a state of the United States of America made up of a group of islands in the north-central Pacific Ocean
Phonetic Pronunciation: huh-WAH-eeAudio Pronunciation
: u.s. states
: In researching this I found a surprising amount of dispute over the proper pronunciation of Hawaii. All agree that there are 3 syllables, but differences exist on how to pronounce the last two syllables.
There are three primary questions:
- Does the middle syllable begin with a -w- or a -v-?
- Does the middle syllable rhyme with sky or spa?
- Does the last syllable begin with -y- and sound like yee?
The American Heritage Dictionary
lists huh-WAH-ee as primary with huh-WY-ee and hu-VAH-ee as alternates.Longman's Pronouncing Dictionary
has huh-WAH-ee.Mirriam Webster's Geographical Dictionary
lists 3 pronunciations with huh-WAH-yee as primary and huh-WAH-ee, huh-VAH-yee as alternates.The Big Book of Beastly Mispronunciations
has huh-WY-ee or huh-WAH-ee as correct.How to Pronounce "Hawai'i"
is a helpful article by Kelley L. Ross that has huh-WAH-ee as correct.Is it w or v?
There seems to be a lingering debate over whether locals in Hawaii pronounce the second syllable beginning with a -v- or -w-. There is a persistent idea that locals in Hawaii pronounce the syllable beginning with a -v-.
In American Usage and Style: The Consensus (1980)
Roy H. Copperud disputes this idea and says-- "[huh-VY-ee] is thought by some to be based on based on the correct native version. This idea has been knocked down, however, by two authorities as wrong (Introduction to the Hawaiian Language
, by Judd, Pukui, and Stokes; and the Rt.Rev.Harry S.Kennedy, Bishop of Hawaii".
Mr. Ross confirms this in his article
and confirms that in day-to-day use most locals in Hawaii pronounce the syllable with a -w-. Mr Ross says-- "The pronunciation [huh-VAH-ee] is a misunderstanding (in tourists) or an affectation (in locals -- though the sincere impression that /v/ is 'correct' is common)".Rhyme with 'spa' or 'sky'?
Some of the authorities consulted list both WAH and WY as valid pronunciations for the middle syllable, but overall huh-WAH-ee seems to be preferred. In practice, both sound very similar and may be nearly be indistinguishable.ee or yee?
Is the last syllable -ee or -yee? Hawaii is properly spelled Hawai'i where the apostrophe indicates what is called a glottal stop. A glottal stop is a momentary pause in the flow of air, like between the syllables of the interjection uh-oh. The correct pronunciation is huh-WAH-ee with a glottal stop. The pronunciation huh-WAH-yee is a common, but somewhat anglicized pronunciation.