hawaiian langauge

Hawaiian Language: From Suppression to Resurgence

Hi friends. The Hawaiian language is dear to my heart and a source of pride for all Hawaiians. It’s an integral part of the culture but has a painful history of suppression.

Today I’ll explore the name, origin, history, and writing system of the Hawaiian language and some interesting facts.

Name And Origin Of Hawaiian Language

The Hawaiian language is a gift from the ancestors of native Hawaiians. The name of this language comes from the Polynesian settlers that arrived in Hawai’i centuries ago. It belongs to the Austronesian family of languages, including Malay, Filipino, Maori, and many more.

Throughout its history, foreign rules have suppressed the use of the Hawaiian language, but it has survived and is one of the official languages of Hawaii today. 

You can write Hawaiian using an orthography based on English letters, phonemes, and symbols found in unique dialects used all over the islands. There are also some fascinating grammar rules you won’t find anywhere else! Fun facts include: Hawaiian has the nickname “the language of aloha” or “the golden tongue” due to its melodic sound.

Family And History Of Hawaiian Language

Hawaiian is so deeply rooted in the history and culture of our islands that it has become a part of us. We use it to express ourselves, share stories, and stay connected.

In terms of its family tree, linguistics has classified Hawaiian as a Polynesian language belonging to the Malayo-Polynesian subgroup; within this subgroup lies Oceanic languages such as Samoan, Tahitian, Māori, and Tongan. Linguistically, many oceanic languages are related – how cool is that?

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The writing system for the Hawaiian language was developed during the 1800s by Protestant missionaries who wanted to spread Christianity throughout Hawaii. Unfortunately, not long after the adoption of writing systems began, suppression of native languages became rampant in schools across Hawaii. Despite efforts to keep them alive through literature and radio programs over time, many dialects have been lost forever or forgotten due to these oppressive policies. Despite everything, there remains an incredible amount of knowledge from previous generations captured in books and oral traditions that still inspire us today.

Writing Language, Orthography, And Phonology Of Hawaiian Language

Writing in Hawaiian uses an alphabet called ‘ʻOkina which consists of 12 letters and 7 diacritics, which ancient Hawaiians used to write chants, stories, and songs.

Spoken dialects, known as the Pidgin English dialect today, are phonetically distinct. The orthography system uses many vowel-length distinctions between words, so there’s no need for separate symbols for long or short vowels. 

As for grammar, the Hawaiian language follows its unique rules unlike any other language – even though linguists can trace some influences back to Latin roots. Although Hawaiian was widely accepted before colonization, it was later suppressed, with English becoming more prevalent amongst native speakers. Nowadays, natives try their best to revive it and bring it back into popular culture!

Grammar And Dialects Of Hawaiian Language

Language is like a ship; its grammar, dialects, and pronunciations are the sails that take it to new places. The Hawaiian language has an intriguing history of suppression and fun facts that flavor the learning journey.

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The complex nature of the Hawaiian language’s grammar makes one question if they will ever get there. Its rules cover sentence structure, conjugation, noun-gender agreement, verbal inflection, and so on.

Dialects also vary from place to place on the islands, thus making this task even more challenging for those trying to learn it. There are two main dialects: 

  1. “Standard” or “High” Hawaiian, taught in schools, and 
  2. “Common” or “Low” Hawaiian, used mainly by locals. 

Each dialect has unique pronunciation differences but remains part of the same linguistic family tree.

Interesting Facts About the Hawaiian Language and Suppression

A census from 2010 showed that roughly 24,000 people in Hawaii are native Hawaiian speakers. That’s impressive after so much effort to suppress it! Here’s a quick look at some of the interesting facts about Hawaiian:

  • In 1896, English became the official language of school instruction and was actively enforced by teachers and missionaries who believed children couldn’t learn effectively in their mother tongue.
  • In 1983, Mary Kawena Pukui’s book “Olelo Noeau: Hawaiian Proverbs and Poetical Sayings” was a significant milestone in Hawaiian orthography. Before then, writing systems were often inconsistent, even among those who spoke the language fluently.
  • Writing systems were inconsistent because there was a lack of formal education and literacy training programs available. 
  • Thanks to the book’s publication, Hawaiian orthography has become much more standardized.
  • The Hawaiian alphabet has only 12 letters – 5 vowels (a, e, i, o, and u) and 7 consonants (h, k, l, m, n, p, and w).
  • Many words in Hawaiian contain multiple syllables, each one having its own meaning, enabling them to create longer, more descriptive sentences than single-syllable words from other languages.