Speaking Hawaiian

DSCN0968Hawaiian Word Pronunciation

We were butchering Hawaiian street and highway names, until the Marine Gunny Seargeant over our son’s company gave us a quick lesson in saying Hawaiian words.  When her family was transferred to the Marine Corp Base at Kaneohe Bay, they had taken a tour of the island, where the Hawaiian tour guide gave them a quick lesson that they now passed on to us. 

First, most Hawaiian words are best pronounced by breaking the words down to pronounce every two letters together.  Second, some Hawaiian words have only vowels or at least many vowels.  In most of those words, all the vowel sounds are pronounced. 

Let’s start with some highway names that we were pronouncing so incorrectly, that the Gunny Seargeant gave us this lesson.  Doesn’t this highway name beg to be pronounced, Like Like?  Using rule number one, pronounce every two letters together, this highway name actually sounds like, Licky Licky.  Easy enough, right?  So, let’s try another one. 

Another highway we saw a lot of was named after a former king in Hawaii, Kamehameha.  I personally tried pronouncing this highway so many different ways prior to our Hawaiian speaking lesson, that I’d finally started just calling this the “Ha Ha” highway.  It wasn’t so hard to pronounce after our lesson, and it sounds like “Ka – may – ah – may – ah”. 

Aiea, one of the few city names in the world written only with vowels, is pronounced by locals as “eye – eh- ah”, but that doesn’t exactly follow rule number two.  But, these lessons helped us learn how to speak Hawaiian names much better than following the English language rules we’re taught in American public schools.  Anyone else have suggestions for pronouncing Hawaiian names?

Category: Beaches, Hawaii  Tags: , ,
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