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Four Hawaiian Words That English Really Needs

In the late 1800's the Hawaiian language was banned in schools. As a result, the number of native speakers greatly diminished. Thankfully a revitalization has started and the language is becoming more and more popular. Hawaiian words are often multifaceted, representing a way of living as opposed to a single idea or thought. Listed below are 4 Hawaiian words for which English does not have a direct translation.


Loosely translated, pono means righteousness. However, in the Hawaiian culture pono extends to all facets of living within yourself and your surroundings. This includes mentally, by keeping positive thoughts; being stewards of the environment and taking care of the land; and keeping respectful relationships with elders, family and friends.


The most common translation for mahalo is thank you. To Hawaiian's mahalo is not simply a word said in response to kind act or gift. Mahalo is more in line with having gratitude. Gratitude for life, experience and the environment.


Aloha is commonly used to express the greetings, hello and goodbye. However, the word aloha contains the word, ha. Ha is loosely translated to breath. Ha has a very deep meaning and therefore aloha has a much deeper meaning as well. Ha is an acknowledgement of the spirit or breath of life that lives in and connects all of us. Therefore, saying aloha does not simply mean hello or goodbye, but instead is a way of saying to someone that you love and honor the spiritual being in them.


Ho'okipa loosely translates into hospitality, expressing the same level of giving to family, friends and strangers. It is welcoming anyone into your home with the same love and appreciation.

Besides finding new ways to express ourselves, learning words in other languages can also teach us values, morals and provide insight into other ways of living.