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Hawaiian Word of the Day: Waiūpa‘a

January 13, 2010

Dairy lovers, take note: waiūpa‘a means cheese.

Today’s Hawaiian word of the day is waiūpa‘a, or cheese.

Admittedly, waiūpa‘a is not one of the first culinary words to pop in my head when I’m thinking in Hawaiian. The usual words are poke, ‘uala, or ‘awa. But waiūpa‘a became part of my vocabulary by a happy surprise when visiting Whole Foods Kāhala a few months ago. Though Hawaiian is an official language of Hawai‘i, public visual displays remain few, place and street signs asides.

So when I actually was headed into cheese section, my eye was drawn to the signage displayed beneath selections of brie, tallegio, and manchego signs, all of them annoucning “Waiūpa‘a”, complete with obligatory macron and glottal stops. It was the first time I could remember any supermarket signage being in Hawaiian. This may seems small to some, but I took it as an immediately good hō‘ailona, or sign, that our language is well on its way into the 21st century. Just as any look at the Hawaiian newspaper archives will demonstrate, ka ‘ōlelo Hawai‘i was successfully used to discuss a whole, worldly array of people, places and things.

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