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The Hawaiian alphabet (piapa)

The Hawaiian language was first developed in the 1820s by Protestant missionaries from New England. Prior to contact from the Western world, Hawaiians had no written language other than petroglyph symbols.  In order to convert all the Hawaiians to Christianity, they needed to standardize the native language and teach the locals how to read and write it. This goal was accomplished in 1826 in addition to the publication of a Hawaiian Bible.

The alphabet contains 12 letters: 5 vowels a, e, i, o, u (ā, ē, ī, ō, ū) and 7 consonants h, k, l, m, n, p, w (he, ke, la, mu, nu, pi, we). Plus a 13th "letter" called "okina" that is written with an apostrophe (').
The ' (okina) is a glottal stop and is considered a consonant; without it the meaning of a word is changed (ie "ko'u", meaning "my" and "kou" meaning yours.
Spoken Hawaiian on the other hand also has the letters t,r,v, b, and y sounds. The letters t/k, r/l, v/w, and b/p are interchangeable. Because some individuals pronounce "Hawai'i" as "Havai'i", or "kūkū" instead of "tūtū", when creating a written form, one of the two interchangeable letters from each pair had to be omitted. The "y" sound is written as "iā". Written Hawaiian and spoken Hawaiian don't always go hand in hand.

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