Like other creoles, Hawai‘i Creole has its
own individual system of sounds. Although most of its
consonants are similar to those found in varieties of
British and American English, the vowels are quite
different. Here we talk only about the
(Note: Hawai‘i Creole has its own
spelling system. The examples here are given in that
system and then in English-based
In words that come from
English, many speakers of Hawai‘i Creole say 't' or 'd' instead of
the 'th' sounds &endash; for example, tink 'think'
and dis 'this'.
For many speakers, the 't'
sound is usually pronounced as 'ch' before 'r', as in
chri (chree) 'tree; and the 'd' sound is
pronounced as pronounced as 'j' before 'r', as in jril
'drill' Also, especially in fast speech, the 's'
sound is pronounced as 'sh' before 'r' or 'tr', as in
groshri 'grocery' and shchrit (shtreet)
The 'r' is not pronounced after
some vowels -- for example: paking 'parking'
(pronounced like 'pahking') , sked 'scared' and
fo 'for'. Sometimes, the final 'r' is changed to
another vowel, as in dia 'dear' and welfea
'welfare'. This "r-less" feature is also found in the
English spoken in Australia, parts of England, and in the
northeastern USA (where the early missionaries to Hawai'i
For most speakers of Hawai‘i Creole the
'ee' sound in 'keen' and the 'i' sound in 'kit' are
pronounced similarly, somewhere in between the way the
two sounds are pronounced in most varieties of British
and American English. The sound of the 'u' in 'put' or
'oo' in 'good' is pronounced similarly to the sound of
the 'u' or in 'rule' or 'oo' in 'pool'.
Also, Hawai‘i Creole has what are
sometimes called "pure" vowels, as found in languages
such as Spanish and Hawaiian, whereas English vowels are
typically stretched and changed somewhat. For example,
the Hawaiian name Kekoa is usually pronounced as
'Kay-koh-wa' by English speakers.
One of the most striking
characteristics of Hawai‘i Creole is in the intonation pattern or
"melody" you can hear when people speak. One difference
between Hawai‘i Creole and varieties of English is in the intonation
of questions that can be answered "yes" or "no". In most
varieties of American English, for example, the pattern
is rising, ending at higher pitch or tone of voice. But
in Hawai‘i Creole, the pattern is falling, dropping to lower pitch
in the last syllable.
In addition, some Hawai‘i Creole words
which come from English differ slightly in pronunciation
because a different syllable is emphasized most, or
stressed. In these examples, the stressed syllable is
shown in capital letters: dikshaNEri 'dictionary',
haraKEIN 'hurricane', aelkaHOL