© 2014 Aaron Atkinson

Speaking Hawaiian

On the living room wall of the house we stayed at on Oahu there hung framed picture of Hawaii’s state fish. It’s a species of reef triggerfish that Hawaiian’s call the humuhumunukunukuapuaa. I was trying to sound it out when Laura’s great uncle came to my aid.

Bob: The trick with speaking Hawaiian is to break the word down into bite-size syllables. For example, the state fish is a mouthful until you break it down into humu-humu-nuku-nuku-apu-a’a.

Me: Humu-humu-nuku-nuku-apu-a’a. Got it.

Bob: Great, let’s try another. I’ll say the letters, you tell me the word they form.

Me: Okay.

Bob: P-I.

Me: Pie

Bob: P-E

Me: Peh

Bob: L-I

Me: Lee

Bob: N-E

Me: Neh

Bob: Great. Now put them all together and what’s the Hawaiian word?

Me: Pie – Peh – Lee – Neh… piepehleeneh!

Bob: (with a huge grin) Close, but in Hawaii we call it a pipeline. You main-landers always fall for that one!


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