadi, no ka mea, ua like iki ia me ke kāmelo, a ua kikokiko e like me ka leopadi; no laila, ua kapa ʻia ma muli o ia mau mea ʻelua.

ʻAʻole i like kona ʻano me kekahi lio ʻē. Ua like kona mau wāwae a me nā kapuaʻi me ko ka dia. Ua like kona ʻāʻī me ko ka lio maoli, a ua like kekahi ʻano o kona poʻo me ko ka lio; ʻelua ona pepeiao hao pōkole. Ua pōkole kona kino; ua kiʻekiʻe loa ke poʻo, a kū pololei ka ʻāʻī i luna, ua kiʻekiʻe ke kino ma mua, a haʻahaʻa ma hope; e piʻi nō ke kua mai ka huelo a i ka ʻāʻī e like me ka ʻaoʻao o ka hale. Ua pōkole kona huelo, a ma ka wēlau he puʻu lauoho. No ke kiʻekiʻe o kona poʻohiwi a no ka lōʻihi a me ke kū pono ʻana o kona ʻāʻī, ua kupanaha ia lio.


About The Cameleopard (Giraffe)

This animal is called a “cameleopard” because it is a little like the camel and it is spotted like the leopard; therefore it is named as a result of those two things.

Its characteristics are not like any other foreign quadruped. Its legs/feet and hooves are like those of the deer. Its neck is like that of a horse, and some aspects of its head are like those of the horse. It has two short horns. Its body is short; its head is very high, and the neck stands straight up, and the front of the body is high while the rear is lower; the back rises from the tail to the neck like the side of a [Hawaiian] house. Its tail is short, and on the end is a tuft of hair. Due to the height of its shoulders and the length and upright nature of its neck, this quadruped is quite amazing.

translation by Kaliko Trapp

A Glossary of Hawaiian Words in Hawaiian Pidgin English

The following is a listing of many of the Hawaiian words that are still in daily use by speakers of Hawaiian Creole English (commonly known locally as “Hawaiian Pidgin English” or simply, “Pidgin English”).

Note that I am not including Pidgin words that come from the many other languages that formed the basis for HCE; you can find those words in books, in blogs, and especially amusingly, in YouTube videos.

If you are learning Hawaiian language, then you should probably get all of the following 126 terms memorized right away, because most are used by local adults and elders who don’t even speak Hawaiian! Learning these words is a fun way to help perpetuate the Hawaiian language!

If you are interested in how Pidgin English came to be in Hawaiʻi, please read Hawaiian Pidgin English: A Brief History here on ʻŌlelo Online. Aloha!

Hawaiian Words and Expressions in Hawaiian Creole English (“Pidgin English”)
HawaiianPidgin Meaning
a hui hougoodbye
alohalove, sympathy, etc
akamaismart, intelligent
akulea type of fish
aliʻia chief
e kala maiforgive/excuse me
e komo maicome inside (invitation)
hana houdo again, repeat
hālautraditional workshop or school of learning
hānauto give birth
hapapart, half; mixed race
haupiacoconut pudding in blocks
heleto go (generic)
hemoto remove (really means removed, extracted, or opened)(
hikieʻea hybrid living room bed/couch
holoholoto go riding around
honito kiss
honua turtle
huia group or organization
“hū-ī”a call to get someone’s attention
hukilaua type of group fishing technique
hulito turn over, as a flipped canoe
hulihulito rotate something, as on a spit
hūpōstupid, foolish
i muago forward; in front
imuunderground oven
kahua reverend or priest
kahunaa priest (trad.) or master practitioner
kamaʻāinaa local or native-born
kanakaa Hawaiian person
“kanikapila”to play music
kapakahicrooked, bent; fig. messed up
Kepanīof Japanese descent
kupunagrandparent, ancestor
kāluato bake in an imu
kāneman, male, husband
koloherascal, naughty
kōkuahelp, assistance
kukuia type of tree
kūloloa type of Hawaiian dessert
lānaiveranda, porch
lauhalapandanus leaf
laulaulaulau (a type of food)
lehualehua (a type of blossom)
leilei garland or necklace
limuseaweed (usually edible)
lōkahitogetherness, unity
lunathe boss, foreman
lōlōstupid, idiotic
luatoilet, bathroom
lūʻaufeast often with a show
mahimahia type of fish
māhūhomosexual male; crossdresser
mailea type of vine
maka piapiasleepy dust (Hwn mng. eyes with dusty pia)
makaiseaward (properly ma kai)
mālamato care for something
malihinia visitor or non-local
manaspiritual power
maninia type of fish; fig., a small thing, “NBD”
maukaupland (properly ma uka)
maunaa mountain
menehunean ancient and mythical race of people
moemoe“go nighty-night” (sleep) for kids
momonafat, obese
moʻogecko etc.
moʻopunagrandchild, descendant
muʻumuʻua type of loose dress (mispron. “mūmū”)
nēnēthe native Hawaiian goose
pakalōlōmarijuana (mispron. as “pakalolo”)
palia cliff
Pākēof Chinese descent
paudone, finished
pau hanaafter work is done
pilaurotten stench, stink; fig. of bad character
pipibeef, cow, bull
pipi kauladried beef, similar to beef jerky
pōhakua rock
pohōuseless, wasteful, wasted
poipoi (a smooth taro pudding)
pokepoke raw fish dish
pōpoloa person of African descent
puaʻapig, pork
pukahole (perforated); doorway
pūpūan appetizer (Hawaiian lit., any marine shell)
a type of plant (sometimes “kī”)
tūtūgrandma (shortened from tupuna)
uku pauto pay off completely
wahinelady, wife, woman, female
walaʻauto chat, idle talk
wanaa sea urchin with long painful spines
wikiwikiquick, fast
ʻahia type of fish
ʻauʻauto bathe or shower or “clean up”
ʻaumakuaancestral family god
ʻāinathe land
ʻehua reddish tint in black Hawaiian hair
ʻōkolehuman rear end (Hawaiian lit., anus)
ʻōkole haoHawaiian tī root moonshine
ʻōpalarubbish, something which lost its value
ʻōpūstomach, tummy
ʻukuhead lice (“ʻukus”) (Hawaiian lit., flea)

