The Hawaiian language is also beautiful. I've been captivated by it since I first learned about it when my 2nd grade teacher taught it to our class. She was a native Hawaiian before moving to Colorado, and took great pride in her home state. So strong was her love of Hawaii that she led our class through a "Hawaii Day," where we all got leis, fresh pineapple, and a crash course in Hawaiian culture. To me, it was just a fun mini-vacation.
The Hawaiian alphabet is one of the shortest alphabets in existence; it only contains 12 letters: A, E, H, I, K, L, M, N, O, P, U, and W. (Officially, the apostrophe qualifies as the 13th letter, signifying a glottal stop, but for the purposes of spelling, we'll omit it.) Yet from these twelve letters comes an unusually musical and dynamic language.
A favorite word of champion spellers, humuhumunukunukuapua'a also happens to be Hawaii's state fish: the reef triggerfish. The word basically means "fish that grunts like a pig," apparently so named because it makes that noise when it's caught!
Hawaiian is fairly straightforward in pronunciation. It follows what Scott Remer (author of Words of Wisdom and himself a previous national competitor) refers to as the "open vowel scheme," which seems to be the most common scheme that languages follow. Here is how it breaks down:
a = ah (as in father)
e = ay (as in way)
i = ee (as in see)
o = oh (as in go)
u = oo (as in boot)
There are always exceptions to the rule, like the tricky hoomalimali, where the second "o" is a schwa. One may be inclined to place an "a" where the "o" goes. But other Hawaiian words, like the simple greeting aloha, the cowboy paniolo, and the Hawaiian tourist malihini follow this scheme closely.
Vowel diphthongs abound in Hawaiian, too, but they are also fairly straightforward. The word for smooth-flowing lava, pahoehoe, has both its "oe" diphthongs pronounced like "oy." The longtime Hawaiian native kamaaina has the "ai" pronounced like "eye." (It can also seem tricky to pronounce - three vowels in a row? - until you realize that the word is more precisely spelled kama'aina, with the apostrophe indicating a stop between the two parts of the word; you almost pronounce it as two separate words.)