Pronouncing Hawaiian Names

Pronouncing Hawaiian Names is not as hard as it looks.

Hawaiian Names can be difficult because they seem so strange.

But pronouncing Hawaiian Names is not as hard as it looks because the Hawaiian alphabet has only twelve letters.

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CONSONANTS

Six of the seven consonants in Hawaiian names are pronounced the same way as in English, all except one, the letter 'W'.

The letter 'W' in Hawaiian is ALWAYS pronounced "-V-" when it follows the vowels E and I.

The letter 'W' in Hawaiian is SOMETIMES pronounced "-V-" when it follows the vowels A.

On the television broadcasts from Honolulu Hawaii, you will often hear the name "Hawaii" with the W pronounced "V", although most of the rest of the world pronounces it as "W".

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VOWELS

The five vowels in Hawaiian names are pronounced as follows:

A -- is pronounced "AH" as in 'aha'.

E -- is pronounced "AY" like 'day' and as in "fiance".

I -- is pronounced "EE" like 'whee' and as in "machine".

O -- is pronounced "OH" as in 'go'.

U -- is pronounced "OO" like 'food'.

You already pronounce these vowels this way in English, almost always in the case of the letter -O-, but only seldom in the case of the letter -I-, as in 'machine' -- and only seldom in the case of the letter -E-, as in 'fiance'.

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TWO VOWELS IN A ROW

When you see two of the same vowels in a row, pronounce each of them separately, although the modern tendency is to pronounce only one of them.

Kaanapali is officially pronounced "kah-ah-nah-pah-lee" -- but almost everyone including locals pronounces it "kah-nah-pah-lee"

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SYLLABLES

"Every Hawaiian syllable ends in a vowel sound.

A Hawaiian syllable never contains more than one consonant.

That means every consonant goes with the vowel that FOLLOWS it.

Every vowel not preceded by a consonant stands alone.

For example: 'Haleakala' consists of five syllables Ha-le-a-ka-la. (the dormant volcano that makes up East Maui)"

[from Kathy Morey in 'Maui Trails']

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