|Creator||American Protestant missionaries|
The Hawaiian alphabet, ka pīʻāpā Hawaiʻi, is an alphabet used to write Hawaiian. It was adapted from the English alphabet in the early 19th century by American missionaries to print a bible in the Hawaiian language.
In 1778, British explorer James Cook made the first reported European discovery of Hawaiʻi. In his report, he wrote the name of the islands as "Owhyhee" or "Owhyee". By July 1823, they had begun using the phrase "Hawaiian Language." The actual writing system was developed by American Protestant missionaries on January 7, 1822. The original alphabet included five vowels and twelve consonants:
A, B, D, E, H, I, K, L, M, N, O, P, R, T, U, V, W
and seven diphthongs:
AE, AI, AO, AU, EI, EU, OU
In 1826, the developers voted to eliminate some of the letters which represented functionally redundant interchangeable letters, enabling the Hawaiian alphabet to approach the ideal state of one-symbol-one-sound, and thereby optimizing the ease with which people could teach and learn the reading and writing of Hawaiian.
- Interchangeable B/P. B was dropped, P was kept
- Interchangeable L/R/D. L was kept, R and D were dropped
- Interchangeable K/T. K was kept, T was dropped
- Interchangeable V/W. V was dropped, W was kept
Due to words with different meanings being spelled alike, use of the glottal stop became necessary. As early as 1823, the missionaries made limited use of the apostrophe to represent the glottal stop, but they did not make it a letter of the alphabet. In publishing the Hawaiian bible, they used the ʻokina to distinguish koʻu ('my') from kou ('your'). It wasn't until 1864 that the ʻokina became a recognized letter of the Hawaiian alphabet.
As early as 1821, one of the missionaries, Hiram Bingham, was using macrons in making handwritten transcriptions of Hawaiian vowels. The macron, or kahakō, was used to differentiate between short and long vowels. The macron itself never became an official letter. Instead, a second set of vowels with macrons were added to the language as separate letters.
The current official Hawaiian alphabet consists of 18 letters: 5 normal vowels: Aa, Ee, Ii, Oo, Uu; 5 Vowels with Macrons: Āā, Ēē, Īī, Ōō, Ūū; 8 consonants: Hh, Kk, Ll, Mm, Nn, Pp, Ww, ʻokina.
|ai||i in ride||kai = sea water|
|ae||I or eye||Maeʻole = Never-fading|
|ao||ow in how
with lower offglide
|Maoli = True
Kaona = Hidden Meaning
|au||ou in loud or out||Au = I, I am|
|ei||ei in chow mein
or in eight
|Lei = Garland|
|eu||eh-(y)oo||ʻEleu = Lively|
similar to ew in few
|Wēkiu = Topmost|
|oe||oh-(w)eh||ʻOe = You|
|oi||oi in voice||Poi = Hawaiian Staple|
|ou||ow in bowl||Kou = your|
|ui||oo-(w)ee in gooey||Hui = Together, team, Chorus|
This article incorporates material from the Citizendium article "Hawaiian alphabet", which is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License but not under the GFDL.