The Hawaiian alphabet, or ka pīʻāpā Hawaiʻi in the Hawaiian language, is made up of just 13 letters. This makes it one of the smallest alphabets in use among the world’s languages.
The Hawaiian alphabet consists of five vowels (a, e, i, o, u) and eight consonants (h, k, l, m, n, p, w, ʻ). The vowels can be either long or short, and they can be pronounced with or without stress. The ʻokina (ʻ), often indicated by an apostrophe, is a consonant letter that represents a glottal stop, similar to the pause in English phrases like “uh-oh”.
The modern Hawaiian alphabet was established by American missionaries in the 19th century who were creating a written version of the language for the first time. The small size of the Hawaiian alphabet doesn’t limit the language’s expressiveness, however. Hawaiian has a rich vocabulary and complex grammatical structure, and is known for its rhythm, poetry, and eloquence.