The ʻokina, also called by several other names, is a unicameral consonant letter used within the Latin script to mark the phonemic glottal stop, as it is used in many Polynesian languages.

ʻOkina letter forms
Hawaiian ʻokina The Hawaiian ʻokina or Tongan fakauʻa (Unicode U+02BB[1]), as it appears in the Lucida Sans font.
Tahitian ʻeta The Tahitian ʻeta or Wallisian fakamoga (currently not encoded separately), as it appears in the Lucida Sans font.

»ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi« (Hawaiian: Hawaiian language) within single quotes, font: Linux Libertine. The glyph of the two ʻokinas is clearly different from the one of the opening quote.


Area Vernacular name Literal meaning Notes
Hawaiian ʻokina separator; cutting; breaking transitionally formalized.
The ʻokina has historically been represented in computer publications by the grave accent (`), the left single quotation mark (‘), or the apostrophe ('), especially when the correct typographical mark (ʻ) is not available.
Samoan koma liliu "inverted comma"—inverted (liliu) comma (koma) often replaced by an apostrophe in modern publications, recognized by Samoan scholars and community.[2]

Use of the apostrophe and macron symbols in Samoan words was restored by the Ministry of Education in 2012 after being removed in the 1960s.[3]

Tahitian ʻeta ʻetaʻeta = to harden no official or traditional status, may use ' or ‘ or ’
Tongan fakauʻa
(honorific for fakamonga)
throat maker officially formalized
Cook Islands Māori ʻamata or ʻakairo ʻamata "hamza" or "hamza mark" no official or traditional status, may use ' or ‘ or ’ or nothing
Wallisian fakamoga by throat no official or traditional status, may use ' or ‘ or ’


The ʻokina visually resembles a left single quotation mark (‘)—a small "6"-shaped mark above the baseline.

The Tahitian ʻeta has a distinct shape, like an ʻokina turned 90° or more clockwise.

Orthography and official status

The ʻokina is a letter in the Hawaiian alphabet. It is unicameral—that is, it does not have separate uppercase (capital) and lowercase ("small") forms—unlike the other letters, all of which are basic Latin letters. For words that begin with an ʻokina, capitalization rules affect the next letter instead: for instance, at the beginning of a sentence, the name of the letter is written "ʻOkina", with a capital O.

Geographic names in the United States

The United States Board on Geographic Names lists relevant place names both with and without the ʻokina and kahakō (macron) in the Geographic Names Information System. Colloquially and formally, the forms have long been used interchangeably.[4]

Computer encoding

Apostrophes and quotation marks

In the ASCII character set, the ʻokina is typically represented by the apostrophe character ('), ASCII value 39 in decimal and 27 in hexadecimal. This character is typically rendered as a straight typewriter apostrophe, lacking the curve of the ʻokina proper. In some fonts, the ASCII apostrophe is rendered as a right single quotation mark, which is an even less satisfactory glyph for the ʻokina—essentially a 180° rotation of the correct shape.

Many other character sets expanded on the overloaded ASCII apostrophe, providing distinct characters for the left and right single quotation marks. The left single quotation mark has been used as an acceptable approximation to the ʻokina, though it still has problems: the ʻokina is a letter, not a punctuation mark, which may cause incorrect behaviour in automated text processing. Additionally, the left single quotation mark is represented in some typefaces by a mirrored "9" glyph, rather than a "6", which is unsuitable for the ʻokina.


In the Unicode standard, the ʻokina is encoded as U+02BB ʻ MODIFIER LETTER TURNED COMMA, which can be rendered in HTML by the entity ʻ (or in hexadecimal form ʻ).[1]

Although this letter was introduced in Unicode 1.1 (1993), lack of support for this character prevented easy and universal use for many years. As of 2008, OS X, Microsoft Windows and Linux-based computers and all new major smartphones have no problem with the glyph, and it is no longer a problem in Internet Explorer 7 as it was in previous versions. U+02BB should be the value used in encoding new data when the expected use of the data permits.

