Hawaiian Language(ʻŌleloHawaiʻi) Language family: Polynesian (a sub-family of Austronesian languages) Correct orthography (spelling) of the state: HAWAIʻI(special symbol = ʻokina) Correct orthography of the adjective: HAWAIIAN (no ʻokina) Why? The ʻokina represents a sound (the glottal stop) and saying “Hawaiʻi” without it is incorrect. “Hawaiian” is an ENGLISH word so it doesn’t use the ʻokina.
Languages of Hawaiʻi 2 official languages: English Hawaiian Hawaiian Creole English (HCE): Often simply called “Pidgin” in Hawaiʻi This is not a dialect of English nor one of Hawaiian. Like any creole, it combines aspects of both but is its own language. Endangered language: native speakers are under 0.1% of the statewide population (as of 2001)
History: Endangerment and Revival 1778: First reported European discovery (James Cook, British) 1820: American Protestant missionaries arrive, establishing an alphabet in order to translate the Bible, preach in Hawaiian, and convert natives to Christianity. Despite the spread of literacy, many native Hawaiian speakers left to explore other areas of the world and many non-Hawaiians immigrated to Hawaiʻi, bringing diseases with them Result: sharp decrease in status of Hawaiian and # of speakers
History(continued) 1830s to 1950s: Hawaiian was banned in schools and students who used it were punished Results: some parents chose to abandon speaking Hawaiian; others felt pressure to do so. Both contributed to the language’s decline. 1980s: Movement to increase the number of fluent speakers started by establishing public immersion schools. One result: national parks had their names changed to observe Hawaiian spelling
Island of Niʻihau: An exception On Niʻihau, the prevalence of Hawaiian is the reverse: Hawaiian is the first language here with English as a foreign language. Niʻihau has been privately owned for over 100 years and outsiders are rarely allowed to visit. The dialect of Niʻihau is significantly different than “standard” Hawaiian.
Spelling and Pronunciation Hawaiian has only 12 letters, plus the ʻokina (considered a consonant). A, E, I, O, U, H, K, L, M, N, P, W, and ʻ. Consonants: /m/, /n/, /p/, /t/~/k/*, /h/, /w/~/v/*, /l/ *There is variation between /t/ and /k/, as well as /w/ and /v/, for historical and orthographic reasons
Spelling and Pronunciation(continued) Vowels Short: /i/, /u/, /ɛ/ ~ /e/, /o/, /ɐ/ ~ /ə/ Long: /iː/, /uː/, /eː/, /oː/, /aː/ These are written with macrons: ā, ō, etc. The distinction matters and can completely change the meaning of a word! Diphthongs: composed of two vowel sounds. Greek: δίφθογγος, diphthongos; di = two, phthongos = sound. E.g., au, oi, ai, etc. Long vowels can also be part of a diphthong.
Grammar Analytic (lack of inflection) - grammatical relationships conveyed via unbound morphemes Lack of verb conjugation Tense, aspect, and mood is marked by using particles Sentence structure is VSO: Verb – Subject – Object Distinguishes between singular, dual, and plural. E.g. “you by yourself,” “you two,” and “you all”. Also distinguishes between inclusive and exclusive we: “just you and me,” “you, me, and other people,” “someone else and me, but not you,” and “other people and me, but not you.”
Cultural Sensitivity When marketing and selling to native Hawaiians, do NOT call it a “foreign language.” Hawaiian is the native language of the islands, and the Anglicization of Hawaiʻi is a sensitive matter. For Hawaiian residents, call it a “second language” course.
Fun tidbits Wikipedia: the “wiki” comes from Hawaiian, and it means “fast”. Another term we’re familiar with, “muumuu,” is also Hawaiian – but we say it completely wrong! Muʻumuʻuis correct and it simply means “dress”. And a Dave Barry quote: “The Hawaiian language is quite unusual because when the original Polynesians came in their canoes, most of their consonants were washed overboard in a storm, and they arrived here with almost nothing but vowels. All the streets have names like Kal'ia'iou'amaa'aaa'eiou, and many street signs spontaneously generate new syllables during the night.”