Small Talk

Hawaiian middle names

June 22nd, 2012

Olivia's preschool held a graduation ceremony very similar to the "real" thing that one associates with high schools and colleges- except much shorter, like the people being honored.

I could totally tell by looking at the program, with all the kids' full names listed, who was local and who wasn't. Sometimes the name is bigger than the child.

Ridiculously long local names featuring many vowels:

Name - Middle Name, Sometimes English or Sometimes Asian - Very Long 30 Characters Hawaiian Name - Last Name, Usually Ethnic

Kinda looks like this (which I obviously made up):

Mary Yick Lung Uamaukeeaokaainaikapono Souza

Shane Chun Wah Kam Kealaokalanianaole Abad

Mainland transplant names were standard stuff like:

John Jack Doe

Jane Mary Smith

This is totally normal to me, having spent six years of my life at Kamehameha Schools, the world's largest and best-known Native Hawaiian school. Even today, I get the alumni newsletter and in the classmate update section, if you don't have a long Hawaiian name, that's unusual. You could compose a standard-length hula chant by stringing together the people's names.

I have a Chinese and a Hawaiian middle name. My Hawaiian name is, at eight characters, relatively short.

We did the same for Olivia. As everyone living in Hawaii knows, the intent is to honor one's ancestry by taking names from each culture.

I actually did not set out to give her a long Hawaiian name, but the one we liked best (that incorporated a part of mine, handed down) is 13 characters + okina.

Seven syllables broken up by a glottal stop! She is SO set for Kamehameha! Now all she has to do is get in.

7 Responses to “Hawaiian middle names”

  1. theDman:

    lol! Best of luck. My advice, start out at public school first, aim for Kamehameha at 5th or 7th. Hint: Kapunahala

  2. Ken Conklin:

    Gosh Diane, you're being sooooo mysterious. What a teaser! Would you tell us your full name, and Olivia's full name? Inquiring minds want to know! Also, perhaps you could explain the etymology of "Ako." I'm guessing it's a shortened form of Ah Ko, but then what does each piece mean?

  3. Keoni:

    For me, that is part of the charm which makes Hawai'i so special.
    Years ago, not having been given a Hawaiian name at birth (born in NJ of English/German lineage), I chose the name 'Auikekailoa. it means "to swim or travel in distant seas" and now having moved here, that fits. But to make it easy for those who don't know the language, I just go by Keoni (John).

  4. Lowtone123:

    More and more people today are giving their kids hawaiian names ( either first or middle ) even though they're not hawaiian but want people to know either they are or once lived in Hawaii or their kid was born in Hawaii.

  5. kuunakanaka:

    aloha Diane:
    it's all in the name. my children's first names are Japanese. i know how to write their names in kanji and know its meaning. their middle names and last names are Hawaiian and i know its meaning.

  6. Helen:

    I agree with the Dman Public schol would be the bests start then aim for Kamehameha at 5th. Good luck

  7. DIO:

    Diane Ako's middle name? Ooh, I guess I have to go bust out the yearbooks and go look that one up. 😀

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