Hawaiian language

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The Hawaiian language (Hawaiian: ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi)[3] is a Polynesian language that takes its name from Hawaiʻi, the largest island in the tropical North Pacific archipelago where it developed. Hawaiian, along with English, is an official language of the state of Hawaii. King Kamehameha III established the first Hawaiian-language constitution in 1839 and 1840.

For various reasons, the number of native speakers of Hawaiian gradually decreased during the period from the 1830s to the 1950s. Hawaiian was essentially displaced by English on six of the seven inhabited islands. As of 2001, native speakers of Hawaiian amount to under 0.1% of the statewide population. Linguists are worried about the fate of this and other endangered languages.[4]

Nevertheless, from about 1949 to the present, there has been a gradual increase in attention to, and promotion of, the language. Public Hawaiian-language immersion pre-schools called Pūnana Leo were started in 1984; other immersion schools followed soon after. The first students to start in immersion pre-school have now graduated from college and many are fluent Hawaiian speakers. The federal government acknowledged this development. For example the Hawaiian National Park Language Correction Act of 2000 changed the names of several national parks in Hawaiʻi observing the Hawaiian spelling.[5]

A creole language spoken in Hawaiʻi is technically called "Hawaii Creole English", abbreviated "HCE". It developed from pidgin English and is often called simply "Pidgin". It should not be mistaken for the Hawaiian language nor for a dialect of English.

There are only twelve letters in the Hawaiian alphabet, plus the ʻokina which is considered a consonant.

The ISO language code for Hawaiian is haw.


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