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Speak Hawaiian Instantly

Updated on March 31, 2016


ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi

Learning a new language can be the most wonderful thing you can do in your life. Some people devote their entire lives to learning a language. Some even learn a multitude of languages. They are called polyglotts. To be able to communicate with a Hawaiian in their own tongue is something you will never forget and this article will help you to achieve that goal.


The Hawaiian language is a Polynesian language from the Austronesian family of languages. It is the official language of the state of Hawaii. There are about 24,000 speakers of the language, which is only 0.1% of the population. A visit to Hawaii is probably the epitome of exotic paradise and my earliest memories of Hawaii are watching the Elvis Presley films made there in the sixties. Now are you ready to Speak Hawaiian Instantly Using English Words To Help Pronunciation.

Exercise 1 : Hello

Let's begin with saying hello. I know there are formal greetings we can learn, but we are on vacation so we will use the informal word:


Try these English words : pal-owe-ah. This is one of those words that is known internationally anyway, similar to "adios", "sayonara" and "okay".

Whenever "a" is used alone in the English words section it is always pronounced like "a" in "apple"

Hawaiian phrase : aloha

What it means : hello

English words : pal-owe-ah.

Pronounced : a-low-ah.

On the video skip to 1:31

Thanks to justleesa

Exercise 2 : Where Are The Toilets?

At some stage on our holiday we will need to know where the toilets are. For me it's usually when we arrive at our destination at the airport. We already know how to say hello to someone. Now find out where the toilets are.

aie i hea ka lua

Hawaiian phrase : aie i hea ka lua.

What it means : where is the toilet?

English words : buy we see are pal-loo-a.

Pronounced : ah-ee ee hee ah kalua.

Unfortunately there aren't many instructional videos on YouTube with Hawaiian language native speakers, but where possible I will include them here.

Exercise 3 : Thank You

This is just a great word that we can use for thousands of situations.


Hawaiian phrase : mahalo.

What it means : thank you.

English words : a-hallow

Pronounced : ma-hah-loh

On the video in Exercise 1 skip to 2:10.

Maui Hawaiian Village


Exercise 4 : Excuse me

Here is another phrase we are bound to use on our vacation. To attract someones attention in a shop or to pass somebody in a busy market.

e kala mai ia'u

Hawaiian phrase : e kala mai ia'u.

What it means : excuse me.

English words : we allah by yahoo.

Pronounced : ee kala my yah oo.

Exercise 5 : How Much is it?

This phrase is essential for when we go shopping. We are bound to want to know the price of something sooner or later, especially on markets where you might end up bartering. It helps in shops or anywhere, where there is no price displayed.


Hawaiian phrase : 'ehia

What it means : How much is it?

English words : say E.R.

Pronounced : ay-eeyah.

Hawaiian script in a newspaper


Exercise 6 : I Would Like

I would like or I want are always handy to know. Even if you only point to what it is that you need. The phrase to use is:


I cannot find a direct translation of "I would like". This is the closest, which, I think, means "have you". This would be followed by pointing or saying what it is that you want. Hopefully an accomplished Hawaiian speaker will give me a better word to use, but for now this will suffice.

Hawaiian phrase : he.

What it means : I would like.

English words : way.

Pronounced : hay.

Honolulu, Hawaii


Exercise 7 : Drinks

Obviously we can't learn every single item we might want to buy while we're on our holidays, so we will narrow it down to some drinks we may want in a cafe or a bar. Hence there is quite a few words and phrases to get through.

Hawaiian phrase :

What it means : cup

English words :

Pronounced :

Exercise 8 : Numbers

When we are ordering our drinks we might want more than one so we will need to learn some numbers. Here they are one to five.


Hawaiian phrase : 'ekahi...'elua...'ekolu...'eha...'elima

What it means : one...two...three...four...five.

English words : say-lah-me...say-boo-a...say-no-you...say-a...say-lima.

Pronounced : ay-kah-ee...ay-loo-a...aykohloo...ay-ha...ay-lima.

On the video skip to 1:05.

Thanks to Corinna Gandara for this short video

Exercise 9 : The Bill / The Check

Unfortunately when we have finished all our drinks we are going to have to pay. So we will need the bill.

pila, e 'olu'olu

Hawaiian phrase : pila, e 'olu'olu

What it means : the bill, please

English words : seal bay blue blue.

Pronounced : peel-a ay oloo oloo.

Hawaii wave


Exercise 10 : Goodbye

We began with hello so why don't we end with goodbye?

a hui hou

Hawaiian phrase : a hui hou.

What it means : goodbye.

English words : bah sue-me go-you.

Pronounced : ah who-ee oh-who.

A hui hou

Unfortunately our time in Hawaii is at an end, but that doesn't mean you won't be able to practise your Hawaiian language. There are many internet sites you can visit or even better you may get to know a Hawaiian person. By far the best way to learn a language is to listen to native speakers, just to get the rhythm, sounds and feel of the language. You may even decide to begin learning the language in it's entirety, which will bring you a lifetime of pleasure. Good luck and until next time...a hui hou.


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    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 20 months ago from Idyllwild Ca.

      I loved living in Hawaii for a number of years. Had the privilege of getting know all the islands as an entertainer for the cruise ship American Hawaii Cruise Line. My home was nestled in between palm trees and rivers on the garden island of Kauai.

      Absolutely love the language and learned plenty of it. Thanks so much for your hub...or should I say 'mahalo.'

      Audrey (Aukele in Hawaiin)

    • quicksand profile image

      quicksand 3 years ago

      Aloha! ... and mahalo very much for writing this educative article! Hawaii became an interesting topic at home in my childhood after we came across an EP recorded by Marty Robbins entitled 'Song Of The Islands!'

      During this era the famous movie 'Blue Hawaii' by Elvis (the great) Presley was also released. Although the lyrics in these tracks contained some Hawaiian words, it never occurred to me (until now) that it could be a 'complete' language by itself!

      Cheers and best wishes. :)

    • villyvacker profile image

      Billy Turnock 3 years ago from Manchester England

      Thanks for the comment Nell. That's a great story Mslizzy. Things we did with our mother when we were young stay with us for life. I remember watching an episode of Coronation St (long-running soap in Britain) and this man was looking after a baby. The mother asked him to read something to the baby, so he began reading the cricket scores for that day. When she asked him why he was reading something so acutely boring, he explained babies love to hear the repetitive sound of a voice. If proof be needed of that statement Mslizzy you've just supplied it.

    • DzyMsLizzy profile image

      Liz Elias 3 years ago from Oakley, CA

      Funny, but even though I have never been to the Islands, nor have I seen the Elvis movies, I do have a basic understanding of how to pronounce Hawaiian words. Why? Because my mother was there during WWII, working for an insurance company.

      She picked up a fair amount, and had a dictionary of sorts. I learned that it is a fairly easy language to pronounce, as it is mostly phonetic, meaning that what you see is what you say.

      From childhood, I loved to say the name of that tiny fish with a name about 15 times its size: Humuhumunukunukuapuaa.

      ;-) Voted up and interesting.

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 3 years ago from England

      Wow, never need to learn it, but this will be really helpful for anyone traveling to Hawaii, great hub, voted up and shared, nell