Ancient Hawaiian was not a written language, so the first thing the 18th century Missionaries did was learn the language so that the Bible could be translated.
Without a written alphabet, the best they could do is render the sounds using the English/Latin alphabet.
Some consonants were not present in 18th-19th century Hawaiian although they have been adopted into modern Hawaiian:
B, D, F, G, J, R, S, T, V, Z
Vowels are pronounced as they are in Spanish or French:
(capitals indicate stress)
A ah, as in father
ex: aloha (ah-LOW-ha) [compassion]
E short, eh, as in envy. Or it can degenerate to ay, as in day or late
ex: mea (MEH-ah) [thing]
I ee, as in teepee, or the “i” in pique.
ex: mihi (MEE-hee) [to feel regret, to repent]
O oh, as in note
ex: pono (POH-no) [righteousness]
U oo, as in too, boo-hoo
ex: kumu (KOO-moo) [foundation]
Consonants are pronounced as in English: H, K, L, M, N, P and W, except that “w” in the middle of a word is pronounced as a “v”, as in manawa: mah-NAH-va
Stress is always applied to the next to the last syllable of a word.
An additional letter called in the Hawaiian and Hunian alphabet is the `okina, the glottal stop. It distinctly separates syllables, unlike the normal slurring that occurs in conversation. It does not actually get pronounced as a K or G although in other Polynesian languages it might be. It is more like a catch in the throat, as in “uh-oh!”
Two (or more) vowels are often strung together in a word – you will never see two consonants next to each other. Nor do words ever end in a consonant. Check the Glossary for definitions and pronunciations of Hunian words and concepts.