Hawaiian Pidgin English: A Brief History

The following is a very brief history of how we came to have “Hawaiian Pidgin English” here in Hawaiʻi. It’s basic knowledge for any Hawaiian language speaker, and along with this goes the list of Hawaiian words I have made for you in A Glossary of Hawaiian Words in Hawaiian Pidgin English.

Pidgin languages naturally develop between people who want or need to communicate but who do not share a common language. Pidgins are used to quickly get meaning across in short transactions and there is no fixed grammar or body of vocabulary; thus there are no “native speakers” of a pidgin language by definition.

As the first waves of foreign plantation laborers were arriving in Hawaiʻi in the mid- to late 1800s, Hawaiian was the predominant language of the country, so the immigrants learned rudimentary Hawaiian and added into it many words and grammar structures from their own various languages in a very “loose” and “ad-hoc” fashion.

First arrived the Chinese plantation workers by many tens of thousands. They were followed later by almost 20,000 Portuguese, many of whom became ranch hands known as “paniolo” (from Spanish Español), machinists, and even ranch and plantation supervisors. Along with them came the Japanese, who numbered in the hundreds of thousands by the time immigration for plantation work essentially stopped in the mid-1920s.

The English language of the plantation managers in the late 1800s increasingly influenced the lexical and grammatical choices of the plantation and ranch workers as time went on, but predominantly underlying interpersonal public communication was the Hawaiian language. Thus we call this now extinct form of Hawaiian-language based communication “Pidgin Hawaiian”.

Pidgin Hawaiian died out in the first part of the 20th century, as English supplanted Hawaiian as the language of the new Territory of Hawaiʻi. The language spoken by the laborers at work was still a “pidgin” with many words and expressions coming from the admixing of languages and cultures, but it became increasingly English-language based as time went on. We label this language “Hawaiian Pidgin” or “Hawaiian Pidgin English”, or simply “Pidgin English”.

During this time, vast numbers of Filipino, Korean, Okinawan, and Puerto Rican plantation laborers were arriving, and as time went on, they started families and settled into post-plantation contract life, with many going into business for themselves, as had the previous wave of immigrants.

When the children of these newly “local” families started to use Hawaiian Pidgin to communicate with each other in school, or when they played together out of school and eventually grew up to start their own intercultural families and businesses and so on, the language became more stable in its selection of vocabulary and grammar, and thus it changed from being a “pidgin” to being a “creole” language.

For this reason, we use the technical term “Hawaiian Creole English” (HCE) today to describe this widely-spoken language in Hawaiʻi. It retains its two popular names “Pidgin English” and “Hawaiian Pidgin English”, but the language as it stands today is no longer a true pidgin. It is widely spoken throughout the State of Hawaiʻi by local folk from all walks of life.

Amazingly enough, there are many words from Hawaiian language still in use in HCE today. You should know them all as future Hawaiian language speakers! There are also some sentence patterns based in Hawaiian grammar, as well as beautiful intonational and other prosodical patterns, but we will leave those for another lesson.

Please find the glossary for this article (containing 126 Hawaiian words commonly found in Pidgin English today) at A Glossary of Hawaiian Words in Hawaiian Pidgin English.

Ka and Ke Quiz #1

This is the first quiz for the kaʻi "ka" and "ke". You will be filling in the blanks with the correct kaʻi, so make sure you remember the "ke ao" rule before starting!

If you want a review lesson about the kaʻi, please see 0602V The Kaʻi Determiners #2: Ka, Ke.

Happy quizzing!


Kaʻi #2 Lesson Worksheet

“Ka” and “Ke” (“The”) for Kaʻi + Memeʻa Sequences — Grammar Lesson PDF 0602G


This lesson accompanies 0602V The Kaʻi Determiners #2: Ka and Ke, which you should watch in conjunction with this lesson.

How To Use The Lesson

Click on the link below to download the PDF so that you can print it out and use it to write your notes on. Take the examples suggested in point #5 on page two of the PDF and make your own table of kaʻi + memeʻa (article + content word) sequences using the appropriate kaʻi ka or ke. The “ke ao” rule will help you remember which words take ka and which take ke.

