by Manako Tanaka, Disney Ambassador at Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa
When people visit Hawai‘i, it‘s easy to see things you haven’t seen before. You can hike into a beautiful valley at Mānoa, or swim among the fishes at the coral reef at Hanauma. With so many extraordinary sights to see you might miss the little things that make Hawai‘i, and Hawaiian culture, so beautiful — like the ‘okina, a glottal stop used in written Hawaiian language.
The ‘okina is a letter in the Hawaiian language that looks like an apostrophe but in the shape of a 6, and is used to show where we should break our vowels when we write our words. It’s similar to how we say uh-oh in English, except we use it between all sorts of vowel sounds. It is most commonly seen in our state name, Hawai‘i or in the island we live on – O‘ahu. In fact, the ‘okina can be seen and heard all around the island as you explore street signs, names, and even local radio and television.
Next time you visit Aulani Resort, be sure to practice using the ‘okina! Any of our friendly Cast Members can help you pronounce the names as you visit various areas around the resort, such as ‘AMA‘AMA, our fine dining restaurant by the beach, or Ho‘okani Pila (Instrument Playing) class at Pau Hana Community Hall.
One of my favorite uses of the ‘okina is the name of one of our newest Disney friends: ‘Olu, a friend of Duffy the Disney Bear. If you saw photos of him recently on the Disney Parks Blog, you may have noticed a small mark next to his name on the upper left hand side. You might have thought it was a splash of water, but I’m here to tell you it’s an ‘okina!
I invite you to join us at Aulani Resort to learn more about the Hawaiian language.
A hui hou!