Californians Try To Pronounce Hawaiian Towns… And It’s Hysterical

The Hawaiian Islands are unique in more ways than any single person could count and that includes our language, vocabulary, and local diction. Most people from Hawaii don’t exclusively speak Hawaiian — except those who call Niihau home — though there are a variety of words and phrases from the Hawaiian language that are still frequently used today, most commonly in the names of landmarks, businesses, and even towns. There are no doubts that the Hawaiian language can be tough for those who have never been exposed to it, but what happens when you ask twelve Californians to pronounce the names of Hawaiian towns? Well, let’s just say, the results are pretty disastrous.

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So, tell us, have you ever heard others mispronounce these twelve town names? What about yourself? I remember first moving to Hawaii years ago and making a game out of trying to pronounce Hawaiian street names with my husband – and after watching this video, I feel much more confident in my ability to pronounce Hawaiian names. For more Hawaiian language fun, Here Are 15 Words And Phrases People In Hawaii Just Don’t Understand.

The OIYS Visitor Center

The Language Of Hawaii

March 17, 2021

What does the Hawaiian alphabet look like?

The Hawaiian alphabet consists of just 13 letters, half of the English alphabet, including five vowels — a, e, i, o, and u — and eight consonants — h, k, l, m, n, p, w, and the glottal stop, called an ‘okina. All Hawaiian words end in a vowel and consonants are always followed by a vowel.

What is the history of the Hawaiian language?

The Hawaiian language is one of the oldest living languages in the world and has had a tumultuous history. Unlike many languages, there are no records of ancient Hawaiian writings and up until the late 1700s, the Hawaiian language was exclusively spoken rather than written. After British settlers discovered the islands, a new system of Hawaiian writing was formed. After Hawaii became a territory of the United States in 1898, the language was banned from schools and the government, though it was still spoken.

Is the Hawaiian language still spoken?

Though Hawaii is the only American state with two official languages — Hawaiian and English — the language is classified as critically endangered by United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO). From the 1830s to the 1950s, the number of native Hawaiian speakers gradually decreased. Since the 1950s, however, there has been a gradual increase in attention to and promotion of the language and we hope that one day the language is no longer considered endangered.

What is Pidgin?

Today, many Hawaiian locals prefer to speak an English-Hawaiian hybrid language known as a Pidgin dialect when it comes to daily life. Not unlike slang used in American English, linguists agree that Hawaiian Pidgin features enough distinctions from its parent languages to be considered a unique form of speaking all its own.