Tag Archives: fonts

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.

Online Hawaiian Dictionary For Android Users

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!

Hawaiian Language Support in Windows 7

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.

Win 7 Hawaiian Support

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 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…

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…

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.

“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.