The same character is sometimes used in Latin transliterations of the Hebrew letter ʻáyin and the Arabic letter ʻayn (which is not a glottal stop) as well as in the Uzbek alphabet to write the letters (Cyrillic Ў) and (Cyrillic Ғ). However, "ʻokina" and other Polynesian names are properly reserved for the glottal stop in Polynesian language orthographies. Other glottal stop characters, such as U+02C0 ˀ MODIFIER LETTER GLOTTAL STOP, are inappropriate for the ʻokina.

The distinct form of the Tahitian and Wallisian glottal stop is not currently assigned a separate character in Unicode.

See also


  1. ^ a b Unicode Standard 5.1 Archived December 17, 2013, at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ Hunkin, Galumalemana Afeleti (2009). Gagana Samoa: A Samoan Language Coursebook. University of Hawaii Press. p. xiii. ISBN 978-0-8248-3131-8. Retrieved 17 July 2010.
  3. ^ "Samoa to restore use of apostrophes and macrons". SamoaNews.com. 25 November 2012.
  4. ^ U.S. Board on Geographic Names: Collection and Dissemination of Indigenous Names (United Nations Group of Experts on Geographical Names, Twenty-third Session Vienna, 28 March – 4 April 2006, Working Paper No. 82), S. 3: "An example of this has been the addition of the glottal stop (okina) and macron (kahako) to placenames of Hawaiian origin, which prior to 1995 had always been omitted. The BGN staff, under the direction and guidance of the Hawaii State Geographic Names Authority, has been restoring systemically these marks to each Hawaiian name listed in GNIS."

External links


The apostrophe (' or ’) character is a punctuation mark, and sometimes a diacritical mark, in languages that use the Latin alphabet and some other alphabets. In English it is used for several purposes:

The marking of the omission of one or more letters (as in the contraction of do not to don't).

The marking of possessive case of nouns (as in the eagle's feathers, or in one month's time).

The marking of plurals of individual characters (e.g. p's and q's).The word apostrophe comes ultimately from Greek ἡ ἀπόστροφος [προσῳδία] (hē apóstrophos [prosōidía], '[the accent of] turning away or elision'), through Latin and French.According to Unicode, the apostrophe is the same character as the closing single quotation mark, although the semantics of this character are "context-dependent". (When it functions as a closing quotation mark, it is always paired with an opening quotation mark.) The apostrophe also looks similar to, but is not the same as, the prime symbol ( ′ ), which is used to indicate measurement in feet or arcminutes and for various mathematical purposes, and the ʻokina ( ʻ ), which represents a glottal stop in Polynesian languages. Other substitutes such as ´ (acute) and ‘ (open single quotation mark) are common due to ambiguous treatment of the apostrophe in digital typesetting (as explained below).

Gathering place

A gathering place is any place where people are able to congregate. Gathering places may be public; for example, city streets, town squares, and parks; or private; for example, churches, coffee shops, stadiums, and theaters.

Examples of gathering places include Stonehenge, the agora of ancient Greece, New York City's Central Park, and London's Trafalgar Square.

Glottal stop (letter)

The character ⟨ʔ⟩, called glottal stop, is an alphabetic letter in some Latin alphabets, most notable in several languages of Canada where it indicates a glottal stop sound. Such usage derives from phonetic transcription, for example the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA), that use this letter for the glottal stop sound. The letter derives graphically from use of the apostrophe ⟨ʼ⟩ for glottal stop.

Hawaiian Braille

Hawaiian Braille is the braille alphabet of the Hawaiian language. It is a subset of the basic braille alphabet,

supplemented by an additional letter ⠸ to mark long vowels:

(Māori Braille uses the same convention for long vowels.)Unlike print Hawaiian, which has a special letter ʻokina for the glottal stop, Hawaiian Braille uses the apostrophe ⠄, which behaves as punctuation rather than as a consonant:

⠄⠸⠁⠊⠝⠁ ʻāina

⠄⠠⠸⠁⠊⠝⠁ ʻĀinaThat is, the order to write ʻĀ is apostrophe, cap sign, length sign, A.

Punctuation is as in English Braille.

