This is probably never an actual issue, but I’m not going to let that stop me from wondering about it. As I understand it, Hebrew words are written first as strings of consonants, and then (occasionally) with the vowels as marks underneath. Hawai’ian has words that consist of long chains of vowels with only a ’ to break them up, like Hawai’i or a’a. How would those be written in Hebrew?
I thought I had an answer to your thread title, but your OP stopped me dead. Drat.
Well, at least “priest” should be an easy one to transliterate.
My best guess is that Hawaiian has some consonantal sounds that can be used, and Hebrew has vowel marks that can be used. For the long strings of vowels, perhaps some sort of filler or dummy character could be used to “attach” the vowel marks?
I’m sure that there are Bibles translated into Hawaiian. The translation would probably come from the King James version, but the Hebrew names might give a clue. If there are any Torahs translated into Hawaiian, that might be an even bigger help.
Hebrew also has “weak consonant” characters that can be used for representing vowel sounds separately from regular consonants: the aleph, the he, the vav, and the yod.
The letter aleph also represents a glottal stop, like the Hawaiian sound represented by the apostrophe, so Hebrew is actually a convenient language for Hawaiian transliteration in that respect. Huh.
About 3000 Jews live in Maui, so I guess you could ask them, but the community is only 30 years old and probably rarely delves in traditional Hawaiian.
My understanding was that Hebrew originally contained consonants because this was more concise and things could still be understood. With the diaspora and more cultural influences, marks were added below letters to indicate vowel sounds when confusion could arise. I thought Hawaiian had 5 vowels and 8 consonants which might make translation a little tricky but not the impossible feat you may think. Course I could be wrong.
Take a look at Wikipedia’s Hebrew-language page on the state of Hawaii and note how Hawaiian names there are transliterated. For example, Hawaii itself becomes הוואי (which I think is he-vav-vav-alef-yod).
Hebrew actually does have vowels, but ,as you say, they are only written occassionally. They are unnecessary most of the time, because the rules of grammar make it easy to read the language by only writing the consonants.
But modern Hebrew adopts lots of words from foreign languages, and has conventions for spelling out the vowel sounds. Foreign companies sell their products in Israel, so names like KIA automobiles or Aiwa stereos are advertized in Hebrew all the time.
Some details, if you’re interested:
the letter aleph is used for a short a,
the letter aleph followed by 2 yuds (“ayy”) is used for a long A
the letter ayin is used for a short e
the vowels i o and u already exist in Hebrew writing as the letters vuv and yud.
So how would the word a’a be written in Hebrew?
the same way I would transliterate it from Hawaian to English :Ah-ah
or in Hebrew: aleph hey, aleph hey
aleph is “a”
hey is the hebrew letter “H”
Actually, it would be written Aleph Aleph Heh - אאה.
Both Alephs would have “patach” - “Ah” sound - vowels under them, while the Heh would be there because you generally can’t end a word with a vowled letter, and Heh is the default for following “Ah” sounds. Technically, writing it Aleph Aleph Aleph would also be correct, but you rarely see an Aleph at the end of a translated word.
Aleph Heh Aleph Heh would probably be pronounced “A’ha’a”, (or “A’he’a” or “A’ha’eh”, etc.) as the Heh, being in the middle of the word, would have to have a vowel.