- Hawaiian is a member of the Austronesian language family,
Samoan, Maori, Fijian, and other languages spoken
throughout Polynesia, and more distantly to some Southeast Asian and
Indian Ocean languages.
Hawaiian is the ancestral language of the indigenous people of the Hawaiian
Islands, the Hawaiians, a Polynesian people. Hawaiian, along with
is an official language of the State of Hawai'i. It is notable for having a
small phoneme inventory (see Hawaiian alphabet, below), like many of its
Polynesian cousins. Especially notable is the fact that it lacks the phoneme
/t/, one of only a few languages to lack such a phoneme.
an endangered language. On most of the islands, Hawaiian has been displaced
English and is no longer used as the daily language of communication. An
exception is Ni'ihau which still uses Hawaiian in daily communications,
because it is a privately owned island and visitation by outsiders is
strictly controlled. For a variety of reasons starting around 1900, the
number of first-language speakers of Hawaiian diminished from 37,000 to
1,000; half of these remaining are now in their seventies or eighties.
Efforts by Native Hawaiians to revive their ancestral language have
increased in recent decades. Hawaiian language "immersion" schools are now
open to children whose families want to retain (or reintroduce) Hawaiian
language back into the next generation. The local NPR station features a
short segment titled "Hawaiian word of the day".
Hawaiian Pidgin (also known as Hawaiian Creole) is a local form of
with borrowings from Hawaiian and Asian languages (predominantly
Tagalog) introduced by immigrants hired to work at sugar and
The Hawaiian alphabet, called ka pī'āpā Hawai'i in Hawaiian, is a variety of
the Roman alphabet created in the 19th century and used to write the
Hawaiian language. Until U.S. Missionaries to Hawai'i created a written
form, the language was only spoken. It consists of 12 letters and a symbol,
making it one of the shortest alphabets in the world (Rotokas alphabet has
one letter fewer; the Pirah„ language, two fewer). Its inventory consists of
the consonants /p/, /k/, /`/ or /'/ (glottal stop or Ďokina, sometimes
written as an opening single quote Ď), /m/, /n/, /w/ (sometimes rendered as
[v]), /l/, /h/ and the vowels /a/, /e/, /i/, /o/, /u/. The macron, called a
kahakō in Hawaiian, used with vowels, both extends a vowel sound and
indicates a stressed syllable. It does NOT change the vowel sound (as from
short to long).