Developing with Intention: Incorporating ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi in our Work

One of our favorite tools here at Wahine Coder is an online tool called Canva. Maybe you have heard of it? It is a user-friendly graphic design platform with easy, intuitive features that allow you to create content from scratch or build upon their curated templates. For a Freelancer in Web Development, as well as a Writer and Content Creator, it is an essential tool in managing social media output, composing presentations for clients, and creating infographics. You can create beautifully designed products with no experience necessary. And it’s easier to use than Adobe and much less expensive.

At Wahine Coder, we value our Hawaiʻi roots which means that we prioritize the accurate use of Hawaiian words and concepts when delivering cultural content in print and digital media. We think it is important to double check our work to respectfully honor language and culture. After all, as coders, we have a passion for languages and the nuances associated with each one.

Every good coder understands the importance of precision and attention to detail in the use of computer languages. If you leave out just one letter or symbol, it could create an error (also referred to as a “bug”) in your code that could take hours or even days to find and correct. We’d like to assert that the same care and attention to detail be implemented with the use of any language and, in the context of where we live and operate, especially in the use of the Hawaiian Language, or ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi. 

One of the most frequently occurring mistakes made in the use of ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi in digital and print media is missing and inconsistent use of ʻokina and kahakō. More than just symbols, these diacritical markings help with pronunciation, especially for non Hawaiian language speakers. And for this reason, ʻokina and kahakō are essential elements when publishing public facing documents and materials. For a deeper understanding of ʻokina and kahakō, check out this article. If you are not familiar with the Hawaiian language, before you finalize your print or digital work, take the time to double check definitions, word usage, and for the correct use of diacritical markings or better yet ask a friend who is familiar with the language! At Wahine Coder, we utilize Ulukau, an online Hawaiian electronic library, particularly Nā Puke Wehewehe ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi (Ulukau online Hawaiian language dictionary) to help us get it right! You can also pick up or order your very own Hawaiian Dictionary at Nā Mea Hāwaiʻi. 

Coders can understand the precision required to code well. This need for precision is mirrored in the importance of accuracy when using ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi — which prompted our desire to create this guide.

To effectively use ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi, you’ll need to first enable the Hawaiian Language keyboard on your device ( example below is for Mac users) by following the steps below: To use the ‘Ōlelo Hawaiʻi keyboard:

  • For a lowercase kahakō — hold down OPTION (Mac)
  • For an uppercase KAHAKŌ — hold down OPTION and SHIFT(Mac)
  • For an ʻokina — type the apostrophe key
  • For a regular apostrophe while in the ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi keyboard — hold down the OPTION key

Finding a font that works well with the ʻokina and kahakō can be a time consuming task. Often, the font style will not render the letter accurately or the use of the kahakō could change the font style completely. A simple rule of thumb to follow is to test how the font exhibits both the ʻokina and kahakō before commiting to the font. Here are a few of our favorite ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi friendly fonts in Canva. Keep in mind that the different font groupings are designed to be used for different purposes. The ʻokina and kahakō can be difficult to see and are particularly dependent on the font size. If it is too small or there is not enough spacing you could lose the ʻokina and kahakō completely so always be sure to test the font in it’s desired size when using ‘Ōlelo Hawaiʻi in your designs.

Lastly, we are always learning at Wahine Coder and welcome your feedback and shared ideas around how to represent ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi with reverence in all spaces including but not limited to print and digital media. 

E Ola ka ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi
The Hawaiian Language Shall Live