The state of Hawaii recognizes both English and the Hawaiian language as official languages. Out of all the 50 states in America, Hawaii is the only one to have its own language.
Made up of a series of islands created by underwater volcanic activity, Hawaii's location far away from the mainland of North America in the Pacific Ocean is the key to its unique cultural history. First populated by Polynesians over 1,000 years ago, the islands we now know as Hawaii were not discovered by European explorers until the late 18th century.
The Hawaiian language is a member of the Austronesian family of languages and closely resembles other Polynesian languages like Tahitian, Maori, and Samoan. Although in decline for much of the 19th and early 20th centuries, the Hawaiian language has been experiencing a resurgence in the last several decades as the result of efforts to enroll Hawaiian children in Hawaiian language immersion schools. However, a very small percentage of inhabitants remain native Hawaiian speakers.
What a visitor to Hawaii will certainly discover is the importance of the Hawaiian language in the daily lives of the residents of the islands. Streets, villages, schools, government buildings, restaurants, and parks are commonly named with Hawaiian words.
Hawaiian is seen as a very vowel oriented language. Only eight consonant phonemes are used. Theses sounds, listed in IPA, are the following: [m], [n], [p], [k], [h], [l], [w], and [?]. The [?] sound is the glottal stop, which is written as its own letter in Hawaiian - a letter that resembles an English apostrophe. The sound of the glottal stop is reminiscent of the British English pronunciation of the middle consonants in the word "bottle." The letters of the Hawaiian language represent the same letter and the same sound written in IPA.
All Hawaiian words end in vowels, and even though there are only five vowel letters in the language, they are used in complex ways that create a wide variety of sounds. All vowels have a short and a long sound. In addition, there are nine short vowel diphthongs and six long vowel diphthongs.
Unlike English, which is a subject verb object language, Hawaiian is a verb subject object language. The only exception relates to sentences that are in the negative mood. An example would be a sentence like "She won't study." In this case, Hawaiian uses the same subject verb language order that English uses.
Some of the more complicated aspects of the English language are handled in a more straightforward manner In Hawaiian. Nouns do not change their form in the Hawaiian language to express number like they do in English. Instead, the article performs this function.
In addition, Hawaiian does not use grammatical gender (he, she).
If you're interested in learning more about the Hawaiian language, YourDictionary recommends visiting the following helpful resources: