User:Epicgenius/Things to avoid while editing/Hawaii MOS

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The following is a style guide for editing Hawaii-related articles. Place and people names in Hawaii follow special conventions, as a result of contact between the native Hawaiian and English languages.


  • To align word usage and typography in Hawaiʻi related articles to give all articles a consistent "look and feel."
  • To record the results of past agreements and discussions over typographical issues.
  • As a general reference to educate non-Hawaii residents on unique aspects of word usage in Hawaiʻi.

Orthography: special characters[edit]

Orthography refers to the correct way of writing a language. The Hawaiian language uses two special marks not used in English. The kahakō is a diacritic (a small sign added to a letter to alter pronunciation or to distinguish between similar words). It is written as a raised horizontal line, which indicates a long vowel (ā ē ī ō ū). The ʻokina ( ʻ ) is an apostrophe-like letter indicating the glottal stop, serving as a consonant. A discussion on the use of special characters may be helpful to editors seeking a better understanding of this topic.

The omission of kahakō or ʻokina in Hawaiian words will change the pronunciation and alter the meaning of the word in Hawaiian language. It may alter a geographical location; for example, Hawaii refers to the state, and Hawaiʻi refers to the island (see below. Kalaʻe and Ka Lae are different places.[1] Lānaʻi is an island, while lānai is part of a house and lanai means "stiff-backed".[2]

Use of the kahakō and ʻokina, as used in current standard Hawaiian orthography, is preferred in Hawaiian language words and names used in the body of articles dealing with Hawaii. The online Hawaiian Dictionary[2] or a similar reference work should be used as a guide for proper spelling and diacritic usage. The {{Hawaiian Dictionaries}} template is useful for citations.

If the ʻokina is used, it is recommended that editors use the {{okina}} template rather than the apostrophe, or "left single quote" character. Please see the following sections for more guidance on a few special cases or specific topics.

Article titles[edit]

The Wikipedia policy for article names provides the general guidance that special characters should not be employed in article titles. The Wikipedia naming conventions page provides more specific guidance. Use the most commonly used English version of the name of the subject as the title of the article, as you would find it in verifiable reliable sources (for example other encyclopedias and reference works). For example, use Pearl Harbor rather than Puʻuloa. This makes it easy to find, and easy to compare information with other sources. Wikipedia disambiguation pages are also used to help the reader find the desired article if several have similar names. For example, see Waimea.

Since the special character policies are different for titles and bodies, it means any wikilink to a term that should have the special characters will be a "piped link", using the {{okina}} template or vowel with kahakō on the right side of the pipe. For example:

[[Kau, Hawaii|Ka{{okina}}ū District]] results in: Kaʻū District

Some existing titles might have an apostrophe, other approximation of an ʻokina or kahakō in them. Use redirect pages to make sure the title without any special characters can also be used. The move function should in many cases automatically leave such a redirect, but mass moves are generally discouraged. Spend your time improving content instead.

Hawaiian and Hawaii[edit]

"Hawaiian" is always capitalized. Do not insert the ʻokina between the two "i" characters; "Hawaiian" not Hawaiʻian, since an English word ending indicates it is being used as an English word. When describing persons, "Hawaiian" refers to persons descended from the aboriginal peoples of Ancient Hawaiʻi. The article describing the people is Native Hawaiians, but that term can be ambiguous, and the people call themselves Kānaka Maoli. When referring to residents of the state in general, "Hawaii resident" is preferred, unless it is clear from the context that the person in question is of Hawaiian descent.

The word "Hawaii" appears in most English dictionaries, so either spelling can be appropropriate. The modern US State is usually just "Hawaii". The ʻokina is often used when talking about the ancient culture, Kingdom of Hawaiʻi, or the island of Hawaiʻi in the body of the article.


A good source for geographic names is the Geographic Names Information System, a resource developed by the United States Geological Survey.[3] Many of the island names have the special characters in them, but the major ones are likely to appear in English dictionaries, so both forms are acceptable (for example, Oahu or Oʻahu). The "Place Names of Hawaii" and "Hawaiian Place Names" databases in {{Hawaiian Dictionaries}} are also good sources.


Honolulu is the largest city and capital of the state of Hawaii, covering the southeastern coast of Oʻahu. The City and County of Honolulu is the governmental entity which covers the entire island of Oʻahu. There are no separate city or town governments in the entire state.


Generally names are used by local residents for roads instead of numbers. However, state highways and "inter"-state highways are also given numbers. According to highway naming guidelines, articles should be given titles of either the name of the road, or "Hawaii Route 19" for example, but just use "Route 19" in the body.

Census data[edit]

Census Bureau policy in 2000 and earlier did not allow special characters in Hawaiian place names. Place names for the 2000 census were submitted by state officials in 1998, before the GNIS was updated to include the marks. This restriction was rescinded for the 2010 census. The United States Census Bureau attempted to have the CDP and GNIS names agree as much as possible for the 2010 census. The Hawaii Board on Geographical Names, under the Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism, has been working with USGS to use special characters in place names as appropriate.[4]


Avoid literal translation from Hawaiian language sources. For example, instead of:

He was born, the son of Aliʻi Hoʻopuʻulani and Aliʻi Kalanianuiapui....

All people are "born", and the use of "he" makes it clear he was a "son" so those words convey no information. On the other hand, it was not clear which parent was his father and mother, since both use similar titles. A better wording might be:

He was born in the late 18th century. His father was High Chief Hoʻopuʻulani and his mother was High Chiefess Kalanianuiapui....


Although two styles of dates are allowed by the general date style guideline, the "month day, year" style is used almost exclusively within Hawaii, and with most sources (published in the islands or the U.S. mainland). Therefore the "month day, year" style is preferred.

Ancient names[edit]

As stated above, use kahakō and ʻokina in the body, but avoid them (and apostrophes) in the article titles. The older style of using hyphens is more popular for pre-historic figures, and may be mentioned for clarification.

Hawaiian monarchs[edit]

In article titles for Hawaiian monarchs and members of the royal family, use the reign name (and ordinal as appropriate); e.g. Kamehameha III.

  • Do not use Christian names in the article title, nor the pre-reign name. Examples:
  • Avoid "of Hawaii" in the article title; the names of royalty are mostly unique to Hawaiʻi. Example: Kamehameha I, not Kamehameha I of Hawaii. One exception is Queen Emma of Hawaii.
  • Avoid the words "King" "Queen" "Prince" etc. in the title, since that can change through a person's life.
  • Refer to other given names in the article lead and body.

Use redirects as appropriate for alternate names. In the body of the article, refer to the name generally used by the person at the time the event is being discussed, being careful to explain when names change, such as when Prince Lot Kapuāiwa became King Kamehameha V.


From the MoS page.

  1. ^ Juvik, S. & Juvik, J. (1998). Atlas of Hawaiʻi, Third Edition, p.26. University of Hawai'i Press., Honolulu. ISBN 0-8248-2125-4 (pbk.)
  2. ^ a b Mary Kawena Pukui and Samuel H. Elbert (2003). "Hawaiian Dictionaries". University of Hawaii Press. Retrieved 2009-09-09. 
  3. ^ Search in the Geographic Names Information System (GNIS)
  4. ^ "Hawaii Board on Geographical Names". Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism web site. State of Hawaii. Retrieved 2009-10-01.