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Rescuing Hi’ilani: Glossary & Pronunciation Guide

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Hawaiian Word Pronunciation Guide
Twelve Letters in the Hawaiian Alphabet:

5 vowels (a, e, i, o, u) and 7 consonants (h, k, l, m, n, p, w)

Pronouncing the Vowels
A = AH
E = EH
I = EE
O = OH
U = OO

the diacritical mark of ` (which looks like a mirrored apostrophe)  is a glottal stop, like a little breath between certain vowels like Hi`ilani – Hee`ee-lah-nee

And because the Hawaiian language was purely verbal until the arrival of the Missionaries in Hawaii, no letter is ever silent. It is a purely phonetic language.

The words that I’m entering into this glossary will also appear on my website/blog – and will include pictures to help illustrate some of the words

Hawaiian Words in the Book: (in order of appearance)

Hi`ilani – name meaning ‘beautiful heaven’
Ahfong – a surname of Chinese/Hawaiian descent
lau`ae – a flat leafed plant with a heady, clean scent
Kukui – a native plant called the candle nut tree. The tree is the state tree of Hawaii and can be distinguished by its silver-green leaves
Hale Koa Hotel – a hotel in Waikiki on the Island of O’ahu – you must be a member of the military or a military dependent to stay at the hotel.
Kuli kuli e – phrase usually used for children, or those acting like them, asking them to ‘be quiet’!
Mahalo – Thank you
mu`umu`u – local garment developed from the neck to toe clothing of the missionary women
A`ole pilikia – used after “Mahalo” when you want to say ‘no worries’ or ‘no problem’
Ono – delicious
Kaleo – name meaning ‘voice’ or ‘the voice’
Haole – foreigner the derogatory nature of the word can be negated by tone if you’re in a group that understands the use
Ku`u Home O Kahalu`u – (song title) My dearest home in Kahalu`u
Aloha ahiahi – Good Evening – Good Night
Tutu – Grandmother
kama`aina – local person, either born in Hawaii or has lived so long in the island they are like the people born there
Ewa side – the Western side of the Island
Pikake – plant and flower – tiny white jasmine on a climbing vine with dark green leaves
Kailani – name meaning beautiful water
Leilani – name meaning beautiful lei (garland of flowers)
Ukulele – small stringed instrument (looks like a guitar) based off of the design of a Portuguese instrument – developed in the 1800s
Moemoe – sleep – time to sleep
Honi – Hawaiian ‘kiss’ – a press of noses where the two breath in each other’s exhaled breath – like mingling breath/souls
Haku lei – a flower garland made by winding or braiding the various items of flora together – one of the more time-consuming lei to make

Pidgin English Words and Phrases in the Book:

(Pidigin is a mash up of a bunch of different languages that became a language of its own)

Auntie/Aunty – a woman close to you that’s older by a generation – like family
K’den – okay then or all right – not overly enthusiastic
Calabash – like the large wooden/gourd bowl used to serve food – meaning ‘like family’
karang his/your alas – guarded to make a local man wince – means to injure your family jewels
mo’ bettah – better (literally ‘more better)
Whatevah – whatever
Whatchu – what you
K – okay
Killah – killer
mu`u – short for mu`umu`u
Shaka – a friendly hand gesture made with the thumb and pinky finger extended and the three digits in the middle folded over in a loose fist
Boroboro – old and worn clothing, something to wear at home but not in front of company
Aiyah – a verbal expression of frustration like ‘oh no!’ Very common among asians
Buggah – describing a person, typically a male
Dinnah – dinner
Nevah – never
Fo’ – for
Paniolo – a Hawaiian cowboy – the tradition comes from the hiring of Spanish cowboys to teach the Hawaiians to run ranches and ride horses
Bus’ me up – literally ‘bust me up’ – meaning beat me up/mess me up
No get – don’t get
Wassup – what’s up
Gon’ – goin
Wen’ – went
Hea – here
Aftah – after
Slippah – slipper
Almos’ – almost
One noddah – another
No make A – don’t been an ass – don’t show your ass

Other words
theBus – Seriously, that’s the actual name of our public transit bus
O-Triple-C – OCCC – Oahu Community Correctional Center
Raffia – a dried fiber that is commonly used to make haku lei, what we use to wind around the center of the lei, binding the flowers together



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