Hawaiian alphabet

The Hawaiian alphabet (in Hawaiian: ka pīʻāpā Hawaiʻi) is an alphabet used to write Hawaiian. It was adapted from the English alphabet in the early 19th century by American missionaries to print a bible in the Hawaiian language.

Hawaiian language

The Hawaiian language (Hawaiian: ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi, pronounced [ʔoːˈlɛlo həˈvɐjʔi]) is a Polynesian language that takes its name from Hawaiʻi, the largest island in the tropical North Pacific archipelago where it developed. Hawaiian, along with English, is an official language of the State of Hawaii. King Kamehameha III established the first Hawaiian-language constitution in 1839 and 1840.

For various reasons, including territorial legislation establishing English as the official language in schools, the number of native speakers of Hawaiian gradually decreased during the period from the 1830s to the 1950s. Hawaiian was essentially displaced by English on six of seven inhabited islands. In 2001, native speakers of Hawaiian amounted to less than 0.1% of the statewide population. Linguists were unsure if Hawaiian and other endangered languages would survive.Nevertheless, from around 1949 to the present day, there has been a gradual increase in attention to and promotion of the language. Public Hawaiian-language immersion preschools called Pūnana Leo were established in 1984; other immersion schools followed soon after that. The first students to start in immersion preschool have now graduated from college and many are fluent Hawaiian speakers. The federal government has acknowledged this development. For example, the Hawaiian National Park Language Correction Act of 2000 changed the names of several national parks in Hawaiʻi, observing the Hawaiian spelling. However, the language is still classified as critically endangered by UNESCO.A creole language spoken in Hawaiʻi is Hawaiian Pidgin (or Hawaii Creole English, HCE). It should not be mistaken for the Hawaiian language nor for a dialect of English.

The Hawaiian alphabet has 13 letters: five vowels: a e i o u (each with a long pronunciation and a short one) and eight consonants: he ke la mu nu pi we, including a glottal stop called ʻokina.

Hawaiian name

A Hawaiian name is a name in the Hawaiian language. Such names are popular not only in Hawaiian families, but also among other residents of Hawaii, and even in the United States mainland among both non-native and native Hawaiians.

Ledward Kaapana

Ledward Kaapana (born August 25, 1948) is a Hawaiian musician, best known for playing in the slack key guitar style. He also plays steel guitar, ukulele, autoharp and bass guitar, and is a baritone and falsetto vocalist.

Letter case

Letter case (or just case) is the distinction between the letters that are in larger upper case (also uppercase, capital letters, capitals, caps, large letters, or more formally majuscule) and smaller lower case (also lowercase, small letters, or more formally minuscule) in the written representation of certain languages. The writing systems that distinguish between the upper and lower case have two parallel sets of letters, with each letter in one set usually having an equivalent in the other set. The two case variants are alternative representations of the same letter: they have the same name and pronunciation and are treated identically when sorting in alphabetical order.

Letter case is generally applied in a mixed-case fashion, with both upper- and lower-case letters appearing in a given piece of text for legibility. The choice of case is often prescribed by the grammar of a language or by the conventions of a particular discipline. In orthography, the upper case is primarily reserved for special purposes, such as the first letter of a sentence or of a proper noun, which makes the lower case the more common variant in regular text.

In some contexts, it is conventional to use one case only. For example, engineering design drawings are typically labelled entirely in upper-case letters, which are easier to distinguish individually than the lower case when space restrictions require that the lettering be very small. In mathematics, on the other hand, letter case may indicate the relationship between objects, with upper-case letters often representing "superior" objects (e.g. X could be a set containing the generic member x).

List of English words of Hawaiian origin

The Hawaiian language has offered a number of words to the English language. Some Hawaiian words are known to non-Hawaiian speakers, and a few have also been assimilated into the English language (e.g. "aloha", meaning "hello", "love", or "goodbye", or "mahalo", meaning "thank you"). English also borrows some Hawaiian words (e.g. "ukulele," "mahimahi," and "muʻumuʻu"). Hawaiian vocabulary often overlaps with other Polynesian languages, such as Tahitian, so it is not always clear which of those languages a term is borrowed from.

