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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Wednesday, February 5, 2003

Bills would require kahako, 'okina use

Associated Press

Bills introduced in the House and the Senate would require the use of the kahako and the 'okina diacritical marks when Hawaiian words are included in county and state documents.

"It's just to bring correctness to the language," said Rep. Sol Kaho'ohalahala, D-13th (Lana'i, Moloka'i), author of the House measure, which passed out of the House Water, Land Use and Hawaiian Affairs Committee. A companion measure in the Senate was introduced by Sen. J. Kalani English, D-6th (East Maui, Lana'i, Moloka'i).

Aside from affecting pronunciation, a misplacement or omission of the marks can change the meaning of a Hawaiian word. Kaho'ohalahala said use of the 'okina and kahako "would bring more correct pronunciation so no matter who was here ... everyone will be saying the same word."

"Without them, there may be an opportunity for mispronunciation and therefore having different context or different meanings to the same word," he said.

The kahako — the little dash over a vowel — denotes a stressed vowel sound. The 'okina, or glottal stop, signals a halting of breath before a vowel.