A few rules may help you in properly pronouncing your Hawaiian name. Unlike English, there are only 12 letters in the Hawaiian alphabet: AEHIKLMNOPU and W.
Hawaiian Language Consonants
Pronounce PK as in English but with less aspiration. Pronounce HLMN as in English. W after I and E is usually pronounced like V, but after U and O usually pronounced like W; initially and after A, it can be pronounced like V or W.
Hawaiian Language Vowels
Each of the 5 Hawaiian vowels is generally uniform with some exceptions such as: A like A in far, tar; also like UH. E like AY in bay, lay; also like E in bet; I like Y in city; also like E in Eve O like O in no, so U like OO in moon; also like U in true.
Hawaiian words, phrases and the Hawaiian language as a whole are basically simple and easy to pronounce if you sound out the words.
Here are some examples of Hawaiian Vowel Pronounciations:
A pronounced: ah as in "star" as in the Island word ALOHA
E pronounced: ey as in "stay" as in the Island word LEI
I pronounced: ee as in "see" as in the Island word HAWAII
O pronounced: oh as in "glow" as in the Island word MAHALO
U pronounced: oo as in "soon" as in the Island word HONOLULU
E noho iho i ke opu weuweu, mai ho`oki`eki`e.
Remain among the clumps of grass and do not elevate yourself. (don't show off. don't get puffed up and big-headed. Be ha`aha`a (humble), which does not mean timid, submissive, and spineless. An inner self-confidence which gives rise to quiet strength is far more admirable than self-importance, arrogance, and egotism. Ku`ia ka hele a ka na`au ha`aha`a. Hesitant walks the humble hearted. A humble person walks carefully, so as not to hurt others. Don't walk all over people..! Those who are sensitive to others inspire respect and allegiance. Those who throw their weight around will hurt others, and eventually themselves, when enough people have been hurt.)
He lawai`a no ke kai papa`u, he pokole ke aho; he lawai`a no ke kai hohonu he loa ke aho.
A fisherman of the shallow Sea uses only a short line. A fisherman of the deep Sea has a long line. (a person whose knowledge is shallow does not have much, but he, whose knowledge is deep, does.)
`A`ohe loa i ka hana a ke aloha.
Distance is ignored by Love.
Ho`ola`i na manu i ke aheahe.
The birds poise quietly in the gentle breezes. (said of those who are at peace with the world, undisturbed and contented)
Nana ka maka; ho`olohe ka pepeiao; pa`a ka waha.
Observe with the eyes. Listen with the ears. Shut the mouth. Thus one learns.
Ua hilo `ia i ke aho a ke aloha.
Braided with the cords of Love. Held in the bonds of affection.
A`ohe `ulu e loa`a i ka pokole o ka lou.
No breadfruit can be reached when the picking stick is too short.
Mai pale i ke a`o a ka makua.
Do not set aside the teaching of your Elders.
A`ohe pu`u ki`eki`e ke ho`u`o `ia e pi`i.
No cliff is so tall that it cannot be scaled.
O kau aku, o ka ia la mai, pele ka nohona o ka `ohana.
From you and from him, so lived the family. The farmer gave to the fisherman, the fisherman to the farmer. (give to one another. be family.)
Me he lau no ke Ko`olau ke aloha.
Love is like Ko`olau breezes. Gentle and invisible but present nevertheless.
Ua ola loko i ke aloha.
Love gives life within. Love is imperative to one's mental, physical, emotional and spiritual welfare.
He `opu holau.
A house-like stomach. A heart as big as a house. (said of a person who is kind, gracious, and hospitable.)
Mai `ena i ke kanaka i laka aku.
Treat a person who comes in kindness with kindness. (do not shy away from a person who is afectionate to you.)
Aloha mai no, aloha aku; o ka huhu ka mea e ola `ole ai.
When Love is given, Love should be returned. (anger is the thing that gives no life. Hawaiians understood the transforming power of aloha. Love begets Love, and enmity produces enmity. anger only serves to hurt the angry, causing emotional upset, which impairs mental, physical, and spiritual well-being)
Ua ola no i ka pane a ke aloha.
There is life in a kindly reply. (though one may have no gift to offer to a friend, a kind word or a friendly greeting is just as important)
Aia a pa`i `ia ka maka, ha`i `ia kupuna nana `oe.
