Like Spanish, the first thing to understand how to pronounce all the street names and Hawaiian words is knowing how to pronounce the vowels. They sound something like Ah, A, Ee, O, Ooo. If my suggested sounds don’t make sense hit the link and play the mp3 files.
After vowels there are 2 other important characters: the ‘okina which symbolizes a pause in the middle of a word, and the kahakō or bar above a given vowel which means a long vowel sound. With that understanding it should be possible to get close to the actual sound of written words.
In the spoken language the most common words used are Aloha and Mohalo which of course mean hello/goodbye and thank you. Beyond those greetings the other word that may be good to know would be haole. This word is used in a derogatory way meaning mainlander. If you hear it you have likely offended someone (usually by speaking to loudly or quickly).
To avoid being seen as rude and sticking out as a non-local, speak softly and slowly. Remember that the lifestyle here is laid back and relaxed. If you know the difference of how quickly people speak on the East coast of the US versus the West coast it is another step slower in Hawaii.
Don't be a Big Mouth Haole!That's one thing I've learned living here for 10 years. LOCALS typically think Non-Locals TALK LOUD and FAR TOO MUCH. You want locals to befriend you or 'take you in?' Listen! And try not to talk so loud. Listen to the way Locals talk - kinda soft and gentle. Not filled w/ Brash Bragging Bravado! If you come off REAL Mainland like, they will make fun of you as you walk away. How many times have I heard Alan (picture LEFT) say behind the back of some Mainlander walking away: 'Freaking Haole!' (And he doesn't use the word Freaking, if you get my meaning!)Local People are very sweet and kind and giving, but you have to be willing to listen and not be so self-centered. Really good learning experience living here... I'm not nearly as loud as I USED to be as a result.
If you learn how to say nothing else let you 2 words be Aloha and Mahalo . Aloha can mean hello , good bye and in some cases can I help you . Mahalo means thank you and is a great way to end a conversation with a local whether you asked for directions or simply the time . You will see how many smiles these 2 words will award you .
Please always smile, remember that you are in Hawaii. Say aloha, hello, and say maholo, which is thank you. Try poi, and if you don't want to pucker up and make an ugly face, put in some sugar. It's like pudding then. By all means go to a hula show, and a luau. If you get out of Honolulu, try and listen to the people talk pidgen english. It has a rhythym and a lilt all its own.
Saying aloha (hello/goodbye) and mahalo (thank you) go a long long ways. Waving your hand with you thumb and pinky extended (other three curved in) really is a greeting! Hawaii language is easy to learn and use and the locals appreciate your effort and respect you for trying!
Ok so this tip isn't exactly about how to speak "Hawaiian" itself, but more like what to expect when hearing locals talk. I myself DON'T speak "pidgin", but i know enough words to be able to understand what people are saying! :P
My definitions should be pretty accurate, and I'll try to give some of the best examples I can!
Some common words/sayings one might hear:
- Choke: plenty, a lot. "Get choke people here!"
- People tend to say things "backwards": "Cute, your skirt!" instead of "Your skirt is cute."
- Kine/ Da Kine: can be used to describe any 'kine' thing, person, etc. you're talking about. "Tell da kine for give me a call". "Get all kine good stuff!"
- Wen: many times used for describing something that already happened. "We wen go alaz for shop".
- Alaz: refers to Ala Moana Shopping Center
- For/Fo': as you can probably already tell, used in replacement of the word "to". "We go Zippy's fo' eat dinner" instead of "Let's go to Zippy's to eat dinner".
- "Broke da Mout": really really delicious! "Ho da buggah wen broke da mout!" means "That was really delicious!" HAHAHA
- A lot of people say "ho" before stuff like the above example
- Stay: used to replace "am", "is", "are". "Where you stay?" means "Where are you?"
- "I stay on Hawaii time": referring to the fact that the rest of the US is hours ahead of Hawaii, meaning that we're always late! :P fitting, since people in Hawaii are really laid back...
I would suggest if you are really interested in Hawaiian language culture, pick up the book titled: "Pidgin to da Max". This is a humorous compilation of various local words and sayings and makes a great souvenir! "Pidgin to da Max" is available at practically any bookstore in Hawaii!
more to come!!