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Want to know how to say ‘excuse me’ in Hawaiian? You’ve come to the right place. With its rich culture and history, the Hawaiian language has many interesting and poetic phrases you can use when needing to get someone’s attention or ask to be excused. If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: The most common Hawaiian phrase for ‘excuse me’ is ‘Aloha ‘oe’. Read on and we’ll explore this and other polite Hawaiian terms and phrases in more detail.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover the origins and meanings behind Hawaiian terms like ‘aloha ‘oe’, ‘ke kali nei au’, and ‘e kala mai’. You’ll learn how to pronounce them properly so you can use them seamlessly in everyday Hawaiian conversations and interactions. We’ll also look at the broader cultural context around politeness and manners in Hawaiian culture. By the end, you’ll be well-versed in all the main ways to say ‘excuse me’ in the Hawaiian language.

The Meaning and Use of ‘Aloha ‘Oe’

‘Aloha ‘oe’ is a beautiful Hawaiian phrase that translates to ‘love be with you’. It is commonly used as a way to bid farewell or say goodbye to someone. The word ‘aloha’ itself holds a deeper meaning in Hawaiian culture, encompassing love, affection, peace, and compassion. So when you say ‘aloha ‘oe’, you are essentially wishing that love and all these positive qualities remain with the person you are saying goodbye to.

It’s the most common way to say ‘excuse me’ in Hawaiian

While ‘aloha ‘oe’ is primarily used as a farewell greeting, it is also commonly used as a way to say ‘excuse me’ in Hawaiian. In Hawaiian culture, politeness and respect hold great importance, and ‘aloha ‘oe’ serves as a polite and respectful way to get someone’s attention or ask for permission to pass by.

How to pronounce ‘aloha ‘oe’ properly

Pronouncing ‘aloha ‘oe’ correctly can be a bit tricky for those unfamiliar with the Hawaiian language. The word ‘aloha’ is pronounced as “ah-LOH-hah,” with the stress on the second syllable. The ‘oe’ part is pronounced as “oh-ay.” So when combined, it is pronounced as “ah-LOH-hah oh-AY.” Remember to take your time and pronounce each syllable clearly to ensure proper communication.

When to use ‘aloha ‘oe’ – getting someone’s attention, asking to pass by, etc.

Knowing when to use ‘aloha ‘oe’ is essential to effectively communicate in Hawaiian culture. You can use ‘aloha ‘oe’ to get someone’s attention politely, especially in crowded areas or when someone is engaged in a conversation. It is also appropriate to say ‘aloha ‘oe’ when you need to ask someone to let you pass by, whether it’s on a narrow path or in a crowded room.

Remember, using ‘aloha ‘oe’ shows respect and demonstrates your understanding of Hawaiian culture. It’s a way to embrace the spirit of aloha and connect with the people and traditions of the beautiful Hawaiian islands.

‘Ke Kali Nei Au’ for ‘I’m Waiting’

Have you ever found yourself waiting for someone and wondering how to politely express your patience? In Hawaiian, you can use the phrase ‘Ke Kali Nei Au’ to convey the message ‘I’m waiting.’ This beautiful phrase encapsulates the spirit of the Hawaiian language and culture, allowing you to show respect and courtesy in any situation.

Meaning and translation of ‘ke kali nei au’

‘Ke Kali Nei Au’ translates to ‘I’m waiting’ in English. However, its meaning goes beyond a simple translation. It reflects the concept of being present in the moment and having the patience to wait for something or someone. In Hawaiian culture, time is seen as a fluid concept, and ‘Ke Kali Nei Au’ embodies the idea of embracing the present moment and being patient.

Proper pronunciation of the phrase

Pronouncing ‘Ke Kali Nei Au’ correctly can be a bit challenging for non-native speakers, but with a little practice, you’ll be able to articulate it with ease. Here’s a breakdown of the pronunciation:

  • ‘Ke’ – Pronounced as ‘keh’
  • ‘Kali’ – Pronounced as ‘kah-lee’
  • ‘Nei’ – Pronounced as ‘nay’
  • ‘Au’ – Pronounced as ‘ow’

When saying the phrase, remember to emphasize the syllables ‘Kali’ and ‘Au.’ Take your time to practice, and soon enough, you’ll be able to confidently use ‘Ke Kali Nei Au’ in conversations.

Politely telling someone you’re waiting for them to finish

‘Ke Kali Nei Au’ can also be used to politely tell someone that you’re waiting for them to finish what they are doing. Whether you’re in a restaurant waiting for the waiter to take your order or in a meeting waiting for someone to wrap up their presentation, using this phrase conveys your patience and respect for the other person’s time.

By using ‘Ke Kali Nei Au,’ you’re not only expressing your wait but also acknowledging the person’s presence and giving them the space to complete their task without interruption. It’s a courteous way to communicate your patience and willingness to wait.

Can also mean ‘Excuse me, may I have your attention?’

In addition to expressing patience, ‘Ke Kali Nei Au’ can also be used as a polite way to get someone’s attention. If you need to speak to someone or ask for help, you can say ‘Ke Kali Nei Au’ to politely request their attention.

