Monday, March 12, 2007

Online Hawaiian Dictionary

Those of you who have never used a Hawaiian dictionary may want to know about this site. To get the English edition, click on "English Text" at the top of your screen. If you don't know the proper orthography of the word you want to look up, select "All Dictionaries" before you do your search.

5 comments:

Jill said...
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Jill said...

As I was told, diacritical marks are to help those who do not know how to pronounce Hawaiian words. Apparently there is some debate over whether they are necessary or not. Some books use the marks, others do not. In some respects it's an act of resistance if they are not used; in other respects, it's just lazy copyeditors. Would a translator's note cover the choice to use or not to use diacritical markers? And is there any disagreement over how some words are pronounced or rather are the multiple ways that words maybe pronounced (as in many other languages); if so, which how would the copyeditor reslove this problem as there are several good Hawaiian dictionaries? Is there a "go-to" Hawaiian dictionary that many copyeditors have agreed to use?

Ritchie Mae said...

In the past, there were no diacritical marks used. Then again, we can also say that their language was oral (not written).

I learned that the use of diacritical marks changes the sound and meaning of the Hawaiian word. For example,

pau: finished
pa`u: soot
pa`ū: moist
pā`ū: woman's skirt

Hawaiian Dictionary

Pat said...

When we were working on our French Polynesia issue, we learned of Te Fare Vana‘a/Académie Tahitienne, an organization created to standardize the way Tahitian is written.

I assume that Hawaiian went through a similar process of standardization—first, when it was transliterated, and later, when dictionaries were compiled. Because we don't learn the language the way people did before—that is, by hearing it spoken before we can read—we learn the written language first. That is why, it seems to me, diacritical marks are so important.

A good authority on the way Hawaiian used to be pronounced is Eddie Kamae, who has devoted his life to preserving the old ways.

I don't know what the most widely accepted Hawaiian-English dictionary is these days. When I was learning Hawaiian, it was Pukui and Elbert's dictionary, which is what we use at MANOA. I should add here that one of my teachers, Sara Nakoa, learned Hawaiian from the Baibala Hemolele (Hawaiian bible), and she disdained diacritical marks; she called them kukae nalo (fly poop).

People who choose not to have diacritical marks included in their published work can request that an editorial note precede or follow their writing or translation. It is usually up to the editor to decide the final wording and placement of such notes.

Let me see if Frank wants to comment on this subject.

Ritchie Mae said...

The Hawaiian language is so controversial!