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About Hawaiian Words & Diacritical Marks

As part of our mission, ‘Imiloa honors traditional Hawaiian values and the Hawaiian language. In our exhibits and written communications, we therefore strive to use and correctly spell Hawaiian words, including the diacritical marks (the okina and kahako) that aid in pronunciation. On our website, however, we don't use internal diacritical marks, for these reasons:

  1. Search engines may ignore words on our web pages that include diacritical marks, as these are not generally included in keyword matches.
  2. Depending on the type of computer and Internet browser software used by our website visitors, words containing diacritical marks may not be correctly displayed on a visitor's computer screen.

Please understand that this is a conscious choice based on the limitations of current technology, and not merely the result of carelessness or disrespect.

Why does ‘Imiloa spell Maunakea as one word?

The University of Hawaii at Hilo College of Hawaiian Language recommends one word, "Maunakea" as the proper Hawaiian usage. Maunakea is a proper noun—the name of the mountain on the Island of Hawaii. "Mauna Kea" spelled as two words is really referring to any white mountain—it is a common noun (vs. the proper noun).

The one word version is also specific to the "Mountain of Wakea," the proper name of this mountain as addressed in the Kumulipo Chant of Creation and throughout ‘Imiloa's exhibits.

Another example of a common noun to a proper noun is ka pua. Spelled separately it refers to "the flower" or any flower. Spelled as Kapua, it refers to the "proper name" of someone/something.