The Hawaiian orthography is notably different from the English orthography because there is a special letter in the Hawaiian alphabet, the ʻokina. The ʻokina represents a glottal stop, which indicates a short pause to separate syllables. The kahakō represents longer vowel sounds. Both the ʻokina and kahakō are often omitted in English orthography.

Due to the Hawaiian orthography's difference from English orthography, the pronunciation of the words differ. For example, the "muʻumuʻu", traditionally a Hawaiian dress, is pronounced MOO-moo by many mainland (colloquial term for the Continental U.S.) residents. However, many Hawaii residents have learned that the "ʻokina" in Hawaiian signifies a glottal stop. Thus, in the Hawaiian language, "muʻumuʻu" is pronounced [ˈmuʔuˈmuʔu] MOO-oo-MOO-oo. The pronunciations listed here are how it would sound in Hawaiian orthography.


Okina may refer to:

ʻOkina, a letter used in some Polynesian languages, visually resembling a left single quotation mark

Okina (翁) or Kashiwazaki Nenji (柏崎 念至), a character from the Rurouni Kenshin manga series

Okina, Spain, a village in the Basque Country

Okina (翁), a particular Japanese Noh, combining play/dance with Shinto ritual

Okina (翁), a Japanese satellite of the lunar orbiter SELENE (better known in Japan by its nickname Kaguya, かぐや)

Polynesian languages

The Polynesian languages form a language family spoken in geographical Polynesia and on a patchwork of outliers from south central Micronesia to small islands off the northeast of the larger islands of the southeast Solomon Islands and sprinkled through Vanuatu. Linguistic taxonomists classify them as a subgroup of the much larger and more varied Austronesian family, belonging to the Oceanic branch of that family.There are approximately forty Polynesian languages. The most prominent of these are Tahitian, Samoan, Tongan, Māori and Hawaiian. As humans first settled the Polynesian islands relatively recently and because internal linguistic diversification only began around 2,000 years ago, the Polynesian languages retain strong commonalities. There are still many cognate words across the different islands, for example: tapu, ariki, motu, kava, and tapa as well as Hawaiki, the mythical homeland for some of the cultures.

All Polynesian languages show strong similarity, particularly in vocabulary. The vowels are often stable in the descendant languages, nearly always a, e, i, o and u. Consonant changes tend to be quite regular. The legendary homeland of many Polynesian peoples, reconstructed as *sawaiki, appears as Hawaiki among the Māori of New Zealand with s replaced by h; but 'Avaiki in the Cook Islands with s replaced by the glottal stop, and w by v; as Hawai'i, the name of the largest island in the Hawaiian Islands, with s replaced by h, and k by the glottal stop; as Savai'i, the largest island in Samoa, with w replaced by v, and k by the glottal stop; and as Havai'i in the Society Islands with s replaced by h, w replaced by v, and k by the glottal stop.

Quotation marks in English

In English writing, quotation marks or inverted commas, also known informally as quotes, talking marks, speech marks, quote marks, quotemarks or speechmarks, are punctuation marks placed on either side of a word or phrase in order to identify it as a quotation, direct speech or a literal title or name. They are also used to indicate that the meaning of the word or phrase they surround should be taken to be different from (or, at least, a modification of) that typically associated with it (e.g. in the sentence the elite, composed by people of mixed ancestry, embraced their "whiteness" – the quotation marks modify the word whiteness to pertain to European culture rather than the colour white); in this way, they are often used to express irony. They also sometimes appear to be used as a means of adding emphasis, although this usage is usually considered incorrect.Quotation marks are written as a pair of opening and closing marks in either of two styles: single (‘...’) or double (“...”). Opening and closing quotation marks may be identical in form (called neutral, vertical, straight, typewriter, or "dumb" quotation marks), or may be distinctly left-handed and right-handed (typographic or, colloquially, curly quotation marks); see quotation mark glyphs for details. Typographic quotation marks are usually used in manuscript and typeset text. Because typewriter and computer keyboards lack keys to directly enter typographic quotation marks, much typed writing has neutral quotation marks. The "smart quotes" feature in some computer software can convert neutral quotation marks to typographic ones, but sometimes imperfectly.

