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Since Hawaii is part of the United States, English is the official language. While you can communicate with English to do just about everything on the islands, there are many other languages that you may hear while in Hawaii.

You may hear Portuguese, Chinese, Japanese, Filipino and Samoan along with English. All of these ethnicities have come to the islands over the last two hundred years. There are also adapted languages that combine many of these languages.

1. Pidgin- the most spoken original island language
2. Hawaiian- not often spoken except on Nuhau.


It was originally a mixture of Chinese, Japanese and Portuguese formed when the three nationalities came together as laborers. It started off as a way to communicate about working, eating and sleeping. Hawaiian words make up most of the non-English Pidgin vocabulary. While it started in the fields, it has moved to other areas of culture in Hawaii. It is still taught in school and sounds different depending on who is speaking it. Just like people from certain areas of the mainland U.S. speak with accents, people from different parts of Hawaii speak Pidgin with different accents. It is a growing language that continues to add vocabulary. Some Hawaiians still believe that this language is juvenile and refuse to use it. But most natives do use it. Unlike in other countries though, you are not encouraged to learn or speak Pidgin.

Natives do not like foreigners trying to speak Pidgin. It is also hard to understand on purpose. The idea is that you don’t know what is being said, but because of how it’s said, you may be able to feel what is meant.


The language is also a combination of many others languages from around the world. Mainly made up of Polynesian root words, there are also roots from Indonesian and Malayan. It is described by linguists as a smooth, gentle and loving language.

Hawaiian is only spoken on Nuahau and sometimes by elder Hawaiians or in some local churches. It is made up of only 12 letters. The five vowels, pronounced as they are in Italian. The other seven letters are the consonants: H K L M N P W. They are pronounced like they sound in English.

So while you may not need to know either Hawaiian or Pidgin, you may want to pay attention to them especially if you are navigating around the islands. Many of the streets and villages are named in Hawaiian and may often sound similar. Pay close attention and you should be fine. Aloha and happy travels!