Unique Hawaiʻi

The Hawaiian language, ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi, has 12 letters in the entire alphabet. It contains five vowels (a,e,i,o and u) and eight consonants (h,k,l,m,n,p, and w). With only 12 letters, the diacritics (ʻokina and kahakō or macron) are important indications of sounds to help distinguish between different words and places. A consonant is always followed by a vowel in the Hawaiian language and all Hawaiian words end in a vowel.

The glottal stop ʻokina is an official letter of the Hawaiian alphabet. The ʻokina changes the pronunciation of the state name, Hawaii (ha-why) to Hawaiʻi (ha-why-ee).

The kahakō is a macron that is the mark causing stress or length of a vowel. The first vowel in the word, Mānoa (Ma-no-ah), has a macron above it stressing the prominence than the next two syllables.

a: “ah”          e: “eh”          i: “ee”          o: “oh”          u: “oo”