A Polynesian Pronunciation Problem

A middle-aged couple dipped into their savings and splurged on a vacation to Hawaii. They felt very excited to visit these islands of the Pacific, in our country’s most exotic state.

But on their first day in Honolulu they got into a debate over how to properly pronounce the name of the state. She believed it should be pronounced Ha-wye-ee, while he contended that it should be pronounced Ha-vye-ee.

Diamond Head, from Waikiki Beach.

They were strolling on Waikiki beach when they spotted a man who looked like he might be a native. It occurred to the husband that this was the perfect opportunity to end their debate. So he stopped the man with, “Excuse me sir, do you live in this state?”

He said, “Yes, I sure do.”

The husband said, “How nice for you that you live in such a beautiful paradise! Now sir, would you be willing to help my wife and me with the way to properly pronounce the name of your state? We want to know, is it Ha-wye-ee or Ha-vye-ee?”

He gave them a big aloha smile, betraying that helpful generous attitude possessed by most natives of the Pacific isles. He answered, “Oh that is easy. It is pronounced Ha-vye-ee.”

The husband felt a little smug as he glanced over at his frowning wife. “Thank you, sir,” he said, “that really clears things up for us.”

The man smiled again and replied with a roll of the tongue, “You’re velcome!”


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