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to the body of written Old English literature covering a period of about four times as long, with a much larger population.
The introduction of writing, and contact with a third culture, led to a strengthening of Hawai'i's culture through Hawaiian documentation of practices disapproved by the American Calvinists. 20/ The Hawaiian newspapers (some of which had come into existence before 1900) were the primary means through which traditional and Western culture were communicated to the adult population. Hawaiian traditions were serialized in the newspapers along with translations of famous European works, such as those of Shakespeare. The newspapers were avidly read by a population that was one of the most, if not the most literate of its time. Literacy in the United States was in fact considerably deficient in comparison to the Hawaiians of the nineteenth century.
Most of the Hawaiian population actually learned to read and write largely through their own efforts prior to the missionary translation of the Bible in 1839, and even before the missionaries had standardized the alphabet they would use in their mission. This standardization occurred in the mid-1820's when missionaries voted to end the confusion between consonant pairs such as k and t, w and v, and b and p. This vote resulted in a decision to represent all native Hawaiian words with the symbols a, e, i, o, u, h, k, l, m, n, p, w, and to use other symbols only in spelling words of non-native origin. This alphabet was subsequently used in all Protestant mission and government publications, and although challenged for a period by a Catholic practice of occasionally using t, v, and r to represent k, w, and l, respectively, the same set of symbols has survived until today. In making their final decision on their alphabet, the American missionaries closely copied the decisions made by English missionaries in the South Pacific, and like the English failed to establish standards for the marking of phonemic vowel length and glottal stop. Correcting this defect was the first task of modern students of the Hawaiian language.
The glottal stop, or 'okina, is a phonemic consonant of Hawaiian and the length of vowels is also a phonemic feature distinguishing words. 21/ Neither of these are especially unusual features in world languages. English historically had a long/short contrast in its vowels and contemporary American English has a glottal stop. (For example, the word button pronounced bu'n differs from the word bun in pronunciation only by the presence of a glottal stop in most American dialects.) The early American missionaries were only vaguely aware that words written identically were somehow pronounced differently, and they sometimes referred to the effect of the phonemic glottal stop and vowel length as "accent" or "euphony." By 1864, the missionary grammarian Alexander had noted the importance of both the 'okina and vowel length, but he had difficulty in transcribing them and therefore made no attempt to use the symbols for them consistently in his writing.
Native Hawaiian speakers devised a method to indicate the presence of a long vowel, or 'okina, to eliminate the possibility of word ambiguity. A dash between consonants indicated a pronunciation including long vowels
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