Be Sure To Practice

As with 0601G Kaʻi #1 Introductory Lesson Worksheet, practicing using your kaʻi will be useful to you very soon when you learn how to use Pepeke ʻAike He sentences in which you say that “something is the something” (like “Nemo is the fish”) and in Pepeke Painu ʻAʻano sentences in which you can quickly describe something (like “The car is red” or “The boy is happy”). For now, get to this lesson and we will learn those fun pepeke structures soon, when these basics are all set!

Next Steps

When you are ready to move on and have completed both the video at 0602V The Kaʻi Determiners #2: Ka, Ke and this PDF worksheet, go on to enjoy 0603V The Kaʻi Determiners #3: Kekahi which will teach you how to say “another”.

Lesson PDF

Grammar Lesson 0602G Download

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0403R How To Write The ʻOkina

Learn how glottal stops are represented in Hawaiian

The Hawaiian ʻokina character indicates a “glottal stop” (like the break in the middle of the English word “uh-oh”). In this lesson, you will learn how to write the ʻokina and compare it to other characters such as the backtick / ` /, apostrophe / ’ /, and prime characters / ′ / which look very similar at first glance.


Background information on the ʻokina

You should watch 0403V Pronunciation #3: The Glottal Stop to get a complete introduction to the concept of a glottal stop in Hawaiian if you are not already familiar with it.

To practice pronouncing the ʻokina, as well as to learn about how it is a “significant letter” in Hawaiian and where it should and should not be written, please refer to the practice lesson 0403P Pronunciation Practice For The ʻOkina.

If you should be interested in an in-depth analysis of glottal stops and their use around the world in both written and spoken language, please read the Wikipedia article on the topic.

The history of writing glottal stops in Hawaiian

Prior to the 1970s, it was rare to actually write the glottal stop character, since competent speakers of Hawaiian can very easily tell where ʻokina come in words, much in the same way that an Australian or Cockney Engish language speaker would still pronounce “cat” with a glottal stop in place of the /t/ and an American English speaker would normally still replace the middle of the word “button” with a glottal stop despite the fact that the glottal has no explicit representation in either of these cases.

In the mid-1900s, long before personal computers and Unicode character sets, the apostrophe character was sometimes used to indicate an ʻokina. In the days of the 1800s Hawaiian language newspapers, the glottal stop was sometimes indicated by either the apostrophe or by the use of a dash/hypen character. The images below show some examples. The reason for this seemingly unpredictable display of the ʻokina as an actual character is that its use was solely to remove any potential ambiguity of meaning: for example, “koʻu” (my) and “kou” (your) would look exactly the same if it were not for the intervening glottal character. Furthermore, no character had been officially conceived to represent the glottal stop at that time.

Newspaper Clipping
an image showing a small section of an old Hawaiian newspaper

Transcription of Original

E hoomaopopo i ko lakou ulu ana.
7. Pehea ka ulu ana o na kamalii, a me ka ulu ana o na mea kanu?
Ua ulu hoi mamuli o ka mehana o ka la, ke kehau a me ka ua, ka ai a me [k]a i-a

Modernized Version

E hoʻomaopopo i ko lākou ulu ʻana.
7. Pehea ka ulu ʻana o nā kamaliʻi, a me ka ulu ʻana o nā mea kanu?
Ua ulu hoʻi ma muli o ka mehana o ka lā, ke kēhau a me ka ua, ka ʻai a me ka iʻa


Let us remember how they grew.
7. How did children grow, and how did plants grow?
They grew due to the warmth of the sun, the dew and the rain, taro and fish.*

* The idea of “taro and fish” (ka ʻai a me ka iʻa) is used here to mean “starches and proteins” in the broadest sense. It is an ancient expression which gave rise to the modern local Hawaiian idea of “you get your fish and poi”, or the minimum essential food one needs including any vegetable and/or seafood or animal meat available. This concept is perhaps tangentially related to the English expression “it’s your bread and butter”, meaning your basic and essential income.

Source: “Ka Ulu Ana Iloko o Karisto” (Growth within Christ)
Ka Puka La Oiaio, Honolulu, Feb 24 1896

Newspaper Clipping
an image showing a small section of an old Hawaiian newspaper

Transcription of Original

…waiho ana mamua ona, alaila, kulou hoomaikai aku la oia i ka poe a pau, a hoopuka ae la i keia mau olelo mahope nei, ma ka olelo Iapana, me ka wiwo ole, me ke kuihe ole a me ka haalulu ole; a penei na olelo ana: “Na’u, a na’u wale no i hoopuka [i] ke kauoha, e kipu aku i na haole ma Kope, me ka loaa ole o ka mana mai a hai mai e hana pela. A ua kipu aku no hoi au ia lakou, mahope iho, ia lakou e hoao ai e holo. A no kuu ae ana i kuu hewa nui, me keia hana pono ole, nolaila, ano la, e hoomaka aku ana au e oki a kuai i ko’u opu, a e noi aku hoi ia oukou e ku mai nei, e haawi mai ia’u i ka hanohano, ma ka lilo ana i mau hoike no ko’u (sic) hana ana [i] ia mea.”

