Category Archives: Hawaiian Language Tech

Miscellaneous posts about the use of Hawaiian Language in technology

Handy Font Utilities for Indigenous Language Use

I’ll probably create a page for these things I come across, but am still trying to figure out the best way to approach organizing this website.

I’m frequently find myself lamenting that I don’t have a system for easily determining what default fonts on Mac OS support Hawaiian. I know a few off the top of my head – Lucida Grande, Helvetica, Times New Roman, Palatino, Courier, Didot – but not all. This is complicated by the fact that some fonts have most of the vowel kahakō combinations but not the ‘okina. A few have the ‘okina but not the vowel kahakō combinations, which makes choosing a non-standard font a bit of an adventure. I decided to spend some time working on this and found a couple of tools on the Mac and Windows that helped. I’m documenting it here since it may be of use to other indigenous language advocates:


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Apple Fonts With ‘Okina and Kahakō

I got tired of trying to remember every font that does and does not have the ‘okina and/or kahakō in it, so using the Apple Font Tools I came up with a spreadsheet that shows which fonts have which characters. It’s available for download at As always, there is no guarantee or tech support offered. Please don’t email asking why you don’t have a particular font on your system. Perhaps it’s just bad luck. Hopefully someday Apple will add all of these characters to all of the fonts that ship with OS X. Or OS XI, or…

Apple Fonts With ‘Okina and Kahakō

How To Give Good ‘Okina

How To Give Good ‘Okina

I’ve been asked this question so many times I decided it was time to write an article about it. The question (and its many variations) boil down to this:

“What is the ‘okina, why do I need to use it in my web pages, what is the right character to use, what fonts should I use, what should I do if the font I want to use doesn’t have that character, and what other issues are involved in using it?”

Read on for the answers to these questions…

Technology In The Hawaiian Language Revitalization Movement

I was honored to be asked to speak to the Big Island Internet Society’s meeting yesterday, and was asked to put together a list of links to pages and articles that provided more information on these topics. So here are a few:

  • Wired Magazine artice on our early efforts to establish Leokī
  • Kualono – website of Ka Haka ‘Ula College of Hawaiian Language
  • Ulukau– the Hawaiian Digital Library
  • ‘Aha Pūnana Leo’s Niuolahiki online class website
  • Unicode and Hawaiian Language
  • ‘Ōlelo Hawai‘i – A Rich Oral History, A Bright Digital Future – Article from Cultural Survival Quarterly
  • Leokī: A Powerful Voice of Hawaiian Language Revitalization– Article
  • Ke A‘o Ho’okeleka‘a‘ike – Hawaiian Language Instruction Via The Internet – Article
  • Hawaiian Language Support in OS X – from MacWorld
  • Hawaiian Language support on iPhone
  • Google Supports Hawaiian – from
  • Mahalo to Larry Czerwonka for extending the invitation, and to everyone who attended.

    Google, Hawaiian and “Native American” Languages

    I’ve received a lot of great feedback and compliments from people regarding the development of the Hawaiian language interface for Google. Mahalo to everyone who sent notes of congratulations for the accomplishment and recognition from the Governor’s office. I would like to address one element that came out in several stories, including the announcement by the Governer’s office, on this development. In these stories, it was stated that “Hawaiian has become the first native American language available through the “Google in Your Language” program”, or something similar.

    Hawaiian is not a native American language, and in the press release that UH-Hilo sent out we never claimed it was. There was a short FAQ section at the end of the release that stated “The only other Polynesian language interfaces available are for Maori, the native language of Aotearoa (New Zealand) and Tongan. No translations have been completed in any native American language, though some are currently being translated.” The reason for the addition of this statement was to show how few indigenous and endangered languages have taken advantage of the GIYL program, and hopefully encourage advocates of those languages to look into providing Google in their languages.

    A few of the newspaper stories that came out early on misconstrued this statement and stated that Hawaiian was a native American language. Though there is great diversity among the indigenous languages of North American, Hawaiian is not closely related to any of them. Many native Hawaiians object to being classified as native Americans for valid reasons. If my inclusion of that bit of information regarding NA and Polynesians contributed to the misunderstanding that led to Hawaiian being mistakenly identified in these stories as a native American language, I apologize.

    Macron Support in iPhone 3.0 Update

    I laid out $9.95 for the iPhone 3.0 update for my iPod Touch last night, and just discovered why it was worth it – the standard US Keyboard now allows you to insert the vowel-kahak? characters and ‘okina. Here’s how you do it:

    When you want to type an ‘okina-vowel, touch and hold down your finger over the vowel for a second or two, and it will pop-up a list of available diacritic characters (see the graphic at right to see how this list looks when I held down over the letter “a” on the keyboard). Whether the vowel-macron is to the right or the left depends on which vowel you are trying to type.

    For the ‘okina, press the “123” button to get to the keyboard with numbers and other characters. Hold down your finger on the apostrophe, and it will pop-up a list of curly quotes. Select the one that looks like a small number “6”.

    That’s it! Another small step forward for Polynesian languages.

    More To iPod Touch Hawaiian Support

    I posted a few days ago about finding the Hawai‘i region in the iPod Touch, and apparently the system-level support is even better than I thought. I set up a few locations using the Weather application, and found that it displayed the days of the week in Hawaiian as well. Too cool.

    What would be cooler would be to have the Hawaiian keyboard, too.

