‘Olelo Hawai’i?

Hawai’i is indeed a special place. One of the things that makes us special is our culture. The host Hawaiian culture has incorporated influences from those who followed. Be it Chinese, Japanese, Filipino, Caucasian, and now other Southeast Asian and even Hispanic influences. In my view, this has allowed the host culture to change with the times and therefore persevere over the centuries.

However, there is a movement towards respecting some of the original Hawaiian ways, not all of which I can go along with. Towards that end, the Hawaii Tourism Authority recently released a 23-page “Style & Resource Guide” [WARNING: 8MB PDF].

The guide begins by noting the proper use of the ‘okina and kahako [sorry, I’ve tried to get the proper orthographical punctuation in HTML but have, so far, failed to get it to work]. Without these punctuations, words may be spelled the same, but have entirely different meanings. Hence, to spell Hawaiian words without the proper punctuation makes communication difficult, and especially so in HTML.

It then goes into the proper use of some common terms in Hawai’i. This is where I have some problems. Although I can live with switching from, for example, mauka to ma uka (towards the mountains, used as a direction), I don’t think I’m going to change referring to Hawaii Island as the Big Island (both differentiating the island from the state). I mean, I don’t refer to the other islands like that (who refers to O’ahu Island or Kaua’i Island?). The guide even approves of abominations like the possessive form such as Hawai’i’s. This may be the correct usage but I avoid it because, well, it’s just looks wrong.

Anyway, I think the guide is a useful starting point for those who wish to get a quick surface understanding of some of our language and culture. But I won’t be changing all of my ways just because someone thinks “Hawaii Island” is more correct than “Big Island”.



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