It is fun and easy to learn Hawaiian. Hawaii is the only state that has two official languages, English and Hawaiian. Hawaiian is an Austronesia language that had almost become extinct. Today there only about 8,000 people in the Hawaiian Islands that speak Hawaiian, and most of those 8,000 live on Niihau. The island of Niihau is the only place in the world where Hawaiian is the first language and English is a foreign language. After Hawaii was annexed by the United States in 1899, the Hawaiian language was banned from schools and the language began to rapidly decline. The Hawaiian language continued to decline until 1978 with Hawaiian, along with English was made the official language of Hawaii. More and more people started to have interest in the Hawaiian language and the language revival began. Today many schools have classes taught partially in Hawaiian and some schools even started a Hawaiian immersion program. English is still the main language used by the State, business and schools, but the beautiful Hawaiian language will remain in the hearts and souls of Hawaiians as a big part of their heritage. It has become popular for the Hawaiians that speak only english to learn Hawaiian. They want to keep their heritage alive for future generations. When you visit Oahu or any of the other Hawaiian islands today, you will likely hear phrases that are in English but contain some Hawaiian words and intonations. This Hawaiian slang is called “pidgin”. It may look difficult, but it is easy to learn Hawaiian or at least be able to pronounce Hawaiian words.

The reason it is easy to learn Hawaiian is that the Hawaiian alphabet contains only 13 letters: A, E, H, I, K, L, M, N, O, P, U, AND W. Each letter is pronounced, for instance:
Aloha --- a-lo-ha-
Kalakaua--Ka-la-ka-u-a- or (Ka-la-ka-wa)

Try this one!
Humuhumunukunukuapua'a --Hu-mu-hu-mu-nu-ku-nu-ku-a-pu-a’-a-

See it is not really that hard to learn Hawaiian.

Vowel sounds most often follow these rules:

Stressed vowels
A -ah, as in car : aloha
E - a, as in may : nene
I - ee, as in bee : honi
O - oh, as in so : mahalo
U - oo, as in spoon : kapu

Here are some Hawaiian words and Hawaiian phrases you may see while on your trip. I have also added some Hawaiian phrases you can use for your Birthday cards or Christmas cards. Have fun keeping this wonderful language alive. Now let's start to learn Hawaiian.


‘aina - land, earth
A’a - sharp
Ali’i - Hawaiian royalty
Akamai - smart, intelligent
Aloha - hello, goodbye, love


Halau - hula troupe
Hale - house, home
Hana - work, bay
Haole - foreigner, Caucasian
Hapa - portion, part, mix of races, such as hapa-haole
Hau oli - happy
Heiau - ancient Hawaiian religious temple usually made from lava rocks
Hoku - star
Holoholo - to walk or travel for fun
Honu - turtle
Ho’okipa - hospitality
Hu hu - angry or agitated
Hui - group or organization
Hula - Hawaiian form of communication using dance
Huli - turn
Humuhumunukunukuapua’a - Hawaii’s state fish (Hawaiian trigger fish)


Imu - underground pit oven used in luaus.


Kahiko - traditional, old, ancient
Kahuna - Hawaiian priest
Kai - ocean
Kala - dollar, money
Kama’aina - native Hawaiian or long time resident of Hawaii
Kanaka - man, human
Kane - man
Kapu - forbidden, sacred
Kupuna - respected, elder
Kupunakane - grandfather
Kupunawahine - grandmother
Kau kau - food
Kui - to string a lei
Kolohe - rascal
Ku'uipo - sweetheart


Lanai - porch
Lani - heavenly
Laulau - meat or fish wrapped in taro leaves and steamed in a ti leaf packet
Lei - a garland of flowers, leaves, nuts, or shells
Limu - seaweed
Lolo - crazy
Lua - bathroom or toilet
Luau - feast or party


Mahalo - thank you
Mahimahi - dolphin fish
Maika’i - good
makahiki - ancient Hawaiian celebration held annually with sports and religious festivities
Makai - towards the ocean
Malihini - visitor, newcomer
Mauka - inland, towards the mountains
Mauna - mountain
Mele - chant, song, sing
Menehune - mythical small people who are rumored to have inhabited the Hawaiian islands before Polynesians
Mu’umu’u - long loose fitting dress


Nai’a - dolphin
Nani - beautiful, enjoyable
Nene - Hawaii’s state bird ( endangered Hawaiian goose)
Niu - coconut


‘Ono - delicious
‘Opala - trash


pahoehoe - smooth lava
Pali - cliff
Paniolo - cowboy
Pau - done, completed
Poi - pounded taro root )Hawaiian staple food)
Puka - hole
Pulehu - cook over hot coals
Pupu - appetizer, snack
Pupule - crazy


Ukulele - stringed instrument, small guitar


Wahine - woman
Wai - fresh water
Wikiwiki - quick, fast


Sunday - Lapule (lay-poo-lay )
Monday - Poach (poh-ah-kah-hee )
Tuesday - Po’alua ( poh-ah-loo-ah )
Wednesday - Po’akolu - (poh-ah-ko-loo )
Thursday - Po’aha - (poh-ah-ha )
Friday - Petaluma - (poh-ah-lee-mah )
Saturday - Po ‘aono - (poh-ah-o-no )
January - ‘Iaunuali (ee-ya-oo-new-ahlee)
February - Pepeluali (pay-pay-loo-ahlee )
March - Malaki (ma-la-key )
April - ‘Apelila ( ah-pe-lee-la )
May - Mei (may-ee)
June - Iune (ee-oo-ney )
July - Iulai (ee-oo-la-ee )
August - “aukake (ah-oo-ka-key)
September - Kepakemapa (key-pa-key-ma-pa)
October - ‘Okakopa (oh-ka-ko-pa )
November - Notepaper (no-vay-ma-pa )
December - Kekemapa (key-key-ma-pa)


Happy Thanksgiving - Hau’oli La Ho’omakika’I ( how-oh-lee la ho-o-ma-key-ee)
Happy Holidays - HAU’ OLI LANUI ( how-oh-lee la-new-ee )
Merry Christmas - MELE KALIKIMAKA ( may-lay-ka-lee-key-ma-ka )
Happy New Year - HAU’OLI MAKAHIKI HOU ( how-oh-lee ma-ka-hee-key ho )
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year - MELE KALIKIMAKA ME KA HAU ‘ OLI MAKAHIKI HOU ( may-lay-ka-lee-key-ma-ka may ka how-oh-lee ma-ka-hee-key ho)
Happy Birthday - HAU ‘ OLI LA HANAU ( how-oh-lee la ha-now)
Happy Anniversary - HAU ‘ OLI LA HO ‘ OMANA ‘ O ( how-oh-lee la ho-o-ma-na-o )
Happy retirement - HAU ‘OLI LA HO ‘OMAHA LOA ( how-oh-lee la ho-o-ma-ha low-a )
Happy Sweet 16 - HAU ‘ OLI MOMONA ‘UMI KUMAONO ( how-oh-lee mo-mo-na oo-me ku-ma-o-no)

You see, it is really not that hard to learn Hawaiian if you just break down the word into syllables.

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