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  • It's the U.S.'s 50th state and one of the most popular tropical vacation destinations

  • in the world. But how do you say its name?

  • Almost all the local town and street names are written in an alphabet of only - get this

  • - 13 letters. Most of them will be a cinch for you: a e i o u h k l m n p w 'okina.

  • So that makes it easy: "havaii". Oh, but this little swishy at the end is actually a letter,

  • the same sound that hides in the middle of "uh-oh"! okay, so it's "havai'i". I'll

  • go try that out!

  • Turns out that wasn't quite right. As I'm learning from these islands, this gets said

  • more like "uh-y", not so much "eye". Hhh, should've known it was too easy the first

  • time. Here we go: "huhvuhy-ee".

  • When you say it that way, you at least get thehey, that's not too bad!” reaction.

  • Alright, practice time. So I've learned that if you go snorkeling in "Havai'i" you

  • might spot a kihikihi. And if you bring your underwater camera to this spot in Kailua-Kona

  • you can snap plenty of pics of the state fish, the humuhumunukunukuapua'a. Oh, and this

  • breathtaking hike 10 miles east of Honolulu will take you straight up an old railroad

  • track to the top of Koko head. And if we pan over here a bit - there, there we go! - you

  • can catch a glimpse of the suburb below, which gets called Hawai'i Kai. "Hawai'i"... wait,

  • wasn't that "Havai'i"? Hold it. Which is it, [w] or [v]?

  • After checking back in on the local pronunciation, it turns out that it's Ha[w]ai'i OR Ha[v]ai'i.

  • This kind of behavior once earned it the nicknameThe Vexing Hawaiian w”. It's a choice,

  • but you guys know about choices. Maybe the tomeyto ~ tomahto situation comes to mind?

  • There's even a name for this: it's calledfree variation”. You say tomahto I say

  • tomeyto, he says Havai'i she says Hawai'i. I guess it's just personal preference.

  • Not so fast! Back in 1958, in his paperSocial influences on the choice of a linguistic variant”,

  • John Fischer tells us thatfree variationis just a convenient term we use for a bunch

  • of under-the-radar influences on our pronunciation. Influences like the way other females or other

  • males say something when we're learning a language as children, which could be going

  • on here, too.

  • I noticed that, on the radio here when the dj's speaking faster, Hawai'i gets cut even

  • shorter: "Hava'i", "Hawa'i".

  • But it's not all pau hana yet. The music of the islands has one more on offer for us.

  • In a study on the different ways Hawaiian gets pronounced when people speak it versus

  • when they sing it, Joseph Keola Donaghy of UH-Hilo documents places where a famous musician

  • actually splits the word in two, singing "Háwa-í'i" when belting a tune.

  • Have you been keeping track so far? You came to me with Hawaii, and now I've found you

  • havai'i and hawai'i, hava'i and hawa'i and evenwa.í'i.

  • Okay, things got a little out of hand here. That's a lot of answers to what started

  • out as a simple question! But, whatever you call this island chain, mahalo for taking

  • the time to learn with me.

It's the U.S.'s 50th state and one of the most popular tropical vacation destinations

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A2 US hawai hawaiian pronunciation variation ai hana

How do you say Hawai'i? - Eavesdropping Traveler #1

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    Caurora posted on 2019/03/01
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