THIS guide to the native mythology of Hawaii has grown out of a childhood and youth spent within sound of the hula drum at the foot of the domelike House of the Sun on the windy island of Maui. There, wandering along its rocky coast and sandy beaches, exploring its windward gorges, riding above the cliffs by moonlight when the surf was high or into the deep forests at midday, we were aware always of a life just out of reach of us latecomers but lived intensely by the kindly, generous race who had chanced so many centuries ago upon its shores.
Not before 1914 did the actual shaping of the work begin. The study covers, as any old Hawaiian will discover, less than half the story, but it may serve to start specific answers to the problems here raised and to distinguish the molding forces which have entered into the recasting of such traditional story-telling as has survived the first hundred years of foreign contact.
To the general student of mythology the number and length of proper names in an unfamiliar tongue may seem confusing. Hawaiian proper names are rarely made up of a single word but rather form a series of words recalling some incident or referring to some characteristic significant of the person or place designated. To a personal name an epithet may be affixed, such as "o ka lani" which means literally "of the heavens" but is translated by Hawaiians by the term "heavenly" as a title of endearment or adoration. The name of the parent is often added with the causal possessive "a" meaning "child of," as in Umi-a-Liloa, which may be read "Umi, child of Liloa." In many cases the definite article "ka" becomes a part of the name and hence the preponderance in Hawaiian of names beginning with this syllable. Since recognition of its composition is essential to its proper accent, in cases where this is known with a good degree of probability through native
informants, the name has been hyphenated upon its first appearance and occasionally throughout.
With the analysis of the name in mind, the pronunciation offers little difficulty. There are no silent letters. Theoretically at least, each vowel represents a distinct sound; each consonant is voiced as a distinct syllable ending in a vowel sound. Words written alike but different in meaning are to be distinguished, however, only by their spoken accent, as Ka-u', The-breast, which names a district on Hawaii, and ka‘u for the summer season. A third form, ka‘u, for the possessive pronoun of the first person singular, pronounced with a glottal stop, is written with the inverted apostrophe called a hamzah, indicative of a lost consonant sound in the k range. Besides the five vowel sounds, pronounced as in Italian, only seven consonants were recognized in the reduction of the language to writing by the early American missionaries and these do not differ from the same signs in English; the shifting of l to r, k to t, p to f, and w to v characteristic of various Polynesian dialects and recognized in the oral speech of old Hawaiians is hence ignored in the written form.
The effect upon Hawaiian speech of this melodious heaping up of sound without articulation is altogether pleasing and lends itself easily to the chanting of long poetical recitations such as Hawaiians of the old days delighted in, as in the shorter and more varied poetry of dance and celebration.
My thanks are here rendered to the trustees, director, and staff of the Bishop Museum in Honolulu for their aid and co-operation; to the president, trustees, and faculty of Vassar College for their interest in and recognition of the work of the Folklore Foundation under which, since 1920, this work has been carried on; and to Professors Franz Boas and William Witherle Lawrence of Columbia University, whose encouragement and advice have been so often and so generously given.
There are also many names to be recalled with grateful remembrance of those who have contributed directly toward the making of this book: Joseph Emerson, Stephen Desha, Mary Pukui and her mother Mrs. Wiggin, Emma Olmsted, Laura Green, Pokini Robinson, Ernest and Pearl Beaglehole, Kenneth Emory, Katharine Luomala, Frank Stimson, David
[paragraph continues] Malo Kupihea, Peter Buck, Edward Handy, Margaret Titcomb, Thomas Wahiako, Daniel Ho‘olapa, Hattie Saffrey Rhinehardt, Emma Taylor, Rachel Kekela Kaiwiaia, Jonah Kaiwiaia, Kilinahi Kaleo, William Pogue, Hezekiah Ikoa, Lyle Dickey, Ethel Damon, Marie Neal, Lahilahi Webb.
Finally, thanks are especially due for the unstinting care of the publishers under whose expert hands the laborious task of setting up so composite a mass of material in convenient form for reference has been successfully achieved.