The typographic closing double quotation mark and the neutral double quotation mark are similar to—and sometimes stand in for—the ditto mark and the double prime symbol. Likewise, the typographic opening single quotation mark is sometimes used to represent the ʻokina while either the typographic closing single quotation mark or the neutral single quotation mark may represent the prime symbol. Characters with different meanings are typically given different visual appearance in typefaces that recognize these distinctions, and they each have different Unicode code points. Despite being semantically different, the typographic closing single quotation mark and the typographic apostrophe have the same visual appearance and code point (U+2019), as do the neutral single quote and typewriter apostrophe (U+0027). (Despite the different code points, the curved and straight versions are sometimes considered multiple glyphs of the same character.)

Samoan Braille

Samoan Braille is the braille alphabet of the Samoan language. It is a subset of the basic braille alphabet,

supplemented by an additional letter ⠰ to mark long vowels:

Unlike print Samoan, which has a special letter ʻokina for the glottal stop, Samoan Braille uses the apostrophe ⠈, which behaves as punctuation rather than as a consonant. (See Hawaiian Braille, which has a similar setup.)

Samoan Braille has an unusual punctuation mark, a reduplication sign ⠙. This is used to indicate that a word is reduplicated, as in ⠎⠑⠛⠊⠙ segisegi "twilight".

Tahitian language

Tahitian (autonym Reo Tahiti, part of Reo Māꞌohi, languages of French Polynesia) is a Polynesian language, spoken mainly on the Society Islands in French Polynesia. It belongs to the Eastern Polynesian group.

As Tahitian had no written tradition before the arrival of the Western colonists, the spoken language was first transcribed by missionaries of the London Missionary Society in the early 19th century.


A unicase or unicameral alphabet is one that has no case for its letters. Telugu, Kannada, Tamil, Arabic, Old Hungarian, Hebrew, Iberian, Georgian, and Hangul are unicase alphabets, while (modern) Latin, Greek, Cyrillic, and Armenian are bicameral, as they have two cases for each letter, e.g., B/b, Β/β, Б/б, Բ/բ. Individual characters can also be called unicameral if they are used as letters with a generally bicameral alphabet but have only one form for both cases; for example, ʻokina (ʻ), used in Polynesian languages, and glottal stop (ʔ) as used in Nuu-chah-nuulth.

All alphabets with case were once unicase. Latin, for example, used to be written with a unicase alphabet in imperial Roman times; it was only later that scribes developed new sets of symbols for running text, which became the lower case of the Latin alphabet, while the letterforms of Ancient Rome came to be called capitals or upper case.

The Georgian alphabet, on the other hand, has developed in the other direction: in the medieval period, Georgian also had two sets of letters available for bicameral writing, but the use of two cases later gave way to a unicameral system. The ecclesiastical form of the Georgian alphabet, Khutsuri, had an upper case called Asomtavruli (like the Ancient Roman capitals) and a lower case called Nuskhuri (like the medieval Latin scribal forms). Out of Nuskhuri came a secular alphabet called Mkhedruli, which is the unicase Georgian alphabet in use today.

A unicase version of the Latin alphabet was proposed by Michael Mann and David Dalby in 1982 as a variation of the Niamey African Reference Alphabet. This version has apparently never been actively used. Another example of unicase Latin alphabet is the Initial Teaching Alphabet. Occasionally some fonts use unicase designs to create an unusual effect; this was particularly popular in the 1960s.

The International Phonetic Alphabet only uses lowercase Latin (and Greek) letters and some scaled upper-case letters (small caps), effectively making it a unicase alphabet, although it is not used for ordinary writing of any language.


Kahakuhaʻakoi Wahinepio (died 1826) was a Hawaiian chiefess and member of the royal family during the Kingdom of Hawaiʻi. Wahinepio means captive women in Hawaiian.

Sometimes she is called Wahineopiʻo, or an extra ʻokina is added, calling her Kahakuhaʻakoʻi.

She was also called Kamoʻonohu.

She was considered Kamehameha I's third favorite wife and served as female Governor of Maui, an act unheard of at the time in the western world, but common in Hawaiian history.

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