Modernized Version

… waiho ʻana ma mua ona, a laila, kūlou hoʻomaikaʻi akula ʻo ia i ka poʻe a pau, a hoʻopuka aʻela i kēia mau ʻōlelo ma hope nei, ma ka ʻōlelo Iapana, me ka wiwo ʻole, me ke kuʻihē ʻole, a me ka haʻalulu ʻole. A penei nā ʻōlelo āna: “Naʻu, a naʻu wale nō i hoʻopuka i ke kauoha, e kī pū aku i nā haole ma Kope, me ka loaʻa ʻole o ka mana maiā haʻi mai e hana pēlā. A ua kī pū aku nō hoʻi au iā lākou, ma hope iho, iā lākou e hoʻāʻo ai e holo. A no kuʻu ʻae ʻana i kuʻu hewa nui, me kēia hana pono ʻole, no laila, ʻānō lā, e hoʻomaka ana au e ʻoki a kuaʻi i koʻu ʻōpū, a e noi aku hoʻi iā ʻoukou e kū mai nei, e hāʻawi mai iaʻu i ka hanohano, ma ka lilo ʻana i mau hōʻike no kaʻu hana ʻana i ia mea.”


… left before him, then he bowed respectfully before all of the people and spoke the following words, in Japanese, without fear, without hesitation, and without agitation. And this is what he said: “It was I, and I alone who gave the order to shoot the white foreigners at Kobe, without having authorization from any other to do so. And I indeed shot them, even afterwards as they tried to run away. And because I have accepted my wrongdoing and this terrible deed as my own, therefore at this very time, I am going to begin to cut and expose my guts, and I am going to ask all of you gathered here to honor me, as you will be the testaments for my doing what I did.”

Source: “Ke Karikari ma Iapana” (“Karikari” in Japan)
Ka Nupepa Kuokoa, Honolulu, May 27 1871

Note that the apostrophe and dash/hyphen characters were also used for other purposes: the apostrophe to indicate a dropped letter (as in English); the hyphen to represent either a joining together of word parts (as in English) or a macron (kahakō in Hawaiian). These latter uses are not the focus of this lesson, however.

Writing the ʻokina by hand

Today, we use a special character to indicate the glottal stop consonant: it looks like a single open-quotation mark. So when you write one, be sure to start from the top part and come down in a very small arc to the left. If you want to be fancy, you can embolden the lower part of the body to create a mini solid “six” shape.

an image of handwritten hawaiian text
An example of handwritten Hawaiian text from a first-year student (above).

Typed representations of the ʻokina glottal stop

a picture of hawaiian written by a computer
a picture of hawaiian written by a computer
a picture of hawaiian written by a computer

Caption: Courier New Regular (top), Times New Roman Regular (middle), Party LET (bottom)

Note that many fonts do not contain the necessary characters for all letters, numbers, and symbols. For example, the Party LET font at the bottom does not contain the prime characters.

Typing ʻokina and kahakō on a computer

All Macs, Windows PCs, iOS, iPadOS, and Android devices have come with a Hawaiian keyboard and Hawaiian fonts for many years now. All you have to do is to activate them. We have some upcoming articles on ʻŌlelo Online which will teach you how to activate the Hawaiian keyboards on those devices and which fonts work well with ʻokina and kahakō.

Practice writing!

You should try and write the following sentences by hand to get used to writing the ʻokina yourself.

  1. Aia ka ʻukulele ma ke ʻeke. (the ʻukulele is in the bag)
  2. Noho ka ʻelemakule ma Maunaʻala. (the old man lives at Maunaʻala)
  3. ʻŌlelo ke kaikuaʻana i ke kaikaina ma ka ʻōlelo hoʻomākeʻaka. (the older sibling speaks to his younger sibling with words that make him laugh)
  4. Lele nā koaʻe ma ka pali kiʻekiʻe o Hāmākua. (the koaʻe birds fly by the tall cliffs of Hāmākua)

0699R Hawaiian Parts of Speech

Hawaiian word types and brief explanations

This article is in the process of being added to over time.

This reference article will allow you to look up the terms we use when talking about Hawaiian grammar and learn about their functions. Secondarily, there is a table showing common English parts of speech and their approximate Hawaiian equivalents.

It is of great importance, first of all, that we understand that trying to describe one language with the terms built to describe another is rarely going to allow much more than a cursory appreciation of how a language is put together. There is a “native” way of thinking which is evident in part in how the words of any particular language are used together, how words might function together, and how composite constructions of those words can be manipulated in a multitude of ways to describe the world about us. It is therefore imperative that, for any language, a “home grown” grammar should be developed.

Shown below are the grammar terms used when learning, talking about, or teaching Hawaiian language. They are based on Dr. Pila Wilson and Dr. Kauanoe Kamanā’s excellent “Pepeke” system of describing Hawaiian language, which I think ranks, along with audio recordings of native speakers and the publication of a definitive Hawaiian dictionary, in the top three modern-era assets developed for the Hawaiian language over the past 50 years.

I will be adding to this list over time, so until such a point when it can be called “exhaustive”, please take it for what it is: a listing of the most common “meta-language” terms used these days. Please feel free to leave a comment or send me feedback privately if you wish to request a term or would like a better explanation, or if you perhaps disagree with what you see here.


