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5 Common Hawaiian Phrases

The state of Hawaii is unique not only because of its rich cultural heritage, beautiful scenery, and multi-island composition; Hawaii is also unique in the United States because its two official languages are English and Hawaiian.

The Hawaiian alphabet only contains 13 letters—five vowels and eight consonants—and is the language of the indigenous people who settled these islands. After the arrival of English-speaking missionaries to Hawaii, use of the Hawaiian language went into decline. In recent decades, however, there has been a movement to revive the Hawaiian language, and it is now taught in many schools in our educational system. As a result, you are likely to hear some Hawaiian spoken during your visit to the islands.

When on Kauai, you might overhear exchanges in Hawaiian and perhaps even have Hawaiian words and phrases woven into your conversations. To help you converse like a local when visiting Hanalei Colony Resort, here are five common and simple phrases that will come in handy throughout your stay:

  • Aloha (Ah-LO-hah) – This is the most-used Hawaiian word, and it has multiple meanings depending upon the context in which it is used. It can mean "hello" or "goodbye". It can also convey love, affection, and sympathy. You might hear references to the "aloha spirit" in Hawaii, which refers to a spirit of kindness and hospitality.
  • Mahalo (Mah-HAH-lo) – Thank You. This is another very common word on the islands, and you will hear it often. Don't be shy to use it yourself whenever you wish to thank someone. A sincere "mahalo" is sure to make the recipient smile.
  • E komo mai (Eh ko-mo MY) – Come in, welcome. Restaurants, activity companies, and stores might greet you in this manner.
  • Keiki (kay-EE-key) – Child or children (plural). You might see a "keiki menu" in a restaurant or hear about reduced "keiki prices" for various activities.
  • A hui hou (ah hoo-ee HO) – See you later/Until we meet again. This is a pleasant way to say goodbye to someone and is often combined with "aloha", such as, "Aloha. A hui hou!"

Next time you're on Kauai, try your hand at speaking Hawaiian and don't be afraid to take your time with your words. A hui hou!