http://parxnewsdaily.blogspot.com/2010/06/word-imperfect.html (link to aundy's post)
Oh I LOVED this post, Andy. Kumu Illei was not my first teacher of 'Olelo. That teaching came originally from hanai 'ohana, with my first formal introduction to the "university style" coming from the late Kumu Helena Maka Santos, who single handedly created a new interest in 'olelo Hawai'i mostly amung the born and raised of the North Shore. I spoke it,semi- passaby although often broken up with English with the North Shore dialect but did not know how to read or write the language.
However here is some history which I'm sure you already know.
The people of Hawai'i never used the 'okina and the kahako before when the language became a written one with the first printing of Na Bibela. The Exception was among the Ali'i. As I am sure you know, there was the "upper class" 'Olelo, reserved for the Ali'i, and the court and retainers, and the language of the common people, which was what I was familiar with.
When the Ali'i dealt with other leaders and countries, the language was often used more phoneticlly and deciphered mostly from linquists or botanists or historians aboard ships that traveled here. That is how the misspelled and misprounounced words for the major Islands occured, such as "Ohwyhee, Mowree, and Atooi", but this redated the creation of the 'okina and the kahako, although the macron was used in many phonetical spelling attempts. That is why you might see these incorrect spellings in documents of the period.
The people were fluent enough in the language not to need it. However if you read the old Nukapepa, you will see many liberal and creative spellings of "Hawaiianized" words. The "s" and the "t" was used far more liberally as well.
How the use of the 'okina and the kahako came about was of course from the great writer of the Hawai'ian Dictionary Mary Kawena Pukui and Samuel Elbert who were commissioned to do it by the territorial Government.
It was the creative genius of these two that came up with the idea of the 'okina and the kahako, the 'okina to replace certain sounds, most importantly the "glottal stop", and the kahako to teach people where to elongate the vowels.
This was done since about the time of statehood the language was practicly non existant despite its being named as the official state language.
The use of the 'okina and the kahako to teach almost anyone to read, write and speak the language of 'olelo Hawai'i is one of the most brilliant attestments to the creative genius of the people of Hawai'i to adjust and to perpetuate the living, breathing culture of this place.
While Kaua'i, and its distinctively different dialects, (from the North Shore and Na Pali dialects, the Ni'ihau dialects, a and the West side dialects are distinct and unique Kauai still ranks as the purest of dialects in Hawai'i.
I still prefer to read and write 'olelo without the use of the 'okina and the kahako, since it is not neccessary for me.
This helps to decipher older documents especially Palapala Sila Nui, as well as chants or mo'olelo that were written before the use of the 'okina and the kahako. To do that however you must be able to put the words in its proper context and kaona, so sometimes that takes quite a bit of research, otherwise you will actually get your meanings all wrong.
When I first learned to write and read 'Olelo with Auntie Helena, it was almost impossible for me to understand the concept of the 'okina and the kahako. Auntie Helena taught us first what we knew and were used to and then introduced the new "University" style.
Kumu 'Illei did the same thing. To this day I can tell if someone is a native speaker, or only learned the "University " style. O'ahu speakers are the best example of this. When they speak, it sounds more like german to me and is hard and gutteral, rather then the soft, lilting musical quality that is distincly the sound that most outer island fluent and native speakers make when they speak 'olelo.
When I took from Kumu Illei as I am sure she can attest I had a very hard time with the "university Hawaii" sentence structure. In fact I was very bad at it. But to be fair, I suck at English sentence structure and grammar as well, so it is no wonder I also suck at University 'Olelo as well!
However when I write something for others I always use it. I will write it out without it, and then go back and pop in the 'okinas and kahako.
I enjoy reading the Nukapepa from the old days. A lot of words I still need to look up and its always fun to see how the words were "Hawaiianized" even back when the 'okina and the Kahako were not in common use.
Long live Ka 'Olelo 'O Mokupuni Pae 'Aina 'O Hawaii Nei!(Andy's original post on his blog, and a breifer post from this post of mine.
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