Typing in Hawaiian can be tricky. Have you ever tried to find the okina key on your keyboard? Lucky for us, Microsoft has acknowledged this fact and their most recent launch of Windows 8 includes support for the Hawaiian language. They did this with help from the University of Hawaii’s Keola Donaghy, a faculty member at our very own UH Maui College’s music department.
The project was a joint effort between Microsoft and Ka Haka ‘Ula O Ke’elikolani College of Hawaiian Language, located at the University of Hawaii at Hilo, where Donaghy formerly held a position. The Windows 8 software offers a Hawaiian keyboard layout with many fonts that contain the diacritical marks essential for typing in Hawaiian. You can also tune your calendar to show days of the week and months in Hawaiian.
“We’re getting close to the day that Hawaiian speakers will be able to take for granted the fact that they can simply type in Hawaiian when they buy a new computer, tablet or smartphone without installing special software,” says Donaghy.
This is just in time for the new Hawaiian Studies associate degree that began this fall at University of Hawaii Maui College. The department has four professors: Kiope Raymond, Associate Professor (B.A. Hawaiian Studies, MEd Education); S. Kaleikoa Ka‘eo, Assistant Professor (B.A. Hawaiian Studies, MA Political Science); Kahele Dukelow, Assistant Professor (B.A. Hawaiian Studies, MEd Education); and Papaikani‘au Kai‘anui, Instructor (B.A. Hawaiian Language, PhD Education). The school hires lecturers as needed to meet the student demand.
“This degree has been long-awaited by Maui County residents,” says Ka‘eo, who teaches Hawaiian studies. “But it will benefit all students seeking a deeper understanding of Native Hawaiian culture and history, and is a pathway to any four-year degree.”
The course load includes Hawaiian Studies 107, which exposes the students to the unique aspects of Hawaii’s geography, cultural origins, art, history and religion, and Hawaiian studies 190V–Hawaiian Consciencism. The program uses student engagement with community partners in farming, politics, art and traditional practices. With UH Maui College serving a rural area with a high percentage of Native Hawaiians on Maui and Molokai, the school is moving closer to satisfying its goals of being a leading indigenous serving institution. It also helps support the advancement of Hawaiian culture and knowledge.
“This degree is similar to the A.A in Liberal Arts in that it’s a transfer degree,” says Dukelow. “The degree prepares students to enter a wide variety of four-year programs including Hawaiian Language and Hawaiian Studies.”
Microsoft teaming up to provide the technology necessary to compute in Hawaiian is a big step in the same direction of perpetuating Hawaiian language and recognizing the significance of the unique language and culture of this archipelago.
“Providing technology support in a native language is critical to helping people access the tools they need to create better economic opportunities,” says Anthony Salcito, Vice President of Worldwide Education for Microsoft. “Language preservation and support also helps preserve cultural identities for the next generation of learners.”