Preface [chapter]

Mary Kawena Pukui, Samuel H. Elbert
1966 Place Names of Hawaii  
In Hawaii, Hawaiian place names are on everyone's tongue; nearly all house PREFACE sites, streets, towns, and island sections have Hawaiian names. These names, numbering*'many tens of thousands, are pronounced today in a variety of ways. The traditional spelling is of only limited help to one who wants to know native pronunciation. For example, 'Alae (as in Wai-'alae) and 'Ala-'e (a place on the Kona coast of Hawaii) are both commonly written and pronounced as Alae-but one stands for a mudhen
more » ... d the other a sweet smell. To indicate the approximate pronunciation used by elderly Hawaiians, only three modifications of the traditional spelling are necessary: an apostrophe (or reversed apostrophe) for the glottal stop, a macron over vowels that are long and stressed regardless of position, and a hyphen separating the constituent words and particles. (For further notes on Hawaiian pronunciation, see section 2 of the Analysis.) In addition to the pronunciations of 1,125 Hawaiian place names, the literal meanings of about 88 per cent of them are given, together with, when available, references to published accounts containing legendary associations or poetic tributes. The computations were made by the IBM 1401 computer. Not all the names can be translated or explained (such as the island name Moloka'i), and for some of the names several interpretations are possible. No claim is made that the explanation given for any name is the only one. For some names, especially of isolated and small sites (such as of ancient taro patches long ago bulldozed into residential subdivisions and freeways) the pronunciation may be known only to a few kama'aina of the locality. To a non-Hawaiian some names have surprising meanings; see, for example, 'Elelu, Ka-lahui-pua'a, Ka-ule-kola, Kohe-Iepelepe, Pepeiao-lepo. The main purpose of this study, then, is to record in a single list what has been discovered thus far about the pronunciations and meanings of the more important place names, before the deaths of informants and the destruction of sites render recovery of that information impossible. The entries selected for inclusion are of commonly used names, and represent but a small portion of the totality, for the Hawaiians of old were a people who focused much of their thinking on the nature that surrounded them, and an important way to do this was to name and thus cherish even the tiniest spots. vii
doi:10.1515/9780824885625-001 fatcat:sxuv4fi4krfjbc5hwzjlzidgka