Friday, 9 July 2010


I just got back from a vacation in Hawaiʻi, and while I was there, surrounded by dolphins, sea turtles and squid, I of course got to thinking about the ʻokina, the symbol used to represent the Hawaiian glottal stop. At first I thought it was an apostrophe, but closer inspection revealed that it usually resembled a single left quote:
According to the prescriptive and citation-free wikipedia page, it should only look like a single left quote, and any other rendering is wrong. However, in some places, like on signs in the ʻIolani Palace museum, it's rendered as a backquote, and on some street signs it's an acute accent:

On other street signs, it's a straight apostrophe:

And once with a double left quote:

This article has a lot of detail on the different ways the ʻokina is rendered.

In other news, I spotted this awesome multilingual sign in a restaurant (click for bigger image).

Can you guess them all? Here's the answer.

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