Learn How to Pronounce Hawaiian Names in 10 Minutes or Less!

Sep 4, 2019 | General Information

Newcomers to Hawaii are often completely perplexed by Hawaiian words and are simply just stumped to the point that they can’t even possibly make a guess as to how to pronounce a word. What they don’t know is that pronouncing Hawaiian words is fairly simple as soon as you know the rules, of which there are few. Here are the very basics you need to know. There are more rules than these and certainly more explanations regarding how to pronounce Hawaiian words but these next few lines will get you up to speed at least enough to pronounce most words you come across.

There are seven consonants in the Hawaiian language and they are all pronounced in exactly the same way as you would in English. The consonants are H,K,L,M,N,P,W. These are all pronounced in the same manner as you are used to with the sometimes exception of W which in some cases is pronounced like a V.
There are five vowels and they are all pronounced the same as in English except for the ‘i’ which is pronounced like a long ‘e’ as in me. A (ah), E (eh), I ( long E), O (oh), U (u).
In Hawaiian, every letter is pronounced separately. The only exception to this rule are the use of okina (`) and kahakou (line over the vowel). okina causes a glottal stop between vowels, while kahakou causes a vowel to have an elongated sound. Any time you see two identical vowels next to each other, you can assume an okina is missing.
As a for instance, the a’s are all pronounced separately in the place name of a city in Kauai called Kapaa. Each of the three a’s is pronounced separately.
Well that’s it. This was your ‘very basic’ first lesson in pronouncing Hawaiian and there is certainly still more to learn but if you start trying to sound out the various words you come across using the above rules it will become easier in short order.