Hawaii or Hawai'i: What's the official spelling?
What's in a name? Apparently enough for a state board to re-examine how we spell it.
A push to alter the way we spell Hawaii is in discussion and could be on the horizon.
You've seen the version with the okina or glottal stop between the two i's and others without. The state's “Hawaii Board on Geographic Names” is proposing a spelling change to officially include the Hawaiian diacritical mark.
“Technically it’s not a name change. It’s a spelling correction,” said Kamana’o Mills, Hawaii Board on Geographic Names. “By leaving out the okina, it’s considered a misspelling. It’s like if we spelled ‘apple’ pple and excluded the a.”
The push is still in its preliminary stage. Their discussion will continue for the next week or so before the board forwards the proposal to the state legislature.
The board says they've been a part of changing hundreds of place names across the state, and chances are good, you can see some right in your own neighborhood.
“A lot of our work actually deals with adding okina and kahako to geographic names statewide. There is a movement and we need to perpetuate it,” said Mills.
We wondered if the spelling alteration would be welcomed with open arms. Is adding the okina important?
“Oh yeah, yeah… I come from a place of an extinct people, the totrane people. Our language and culture no longer exist,” said David Tirado, a senior at University of Hawaii.
“It’s just respect for where I’m from. I’m obviously not Native Hawaiian, but I am a local here,” said Brendan Wilson, a student at Honolulu Community College.
UH Manoa senior Michael Bravo was born and raised and California and also supports the pitch.
“In San Diego, it was Hawaii. It wasn’t till I moved here you got to assimilate to the culture,” he said.
According to board members, whether you say Hawai'i or Hawaii – both versions are correct.