Hawai’i

Visiting Molokai, Hawaii's forgotten island
Molokai, Hawai’i

I’ve noticed lately that more frequently there’s an additional character in the name of our 50th state. I don’t have any problem with that–not that the Hawai’ians should care about my opinion.

It’s kind of like how, in Spanish, the question is not “What is your name?” but “How do you call yourself?” It just seems civil to defer to the owner of a name as to how it is spelled or pronounced.

However, I’m a curious person and did a little digging. Here’s what I found.

What looks like a single open quote mark is an okina, the 8th consonant of the Hawai’ian alphabet. It indicates a glottal stop, such as what we use when we say “uh-oh.” The Hawai’ians view the addition of the okina as a spelling correction and not a name change. The effort has been going on for years, but seems to be gaining traction of late.

One suggestion, though. It might be wise to update computer spell checkers. That will cause the transition to be much faster.

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