Hawaiian Pronunciation Guide

By Dick Oakes


A a, E e,
H h, I i, K k, L l, M m, N n, O o, P p,
U u, W w, '


The hawaiian language consists of 13 characters (5 vowels, 7 consonants, and a glottal stop indicator). Hawaiian is a Polynesian language that takes its name from Hawai'i, the largest island in the tropical North Pacific archipelago where it developed. Hawaiian, along with English, is an official language of the state of Hawaii.

A vowel either follows a consonant or stands alone. Some vowels have a macron above them (called a kahako).

A glottal stop is represented by an apostrophe (called okina), and is considered a consonant.

Rising dipthongs are always stressed on the first member, but the two members are not as closely joined as in English.

There is no "s" in the language so there is no plural (lei can be one lei or many lei).

Letters not listed below are pronounced approximately as in English.


STRESSED VOWELS:
 
A, a  - a as in above
E, e  - e as in let but without off-glide
I, i  - i as in pin but without off-glide
O, o  - o as in note but without off-glide
U, u  - u as in duke (oo) but without off-glide
 
UNSTRESSED VOWELS:
 
A, a  - a as in far
Ā, ā  - a as in far but longer
E, e  - e as in let but without off-glide
Ē, ē  - e as in grey but without off-glide and longer
I, i  - i as in machine (ee) but without off-glide
Ī, ī  - i as in machine (ee) but without off-glide and longer
O, o  - o as in note but without off-glide
Ō, ō  - o as in note but without off-glide and longer
U, u  - u as in duke (oo) but without off-glide
Ū, ū  - u as in duke (oo) but without off-glide and longer
 
CONSONANTS:
 
K, k  - About as in English but with less aspiration
P, p  - About as in English but with less aspiration
W, w  - Initially and after a like v or w
w  - After i and e usually like v
w  - After u and o usually like w
'   - A glottal stop, similar to the sound in the middle of the English oh-oh
 
DIPTHONGS:
 
Ei, ei 
Eu, eu 
Oi, oi 
Ou, ou 
Ai, ai 
Ae, ae 
Ao, ao 
Au, au 


Copyright © 2011 by Dick Oakes