Language of the Hawaiian Islands

Life in Hawaii may seem like a foreign country at times with the vast number of languages spoken in the islands. True foreign languages aside, such as Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Okinawan, Portuguese and Spanish, the two primary languages of Hawai'i are the native tongue, and pidgin english.

The Hawaiian language is still practiced by many, and particular words or phrases are used by all. Streets and towns are named using the native Hawaiian language. The Hawaiian language consists of 12 letters, A, E, H, I, K, L, M, N, O, P, O and W. Five are vowels and seven are consonants. This accounts for why there are towns such as Ka'a'awa that may prompt a chuckle or two due to their spelling, but once you learn about the language the more it makes perfect since. 

The symbols between the As in Ka'a'awa are called an Okina. An Okina represents a subtle 'stop' in a words pronunciation same as you would pronounce "uh-oh." Additionally a W is pronounce as an English W when it follows the vowels O and U. The W is pronounced as an English V when it follows a vowel. If you unpack the Ka'a'awa you would pronounce it Ka (subtle pause) ah (subtle pause) ava (the W is pronounced as a V). If you view the Okina ( ' ) as a dash (-) it may be easier to process. Try saying Ka-a-awa.

The proper pronunciation of the state name Hawai'i sounds like Ha vah (subtle pause) ee. Yep, most of us pronounce it so it sounds like Hawaeeee. Being from Missouree, or is it Missourah, we relate to this twisted pronunciation of our states name.

Pidgin english appears primitive at first, but it's spoken by everyone in Hawaii. A better understanding of its purpose provides insight to how the many immigrant cultures to the islands in the 1800s were able to communicate in the fields and socially by creating this home grown language. 

Learning to speak Hawaiian is the same as studying any foreign language. It requires hours of study, research and practice. Pidgin is picked up on the streets, at school, at work, everywhere because everyone in Hawaii uses Pidgin.

The list below is an attempt to document as many words and phrases, both native Hawaiian and Pidgin as I can get my hands on in attempt to spread their use outside the islands. I put a (p) next to the entries which are pidgin in nature. If you have a word or phrase you'd like included please make a suggestion.

A
'Ae - Yes
Aina - Land
A hui Hou - Until we meet again
Akazuya - Japanese deli
Ala - Path, trail, road
Ali'i - Chief
Aloha - Hello
Aloha auinala - Good afternoon
Aloha au ia 'oe - I love you
Aloha kakou - Hello to all
Aloha kakahaika - Good morning
Aloha Nui Loa - All my love
Aloha 'oe - Farewll to thee & the title to a popular Hawaiian folk song
Aloha po - Good night
Aloha wau ia'oe - I love you
A'ole, a'ohe - No
Au'rite - All right (p)
Aunty - A term of endearment used by children to elder females regardless if related or not. (p)

B
Bibidees- Men's underwear (p) derived from a popular brand (BVD) in the islands
Bradah - Brother (p) or Bro *as in "Howzit Bradah?"
Brah - Short for Bradah (p)
Broke da mouth - Food so good it broke your mouth
Buss - Bust (p) Either laughing or hurt *as in "You funny uncle, you buss me up" or "Don't mess wit him, he buss you up"

C
Chee-hoo - Expression of excitement (p)
Chicken skin - Goosebumps (p)
Choke - to have a lot of (p) *as in "Dis poke is choke"

D
Da - The (p) *as in "da kine"
Da Kine - Anything you cannot remember the name of (p) *as in "You know, da kine"

E
Eh - A way to suggest the start of a conversation (p) *as in "Eh Brah, where you stay?"
E hele Kaua - Let's celebrate / party
E kala mai - Please excuse me
E komo Mai - Welcome or Come in

F
Foa - For (p)

G
Grind - To eat (p) *as in "Afta surf I need to grind brah"
Grinds - Food (p) *as in "Zippy's has good grindz"

H
Hapuna - Spring of life / A popular beach on the Kohala coast of the Big Island
Hale - House
Hanabata - Nose boogers, runny nose (p) derived from Japanese
Haole - Foriegner that then became white people
Hana hou - One more time or encore
Hapa - Mixed race, usually part white mixed with Hawaiian or Asian (p) *as in Hapa babies are the most beautiful
Hau’oli - Happy
Hau’oli la hanau - Happy birthday
Hau’oli la aloha - Happy day of Love or Happy Valentinbe's Day
Hau’oli la ho'omana'o - Happy anniversary
Hau’oli Makahiki Hou - Happy New Year
Haupia - Coconut milk dessert
HeiHei - Disturbance or Chicken in Maori
Heiau - Temple, sacred place
He mea iki - You're welcome
Hele Mai - Come here, in my direction
Hibachi - Grill with some sort of coals *Note: in the mainland many "Hibachi" style restaurants are actually "Teppanyaki" style iron plate grills
Ho Brah - Hey how's this? (p)
Holoholo - To walk or ride around
Honu - Sea turtle
Hou - New
Howzit - How is it going (p) A popular way of saying hello
Hula - Traditional style of dance
Huli - Flip or turn
Humbug - Pain in the butt (p) *as in "Humbug, it's time for work"

I
Imu - Underground oven heated by fire and hot lava rocks. Used to smoke/steam Kalua Pig

J
Junk - not good or is bad (p) *as in "the waves in town was junk"

