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Hawaii (Hawai'i), Hawaiian ('Olelo Hawai'i), Hawaiian/Ukelele

“Ka Pua U’i” (Israel Kamakawiwo’ole)

YouTube “Ka Pua U’i” performed by Israel Kamakawiwo’ole

Ka Pua U’i
written by Bina Mossman
Peformed by Israel Kamakawiwo’ole
Facing Future (1993) 

Aloha wau ia’oe, ku’u ipo
Ku’u lei momi, ku’u milimili
‘O ka heke ‘oe ona pua
‘O ke kupuna a’e hi’ipoi nei

 Hau’oli ka mana’o ke ‘ike aku
Kou maka palupalu e ke  aloha
He aloha i pili‘ia i ka pu’uwai
A he lei hiehie na ka makua

 Puana ka inoa o ku’u ipo
Ku’u lei nani, lei makamae
He nohea ‘oe i ku’u maka
E ka pua u‘i ‘oe o na lani

The Beautiful Flower (Translation by ORS, 2010)

 I love you, my sweetheart
My pearl lei, my darling
You, the greatest of flowers
Cherished by grandparents 

Joyful, the thought of knowing
Your gentle eyes of love
A love, it clings to the heart
And a lei, attractive for the parent 

Sing the name of my sweetheart
My splendid lei, precious lei
You, lovely in my eyes
You are the beautiful flower of the heavens


Aloha – love, affection; also, a greeting; corresponds with Maori aroha (love, tender emotion)
Ipo – sweetheart, beloved
Lei – garland, wreath of flowers
Momi – pearl
Milimili – plaything, toy; from mili (to handle, caress, fondle)
Heke – greatest, best
Pua – flower
Kupuna – grandparents, ancestors
Hi’ipoi – to cherish
Hau’oli – happy, as in Hau’oli Makahiki Hou (Happy New Year)
Mana’o – thought
Maka – eye; in Malay and Tagalog “mata” (eye)
Palupalu – gentle, weak, soft
Pu’uwai – heart
Hiehie – attractive, distinguished; from hie (attractive, noble)
Makua – parent
Puana – to begin a song; also, a summary refrain or theme of a song
Inoa – name
Nani – splendid, decorated
Makamae – cherished, treasured
Nohea – lovely, beautiful, handsome
U‘i – youthful, vigorous, beautiful
Lani – sky, heaven; Polynesian etymology, shared with Tongan, Samoan, Tahitian, Maori, among others

Grammar and Language Notes

The Hawaiian Language (‘Olelo Hawai ‘i)
Hawaiian is a member of the East Polynesian group of the Austronesian family, and is thus related to languages such as Maori and Tahitian, somewhat to Samoan and Tongan, and less to Malay and Tagalog.   Along with English, it is an official language of Hawaii, but only has about 2,000 native speakers.

 The modern alphabet is based on the Latin alphabet  and consists of 12 letters (a, e, i, o, u; h, k, l, m, n, p, w) plus the ‘ okina glottal stop.  Phonetically, there are 5 short vowels, 5 long vowels, plus long and short diphthongs.

 Hawaiian is VSO (Verb-Subject-Object) which uses many particles (instead of inflection).

Hawaiian numbers with comparison in other related languages Malay (M), Tagalog (T), and Chamorro (Ch):

 0) ‘Ole, Nol (M), Sero (T)
1) Kahi, Satu (M), Isá (T), Maisa/hacha (Ch)
2) Lua, Dua (M), Dalawá (T), Hugua (Ch)
3) Kolu, Tiga (M), Tatló (T), Tulu (Ch)
4) Ha, Empat (M), Ápat (T), Fatfat (Ch)
5)Lima, Lima (M), Limá (T), Lima (Ch)
6)Ono, Enam (M), Anim (T), Gunum (Ch)
7)Hiku, Tujuh (M), Pitó (T), Fiti (Ch)
8)Walu, Depalan (M), Waló (T), Gualu (Ch)
9)Iwa, Sembilan (M), Siyàm (T), Sigua (Ch)
10)‘Umi, Sepuluh (M),  Sampû (T), Manot/Fulu (Ch) 

2.  The Basic Grammar
2A.  Pronouns 

This song mostly uses 1st and 2nd person singular pronouns, as subjects, possessors, and objects.

1st person: wau (subject “I”), ku’u (possessor “my”)
2nd person:  ‘oe (subject “you”), kou (possessor “your”), ia‘oe (object “you”)3rd person: ia (subject “he/she/it”)

2B. Articles

In Hawaiian, there are definite and indefinite as well as singular and plural articles.

 Ke/ka – definite, singular “the”; the difference is based on phonetics (ke usually is before words that begin with k- and sometimes a-, o-, p-, and ‘-)

Na – definite, plural “the”; also used as a preposition to indicate wide possession, for example “concerning, on account of”

He – indefinite, singular “a/an” 

2C.  Prepositions, Particles, and other Markers

Since these words do not always match up with foreign languages, one must approach prepositions, particles, and other markers with an open mind. 

a – preposition “of”; for intimately connected relationships; sometimes “and”

              Ex: A he lei hiehie na ka makua
              Lit: And a lei attractive for/by the parent à A lei (which is) attractive to parents             

o – preposition “of”; for general use

              Ex:E ka pua u’i ‘oe o na lani
              Lit: By (fut?) the flower beautiful you (subject) of the (plural) heaven   –> You are the beautiful flower of the heavens

‘o –  emphatic nominative before pronouns and proper names; simply emphasizes the status of the Subject

             Ex: ‘O ka heke ‘oe ona pua

              Lit: (emphatic) the best you (subject) its (3rd person possession) flower –> You are the best of flowers

e – particle “by” indicating passive action done “by” someone/thing; sometimes indicates future action

i – particle “to/at/in” (time) and sometimes “by”; used to indicate an Object of an action, morphing into “ia” or “io” before pronouns and proper names

‘ia – particle marking passive action

ia – particle “to/at/in” (time) and sometimes “by”; used before pronouns and proper names to indicate an Object of an action

              Ex: Aloha wau ia’oe 
               Lit: Love I (to) you (object) à I love you

a’e – comparative adjective, like “-er” ; indicates an “upward or sideways” direction; when used with particle “nei”, indicates nearness, for example in past time

              Ex: ‘O ke kupuna a’e hi’ipoi nei 
              Lit: (emphatic) the grandparent (past time) cherish (past time)
               The grandparent has cherished / The grandparent cherished

aku – comparative adjective, like “-er”; indicates an “outward/away” direction, sometimes used to indicate past/future time

              Ex: Hau’oli ka mana’o ke ‘ike aku
              Lit: Happy the thought the knowledge 

nei – marker of present continuous tense; with directional words (a’e, aku), can indicate nearness in past time

                          Ex: ‘O ke kupuna a’e hi’ipoi nei 
                          Lit: (emphatic) the grandparent (past time) cherish (past time) à                      The grandparent has cherished / The grandparent cherished


Intro/between verses: D7 G7 C G7

Verses: C  G  C  C7

               F   A7  D7

              E7   Am   F

            C  G7   C


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