For the most part, the consonants are pronounced the same way that they are sounded in English. The one exception is that the W is technically pronounced like the letter V is sounded in English. Though, visitors and locals will most often pronounce a W like a W is sounded in English. I’ll give you an example: the proper pronunciation of Hawaii is “Hah-vah- ee”, but you’ll more commonly hear it pronounced “Hah-wah-ee”.
To me, the challenge in attempting to properly pronounce Hawaiian words is to learn how to sound the vowels. I find them to be less intuitive, but the more I’ve practiced and memorized, the better I’m able to sound them correctly. Here’s how you pronounce Hawaiian vowels:
- a sounds like ah as in aloha
- e sounds like ay or eh as in say
- i sounds like ee as in bee
- o sounds like oh as in open
- u sounds like oo as in boo.
Since this post is only covering the basics, see this useful guide for learning how to pronounce some commonly used Hawaiian words. As many times as I’ve been to Hawaii, I’m still learning!