Do not ride on the coattails of your Kupuna (ancestors).
(for anyone of aristocratic ancestry, speaking or boasting of one's pedigree was unseemly, unless slandered or challenged. for the commoner, impressing others by trying to be someone else was improper, and fussing over status was pretentious. Be yourself...)
Mahala ka pua, ua wehe kaiao.
The blossoms are opening, for dawn is breaking.
Ho`olike ka mana`o i Wai'lohia.
Make your minds alike at Wai'lohia. Turn your mind onto the same channel with bright thoughts.
(wai meaning "water" and lohia meaning "sparkle")
`Onipa`a. Stand firm.
(Motto of Queen Lili`uokalani)
The History of Hawaiian Language and Culture may well have begun with the first settlers in Hawaii who arrived from Hiva in the southern Marquesas Islands around 400 A.D. These settlers brought with them their gods, plants, culture and their language. The Olelo Hawaii, (the Hawaiian Language) belongs to a family of languages from central and eastern Polynesia, which includes Hawaiian, Tahitian, Tumotuan, Rarotongan and Maori.
The arrival of Captain James Cook in 1778 marked not only the beginning of major changes for the people of Hawaii, but also changes in their language, religion and cultural traditions. Following Captain Cook other Westerners arrived including missionaries from New England around the year 1820. The missionaries were determined to educate the Hawaiians, including teaching them to read and write. In order to do this, they needed to give the Hawaiian language a written and recordable form.
The Hawaii Missionaries who were untrained in linguistics were unable to distinguish between many of the sounds in the Native Hawaiian language. They could not distinguish between t and k, l and r, or b and p. When they were finished, the alphabet for the Hawaiian language consisted of just 12 letters found in the English alphabet and the 'Okina, (a symbol that looks much like a backwards apostrophe). The new alphabet consisted of the Hawaiian Vowels; a, e, i, o and u, and the Hawaiian Consonants; h, k, l, m, n, p and w. When Hawaiian Names and Words were given written form, many appeared quite different from their original spoken form. For example Honoruru became Honolulu. Ranai became Lanai, Mauna Roa became Mauna Loa and taboo became kapu. The Hawaiian Language was changed forever.
The Hawaiians were voracious learners. In a very few years they became one of the most literate people on earth. By the mid-to-late 1800s, Hawaiian became the language used in their courts, school systems, the legislature and in government offices. When the Hawaiian Monarchy was overthrown in 1893, things again began to change for the language. The new, predominantly white, provisional government had by 1896 prohibited the speaking or teaching of the Hawaiian Language in the Public School system in Hawaii. This suppression of the Hawaiian language would continue following U.S. Annexation in 1898 and last for most of the twentieth century.
The Traditional Hawaiian lifestyle was suffused with a spirituality that touched all aspects of everyday life. Over centuries, the culture also evolved highly ritualized temple worship to honor the major akua, or gods. Temples or Shrines called Heiau's took two forms: walled enclosures or raised platforms. These structures of stone marked off areas that included smaller wooden structures including houses for particular functions and an 'anu'u or oracle tower. Different heiau were built for the two main types of services. The mapele heiau honored Lono and ceremonies invoked blessings for successful crops and other peacetime needs; pigs were a common sacrificial animal. The luakini heiau was a war temple honoring Ku and services included human sacrifice.
Large temple images carved of wood were similar to others found throughout Polynesia and are often figures standing with flexed knees, arms and hands with mouths open in a teeth-bared expression. Feather god images found only in Hawaii were also made, their intricate featherwork attached to a basketry framework. Other smaller images, often made of stone, adorned smaller local or family shrines such as Ko'a or fishing shrines.
While worship of family or local gods was conducted by individuals, temple worship was performed by Ali'i and Priests, or Kahuna. Kahuna were the highly trained caretakers of tradition and wisdom. They were often specialists in particular areas such as healing (kahuna lapa'au), divining the future (kahuna kilokilo), or in blessing practical undertakings like canoe building (kahuna kalai wa'a). Kahuna were also political advisors to the chiefs and held positions of great power within society.
Hawaiian Religious Ceremonies honored important life events such as birth, conception, attaining adulthood and death as well as group undertakings like canoe building or the dedication of new homes. Luakini ceremonies sought the gods' blessing in warfare. Ceremonies during Makahiki honored Lono, the harvest bounty and the seasonal reign of peace.
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