Hawaiian Phrases

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Hawaiian Phrases You Should Know.


Hawaiian Language

Hawaii has its own very rich language that you'll hear everywhere, and the English spoken in Hawaii uses many, many Hawaiian words. Get familiar with the words below and try them out loud.

Okina :: "Lanai" isn't "lana`i." "Lanai" is a porch, and "Lana`i" is an island place name. The "`" is a momentary pause. If you tried to spell the expression "uh-oh" in Hawaiian it might look like "uh`o"

Kahako :: Letters with a bar written over them are sounded out for a little longer bit of time than the other letters. The bar doesn't change the sound of the letter, just the duration of the sound.

aloha :: hello, good-bye, (expresses sincerity); love
aloha kakahiaka :: good morning
aloha auina la :: good afternoon
aloha ahiahi :: good evening
a hui hou :: until we meet again
e komo mai :: welcome
kala mai ia`u :: excuse me
mahalo :: thank you
maika`i :: I am fine
pehea `oe? :: how are you?
Mele Kalikimaka :: Merry Christmas
Hau`oli Makahiki Hou :: Happy New Year

Common words
`A`ole :: no
`Ae :: yes
akamai :: smart
hana hou :: repeat, do again, twice
hapa :: half
lani :: beautiful
pau :: finished, "it's over"

Which way?
kona :: leeward side of an island
makai :: towards the ocean
mauka :: towards the mountains, inland
`Ewa :: on Oahu it means "to the west"

brah :: brother, man
haole :: a Caucasian person
kama`aina :: native born person of Hawaii
kane :: man
keiki :: child
Local :: a person whose roots are in Hawaii because either they were raised in Hawaii, or they are native Hawaiians
luna :: boss-man
malihini :: a newcomer who lives in Hawaii
ohana :: family
pake :: Chinese
paniolo :: cowboy
tita :: tough woman
tutu :: grandmother
wahine :: woman

`a`a :: jagged, sharp-edged lava
pa`hoehoe :: smooth, unbroken flows of lava
Pele :: Hawaiian volcano goddess

Hawaiian tradition
ali`i :: chief, nobility
kapu :: forbidden (taboo)
kahuna :: expert, master
heiau :: temple, sacred site
hula :: a narritive form of dance, motions emphasize the mele`s words
imu :: underground oven
lu`au :: a feast
mele :: a song, a chant
mana :: spirit
pono :: done correctly, righteous, honest and sincere

Modern Hawaiian
bento :: box lunch
bumbye :: eventually
hapa :: half
hele :: to go, come, walk,
holoholo :: a stroll, a ride
kai :: ocean
kapu :: taboo
koa :: koa tree
loco moco :: common lunch food; rice, burger, gravy, egg
lolo :: crazy
malama :: care
no ka `oi :: "is the best"
`ono :: delicious
okole :: buttocks
pu`pu :: appetizers, hors d' oeuvres
saimin :: tasty soup broth with long-noodles and assorted vegetables and/or fish, etc.
shaka :: hand gesture means "no cares," "thanks," or a friendly smile. Opposite of the "bird." (Make a fist, stick out your thumb and pinky and waggle at your friend with a smile.
stink eye :: staring confrontatiionally or angrily at someone.
talking stink :: telling malicious stories about someone.

Did you know a "hukilau" is Hawaiian net fishing. Traditionally, a net was put out in a bay and later hauled in to shore by two teams of villagers. They usually got quite a catch and after there'd be a luau. These days, a hukilau is an organized community get together at a beach park. On Mainland it might be a clambake or a fried chicken dinner at the firehouse, but here it's a hukilau. Same thing. You eat and share aloha.


                                    Copyright 2014 Leslie Tam Slings
                                    Last modified: 02/17/14