The Hawaiian Language


Aloha! That means “hello” which most people are familiar with.

Down in the Big Island of Hawaii the locals use their Hawaiian language on a daily basis. I would hear “aloha” (hello), “mahalo” (thank you), and “a hui hou kakou” (until we meet again) multiple times per day. The sweet lunch ladies would always look at my card see my name Rebecca and give me the nickname of Princess Reba after smiling and saying “a hui hou kakou.”

It was so beautiful to hear.

Not only was their language beautiful but so were the people. Beautiful girls with long black hair and gorgeous skin made up my school. My blonde friends and I stood out as the locals would call us “haole” which means a foreigner, not Hawaiian, especially a white or Caucasian person. We didn’t take this as an insult because it was just the term they would use for people not born or raised in Hawaii. When my friends and I tried to pronounce the street names the Hawaiians knew right away we were foreigns. All the street names to me sound alike and had similar spelling. For example, these are the street names around my school; Kinoole St, Kilauea Ave, Kawaili St, Kekela St, Leilani St, Halekauila St, and Lanikaula St. just to name a few. How hard was that to read? Getting directions was very hard because we could not understand the street names.

Before we left for Hawaii we thought we would be all set after watching Lilo and Stich learning words such as “aloha” and “ohana” (family).

We were wrong. We needed to know more than those two words.

We quickly found out what the “HI life meant” as we were in the mist of living it! The HI Life means the good life. We were living in paradise! Of course life was good; the sun was always out, everyone was friendly, happy, and as bright as the sun!

We also learned how to appropriately use the “shaka.” The “shaka is a hand signal/gesture that originally means to “hang loose.” If someone did something cool or good it is appropriate to give them the shaka. The shaka indicates a positive sign of approval or praise. For example; when we finally were able to stand on the surf board and wide the wave, we received a shaka from all our friends in the water watching. You can also use the shaka as a goodbye wave or a “thank you” signal.

Up in Massachusetts when you let someone go driving they raise the palm of their hand meaning thank you. In Hawaii the shaka would be used for this scenario.

If you visit the Big Island be sure to experience the “HI LIFE” and the unique language!

A hui hou kakou