The diagrammatic “squid” that represents an easily-identifiable type of sentence or phrase construction; its basic parts are poʻo, piko, and ʻawe (head, midsection, and tentacles). Learn more about pepeke starting with 0800V The Pepeke #1: Sentence Parts.
The “head” section of a pepeke containing one or more words in an easily recognizable pattern which varies with the type of pepeke being used. This variation of poʻo construction quickly allows the speaker, listener, or reader to determine the general semantic direction of the remainder of the pepeke. For example, a pepeke henua (locational-type pepeke) usually starts with the word “Aia” in its poʻo, whereas an action-type pepeke such as pepeke painu hamani/hehele starts with a verb phrase often wrapped in tense markers (māka painu). Learn more in the 0800 Series on Pepeke.

Heluhelu ke keiki i ka puke

The child reads the book

Reads the child the book

The middle, or “navel” of the pepeke which immediately follows the poʻo and contains a word or phrase which, in English language terms, most often equates to the subject of the sentence or phrase in which it is found. The piko almost always follows one of the three following constructions: kaʻi + memeʻa, ” ʻo ” + iʻoa, or papani along with any kāhulu as may be appropriate. The end of the piko is clearly demarcated by the use of an ʻami particle word (such as “i” or “ma” for example) which begin the ʻawe (see below). In normal speech, the piko can be often left out as understood, although due to the pressure of English language thinking patterns in which the subject has to be most often included in any particular sentence —English being the language that many modern speakers are often thinking in— the piko is often added where unnecessary in Hawaiian by modern-day second-language speakers and their students. Learn more in the 0800 Series on Pepeke

Heluhelu ke keiki i ka puke

The child reads the book

Reads the child the book

The ʻawe are the ending “tail” sections of most pepeke. Each ʻawe starts with an ʻami-type word (such as “i” or “ma”) and they most often sit one after the other following the piko. Although optional, ʻawe are very useful in that they add information to the sentence about where, when, why, how, with whom, to whom, for what reason, and so on. Learn more in the 0800 Series on Pepeke.

Heluhelu ke keikii ka pukeme kona hoa pāʻanima ka hale o kona ʻanakalai kēia lāma Hilo

The child reads the book with his play friend at the house of his uncle today in Hilo.

reads the boythe bookwith his play friendat the house of his uncletodayin Hilo

Derived from the word “alakaʻi ” (to lead), a kaʻi is a word that “leads” a memeʻa (noun, adjective, adverb, or verb). It acts similarly to a determiner in English (such as the cat, my cat, some cats, which cat, nine cats, both cats, and so on). Some common Hawaiian examples are he, ka, ke, nā, koʻu, kou, kona, and kekahi. Learn more starting at 0601V The Kaʻi Determiners #1.
Loosely based on the word “hulu” (a feather), a kāhulu (acting like a hulu) is a word or phrase following another word or phrase which adds more information or an additional description much in the same way that a feather adds visual information which helps us distinguish between different species of birds (e.g., he waʻa kaulua, a canoe with two hulls). You can learn more and practice starting with 0901P Practice Describing Things #1. If you wish to compare to English grammar, read up on “modifiers” at Wikipedia, although we must note that in English, the modifier can come either before or after the word or phrase it modifies, e.g., I saw the big chicken which ran down the road, whereas in Hawaiian, kāhulu can only follow the modified word or phrase, e.g., Ua ʻike au i ka moa nui i holo ma ke alanui).

English Parts of Speech Table with Approximate Equivalents in Hawaiian

Below is a table in which I list the approximate equivalent of the terms we use in Hawaiian to identify the form or function of a word, with the parts of speech in standard English grammar. This is followed by several brief explanatory footnotes.

Please note that the main reason we need to use Hawaiian terms in a Hawaiian structure to describe Hawaiian grammar is due to the fact that English grammar terms do not exactly match with Hawaiian usage or concepts. Therefore, use the following “equivalents” only as a starting point to find the appropriate area in which to continue your research.

English Parts of Speech Table with Approximate Equivalents in Hawaiian
English Hawaiian
Noun, Common Noun kikino
Proper Noun iʻoa
Pronoun papani
Adjective ʻaʻano1
Proper Adjective iʻoa1
Verb (transitive) hamani2
Verb (intransitive) hehele3
Verb (stative) ʻaʻano4
Linking Verb still thinking…
Helping Verb still thinking…
Adverb ʻaʻano1
Direct Object Phrase lauka5
Indirect Object Phrase lauka5
Preposition ʻami6
Prepositional Phrase ʻawe6
Agent ʻākena
Object ʻōkena
Subject Phrase piko painu7
Predicate Phrase poʻo painu8