By using this phrase, you’re signaling that you would like to have a conversation or ask a question without being intrusive or interrupting their current activity. It’s a respectful way to initiate communication and engage with others.

So, the next time you find yourself waiting or needing someone’s attention in Hawaii, remember to use ‘Ke Kali Nei Au.’ It’s a versatile phrase that embodies the spirit of patience, respect, and courtesy in the Hawaiian language.

‘E Kala Mai’ – Asking Forgiveness

In Hawaiian culture, the phrase ‘E Kala Mai’ holds significant meaning when it comes to asking for forgiveness. It is a powerful phrase that demonstrates humility and respect for others. The Hawaiian language is rich in its expressions of forgiveness, and ‘E Kala Mai’ is just one example of how Hawaiians convey their apologies.

The meaning behind ‘e kala mai’

‘E Kala Mai’ can be translated to “please forgive me” or “I’m sorry” in English. The phrase carries a sense of remorse and regret, acknowledging one’s actions and seeking forgiveness from the person they have wronged. It is a way to express genuine remorse and show a willingness to make amends.

How to say it correctly

Pronouncing ‘E Kala Mai’ correctly may initially pose a challenge for non-native speakers, but with practice, it can be mastered. The pronunciation of the phrase is as follows: “eh-kah-lah my.” It is important to note that the emphasis is placed on the first syllable of each word.

Asking forgiveness when needing to interrupt or pass by

In addition to its general meaning of asking for forgiveness, ‘E Kala Mai’ is often used as a polite way to ask for permission to interrupt or pass by someone. In Hawaiian culture, it is considered respectful to acknowledge someone’s presence and seek their forgiveness before intruding upon their personal space or conversation. This practice promotes harmony and shows consideration for others.

A very polite way to ask ‘excuse me’

‘E Kala Mai’ can be seen as the Hawaiian equivalent of saying “excuse me” in English. Just as saying “excuse me” demonstrates politeness and a recognition of others’ boundaries, ‘E Kala Mai’ fulfills the same purpose in Hawaiian culture. It is a way to navigate social situations with respect and consideration for those around you.

Next time you find yourself in Hawaii or interacting with Hawaiian culture, remember the phrase ‘E Kala Mai’ as a powerful tool for asking forgiveness and showing respect. By incorporating this phrase into your vocabulary, you can embrace the values of humility and consideration that are deeply rooted in Hawaiian culture.

The Cultural Context of Politeness in Hawaii

In Hawaiian culture, respectful communication is highly valued. Politeness is not just a formality, but an essential aspect of daily interactions. Hawaiians place great importance on showing respect and aloha (love) towards others, which is reflected in their language and communication style.

Respectful communication valued in Hawaiian culture

In Hawaii, respect for others is deeply rooted in the cultural fabric. The concept of “pono,” which means righteousness and balance, influences how Hawaiians communicate with one another. Polite speech is seen as a way to maintain harmony and uphold the values of the community.

It is common for Hawaiians to greet each other with a warm “aloha.” This word encompasses not only a greeting but also a genuine expression of love, compassion, and goodwill. Using “aloha” sets the tone for respectful communication and creates a welcoming atmosphere.

Focus on community and harmony

Hawaiian culture places a strong emphasis on community and togetherness. This collective mindset is evident in the way Hawaiians communicate politely. They prioritize the well-being of the group over individual needs and strive to maintain harmony in their interactions.

Polite phrases such as “mahalo” (thank you) and “please” are commonly used to show gratitude and consideration for others. These simple words go a long way in fostering positive relationships and creating a sense of unity within the community.

Polite phrases show regard for others

Hawaiians use various polite phrases to express regard and consideration for others. When asking for someone’s attention or apologizing for any inconvenience, they often say “excuse me” in a gentle and respectful manner.

For example, instead of forcefully demanding someone’s attention, they might say “E kala mai” (please forgive me) or “E ‘olu’olu e ho’olohe mai” (please listen to me). These phrases convey a sense of humility and politeness, ensuring that communication remains harmonious and respectful.

Not demanding – ‘excuse me’ is gently spoken

Hawaiians understand the importance of maintaining a calm and peaceful atmosphere. When saying “excuse me,” they do so in a gentle and non-demanding manner. This approach reflects their desire to preserve the harmony of the conversation and avoid causing any discomfort or offense.

By using polite phrases like “excuse me,” Hawaiians demonstrate their respect for others and their commitment to maintaining a positive and harmonious social environment.

Understanding the cultural context of politeness in Hawaii can help foster better relationships and communication with the locals. So, the next time you visit the beautiful islands, remember to embrace the spirit of aloha and use polite phrases to show your respect for the Hawaiian culture and its people.


As you can see, the Hawaiian language offers some beautiful and poetic ways to politely get someone’s attention and ask to be excused. Phrases like ‘aloha ‘oe’, ‘ke kali nei au’, and ‘e kala mai’ allow you to communicate respectfully and gracefully, reflecting the broader cultural values of harmony and community in Hawaii.

So next time you’re visiting the islands and need to squeeze past someone or interrupt a conversation, you’ll know just what to say. With proper pronunciation and context, you can seamlessly integrate these polite sayings into everyday interactions. The aloha spirit will shine through in your effort to speak a few words of Hawaiian.

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