Let’s Get Down to Business!!

Ok so I think it’s safe to say we’re well into this Hawaiian revitalization thing. Over a month and there are (I think) 14 of us. If you’re still into it or if you’re new here, thanks so much for being a part!

In the previous posts I’ve talked about the necessity for increased language revitalization efforts, a bit about the typology , a bit about the ways in which your language shapes the way you understand the world around you, and also some bits about the alphabet. For the most part, it’s been a bunch of culture and linguistics, but minimal stuff on the actual language part of the language.

If you’re into that, you’re probably loving what’s been going on so far. If you’re mostly into this for the language learning part, this is probably going to be your favorite post so far.

Mostly we’ve been learning using Duolingo so far. Which is an excellent resource! We’ve also shared bits about what we already know and have learned elsewhere. But there’s been very little in the way of formalized instruction. Duolingo is really great with immersion, but you don’t learn the alphabet. You infer the grammatical rules.

So it’s time to start cataloging our progress and compiling resources that we can just look at to review.

That said, the rest of this point is going to be a vocabulary list so far—broken up by category and part of speech. Also a little bit of grammar and review of the alphabet, because it’s just good to have all that stuff in one place.

The Hawaiian Alphabet contains 12 letters! Five vowels— A, E, I, O, U, all of which are a pretty soft vowels (round and back)—and seven consonants—H, K, L, M, N, P, W. Additionally, there is a diacritic consonant sound that’s kinda considered a letter and kind of not but just treated like a consonant. That’s the glottal stop, or in Hawaiian, the ‘okina. It’s represented by the apostrophe, as seen at the start of the word ‘okina. When you see one, do the thing your throat does when you say “uh-oh.”

Then, there’s a vowel diacritic! Vowels can have a bar over them ō like that. Typically it’s called a macron (like the French president), but since we’re talking Hawaiian here, it’s called a kahakō. When you see one of these, just extend the vowel sound out a bit more.

Then there are 7 diphthongs—ae, ai, ao, au, ei, eu, and ou.

Super basics of grammar with Hawaiian! Consonants cannot be next to each other in a word, and so all consonants (including ‘okina) have to be followed by a vowel. This is true within a word as well as between words! So to keep this consistent, words cannot end in consonants, but they can begin with them.

Now that that stuff is out of the way, it’s time for some vocabulary.

There is no gender indicated by pronouns. So he/she/it is just one pronoun— ‘o ia

Nouns do have gender. Best as I can tell it’s not specifically “male” and “female,” which honestly is kind of an arbitrary distinction anyway. These are kino ʻō and kino ʻā. Or o-class and a-class. From what I’ve gathered so far, the class of noun denotes how it can be used in a sentence.

But that’s too fancy for where we are just yet.

The gender/class is indicated by the article. Meaning that articles are a bit more complex than they are in English.

The three we’ve really dealt with so far are ke, ka, and nā, with nā indicating plural.

Plurals sometimes apparently affect the initial vowel of the word, as in ka wahine/nā wāhine (the woman, the women), but not always, as in ka kukui/nā kukui (the light/the lights). My initial guess was that it had to do with vowel class/gender, but as they’re both ka, that’s apparently not the case.

I’m sure there is plenty more, and I’m sure I’m leaving a ton out because I really have no idea. But that’s what I/we have learned so far.

Now it’s just time for some lists. I’ll include the gendered article when I remember what it actually is haha. Comment if you know and I’ll add it.


Ke kaikamahine– the girl

Ke  keike kāne- the boy

Ka wahine- woman

Ke kāne– the man

Ke makua kāne

Ka makuahine

Ka tūtū wahine- grandmother

Ke tūtū kāne– grandfather

ʻanakala- uncle


ʻOhana- family

Ka mākaʻi– the police officer

Mahiʻai– farmer

Kumu– teacher

Ka hale– the house

Ka noho- the chair

Lumi kuke– kitchen

pākaukau- table

Ka papahele- The floor

Ka puka- the door

Ka puka aniani- the window

Pāʻani – toy

lumi moe- bedroom

– key

Ke kelepona- the telephone

ka kukui- the light

Ka ua- the rain

Anuanu– cold

Polalauahi- vog. Yes, vog

Makani- wind

Lā/kēia lā– day/today

mahalo– thank you

hui ‘ana– meeting

Malama/malama pono- take care/take good care

A hui hou- until [we] meet again (the “we” is implied)


Hoʻomaʻemaʻe- to clean

hoʻihoʻi- to put back

Pani- to close

Aia…ma- is in

ʻai– eat

Ho’a– to turn on





If you’re only familiar with English, cases might be a bit of a new thing to you. Essentially the articles change based on the role of a given part of speech within a sentence. It allows word order to be flexible (among other things).

Spanish has three cases, German has four. Russian has something like 8 but I don’t remember, I just remember my German professor telling us that we could have it a lot worse.

From what I’ve read, Hawaiian also has four. Nominative, Genitive, Accusative, and Dative. I don’t really know a whole lot about them so I’m not gonna research it and then include a bunch of stuff I don’t really understand. But suffice it to say that you can anticipate things like the “the” changing whether something is the subject or object of a sentence, or in dependent clauses or whatever.

That also kind of implies that the verb-initial typology of the language is gonna be flexible. Which I’ve also read somewhere. Sentences tend to start with verb stuff, but it’s flexible in allowing emphatic statements to be at the start of the sentence instead.

Whatever, it isn’t really important to know the details just yet.

But here are our pronouns so far:

Au- first person singular

ʻOe– second person singular

ia– third person singular

Kāua– first person inclusive dual (we, but only in cases of two)

kākou– first person inclusive for three +

Kou– Second person possessive singular/plural. Essentially your/yours

A few more articles:

Kēia– this

i kēlā– that

And then finally, some adverbs and prepositions but they’re not getting separate sections:

No- of/because of/belonging to

Hea- which

I know there’s more. There has to be. But this is a start. If you’re in the group or just know a few basic words/phrases to add, feel free to add them in the comments!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s