K
Kahuna - An expert in their trade, historicaly priest, healers, sorcerers but also canoe makers and cooks. Experts in religion, health, crafts, science, psychology and magic
Kakou - Us
Kala mai ia u - Excuse me
Kalua - Smoked in an Imu (underground oven)
Kai - Ocean
Kama'aina - Born in Hawaii or long time resident
Kanaka - Hawaiian native
Kanak Attack - Need a nap (p)
Kane - Man
Kapu - Forbidden, keep out
Kau Kau - To eat
Kanaka - Hawaiian native
Keiki - Child
Kine - Kind *as in "da kine"
Kipa hou mai - Come visit again
Kokua - Help

L
Laho'ole - A young pig.
Lanai - Patio or balcony, usually covered
Leeward - Western side of an island
Lei - A string/garlaand of flowers, bird feathers or nuts worn over the head. Given as a symbol of affection
Lickins - Spanking (p) *as in "Oh bradah, papa is goin to give you lickins"
Li hing mui - Salty dried plum seed you suck on to strip the skin. The skin is ground to a dust and used in many dishes
Like Beef? - You want to fight? (p)
Lilikoi - Passion fruit
Limu - Seaweed
Local - Long time resident of Hawaii, not necessarily born in Hawaii
Loa - Very
Lolo - Crazy, feeble minded (p)
Lomi - To massage - Most often used for Lomi Salmon dish made of diced onion, tomato and salmon and then massaged together
Lua - Toilet
Lu'au - Hawaiian feast

M
Mahalo - Thank you
Mahalo Ke Akua - Thanks be to God
Mahalo Nui - Thank you very much
Mahalo Nui Loa - Thank you so very much
Maika'i no mahalo - Fine indeed, thank you
Makahiki - Year
Makai - Ocean *used for directions Makai meaning towards the ocean or on the ocean side
Makana - A Gift or Reward
Malama pono - Take care, be right
Malasada - Portuguese fried donut traditionally enjoyed during lent, currently enjoyed as often as possible
Mana - Literally means "thunder, storm or wind", is a spiritual energy of power and strength. Mana is effected by decisions a person makes. Doesn't translate to possessions
Manapua - A steamed bun filled with Char Siu Pork (Chinese BBQ). Derived from the Chinese Cha siu bao.
Manu - Bird
Mauka - Mountains *used for directions Mauka meaning towards the mountains or on the mountain side
Mele Kalikimaka - Merry Christmas
Mele - Song
Menehune - Small dwarf-like species similar to a pixie, that hide in the forest, and do sneaky tasks when you aren't looking
Moke - Tough local guy (p)
Mouna - Mountain
Mo - More (p) *as in "dis mo betta"
Moi - King
Moemoe - To sleep
Moana - Ocean
Musubi - Pronounced Moo-Sue-Bee

N
Niu - Coconut
Noa - Freedom, Free of taboo
No Ka 'Oi - The best
No need - I'm good (p)
Nui - Great

O
Ogo - A type of seaweed
Ohana - Family
Okole maluna - Bottoms up - Cheers
Okole - Butt or bottom
Ono - Delicious
Opala - Trash can
Opu - Stomach or belly

P
Pahu - Drum
Pahu Pu'ule - Prayer drum
Pahu Mele - Song accompanied drum
Pakalolo - Marijuana or weed
Pali - Cliff or overlook
Paniolo - Cowboy - The Spanish vasqueros came from California (Mexico at the time) to teach ranching. They brought their food, spices and the guitar to Hawaii. 
Pau - Finished, done, the end *as in "You need more SPAM?" "No need, I'm pau"
Pau Hana - Work is over, Time after work, can be used for happy hour
Pehea 'oe - How are you?
Pipi - Cattle Potagee - Portuguese person (p)
Poi - Taro root cooked and pounded into a paste
POG - Passion Orange Guava juice drink
Poke - Hawaiian method of preparing fish in chunks/cubes
Pua - Flower
Puka - Hole
Pupu - Small dish or Appitizer *As in "let's order a Pupu platter"

S
Scrap - A fight (p)
Shaka - Hawaiian hand gesture signifying "hang loose" "howzit" "cool" "aloha" "you go ahead"
Shave ice - First of all it's NOT Shaved Ice. Ice with a finer consistency than snow cones so the flava (not syrup) doesn't run to the bottom.
Shishi - To pee *as in "Go walk the dog before he go shishi in the house
Shoots - Okay, Yea, Dang, (p) *as in "You want some poke?" "Shoots Bradah"
Sista - Young woman (p) *as in "Howzit Sista?"
Shoyu - Soy Sauce in Japanese. OMG! NO ONE in Hawaii says Soy Sauce.
Slippah - Flip Flop or sandals (p)
Small kine- Just a little (p)
Stink eye - A dirty look, usually one eye squinted (p) *as in "Don't give me stink eye"

T
Tako - Octopus in Japanese
Talk story - Chattting (p) *as in "Eh Brah, where you stay?" "I'm at Kimo's, we talking story"
Tiki - First human on earth, Wooden carvings (masks & trees) used to represent the image of certain deitiess, mark boundaries or to bestow traits.
Tita - Female version of a Moke (p) *as in "Don't mess with dat Tita, she'll bust you up"
Townie - A person from town, usually thinks they are better than others (p)
Try - Please (p) *as in "Can I have more poke" "ah the poke is pau" "Eh, try bradah"
Tutu - Grandmother

U
Ukulele - Apopular 4 string musical instrument introduced to Hawai'i by Portugese immigrants
Uncle - A term of endearment used by children to elder males regardless if related or not. (p)

W
Waina - Wine
Wahine - Woman
Where you stay - Where are you or where are you from (p) *as in "Eh Brah, where you stay?"
Wiki - Quick
Windward - Eastern side of an island

Y
Ya? - A common way to end a statement (p) *as in "The waves are small kine, ya?"

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