Kula kamaliʻi is how we say pre-school in Hawaiian. Kula means “school,” and kamaliʻi means “children.” Although it literally means small child, kamaliʻi is a word used only in plural form. Remember, in Hawaiian the modifier follows the noun.
Often we hear Hawaiians speak of their ʻaumakua, their family or personal god – deified ancestors who might assume the shape of sharks, owls, hawks, mud hens, octopuses, eels, mice, rats, even clouds or plants.
Heluhelu means “to read.” Helu, by itself, is to count, but re-duplicating it gives us a new word: to read. All of us can heluhelu and we do it everyday reading books, newspapers, magazines, signs, and more.
Another popular place name that is often mispronounced is Maʻalaea, a bay, village, and small boat harbor on Maui. It is probably a contraction from maka ʻalaea which relates to the yellow, or red color of the Earth's beginning.
Wai means “water.” Wai is a very important thing to Hawaiians, and for that reason is included in many names – both place names, such as Waimānalo, Waikīkī, and Waiehu. And in many family and given names. Wai can be used for any type of liquid except sea water.
Our Hawaiian Word of the Day is the name of our state, Hawaiʻi. It is pronounced either as “Hawaiʻi” or “Havaiʻi.” Yes, either is okay. Language experts say you can pronounce it with a “w” or a “v” if that sound follows an “a.”
We often hear kakahiaka as part of aloha kakahiaka, a greeting early in the day. And most know it means morning. The popular greeting came in to use only after the arrival of the poʻe haole, as a translation for “good morning.”
Ala, meaning path or way, is used in so many of our street names, that is pretty well known, and most people know that it is a redundancy to say “Ala Wai Boulevard” or “Ala Moana Boulevard.” Our Hawaiian Word of the Day is alanui, the natural extension of ala. It means a big path, or a big way, a highway or a freeway.
Our Hawaiian Word of the Day is another frequently mispronounced Hawaiian place name: Keʻeaumoku. That well-driven street was probably named for a governor of Maui who bore the same name as his father, and ally, and father-in-law of Kamehameha the First.
Hapa is most often used in English conversation to describe something that is mixed or part of something. And although, it comes from the English word “half,” it means portion or part. We hear hapa used in hapa Hawaiʻi for part Hawaiian, or hapa haole for part foreign.
Nūpepa is another Hawaiian word that comes from the English word newspaper. Did you know that there have been more than fifty Hawaiian language newspapers published in the Islands? Think about that the next time you read your morning nūpepa.
Hiapo means "first born." It is used often in Hawaiian to describe the eldest child, the first born. Like many cultures, there is a special significance attached to being the first born, or hiapo, in a Hawaiian family.
Mākaʻi means policeman, also means to police or inspect. Since all of our policemen speak English, you won’t need to ask for one in Hawaiian. But it will impress many of them if you can call them a mākaʻi.