When you’re taking ukulele lessons, you will learn to play some classic Hawaiian songs. While Hawaiian songs tell stories of love, Hawaiian culture, and history, you may find some new, unfamiliar terms in the lyrics.
To help you out, we’ve compiled a list of 15 words you may hear when you’re learning ukulele. You will hear a mix of traditional Hawaiian words along with some pidgin words (a slang-type language used in Hawaii).
Here are 15 Hawaiian words ukulele players should know…
1. Hana Hou
Hana hou essentially means “again” or “encore”. If you loved the last song you heard and want the performer to play it again, yell “hana hou;” he or she will know what to do!
Pau means “done” or “finished”. If your ukulele teacher asks if you completed your practice exercises, you can tell him or her that you’re pau.
3. Pau Hana
This translates into “done with work”. When it’s pau hana time, it’s time to party – grab your uke and jam!
If you visit Hawaii, you have to go to a luau. A luau is a Hawaiian feast and usually includes Hawaiian music, traditional dances like Hula and Tahitian, and Hawaiian foods like kalua pig and lau lau (pork or beef wrapped in tarot leaves).
Ohana means “family.” Remember the line from “Lilo & Stich?” “Ohana means family. Family means no one gets left behind.”
6. A Hui Hou
A hui hou means “until we meet again”. Say this when you’re saying goodbye to a friend or loved one.
7. Ma Kai
Kai means “water” or “ocean”. Ma kai simply means toward the ocean.
8. Ma Ukua
When you need to give someone directions, you can say ma kai, which means “toward the ocean” or ma ukua, “toward the mountains.”
A very common and versatile word, aloha means “hello,” “goodbye,” and “love.”
10. Aloha Au Ia’oe
If you want to let someone special know how you feel, say “aloha au ia’oe” (I love you).
Kumu is a term used in hula. The kumu, or kumu hula, is the dance instructor.
Another term used in hula, you will hear the kumu say “ha’ina” to cue the dancers that the current song is about to end.
13. E Komo Mai
E komo mai means welcome, enter, or welcome aboard!
14. Humuhumu nukunuku apua’a
You will impress all your friends if you can learn the correct pronunciation for this word for the official state fish of Hawaii.
Kaukau is a slang term which means “food” or “to eat.”
What other words should ukulele players know? Let us know in the comments below!
Learn more about the ukulele by taking lessons with a private music teacher. Search for your ukulele teacher today!
Photo by Ryan Ozawa