  1. Almost any kikino, ʻaʻano, hamani, hehele, or iʻoa can be used as a reasonable adjective or adverb in Hawaiian.
  2. Transitive verbs (hamani) are verbs where the action is done by something to something else. That is, by the agent and to the direct object in more technical terms. Example:
    Jack throws the ball
  3. Intransitive verbs (hehele) are verbs where the action is done by something and that action does not directly affect something else. That is, the action is not done to something else; therefore we would say that an intransitive verb has no direct object. Example:
    Jack runs to school
  4. The term “stative verb” is used for ʻaʻano words in the Pukui-Elbert Hawaiian Dictionary using the identifier “vs”. By contrast, “intransitive verb” is “vi”, and “transitive verb” is “vt”.
  5. There is no distinction (grammatically) between direct and indirect object phrases in Hawaiian.
  6. Prepositions do not work the same way in Hawaiian as they do in English. Some prepositions may be single ʻami words (eg., with, on, upon, to, at, from, for, by); others require short constructions which consist of an ʻami plus other words to form the first part of an ʻawe (eg., above, over, on, around, to the left, outside, into, through, beside, under, behind, among, between). Some may require other constructions (eg., across, near, around).
  7. I use the terms “subject” and “predicate” here in reference to “action sentences” which are classed as pepeke painu in Hawaiian. Thus the doer of the action (the subject) is the piko, and the action itself (the predicate or verb phrase) is the poʻo.
  8. The term “predicate” in modern English grammar is in the process of being redefined by scholars. See this article at Wikipedia to learn more. In this context, I am using the word “predicate” to simply refer to the verb phrase alone (i.e., not including the object phrase). Example:
    Jack runs quickly to school

0716E Merry Christmas and Happy New Year in Hawaiian

Friend Marilyn S recently asked a great question:

“Which is correct? I’ve seen it written so many ways”

Mele Kalikimaka a me ka Hau`oli Makahiki Hou
Mele Kalikimaka me ka Hau`oli Makahiki Hou


The expressions “Happy Christmas”, “MerryChristmas”, and “Happy New Year” have been used, as far as I know, in English-based culture since about 1700, with “Merry Christmas” becoming especially popular following Charles Dickens’ use of the phrase in his book “A Christmas Carol” (1843).

It was, of course, through the influence of the Christian missionaries in Hawaiʻi, espcially post-1820, that the concepts of Christmas and “New Years” were brought here. The whole idea of greetings (like saying “Good morning” and so on) came from English and American influences in the 1800s and so the Hawaiian language adopted these foreign expressions.

One way to adopt the new expressions was by using words already in the language. An example of this is “Aloha kakahiaka” for “good morning”, where “aloha” does not mean “good” but sends a similar intent or message to the listener as “good” does in this context in English. The word “kakahiaka” means “morning”.

Another way was via “Hawaiianizing” English words, where the English language words were sounded out in ways that were familiar to the Hawaiian tongue. An example of this are the words “mele” for “merry” and “Kalikimaka” for “Christmas” in the expression “Mele Kalikimaka”!

This same process happened for “Happy New Year”. Some people say “Hauʻoli Makahiki Hou” (lit., happy year new – in correct Hawaiian word order); and others say “Hape Nūʻia” (direct Hawaiianization of the sounds of the English words).

There are variants of these greetings which are evident in some of the old Hawaiian newspapers and are still heard here and there between Hawaiian language speakers. I have seen “Aloha Kalikimaka” (1895, 1927) as well as “Hauʻoli Kalikimaka” and “ʻAnoʻai Kalikimaka” (1923). Interestingly, the first occurence I found for the word “Kalikimaka” being mentioned at all in the old Hawaiian newspapers was in 1877 (“Ka Lā Kalikimaka ma Kawaiahaʻo” – Christmas Day at Kawaiahaʻo).

So the question remains about how to join both greetings together. Well, here is the version I would say is best, and is my personal choice for both speaking to someone as well as writing in Christmas cards:

“Mele Kalikimaka” a “Hauʻoli Makahiki Hou”

(You could substitute “Aloha Kalikimaka” and “Hape Nūʻia” in either of those spots if you wish of course.)

Using the quotations allows you to keep each expression in its own “package”; it’s exactly the same as the two English language phrases being juxtaposed and it comes out sounding like I am talking to you and saying one greeting/wish after the other as quotations. Using “a” to join the two quotations is like the English word “and”, so it completes the “Hawaiianization” of the two English-based expressions: Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

It would also be correct to say “Aloha Kalikimaka me ka Hape Nūʻia” (with aforementioned substitutions available of course). This is using the word “me” to join the two expressions and gives the feeling of “together with”, so you would be saying “Merry Christmas together with a Happy New Year”.

I would say that the “a me ka” joiner is not the best choice there; it’s not grammatically wrong, but it is not the best sounding to my ear.

Thank you for writing Marilyn. Your question was a good one indeed!

aloha nui me ka mahalo hoʻi!

