Daily Archives: 27 April 2009

Hawaiian Names for Proofreading Symbols

One of my side jobs during graduate school at the University of Hawai‘i—after using up both my G.I. Bill allotment and my graduate assistantship eligibility before finishing my dissertation—was double-proofreading publications full of technical jargon and tabular matter. In double-proofing, one person reads aloud from the copyedited manuscript while the other reads along looking for errors on the galley proofs. To make sure everything matches exactly, you have to read aloud not just every word, but every piece of punctuation. In that capacity I either read aloud, or listened while eyeballing many an issue of the journal Pacific Science: pronouncing every scientific binomial, every abbreviation, every superscript and subscript, every change in type style, and every scrap of punctuation. It was often weirdly amusing, once you got punch-drunk on the stream of critical sounds with rarely a digestible message.

I was reminded of this when I saw the following sign showing the Hawaiian names of punctuation, diacritics, and proofreading symbols used in early Hawaiian printing, which began in 1822 and built up a huge legacy (ho‘oilina) of written records before almost dying out a century and a half later. I imagine there was a lot of double-proofing going on during the earliest days.

Na inoa o na kiko a me na kaha

Na inoa o na kiko a me na kaha

I believe the title Nā inoa o nā kiko a me nā kaha — Kūpono i ke kākau a me ke pa‘i ‘ana can be translated as ‘The names of the dots and lines — Proper in writing and printing’. ( is the plural article, ke or ka is the singular.)

Two of the terms are borrowed directly from English: koma ‘comma’ and kolona ‘colon’. But most of the rest describe either the shape or the function of the symbols.

Nā kiko: The semicolon is kikokoma ‘dot-comma’; the period/full-stop is kikokahi ‘dot-one’ (in head-modifier order); the question mark kikonīnau is ‘dot-question’; the exclamation point kikopū‘iwa is ‘dot-startle’; the apostrophe is komaluna ‘comma-high’; and quotation marks are kāunakoma ‘cluster.of.four-comma’. The last is my favorite by far. In the Pacific Islands, it is very common to count the larger sorts of gathered foods that one person can carry home—like coconuts, tubers, or fish—in clusters of four such items strung together.

Nā kaha: The hyphen is kahamoe ‘line-lying.down’; the dash is kahamaha ‘line-pausing’; the acute accent is leopi‘i ‘voice-ascending’; the grave accent is leoiho ‘voice-descending’; the macron is leolōihi ‘voice-long’ (cf. loa ‘long’); the breve is leopōkole ‘voice-short’ (cf. poko ‘short’); the circumflex is leo‘uwo ‘voice-splice/interweave’ (or possibly leouwō ‘voice-loud’); and the diacritic marking diaerisis is ka‘awaleleo ‘separate-voice’.

In the 1986 Hawaiian Dictionary, Pukui and Elbert call parentheses or brackets kahaapo ‘mark-embrace’, but this older chart labels a pair of square brackets as simply nā apo ‘brackets’ and a pair of parentheses as apowaena ‘bracket-middle’. A single curly bracket is labelled hui ‘group, union’.

Marks more specific to proofreading include the section mark, palena ‘boundary, partition’; the paragraph mark, po‘ohou ‘head-new’; the strikethrough, ‘ōlelowaiho ‘word-omit’; and the caret, poina ‘forgotten’, which shows where to insert new text. (Pukui & Elbert call the caret puamana, perhaps from the ‘issue, emerge’ sense of pua usu. ‘flower, blossom’ and the ‘branch out, fork’ sense of mana usu. ‘power, authority’.)

Finally, there is the pointing finger, limakuhi ‘hand-point’, corresponding to nota bene (and perhaps also cf., q.v., see also).

Plaque at Site of First Hawaiian Printing, Mission Houses Museum, Honolulu

UPDATE: Another poster at the Mission Houses Museum lists the names of the earliest Hawaiian printers: John Papa I‘i, Henry Tahiti, George Kapeau, Richard Kalaaiaulu, S. P. Kalama, Paahuna, Kaumu, Kawailepolepo, and the Kawainui brothers.


Filed under Hawai'i, language, publishing