Category Archives: Hawaiian Language Tech

Miscellaneous posts about the use of Hawaiian Language in technology

The Origins of Hawaiian Language Support in Mac OS and iOS: So You Want To Change The World?

BryanFryeOnly a handful of my friends will recognize the gentleman standing in the back of this picture, Brian Frye. He is one of the unsung heroes of getting technology support for ‘ōlelo Hawai‘i to where it is today. I’ve told this story to some folks privately, but never shared it publicly before. Since he’s not at Apple anymore, it’s safe to do so.

Brian was an Apple support engineer for Hawai‘i in the mid-late 1990s. During his time here we became friends, and he tried to help me find the individuals who could assist us in getting support for the Hawaiian language into Mac OS, but with little luck. He returned to work at Apple’s at headquarters after that. One day he was walking through the hallways of Apple’s headquarters, passed a couple of people talking in the hallway, and overheard one say to the other, “what other languages don’t we support?” Turns out they were system engineers working on language support in OS X. He stopped, introduced himself and said “there is a guy in Hawai‘i you need to talk to.” Me. The connection was made, and 18 months or so of email exchanges, swapped files, and testing followed. On August 24, 2002, Mac OS 10.2 shipped, and in it were a Hawaiian keyboard, sorting routines and some translated strings (mostly date and time related).

The fact that iOS’s core software was largely based on OS X meant that a lot of support for Hawaiian that is baked into OS X transferred to iOS. Brian had left Apple by then, but the connections he helped forge remained, and we were able to get them to add the ability to type the ‘okina and kahakō, and eventually a Hawaiian keyboard in iOS. Other friends have helped along the way, but as they are still at Apple it is best if I don’t name names here. But none of it would have happened if not for that chance meeting in Cupertino. Mahalo nui, Brian. If any of you have ever typed an ‘okina or kahakō on any Apple device, you should mahalo him as well. And mahalo Beryl Morimoto for sharing the pic.

Pipi holo ka‘ao…

“HI” Fonts on Newer Versions of Mac OS

MacFontsI occasionally get emails from folks telling me that the old “Papa Pihi HI” for “HI” fonts no longer works on more recent versions of Mac OS X. While I’ve always encouraged folks to abandon those fonts and use the “Hawaiian” keyboard and Unicode fonts built into Mac OS X, sometimes there are valid reasons for using the old fonts.

A few years ago the format for keyboard layout resources changed. The old format is actually a remnant of the pre-OS X operating systems. The new keyboard layouts are XML based, and I created one of these kinds of keyboard layouts a few years ago. Feel free to download and install it. You need to unzip the file, put it in /Library/Keyboard Layouts/, and either logout of your account or restart the computer. Then go into System Preferences -> International (or Language and Text, depending on the version of OS X), and select Input Source, scroll down and select “Papa Pihi HI”.

Please visit my page on Hawaiian language support in Mac OS to read more, and to download the new XML based “Papa Pihi HI”.

Visual Basic Scripts Back In Word 2011 For Mac

For whatever reason, I never did warm up to MS Word 2007 for Mac, and continued to use Word 2004 until recently. When I received my new MacBookPro 13′, I decided to abandon Office 2004 and make the leap to Office 2011. I’m glad I did, and just noticed something pretty cool. The ability to run Visual Basic macros-removed from Office 2007–is back. This means that the VB macros I originally wrote to convert documents written in our old HI font system to Unicode work again. So if you happen to have older documents that have Hawaiian text in the HI format, you can easiliy convert them to Unicode. While probably less useful, there is also a macro that converts Unicode-formatted Hawaiian back to HI font format.

And of course if you don’t know what any of this means, it probably doesn’t affect you. Please ignore.

New Windows 8 Operating System Supports The Hawaiian Language


While still a devout Macintosh user, I’m extremely grateful for friends at Microsoft who shepherded this project through to completion, and saw that the work we did stayed embedded as Windows 8 was being developed. I’ll be documenting how to activate the keyboard and type the ‘okina and kahakō later, but if you have Win 8, please feel free to explore and experiment.

And I would like to ask my fellow Macintosh aficionados to refrain from the normal litany of Windows bashing. This is significant development for the language that will help other important projects move forward.

I’m cautiously optimistic that this will be my swan song when it comes to technology and the Hawaiian language. This PR piece went out today from the UH media office.

Kahului, HI — November 8, 2012 — In a major step forward in promoting and perpetuating the Native Hawaiian language, Microsoft’s recent launch of Windows 8 includes support for the Hawaiian language, thanks to a collaborative effort with University of Hawaiʻi faculty.

The Windows 8 operating software includes a Hawaiian keyboard layout in the operating system, many fonts containing the diacritical marks used in the Hawaiian language, and other localized resources such as the ability toshow days of the week and months in Hawaiian.  This development was made possible by the joint efforts of staff of Ka Haka ‘Ula O Ke‘elikōlani College of Hawaiian Language at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo and Microsoft.

Keola Donaghy, formerly of Ka Haka ‘Ula O Ke‘elikōlani and now a faculty member in the music department of University of Hawai‘i Maui College, collaborated with programmers in Microsoft’s Local Languages Program for several years to develop these resources and see that they were included inWindows 8. “We’re getting very close to the day that Hawaiian speakers will be able to take for granted the fact that they can simply type in Hawaiian when they buy a new computer, tablet, or smart phone without installing special software,” Donaghy said.

“Providing technology support in a native language is critical to helping people access the tools they need to create better economic opportunities,” said Anthony Salcito, Vice President of Worldwide Education for Microsoft.  “Language preservation and support also helps preserve cultural identities for the next generation of learners.”

