Experience the Beautiful Hawaiian Language

Photo by Ingus Kruklitis

Because of the recent Tiki resurgence, there is also a renewed interest in the Hawaiian language. And, with Southwest Airlines adding direct flights to Hawaii from Los Angeles, it seems the interest in Hawaii and all things Tiki has been felt in the corporate world even affecting recent travel to the Islands.

The Hawaiian language is one of the official languages of Hawaii now, but the language was once banned in schools when Hawaii was first overthrown in the early 1800s. Now more than ever, Tiki lovers are interested in the language and out of respect for our 50th state, more people all over the world want to learn the native tongue.

Bryson Kainoa Embernate is the founder of an online Hawaiian language school that teaches students all over the globe how to speak the Hawaiian language. Just like when visiting another country such as France, citizens appreciate an attempt from visitors to try the language. It’s a sign of respect and courtesy. So when visiting Hawaii and talking with locals, try attempting to speak the local language of the Islands.

“Even in its own land the Hawaiian language is foreign,” Bryson said. He suggests surprising the locals with new language skills during tours, renting boogie boards, or shopping. The best places to speak the language might even be at a local market. Of course not every local you meet will speak the language, but those that do, will appreciate that you took the time to learn some words of the language.

Language is a way to show respect and to communicate with others. When a culture has had their language banned in their own land, imagine how that must have felt. Try to see how that would read in Hawaiian history books and how that settles with the Hawaiian people of today. Of course this was 200 years ago, but think of using the Hawaiian language at least for a few words when you visit Hawaii, with the history of their language in your mind. Given what you know, think of how using the language is a sign of how much you respect their language, their culture, and how much you love the Tiki culture as well.

Here are some basic Hawaiian words and their meanings:

  • Aloha – hello and goodbye.
  • Mahalo–thank you.
  • Wahine – pronounced (vah-heh-neh) means women’s restroom.
  • Kane – (pronounced Kah-neh) means men’s restroom.  
  • E kala Mai (pronounced eh-kah-lah-mah yee) means excuse me, if you bump into someone.

There are more phases and words than the few mentioned above. It’s not hard to google Hawaiian language or check out a small Hawaii word text and phrases guide. If you want to learn the language in an extended way try Bryson Embernate’s online course. Remember, all it takes is a few short words to get to know the local people just a little bit better. This will get you off the beaten path and on to a new adventure in the Hawaiian paradise.