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Bruce Torres Fischer
Bruce Torres Fischer

Did you know the correct pronunciation of the area in Hilo commonly called Kaumana is actually Kaʻūmana? A newly launched podcast series led by a University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo graduate student is on a mission to educate people about the meaning behind places and street names on Hawaiʻi Island and how to properly say them. The segment called, “Inoa Matters,” is a series of short audio lessons about inoa, the Hawaiian word for name. It is the latest string of educational episodes to be broadcast through podcast, Ka Leo o ka Uluau, which debuted in January 2021.

Podcast producer and sound engineer Bruce Torres Fischer is the voice behind the new inoa segment. He is working on a master’s degree in the Hawaiian language and literature program at UH Hilo.

“The pronunciation of names is important because it’s essential in conveying the manaʻo or meaning behind these places we often navigate during our day-to-day life,” Fischer said. “It is also a way to celebrate the rich history and culture of the place in which we live and love, and accustom our mouths to ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi, the Hawaiian language.”

Broadcast microphone

Fischer points out that it can be tricky to pronounce Hawaiian place names because not all public signage includes diacritical marks like the ʻokina (glottal stop) and kahakō (macron or line over a vowel).

Ka Leo o ka Uluau is sponsored by the UH Hilo Office of the Chancellor and Kīpuka Native Hawaiian Student Center (NHSC). The twenty-four episode series is hosted by Leilani DeMello, a Hawaiian studies alumna of UH Hilo and Drew Kapp, a geography instructor at Hawaiʻi Community College. Fischer produces the podcast alongside Hualani Loo, associate director of UH Hilo Kīpuka NHSC and is aimed to hoʻokamaʻāina or acquaint listeners to the moku (districts) of Hawaiʻi Island.

Listeners can tune in to the podcast on the project’s website, Apple Podcasts and Spotify.

For more go to UH Hilo Stories.
—by Susan Enright

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