Over the years we've looked at words from French, from Latin, from German, Spanish, Russian and Italian. Let's take a vacation to Hawaii and look at words from Hawaiian, starting with one that's humorously long and repeating.
humuhumunukunukuapuaa – a small trigger fish; the state fish of Hawaii Cartoon here
A look at the etymology cuts this imposing dozen-syllable name down to size. Humu and nuku mean 'trigger fish' and 'snout'; repetition of them, as with our 'itsy-bitsy', means 'a little one'. Thus humu-humu-nuku-nuku is 'little trigger fish with a little snout'. Add a 'like' and puaa 'pig' and you have humu-humu-nuku-nuku-a-puaa, 'little trigger fish with a little pig-snout'.
He helped her carry food and wine out to a table of wrought iron and glass on the lanai. She lit candles, though the sunset still glowed beyond the trees. They drank California burgundy with the meat loaf she had hastily prepared. – Herman Wouk, War and Remembrance
Since we've been looking at one of the longest words in Hawai'ian language, it seems appropriate that we look at one of the shortest. Take a'a for example. In Google it brings up sixty-three million items.
Note: "a'a hawaiian" gets 93,700 ghits If I'm out of line in the theme of things I trust somebody will advise me.
Possibly a typo, but the back-quote character is a letter in Hawai`ian: the `okina 'glottal stop'. The Wikipedia article, to which JT links below in a post, has humuhumunukunukuāpua'a as the correct spelling. Notice the macron over the first a; Hawai`ian differentiates between short and long vowels. The short word, to which JT refers below in a different posting, is a two-syllable word with three letters: a`a.
Regarding wahine, I have a Hawai`ian friend whose surname is Kane. Kane means 'man' in Hawai`ian. She was always confused, as a young child, which public restroom to use.
muumuu – a long dress, loose and unbelted, hanging free from the shoulders
You're a happily married man and your wife asks you, "Honey, does this dress make me look fat?" … for most of us, little white lies are the gifts we give and receive to get through the day. They bear some risk, of course: If the dress really does make your wife look fat, and you lie to her, well, then she'll be out in public with a muumuu that is most definitely not flattering. – Truthfully, Lying has its Place, Asbury Park (New Jersey) Press, July 21, 2006
lei – a Polynesian garland of flowers, esp. one worn around the neck haku – a crown made of fresh flowers
An especially popular service offered by Hawaiian for arriving passengers is a traditional Hawaii lei greeting. Commented Lynette, "Getting a fresh flower lei and friendly greeting as you step off the plane is the perfect way to say 'Welcome to Hawaii.' Visitors really appreciate it." – Hawaiian Airlines press release, July 17, 2005
What do you call the glottal stop in "a'a", after the first syllable of "haole", or at the last syllable of "Hawaii"?
I've mentioned it before onboard; it's called an `okina in Hawai`ian and a glottal stop in English. I've never heard haole pronounced with a glottal stop in it by Hawai`ans. But looking at this article on haole, I see it's a popular, but probably incorrect etymology that its origin is from ha`ole 'breathless'.This message has been edited. Last edited by: zmježd,