Category: Hawaiian

What does Ninole mean?

From "Place Names of Hawaii":

Nīnole. Land section and village, Honomū qd.; land section, homesteads, village, cove, and gulch, Honu-ʻapo qd., Hawaiʻi. There are freshwater springs at the Nīnole in Honu-ʻapo; see Pū-hau. A cannibalistic moʻo, Kaikapū (hag), lived at the Honu-ʻapo Nīnole; her pretty granddaughter led travelers to her cave, where she ate them raw (HM 264). Lit., bending.

Ua Mau Ke Ea O Ka `Aina I Ka Pono

"The life of the land is perpetuated in righteousness" is the state motto of Hawai’i and allegedly the motto of the Great King, Kamehameha I. I have memorized the words of the original, but somehow the translation never seemed to make a lot of sense, neither as a sentence, nor as the motto of a king.

Now that I have been learning Hawiian a little, the translation makes even less sense, because I have the underpinning to understand a little more of the structure of the sentence. I’ll reveal my new tentative translation at the bottom, but give me a little time first to explain how I got there.


Learning Hawaiian

While in Hilo last time, I decided to buy an 8 CD course of Hawaiian. It promised to be full immersion, so I decided to put it in the car CD changer and devote time to it on my way to work.

After a funny incident at the beginning, when I put in CD 6 after CD 1 and almost died of language shock (that’s what you get for being smug!), things are progressing well. The amount of time I spend with the course is not sufficient to learn the vocabulary, and it’s sometimes hard to really hear the exact spelling of words, but otherwise it’s helping me a lot.