Help:IPA for Hawaiian

The charts below show the way in which the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) represents Hawaiian pronunciations in WorldHeritage articles.

English approximations are in some cases very approximate, and only intended to give a general idea of the pronunciation. For more detail, see Hawaiian phonology.

IPA Examples nearest English equivalent
h Honolulu hat
j Mauna Kea [ˈkɛjə][1] yes
k Kamehameha[2] sky
l Honolulu, Lānaʻi lean
m Maui moon
n Lānaʻi[3] note
p Pele spy
t Waikīkī, wikiwiki[2] sty
v wikiwiki[4] vision
w Loa [ˈlowə], Kīlauea [ˈkiːlɔuˈwɛjə][4] we
ʔ Hawaiʻi, Oʻahu oh-oh!
(a catch in the throat)
IPA Example Note
ˈ Honolulu [honoˈlulu] Mark placed before stressed syllable.[5]
IPA Examples nearest English equivalent
Lānaʻi father
ɐ Oʻahu, Molokaʻi[6] nut
ə Hawaiʻi, Mauna Loa[6] sofa
Kēōkea hey without the y sound
ɛ Pele[7] bed
e Kahoʻolawe[7] Spanish e
Waikīkī peel
i wikiwiki Spanish i
ʻōʻū low without the w sound
o Honolulu Spanish o
ʻōʻū moon
u Honolulu Spanish u
Diphthongs are iu [ju], ou [ou], oi [oi], eu [eu], ei [ei], au [ɔu], ai [ɛi], ao [], ae [].
These are pronounced like sequences of vowels, but without a [w] or [j] in the middle.
iu is pronounced somewhat like yu, so kiu ≈ "cue".
In rapid speech, au as in Mauna and ai as in Waikīkī tend to be pronounced like ou and ei.


  1. ^ The y sound [j] is not written, but appears between a front vowel (i, e) and a non-front vowel (a, o, u)
  2. ^ a b [k] and [t], spelled k, are variants of a single consonant. [k] is almost universal at the beginnings of words, while [t] is most common before the vowel i. [t] is also more common in the western dialects, as on Kauaʻi, while [k] predominates on the Big Island.
  3. ^ In some dialects the letter l tends to be pronounced [n], especially in words with an n in them. On the western islands it tends to be pronounced as a tap, [ɾ].
  4. ^ a b [w] and [v], spelled w, are variants of a single consonant. [w] is the norm after back vowels u, o, while [v] is the norm after front vowels i, e. Initially and after the central vowel a, as in Hawaiʻi, they are found in free variation. [w] also occurs, though it is usually not written, between a back vowel (u, o) and a non-back vowel (i, e, a).
  5. ^ Stress falls on the penultimate vowel, with diphthongs and long vowels counting double. (That is, a final long vowel or diphthong will be stressed.) Longer words may have a second stressed vowel, whose position is not predictable.
  6. ^ a b Short a is pronounced [ɐ] when stressed and [ə] when not.
  7. ^ a b Short e is [ɛ] when stressed and generally when next to l, n, or another syllable with a [ɛ]; otherwise it is [e].
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