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member of the Polynesian group of the Austronesian family of languages. Of the fewer than 10,000 people who speak Hawaiian, only a few hundred are native speakers, but the language is taught in some Hawaiian schools and remains important as a symbol of ethnic identity. It also is an official language of the state of Hawaii. Proto-Polynesian, the parent language of Hawaiian, was spoken in W Polynesia c.1500–1200 B.C. Hawaiian bears significant phonological similarities to the other Polynesian languages; consonant and vowel correspondences among the languages is common. Hawaiian has five long and five short vowels and eight consonants. It differs from most of the other Polynesian languages by its lack of the consonant t, which became k in Hawaiian as it diverged from the parent language.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



the language of the Hawaiians, one of the Polynesian languages, which is spoken in the Hawaiian Islands. Hawaiian was spoken by the entire population of the Hawaiian Islands until the beginning of heavy contact with the Europeans and North Americans (early 19th century). Hawaiian had a rich oral literary tradition which gradually began to disappear after the conversion of the population to Christianity (first half of the 19th century), although missionaries managed to transcribe much of it. In the first half of the 19th century the Roman alphabet was adapted to suit Hawaiian, and newspapers in Hawaiian were first published in 1834. After the annexation of the Hawaiian Islands by the USA in 1898, Hawaiian continued to be used by the ethnic group of Hawaiians, which consisted of the descendants of the earlier Polynesian population of the islands, among the prevailing majority of mixed-bloods (total population, approximately 115,000, according to a 1967 estimate). The Hawaiian language is used in everyday life, but many present-day Hawaiians now speak English.


Blinov, A. I. “Iazyki polineziitsev.” In Narody Avstralii i Okeanii. Moscow, 1956.
Pukui, M. K., and S. H. Elbert. Hawaiian-English Dictionary. [Honolulu,] 1957. (With a brief grammatical sketch.)
Pukui, M. K., and S. H. Elbert. Place Names of Hawaii and Supplement to the Third Edition of the Hawaiian-English Dictionary. [Honolulu,] 1966.
Emerson, N. B. Unwritten Literature of Hawaii: The Sacred Songs of the Hula. Washington, 1909.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


1. a native or inhabitant of Hawaii, esp one descended from Melanesian or Tahitian immigrants
2. a language of Hawaii belonging to the Malayo-Polynesian family
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
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