Online Hawaiian Dictionary
What a difference a kahakō can make. Case in point: The Hawaiian word kāne refers to a man; kane, on the other hand, is a fungal infection. Don’t believe me? Check it out for yourself at wehewehe.org, where you’ll find those translations and more than 40,000 other Hawaiian words.
Launched in 2004 by Alu Like Inc. and UH-Hilo’s Hale Kuamo‘o Center for Hawaiian Language, wehewehe.org attracts 700,000 hits a month, from all 50 states and more than 100 countries. It is one arm of the parent site, ulukau.org, a digital archive of Hawaiian language materials.
“This site is light years ahead of any other native-language website in the country,” says Ulukau manager Robert Stauffer, adding that it’s among the most comprehensive sites of its kind in the world.
Visit wehewehe.org and you’ll notice that the commands are written in Hawaiian. Stauffer suspects it’s the only website in the world whose default language is Hawaiian. If you find yourself staring blankly at the screen, simply click “English Text.”
A virtual keypad on the home page allows you to tap out Hawaiian diacritical marks regardless of your own computer capabilities. The website is also smart enough to recognize misspelled words. For example, type in “hauoli,” and the program will offer a definition for “hau‘oli,” the Hawaiian word for happy.
Another highlight is the ability to look up any word on the site by double clicking it. Using the previous example, double clicking the word “happy” will result in several variations of the word “hau‘oli.”
The website offers translations from six different dictionaries, ranging from a 1865 version by Lorrin Andrews to the widely recognized Hawaiian Dictionary by Mary Kawena Pukui and Samuel H. Elbert.
“The mission is to revitalize the Hawaiian language, and wehewehe.org is one of many tools that exist to help do exactly that,” Stauffer says.
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