Aloha kākou. Ka Haka ‘Ula O Ke‘elikōlani, our College of Hawaiian Language at UH-Hilo, is having a new building constructed on the UH-Hilo campus. Some of the foundations and concrete columns are already done, and we are anticipating the building’s completion in December of next year. We are having one issue that I would like to get out there and seek some advice and/or help.
As our college functions in Hawaiian, we are very picky about language use in the new building. Most of the office and other signs in the complex will be either Hawaiian-only or perhaps Hawaiian and English, with the Hawaiian being larger in size and prominence. What we are having issue with is the Braille. We want the signs to have Hawaiian in Braille, and include the ‘okina and kahakō. The sub-contractor handling the signs says he cannot manufacture the Braille signs with the diacritic marks, even though they are in the IPA Braille spec. We’ve made numerous inquiries, and cannot find a Braille sign manufacturer that can do this. We need help in finding someone who can make these signs for us. To be clear, these are the hard plastic signs that are found outside of each office and in other areas of the building.
According to the IPA Braille spec, these are the two characters we need for the ‘okina and kahakō:
If there is anyone out there that knows anything about making signage in Braille, or knows someone who might know something about them, please contact me. We can find no prior use of these diacritics in Hawaiian in Braille, but like much of the work we’ve done with technology, we hope that we can blaze a trail for the use of Hawaiian in Braille. Mahalo.
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.
Have you ever had this happen to you when typing in Hawaiian: Nānā I ke kumu or Hawai‘I? By default, MS Word capitalizes any instances of a stand-alone “i”. You can fix this; read this to find out how.
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.
Last year we launched a mobile interface for the Hawaiian dictionaries on Ulukau. The system should detect all mobile devices automatically, and for those that it doesn’t, you can simply go to m.wehewehe.org to see the mobile interface.
The one limitation of this system is for Android users: Android’s default font does not have a glyph in the correct location, so Android users see a box instead of the ‘okina. We’ve looked into fixing this, but found that it would be costly to do the recoding necessary to make this work under Ulukau as it currently stands. I have been in contact with people who are trying to address the lack of the ‘okina in Android’s font. For the time being, Android users can use this page to search the dictionaries. The PHP script that drives it parses the returned text and replaces the ‘okina with a single open quote. Visually they are exactly the same, but reside in different locations in the Unicode font specification. iPhone users can use either this new page or the stock mobile interface at m.wehewehe.org.
A big mahalo to UHH webmaster Sunny Walker for putting together this script!
This document shows which fonts on Win 7 have the ‘okina and kahakō characters used in Hawaiian and other Polynesian languages. You’ll find that only the following Windows 7 fonts have the ‘okina and all vowel-kahakō characters (at least in the standard install on our Dell):
Arial, Arial Unicode MS, Calibri, Cambria, Cambria Math, Consolas, Courier New, Lucida Sans Unicode, Meiryo, Meiryo UI, Microsoft Sans Serif, Segoe UI,Segoe UI Light, Segoe UI Semibold, Tahoma, and Times New Roman
Some others have some or all of the vowel-macron characters, but not all. Some fonts have none at all. This document is provided without warranty or guarantee, though if you find any errors I will be happy to correct it.
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:
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 scribd.com. 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…
This is pretty cool. We’ve been using FirstClass software for the past 17 or so years to operate Leokī, which was the first telecommunications server to ever operate completely in a Polynesian or native language within the United States. It took them ages to get Unicode support into it, and just recently they released a FirstClass app for iPhone/iPad/iTouch. It seems to work flawlessly, handling the ‘okina and kahakō with no issues. I love it when a plan comes together.
Unfortunately the app is not localized into Hawaiian like we’ve done for Macintosh and Windows users, but, hey, it’s a start! Now back to trying to get a Hawaiian keyboard into Android OS…
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?”