    I did find that I could not post this screenshot to this blog using WordPress for iPhone application – I kept getting: “Communication Error. Operation could not be completed (NSXMLParserErrorDomain error 5.” Hmmm.

    Go! Goes Native (Language)

    I got a sneek peek at this Go! Airlines website which has been translated, as much as their technology currently allows, into Hawaiian. The Honolulu Star-Bulletin carries a story on the work, which includes participation by many individuals. This is a wonderful development, and I hope it encourages other commercial entities to offer Hawaiian language versions of their websites. As Kenneth Makuk?ne notes, he and I have often spoken of their being new opportunities for Hawaiian language speakers and graduates from our language programs beyond becoming teachers of the language. The language needs to grow into more contemporary contexts if it is to remain viable, and this is a great step.

    This positive development is somewhat tempered by Go! Airlines’ financial difficulties.

    Is A Hawaiian Language Social Network Possible? It Seems So

    Mahalo to Conn for pointing out the localizability of Ning. I’ve been searching for a platform on which to develop a Hawaiian language social network, and Ning just might do the trick.

    Ning is a social networking site co-founded by Mark Andreeson (of Netscape fame) and Gina Bianchini. It looks to have enough functionality to be attractive to our students who are using MySpace extensively, and includes enough interoperability with other services (Google Video, YouTube and Flickr) to be very useful. You can also directly upload videos (up to 100Mg each), photos (up to 10Mg each), have a blog and it also generates RSS.

    Ning also signed on to the OpenSocial movement, and quite a number of OpenSocial widgets are available for Ning sites. I have created a Hawaiian language network on Ning (sorry, it’s not open yet) and begun translation. It took about 4 hours to complete approximately 25% of the translation, and the web-based localization tool is very slick. Unicode appears to work fine in both content and in the localized resources. The only place that I could not add the ‘okina and kahak? (diacritics used in the Hawaiian language) were in the site name.

    One advantage to using a site like Ning as opposed to establishing a stand-alone Hawaiian language social network is that users of Ning can join our Hawaiian language network, and also interact with other networks on the system. As OpenSocial (hopefully) expands, there will be even more interoperability between Ning, MySpace and other social networks which will make it even more appealing for our students to use our Hawaiian language network.

    Ning in Hawaiian

    “Why Two Hawaiian Keyboards?”

    I frequently get asked the questions, “Why do we need two different Hawaiian keyboards?” and “What is the difference between the Papa Pihi HI and Hawaiian keyboards on the Mac?”. Good questions.

    Hawaiian Keyboards on MacintoshThere are two different ways to represent the ?okina and kahak? on your computer, and they use two different font technologies. Therefore, we have created two different keyboard layouts.

    The first keyboard, the Papa Pihi HI uses the “HI” fonts standard developed by Hale Kuamo?o in the early 1990s. Until the development of the Unicode standard and its implementation by software vendors the only way to have the computer type, display and print the Latin vowels with macron (the kahak?) and glottal stop (?okina) used in Hawaiian was to use custom fonts like “HI” fonts, which replaces the umlaut vowel combinations (äëïöü ÄËÏÖÜ) with vowel-kahak? (????? ?????). It also replaced the y-umlaut (ÿ) with the ‘okina.

    HI fonts have been used for many years at many institutions and by private individuals. They are useful for word processing, page layout, database and presentation software. If you send documents which contain Hawaiian text using the HI fonts to other people, they must also have the fonts installed in their system in order to see and print the kahak? and ?okina because the fonts are not embedded in the documents. The only exception to this is when you create a .pdf document, in which case the fonts can be embedded into the document, allowing the recipient to see and print Hawaiian properly. There are free HI fonts available from our website Kualono, and the fonts sold by Guava Graphics are also compatible with these. The Papa Pihi HI, seen at right, works with these fonts. We recommend that you not create HTML documents using these fonts and it would require all users of your web site to install the “HI” and other compatible fonts on their computers in order to view the Hawaiian.

    The Unicode standard was developed in the late-1990s to address the deficiency of computers in their ability to represent many of the world’s written languages. Many fonts that now ship with computer operating systems like Windows XP and Vista as well as Macintosh OS X come with fonts that contain the characters for many different language, include the vowel-macron combinations and the glottal. However, not every font in these operating systems contains these characters, so you may need to experiment with some of the fonts that come with Windows to determine which one do contain them. Some of the more popular fonts that contain the vowel-macron combinations and kahak? on both Mac and Windows are Helvetica, Palatino, Times New Roman and Courier. There are some OS-specific fonts like Lucida Grande (Macintosh) and Lucida Sans Unicode (Windows) which have all of these characters, though there are others as well. The “Hawaiian” keyboard that has shipped with OS X since 10.2 is a Unicode keyboard, so it can type the ‘okina and kahak? using fonts that contain all of these characters.

    Most contemporary programs support Unicode, allowing you to create text, graphic, database and other documents containing the ?okina and kahak?. If you send these documents to someone who has the same program, they will probably not have to install any custom fonts in order to see the ?okina and kahak?, however, if you send the documents to people on older operating systems than yours, they may encounter problems getting these characters to display and print.

    Unicode is also the preferred method for representing Hawaiian language in documents on the World-Wide Web. This page shows Hawaiian in Unicode, so if you see the ‘okina and kahak? in your browser, then it and your operating system support Hawaiian in Unicode. See the following document for details:

    This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to typing Hawaiian, and I’ll address other issues, particularly platform specific ones, in future posts.