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I am a Denver-based writer, travel lover, and author of The Drive North: A Swing Down Memory Lane. I have several other pieces, including fiction, in the works.

Learning to Speak Hawaiian on the Islands

I fin’ language to be a funny t’ing, ya know, particularly when it comes to accen’s, dialec’s, and uder various mannerisms. I should know, I’m from Minnesoota after all, dont’cha know. Oh sure, I know what you’re t’inkin’, I sound like I’m from dat der movie, Fargo. But really, I’m not differen’ from anyone else. Well, excep’ dhem Hawaiians, dont’cha know. I should know, I was just der on vacation.
 
Now, dey speak English jus’ fine an’ all, but dey sure do got some funny words an’ stuff. One o’ dhem, ya know, is how dey say hello. Oh no, dont’cha know, it’s not jus’ a simple hello; dhem Hawaiians, dey like to say Aloha. If ya don’t know, it’s pretty easy, ya know; dey pronounce it a-low-ha. Da ha par’ of it has sometin’ to do wit’ transferrin’ one’s spirit to anunder person an’ all. I guess dats why dey used to touch noses when dey’d say hello an’ all, kinda like dhem Maoris down in New Zealan’, dont’cha know, where dey blow der breat’ into anunder person.

Da funny ting is dat der alphabet an’ all use’ to only be twelve letters. Oh sure, dey had more to start, but it was cut down to twelve an’ all. Jus’ like us, doh, dey got all dem vowels an’ all, ya know, but dey only get seven o’ dem uder letters. For one, dey got a K, like in dat guy King Kamehameha, but I guess it was not even suppose’ to be a letter an’ all. Suppose’ly dhem missionaries dat come over mess’ it up an’ all, since it was suppose’ to be a T instead, dont’cha know. At least dats what dey tol’ me on da Big Islan’ at dat Pu’uhonua O Honaunau.

 
One uh dem t’ings dat makes me laugh an’ all is dat dey don’ have no S. So when dhem silly touris’s go over to da islands an’ all, dey tink dayer gonna get some leis, but really it’s jus’ a lei – dont’cha know, dem flowery necklaces an’ all.
Duh funnies’ t’ing, doh, is dem t’ings I kep’ seein’ on da menus – pupus. It’s suppose’ ta be some appetizer, ya know, but it ain’ suppose’ to have no S. It’s jus’ suppose’ ta be a pupu, like what you gotta do when you go to da bat’room, dont’cha know.
So, yeah, anyway, dey don’ got an S, dont’cha know, but like I said an’ all, dey got a K. An’ as you see wit duh uder wor’s an’ all, you can see dey also got demselves a L and a P – for lei and pupu. An’ oh, dey also got Ms and Hs, as in dat Kamehameha guy, dont’cha know. I suppose it’d also work wit dat wor’ dey got, Mahalo. It’s how dey like to say t’anks, I guess, dont’cha know. It’s pronounced muh-ha-low, if ya don’ know, dont’cha know.
 
Anuder letter dey use is N. Dey use it for what dey call a tur’le, only dey call it a Honu. I suppose it’s a bit diff’ren’ an’ all from our tur’les, since it’s a grea’ big t’ing, dont’cha know. An’ it’s got flippers instea’ little legs like a normal tur’le, an’ all, dat ya see down at da pond. It’s some sorta sea tur’le, dont’cha know, dat likes to come up on da beaches and sun itself like it was some gril in a bikeeni, an’ all.
 

I been to some uh dem beaches before an’ seen da Honu, so I know all ’bout what I’m talkin’ ’bout when it comes to dem. But if ya t’ink you wanna be smart an’ see ‘em too, well den you gotta get to some uh duh smaller beaches. You won’ see ‘em on dat big Waikiki Beach in Honolulu, dont’cha know, where all dem guys do dat fancee surfin’ stuff.
 
Oh yeah, sure, you bet’cha, you’ll see ‘em swimmin’ in da ocean an’ all, but if you wanna see ‘em on lan’, den you gotta go to da smaller beaches. I seen ‘em on da nort’ shore before, when I was der on anuder visit wit’ my frien’s Dan and Elva, but I only saw ‘em in duh ocean dis time, on one uh dem submarine tours, until I wen’ over to da Big Islan’. Der I saw a couple o’ ‘em on one uh dem black san’ beaches down on da suthern par’ of da islan’. It was beautiful an’ all, but…what was I talkin’ ’bout?
 
Oh yeah, about da Hawaiian alphabet. Now, da las’ letter dey have, if you didn’ pick it up when I was talkin’ ’bout dem beaches an’ all, is a W, like Waikiki. Dats a pretty popular place wit’ da touris’s an’ all, and real nice, so I suppose dats why dat Kamehameha guy landed der an’ all when he was tryin’ to bring all of duh islan’s under his rule, dont’cha know.
 
So, anyway, ya know, it’s kinda like dat wit da Hawaiians an’ der original wor’s. Bu’ dey also got dis one ting dat I don’ qui’e understand. It’s like dey’re some Canadians, or somethin’ goin’ aroun’ askin’ eh? af’er everythin’ dey say, dont’cha know. But it’s not like dat, since da Hawaiians, especially on dat islan’ Oahu, always like to ask yeah? af’er what dey say, dont’cha know. I don’ know if dey know what dey’re sayin’ an’ all, dont’cha know, bu’ it sure did gimme a laugh an’ all.
 
I suppose dats why I trie’ to learn a little ’bout da original Hawaiian language, an’ all, since I wanted to know where dey got dat yeah an’ all from, dont’cha know. It certainly wasn’ from us Minnesootans, dont’cha know, but maybe it was duh Canadians. Maybe dem historians got it all wrong, ya know, and da Hawaiians never even came from dem uder islan’s in da Pacific, but instea’ dey came from Canada an’ all. Tha’s something’ I guess I’ll have ta go look into, an’ all.
Oh yeah, sure, you bet’cha, I had a great time on dem Hawaiian Islan’s an’ all and ha’e a bunch uh stories I’ll be tellin’ abou’ it. I was sure sad ta leave, doh. It’s one purdy place dat I’m exci’ed to get back to someday, dont’cha know. If you got a chance, an’ all, to go over der, I sure would recommen’ it. You’ll pro’lly ha’e a great time an’ laugh real har’ an’ all, jus’ like I did der, ya know, yeah.
 
 
NOTE: My trip was sponsored by the Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau and paid for almost entirely by them. All future stories I will post will not be influenced by this nor will my perspective in relation to my experiences while in Hawaii.
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