Hawaiian name/wording help

gardenlaurie(z9 northern CA)May 14, 2006

I'm wondering how you would say "fragrant" or "pretty fragrance" or "softly fragrant" or something like that in Hawaiian, as it would apply to tropical flowers. I tried a dictionary but became confused when "onaona" seemed to mean pleasant fragrance sometimes and unpleasant other times. Is there a phrase that would just have good connotations?

I grow a few tropicals, btw (along with lots of roses and perennials). I love my jasmine sambac Maid of Orleans! It blooms constantly. My stephanotis doesn't seem to want to bloom for me though. I've had it a few years and it looks healthy but doesn't bloom.

Thanks for any Hawaiian word/phrase help! :)

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I don't know if there's another word, but "onaona" is the one you hear all the time, particularly in songs, and I always assumed it had a good connotation. You don't compare your sweetie to some stinky flower, do you? ;-)

My Hawaiian dictionary defines onaona as: "softly fragrant; soft fragrance or perfume, aroma; gentle and sweet, as the eyes or disposition; inviting, attractive alluring, lovely."

Don't see anything bad there!

    Bookmark   May 14, 2006 at 7:19PM
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BTW, "pilau" means stink!

    Bookmark   May 14, 2006 at 7:24PM
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gardenlaurie(z9 northern CA)

Thanks! I found that definition too. But then I also saw this definition, but maybe it is a different word entirely because of the chararcter '.

'ona 'ona

1. Faint, dizzy, punch-drunk. hô.'ona.-'ona To cause intoxication or dizziness; to feign intoxication or dizziness; intoxicating.

2. Bad-smelling, as stagnant water; unpalatable.

Is that word pronounced differently because of the ' character (I don't think my keyboard can render it properly)? I'm sorry for my ignorance! Thanks for your help! :)

    Bookmark   May 14, 2006 at 10:33PM
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Yes, an 'okina (') makes it a completely different word. Consider it like adding another letter. Since the Hawaiian language only uses 12 letters, the 'okina (glottal stop) and kahako (macron) are widely used, and change both the meaning and pronunciation. My keyboard doesn't have a kahako, but it looks like a long vowel sign, in fact the word "kahako" should have one over the O.

Sounds like you have the same dictionary I do. Look, for example, at the difference between ai, ai (with a kahako over the i), a'i, 'ai, and 'a'i (with 2 kahakos). All completely different words. In addition, one word can mean many different things depending on context and modifying words, and the same word can be used as a noun, verb, adjective etc. It's the context that will tell you.

As to the pronunciation, and 'okina is a glottal stop. Think of in English when you say "uh oh". There's that little hard break between the syllables that keeps it from being "uo". That's a glottal stop. It's a little less obvious at the beginning of a word, but it just creates a harder, more abrupt sound. So 'ona'ona would sound like "OH-na OH-na" and onaona is more like "oh-NOW-na".

The kahako prolongs the sound of the vowel you put it over, and can be almost like an accent. It's hard to give examples when I can't even write it!

It's kind of confusing, and I am nowhere near being an expert, having only taken a couple of classes, but I hope that helps somewhat. Hawaiian is a beautiful language, but it's nothing at all like English!

    Bookmark   May 15, 2006 at 2:36PM
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