Language, speech, word, quotation, statement, utterance, term, tidings; to speak, say, state, talk, mention, quote, converse, tell; oral, verbatim, verbal, motion.


“Sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me” and so the saying goes. I never did get this because names DID hurt me and sometimes worse than the sticks and stones! The pain lasts longer.

The most poignant display of the power of the ʻōlelo, language, in Hawaiian, is this ʻōlelo noʻeau (wise saying):

I ka ʻōlelo ke ola, i ka ʻōlelo ka make

In the language there is life, in the language there is death.

The ʻōlelo, in other words, holds the power of life and death. And so when you say something, it better be worth hearing. Hey, I wonder if this is why I get so impatient when people go on and on and on and you get my point.

In the language there is death? Heck yeah! There is a kahuna who knew that “magic”. So watch it. Watch what you say, watch your belongings, watch anything from your person (spit, urine, you name it but that is a whole new word of the day subject).

Yes, in the word there is death. It makes me sick when I hear parents (and teachers for that matter) belittle a youngster. Call them names (mostly unintentional). Think about it.  Babooze. Lōlō. Lazy. Good for nothing. Do you see how calling a child any of these names can, well, make them believe they might be a babooze? Or lōlō, lazy, or good for nothing? Yup. There is power in the word.

Hawaiians don’t say a lot. We pick our words carefully, use them as a necessity. There are so many other ways to communicate which are just as important. How you care for the ʻāina (land) and kai (ocean) is a means of communication. How you mālama your ʻohana. Body language. The eyes are a powerful tool to “speak” to people. Ma ka hana ka ʻike. In doing one learns. That is how we communicate. Do it. Be a model. A mentor.

But I digress. Point: be aware of your ʻōlelo – your language, speech, word. There is power in it. The power of life. The power of death. Hopefully you use it to bring life to others. To lift someone up. To help someone believe in their abilities.

ʻAʻole e ʻōlelo mai ana ke ahi ua ana ia – Fire will never say that it has had enough (the fire of anger or of love will burn as long as it has something to feed upon).

I lohe i ka ʻōlelo a hoʻokō, e ola auaneʻi a laupaʻi – One who hears good counsel and heeds it will live to see many descendants.

Leʻaleʻa ka ʻōlelo i ka pohu aku o loko – Conversation is pleasant when the inside is calm – Talk is pleasant when hunger is satisfied.

ʻŌlelo ka waha, holehole ka lima – The mouth talks, the hand strips (said of one who says friendly words yet does unfriendly deeds). Please don’t be “that” guy.

Paoa ka lawaiʻa i ka ʻōlelo ia o ka ʻawa – Unlucky is fishing when ʻawa is discussed (ʻAwa also means “bitterness.”)

Copyright: 2015 – Liana Iaea Honda. All rights reserved. All versions of He Momi e Lei ai”, in its entirety, past and present, is the property of L. K. I. Honda. Reproduction and use of any kind other than the sharing of this website is prohibited. Alteration to the original content in any form is prohibited in every and any instance, and use in any other variant is prohibited without written consent of the author. Adress inquiries to: hemomi [at] gmail.com. Definitions and wise sayings are from: Hawaiian Dictionary by Pukui and Elbert, 1986. ʻŌlelo Noʻeau – Hawaiian Proverbs & Poetical Sayings by Mary Kawena Pukui, 1983.

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2 Responses to ʻŌlelo

  1. Kalei Kanuha says:

    Mahalo for this entry, Liana! It is so appropriate and a helpful reminder! This is such a great resource! Thanks so much for your dedication to bringing our culture alive across this new medium!

  2. Liana says:

    MAHALO NUI E KALEI! Always appreciative of your kind comments.

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