Keiki Kawae‘ae‘a, a faculty member of Ka Haka ‘Ula O Ke‘elikōlani added, “We are thrilled that Microsoft has recognized the significance of the Hawaiian language to its people, and how important it is for us to be able to use it on our computers. Given the high percentage of personal computers that ship with and run the Windows operating system, this is one of the most significant developments that we’ve made.”

Language support for computer operating systems and programs has historically depended on the number of speakers of the language and perceived market. Major European and Asian languages have been widely supported by software vendors for many years, while speakers of native American, Polynesian, and other indigenous languages have had to depend on customized fonts and keyboards simply to be able to view, type and print the characters used in their languages on personal computers.

However, in recent years major operating system and software vendors such as Microsoft, Google, and Apple Computer, Inc. have recognized the importance of supporting a wider array of languages.

More Details on iOS 5’s Hawaiian Language Support

Last week Apple released iOS 5, the latest version of their operating system for the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad. There has always been some support for Hawaiian language in iOS. Since it shares some core software with OS X, and OS X has supported Hawaiian since 2002, iOS has had the ability to display the ‘okina and kahakō since it first shipped, and we were delighted when some of our translated strings showed up in that first version as well. With version 3, iOS has been able to generate the ʻokina and kahakō by pressing and holding the vowels and selecting those characters from a list of vowel and diacritic combinations that pops up. iOS 5 takes this support to a while new level.

There is now a Hawaiian keyboard in the OS. Why is this significant, since you could previously generate the ‘okina and kahakō? First, it is a boon for iPad owners who like to use external keyboards. Previously, there was no way to type the ‘okina or kahakō easily using an external keyboard. Now, if you select the Hawaiian keyboard in the iOS general preferences, you type the ‘okina and kahakō in the same way that you type them on Mac OS X – by simply typing the apostrophe for the ʻokina, and holding down the option key while you type the kahakō.

Another feature on the new soft keyboard (the one that displays itself on the screen), is that there is a new way to type the ʻokina. While you can still long-hold the vowels and select the vowel-‘okina from the list that pops up. Now, there is also a stand-alone kahakō on the right side, next to the ‘okina. If you type a vowel and then press this key, it will insert the kahakō over that vowel. This is cool as this is how you would spell out the vowel combination ‘ā-kō, ‘ē-kō, ī-kō, etc. I’m sure those that use the soft keyboard exclusively and want to type in Hawaiian will love it. Also note that the return key has “Kāho‘i” on it. I love it.

The final new feature is that there is now spell-checking for Hawaiian, based on an extensive word list that we provided to Apple. It’s not perfect, but none are. The spell-check and suggestions are based largely on the letters that surround the intended vowel. In the example shown on this graphic, the “g” that is mistakenly typed is next to the letter “h” on the keyboard, so it works well. One kind of typo it does not seem to catch is if you fail to type a word-initial ‘okina, and quite often inside the word as well. If you spell ‘ōlelo as olelo, it will not suggest ‘okina as a potential correct spelling. Hopefully this kind of situation can be addressed in future updates, but it’s still a huge improvement.

Mahalo again to Apple for their support of ka ‘ōlelo Hawai‘i.

I Love It When A Plan Comes Together: More ‘Ōlelo Support in iOS

A new iPhone was announced today, the iPhone 4S, and the response to Apple’s press conference was a bit lukewarm. Many were expecting the iPhone 5 and/or iOS5 today. But one of the more exiting developments for us was found on the specification sheet for the phones (tip o’ the cap to Joseph Erb for the heads up): there will be a Hawaiian keyboard and spell-check document included. Yes, we’ve had support for the ‘okina and kahakō in the iPhone and iPad for a while; however, while you can generate them from the soft keyboard by long-holding your finger on a vowel, you could not type it when your device (iPads, mostly) was attached to an external keyboard. With this new development you will be able to do so. As soon as these features show up I’ll discuss them further. I believe all you will need to do to activate the Hawaiian spell-checker is select the Hawaiian keyboard.

Mahalo e ko Apple i ke kāko‘o mau ‘ana i ka ‘ōlelo Hawai‘i!

Using ‘Ōlelo Hawai‘i On Your Computer or Mobile Device

With the start of the school semester and the flow of questions coming in about the support available for ‘ōlelo Hawai‘i in various computer operating systems and mobile devices, this is a good time for me to pimp the ‘Ōlelo-Tech portion of my blog (see the menu under the masthead). There you’ll find links that describe the extent of keyboard, font and other support for Macintosh, iOS, Windows, and Android, as well as tricks to using ‘ōlelo Hawai‘i on the web and with Microsoft Word. As always, a caveat that I don’t provide tech support for any of these (unless rewarded handsomely in some way). If they work for you great, if not, keep trying!

Featured on Indigenous Tweets

Kevin Scannell have corresponded for many years in regards to issues that face indigenous and endangered languages and the use of technology in their revitalization. I was honored that he asked me to do this interview and talk about the work that I’ve done at Ka Haka ‘Ula O Ke‘elikōlani over the years in regards to Hawaiian language and its use in technology. His website, Indigenous Tweets, keeps track of the use of various indigenous languages around the world.

Type ‘Okina and Kahakō in Android

I purchased a Droid X phone in July 2010 with the specific desire to see the Android operating system support Hawaiian and other Polynesian languages as iOS (iPhone/iPod/iPad) does. While Android may someday have native support for ‘ōlelo Hawai‘i like iOS, there is an interim solution to typing the ‘okina and kahakō on Android.