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Hawaiian culture/customs?

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Hawaiian culture/customs?

We will be landing in the island in 2 days. I've done research on activities and entertainment. The only questions I have are the Hawaiian culture and customs. Tripadvisor has a little tidbit on the culture however are there anything we should be educated on? What not to do? Our travel agent said we should embrace the Polynesian culture and speak as much Hawaiian as we can learn how. Is this true?

I don't feel comfortable speaking the native language for the fear of transcribing something wrong or in a perceived ill manner. Any tips and advice is appreciated in advance.

Also, our AAA book said we should never honk. Any recommendations such as those for a couple in their mid-30's with a rental car, staying at a Bed and Breakfast in Captain Cook is appreciated as well (I'd like to mention, we know not to leave anything valuable in plain sight in our rental car - obviously!).

Island of Hawaii...
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21. Re: Hawaiian culture/customs?

pzp is a student of Hawaiian language, and I am not. But I wasn't speaking of pronunciation rules for the whole language; I was speaking of place names on the Big Island that a visitor will encounter.

Waimea, Wailuku, Waialea, Waipi'o, Wailoa, Waianuenue are those that come to mind, and everyone I know says them with a W sound at the beginning. Waiohinu I don't think I've heard pronounced; it's far from me.

Hawi is the one town where you're going to run into the V sound, and it is a need to know because people there don't like hearing HaWee. It sounds lame.

People do pronounce Hawai'i with more of a V; you will hear it from the newscasters and radio announcers, and on TV shows like Na Mele ... and then you'll hear a lot of people pronounce it with a W. For me I would change my pronunciation if I'm speaking to a purist. You change the pronunciation for a lot of locals and they look at you funny.

Most locals are not Hawaiian, and speak no Hawaiian, and they they don't necessarily pronounce the places by Hawaiian language rules. They pronounce them according to the way generations of people have said them. For example, the village I live near has a glottal stop in the name. Papa`ikou. BUT, I have never heard one person in this area pronounce it with the stop. Not one. So if you pronounce it right, they will correct you. :)

Edited: 9:08 pm, July 12, 2010
pzp
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22. Re: Hawaiian culture/customs?

"Wai" is one of those words that seem to be consistently pronounced with a W unless in the middle of a word, like the name Kawaikini (a mountain on Kaua`i) that's pronounced with a V sound.

Paradise, California
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23. Re: Hawaiian culture/customs?

Once long ago when I was at Kona Village (where else?) I was talking with a bartender from Napo'opo'o. I was conscientious so i put both glottal stops in. She snickered and I asked her why. She said she'd never heard it pronounced that way. They say Na-po-PO. i was a bit embarrassed, but I learned. As for the state fish, Charlotte, it's a snap: humu-humu-nuku-nuku-a-pua'a. it's a heck of a lot easier for me to say than Pu'uhonua O Honaunau.

And Kama'ainaK, that is a wonderful compendium of advice. I made a copy for reference.

David

Edited: 9:37 pm, July 12, 2010
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24. Re: Hawaiian culture/customs?

Thanks all again for the advice...

I do have one more.... I've heard taking a piece of lava rock is not only damage to the natural surroundings, but also bad luck. Is it the same concept for sea shells?

pzp
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25. Re: Hawaiian culture/customs?

Virtually no one pronounces the okina (glottal stop) in Ma`alaea (Maui) or in Hanama`ulu or Maha`ulepu (Kaua`i). My policy is to blend in with whatever local residents say if I know that.

Island of Hawaii...
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26. Re: Hawaiian culture/customs?

Thanks, pzp ... our important W names are all Wai. I tried to think of another one and came up with a side street named Wiwoole. Now every instinct in me says to pronounce that Vivoole ... the W just sounds wrong to me there.

I used to live on Kawailani -- with the wai in the middle. I always pronounced it vai and every time I gave it over the phone the local girl or guy would say it back Wai. Every time. So one day I gave up and said Wai, and wouldn't you know it was someone who speaks Hawaiian, who admonished me that it should be Vai.

One can only laugh. It's like David's Napo'opo'o story. If he switched, he would then run into someone who says it properly. I have never been corrected on Papa`ikou though. Either people say Pah-pye-KO or they say Pah-PYE-ko or PAH-pye-ko. It should be PAH-pah-ee-ko, I think. The first a is stressed long.

Charlotte, pay no attention to this ... unless you are really interested. It's not what you need to get by on your first visit.

Oh, yes, and I can't believe your travel agent told you to speak Hawaiian.

Second, only part of the modern day Hawai'i is a Poynesian culture. It's Hawaiian-Polynesian-Japanese-Chinese-Filipino-Portuguese-Mexican-haole European culture with influences from other Asian countries, Micronesia, Jamaica, Mexico, and African, Oz folks and Kiwis ... and let's not forget our notable Eastern European haole representative here ... :)

The Native Hawaiians were here in isolation long enough to evolve a culture that is pretty distinct from the Polynesia of the South Pacific.

Edited: 10:17 pm, July 12, 2010
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27. Re: Hawaiian culture/customs?

I apologize, I made the premature comment before reading KK's entire post. I will not take anything away from the beaches. Sorry if I upset anyone, we visit Florida often and we always walk away with some sea shells.

Also, KK I didn't mean 'states' literally. I had a brain fart, and it was the word I chose to use. But very good tips thank you!

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28. Re: Hawaiian culture/customs?

Charlotte, the bad luck thing was made up for tourists. The main reason not to take lava home is that it's heavy.

Island of Hawaii...
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29. Re: Hawaiian culture/customs?

Charlotte, you certainly didn't upset me, and somehow I had missed your last post. I don't believe in the bad luck thing, but then I am not superstitious. I also heard it was made up by the VNP rangers.

I like to pick up shells, always have. Others are very vehement against. However, it's a moot point; there are no shells to speak of, not of any size, most all get broken by the waves pounding them before they land.

pzp
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30. Re: Hawaiian culture/customs?

BTW, Charlotte, you're coming from the mainland, not the states. Hawai`i is one of the states.

AFAIK, bad luck for taking lava, etc, is just a myth. On the other hand, do you really want to risk pissing off Madam Pele? @_@

Edited: 11:50 pm, July 12, 2010