HONOLULU (KHON2) – We all make use of our island roadways, but when was the last time you paid attention to their given names? 

Did you know you could learn more about Hawaiʻi’s history and language if you did?

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Our weekly “Aloha Authentic” segment highlights various streets across the island chain so we can dig into those names and in turn, learn something new. 

This week, we take a dive into ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi.

In the ahupuaʻa of Waikele, which stands in the moku of ʻEwa here on Oʻahu, is giving the Hawaiian for “tongue or language” as its name. 

We are talking about Alelo St.

In ancient Hawaiʻi, ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi, or Hawaiian language, was an oratory language, being passed down through storytelling and chants.

Once the missionaries arrived in 1820, they pushed for Hawaiians to learn how to read, write and create a written language for Hawaiian.

Since then and with the assistance of the University of Hawaiʻi in more modern days, ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi has been standardized.

In the Hawaiian alphabet, there are 18 symbols:

A, E, I, O, U, H, K, L, M, N, P, W, ʻ

The ʻokina is a diacritical marker used to create glottal stops in between vowels. 

The other diacritical marker used is the kahakō, a line over vowels which prolongs its sound. 

So, the remaining alphabet symbols include:

Ā, Ē, Ī, Ō, Ū

But it’s interesting to note that other letters and sounds outside of this set are used in Hawaiian language. 

As Hawaiians became aware of new English words that had no Hawaiian counterpart, new Hawaiian words were then created.

This includes B (for example: Beretania Street), R (for example: Rhio Rheo, once used to mean Liholiho), and T (for example: Tūtū). 

Even until today, the people of Niʻihau continue to use “T” in their dialect. 

Other examples of Hawaiianized-English words include pepa meaning “paper” and leka meaning “letter.”

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Did you know? Now you do!