1201C Nā Pō Mahina: The Hawaiian Moon Calendar

Learn the Hawaiian moon names and more about the lunar calendar

The moon and moon night names are of great importance in Hawaiian culture. In this section I will explain about the moon, the names of each night of the month (lunar cycle), the shape of the moon when observed along with its location, the reason for the change in the amount of illumination from “new” to “full”, and perhaps some other aspects of the moon along the way.
Note to our Hawaiian language readers: He mea nui ka ʻike ʻana no nā pō mahina ʻoiai he ʻike kuʻuna ia e nalo nei i kēia wā hou e neʻe nei. Ma ʻaneʻi au e wehewehe ana no ka mahina, ka inoa o kēlā a me kēia pō, ke kino a me kahi o ka mahina ke nānā aku, ke kumu o ka mālamalama hapa ʻana a me ka mālamalama piha ʻana, a me kekahi mau kumuhana hou aku nō hoʻi. Inā makemake e heluhelu ma ka ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi, e hiki ana i kēia mua aku, ke haku au.
There are most likely many ways of describing the moon night “system” traditionally used here in Hawaiʻi: variations in location, understanding, use, and explanation of the observable phenomena are all partly responsible for the differences. As we should all remember, ʻaʻole pau ka ʻike i ka hālau hoʻokahi, meaning that not all knowledge is contained within one hālau, or school. So it is with that initial caveat that I shall attempt an explanation of the moon names and positions as I have come to understand it from my two main sources: David Malo’s incredible explanation in his work Ka Mooolelo Hawaii and my own observations since about 1998, when I first became interested in truly understanding the traditional system of moon nights. I am going to approach this from what I believe was a traditional viewpoint, rather than from a modern scientific viewpoint with its intrinsic precision and its ability to include information unattainable by traditional people (like minute and second accuracy, prediction of distant future events, exact percents of illumination, and true space-based observation of the Earth-Moon-Sun system). Although the scientific explanation of the moon’s appearance and times of rise and set is a wonderful thing, I want to try and explain the whole to you in a “traditional Hawaiian” manner as best I can. First, there are thirty nights in the month; or, I should say, we have 30 names to use for the nights of one moon cycle. Each night has its own name. We want to use the term “night” rather than “day” because that’s just how you have to do it in the traditional system. It’s essentially the same thing either way, since both names (Hawaiian and English day) both refer to the 24 hour daily cycle which is repeated more or less 30 times to make one month. The Hawaiian word for the moon is mahina, and a lunar month is a malama. Sometimes, however, you may find a confusion of the names with mahina used for a month, and malama used for the moon! Either way, as is usual for Hawaiian, you have to ascertain the context of the word’s use and that will inform you of its meaning within that context. For this article, I will use mahina for the moon, and malama for the month.
(this article is still being written)

0502E Thoughts on the Number Twenty

Learn about the number iwakālua

Image of a Hawaiian Newspaper clipping


This post is in response to a great comment received from Elithe Manuha’aipo Kahn which read as follows:

I learned to count “twenty” as: iwakaulua versus iwakalua. “Kaulua” equals a “pairing”….. 2 nines iwa = 18 + 2 lua = iwakaulua = 20
Sometimes it is in the hearing and spelling that sounds and meanings of words are misunderstood, misheard and then miswritten.
My knowledge of Hawaiiana is limited but this I understand. I do hope this will shed some light on the long standing mystery concerning the number 20. Pēlā paha, ʻaʻole paha (maybe, maybe not!) Ha!!!

Mahalo to you, Elithe. This is a very interesting topic, and one that I have been pondering for over 20 years!

As can be inferred from the comment, the theory is that possibly due to inaccuracies in the early days of reducing Hawaiian language to a written form, the word “iwakālua” replaced the more ancient (and perhaps logical) “iwakaulua”. But in the case of the word for twenty (20) in Hawaiian today, I am certain that it has been spoken as “iwakālua” for more than 200 years. We have proof, in fact, that it was already in use during the time of Kamehameha The Great, Liholiho, and Kauikeaouli in the early 1800s. Let me explain.


Although the full history of the Hawaiian word “iwakālua” is not known, we do know that its spelling was obviously “updated” from simply “iwakalua” to “iwakālua” (adding the kahakō, or macron) around the mid-1900s and fixed as a standard with the publishing of the Pukui-Elbert Hawaiian Dictionary in the early 1970s.

The two main sources we have for researching the etymology of the word are (1) Hawaiian newspapers of the 19th and 20th century; and (2) audio recordings of native Hawaiian speakers made in the mid-to-late 20th century. In all cases, I feel confident in saying that the word has been spoken as “iwakālua” and written as either “iwakalua”, “iwakālua”, or sometimes with a dash inserted, as “iwa-kalua”. The latter is considered a non-standard way of writing it today.

Looking into the Ulukau Newspaper archive database ( or I find 1,635 occurrences of the word “iwakalua” on 1,135 different pages*.

There are no occurrences of “iwakaulua” in any variation of spelling I can think of.

The first use of “iwakalua” in newspapers was its appearance twice on the very first page of the very first Hawaiian newspaper “Ka Lama Hawaii” (The Hawaiian Luminary) issued on Feburary 14, 1834.

…he iwakalua kanaka…

Translation: twenty men

Ka Lama Hawaii: Makahiki 1, Helu 1, ʻAoʻao 1. 14 Feberuari 1834.

Then there were the 1,600+ other occurrences of the word throughout the years, until something interesting happened in the 1920s, when someone writing in “Ka Nupepa Kuokoa” (The Independent) decided to write the numbers with dashes inserted.

…iwa-kalua-kumamaha mau moku hahai topido…

Translation: twenty four torpedo chaser boats

Ka Nupepa Kuokoa: Buke 63, Helu 40. 2 ʻOkakopa 1924.

…no ka piha ana o na makahiki he iwa-kalua-kumamalima o ke ku ana o keia ahahui…

Translation: for the twenty fifth anniversary of the existence of this society – in reference to the Kamehameha Society

Ka Nupepa Kuokoa: Buke 66, Helu 11. 17 Malaki 1927.

