Do You Know How to Speak Hawaiian?

Often hailed as one of the most beautiful places in the world, Hawaii is truly heaven on Earth. The small island nation, while technically part of the United States, has a culture all its own with traditions, history, and a singularly unique language. With only 8,000 people worldwide who speak fluent Hawaiian, it’s plain to see that learning it is no walk in the park. While we can’t teach you a whole new language in just one infographic, we can help you get the basics down.

Hawaiian is a Polynesian language, related to Maori (native language of New Zealand) and Samoan. Soon after Western contact with Hawaii became regular, people were concerned that the language would go extinct, and for good reason. Today there is only one place on Earth where Hawaiian is spoken as the primary language, a privately owned 67 square-mile Hawaiian island called Niihau. Many native Hawaiians speak Hawaiian Creole English, a mixture that is derived from pidgin language that was first spoken way back when during early contact.

The Hawaiian language itself is broken up into five vowels and eight consonants. The vowels, similar to English, contain A, E, I, O, and U and the consonants include H, K, L, M, N, P, W and ‘. Resembling an apostrophe, the ‘ (called an ‘okina) is a unique consonant that has no sound, rather works as a guttural stop in a word and is actually used in the word “Hawaii” itself: “Hawa’ii.” In many cases the W in a word will take on the phonetics of a V and Hawaiian words never end in consonants, only in vowels.

Whether you’re looking to learn more about Polynesian culture or just trying to brush up on some phrases to prepare for an upcoming vacation, this infographic is a good place to start. Read through this piece for more on the Hawaiian language in the aloha state. Thoughts or comments? We’d love to hear fro you so let us know what you think in the comment section and don’t forget to hit those social buttons and share it with your friends!

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