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!”

Categories: Travel

39 replies »

  1. Pronouncing b’s as v’s makes me sound Russian, but soviet.

    Pronunciation mistakes could lead to war!
    When Japanese Premier Mori met US President Clinton, Mori greeted the president in English with, “How are you?” But Mori’s pronunciation sounded like, “Who are you?”
    President Clinton was confused by the mispronunciation and answered jokingly, “I’m Hillary’s husband.”
    Mori didn’t understand the response. He only knew from his English lessons that after you say, “How are you?”, the other person should reply with something like, “I am fine. Thank you, and you?” Then, you can respond with, “Me too.”
    So, Mori said to Clinton, “Me too!”

    (This really happened… and in front of news reporters!)

    Liked by 4 people

    • When I have been to Hungary, sometimes they greet you by saying “szia” and when said quickly, to me is sounds like “see you.” So I would meet someone new and then they would say “see you” like an American would when leaving. This confused me at first because many Hungarians speak English and I figured they were speaking English to the big, dumb, mono-lingual American.

      Me: “Hello”
      Hungarian: “See you.”
      Me: “Well OK, goodbye.”

      It was very Abbot and Costello.

      Liked by 3 people

  2. I work with a Hungarian that does the same thing. Sometimes he vorks on the firmvare and softvare.

    I also work with a Dutch guy who can’t make the ‘th’ sound that we Americans love so much, so “third party vendors” become “turd party vendors” and there is much talk of “turd parties”. I don’t want to have anything to do with a turd party.

    Liked by 3 people

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