Regarding the audio recordings we have, there are no alternate pronunciations of “iwakālua” that I know of. The same goes for all of the grammar and text books that were produced in the 1800s and up to the mid-1900s.

So while I agree with the sentiment that sounds and words are sometimes “misunderstood, misheard and then miswritten,” I think this doesn’t apply to the case of “iwakālua” for as far back as we can effectively trace.

an image of old Hawaiian text

Word Confusions

There are many words with meanings that don’t seem to make sense when looking at the parts of the word. It is easy, therefore, to find oneself at a loss when trying to explain how certain words came to be what they are. Take the English word “refute” (to prove a statement or theory to be wrong), for example. It sounds like it should be “re-“ (again) plus “fute” (??) and therefore “to fute something again” in the same way that “readjust” means “to set or adjust something again.” But of course there is no word “fute” as far as I know, although it would be quite convenient for us to make a meaning for it that makes sense and allows us to explain the word “refute” to students who might ask.

Another word that befuddled me well into my 20s was “pronounciation” (which, of course, should be “pronunciation”). It just seemed logical to me that the word should be the root “pronounce” plus some sort of normal “-ation” ending, and so I stubbornly said it that way for years. The fact is, however, that “pronunciation” is probably the more ancient and “correct” term: the Latin word “nuntiare” (meaning to announce) was prefixed by “pro-” to get “pronuntiare” which the Old French made into “pronuncier” – and voilà you’ve got “pronunciate” and therefore “pronunciation” in English! Something odd must have happened to “pronunce” (I just made that up) after being associated with the Old French “annoncer” (to announce) when Old English and Old French were rubbing shoulders half a millenium ago, and that’s perhaps how we ended up saying “pronounce” and “announce” rather than “pronunce” and “annunce”! What a complicated story. I just had to re-read that four times myself! But I hope you get the idea.

Come to think of it, there are folks in England who do actually pronounce those words as “pronunce” and “annunce”. But I digress…

Looking For Order And Logic

This same sort of confusion and wish to find order and “logic” in words which don’t seem to make sense also applies to “iwakālua” in Hawaiian, which just doesn’t seem to make sense when we take it apart. We all want to somehow relate it to “iwa” (nine) plus “kā-“ (possible transitivizer) plus “lua” (two or twice). This is especially the case since 2 x 9 = 18 and 18 is only 2 away from 20 – so naturally there must be a connection! But alas, I do not think there is one.

So in summary, I also wish there were an easy way to explain “iwakālua”. I just don’t see it yet though, although I am hoping that one day I will discover a Polynesian cognate that will help to shed some light on this seemingly daft designation. Until then, if any of you have any insight to lend, please feel free to drop me a line or leave a comment below. Mahalo!

*as of 2014-12-24 when the search was done

me ke aloha

0404P Hakalama Practice Audio


Aloha friends, and welcome to Audio Lesson posting 0404P, which lets you practice the “Hakalama” set of Hawaiian sounds by listening to the audio files provided.

The files you will need are listed below; I advise you to get the PDF first. Then, either download or stream the audio files and then learn the sounds as you listen to the speaker. Say them to yourself and follow along. When you are comfortable with following the examples, try to say the set out loud without the speaker’s help. Compare your pronunciation with that of the speaker in the recording. You should even record yourself and compare!


Here are some things to watch out for: (1) the length of the vowels in each word, (2) the ʻokina (glottal-stop) being clearly pronounced, and (3) being sure to keep your vowel sounds very “pure” (that is, not adding any extra vowel sounds or unintentional “glides” between parts of the words). Just try to say them exactly as you hear them in the audio provided and as you see them on the PDF accompanying this lesson.

The value of doing these exercises is that you will immediately be better at pronouncing words in mele (songs and poems), from written documents, and in oli (chant) if you can master the combinations presented in this lesson. That will extend quickly to being able to speak clearly in Hawaiian also later on.

These are by no means all the possible combinations of consonants and vowels in the Hawaiian language; but this set does offer a quick and easy way to practice those combinations which occur frequently in Hawaiian words including place names and people’s names.

The traditional Hakalama set of sounds created by the American missionaries in the early 1820s is fairly short. I have added to it a little here for you to be able to practice more combinations of sounds; I call them the “Hakalama Extended Sets”.

Hakalama Extended Set Audio Files

PDF File of all Hakalama to print

Listen to the following audio files of Kaliko’s “Extended Sets” of Hakalama. (Each may take a few seconds to load after you press play.)

Set A
Set E
Set I
Set O
Set U

Note: if you do not see any audio files above, your browser may be old and/or does not support HTML5 audio. Please try again on a newer device.

Hakalama Extended Set Sound Tables

Hakalama Extended Set A
Hakalama Extended Set E
Hakalama Extended Set I
Hakalama Extended Set O
Hakalama Extended Set U

Next Steps

Now that you have learned how to pronounce Hawaiian words and practiced the basics by going through all of the material in the 0400 Series, it’s time to move on to the 0500 Series with the first lesson, 0501V Spelling Hawaiian Words in Hawaiian.