Hawaii Board on Geographic Names

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Several years ago, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) began updating the 1:24,000 quadrangle maps of Hawai‛i.  One of the features of the updated maps was to be the addition of diacritical marks to the Hawaiian names.  The Hawai‛i Board on Geographic Names, which is responsible for designating official names and spellings of geographic features in Hawai‛i, has undertaken a multi-year project, reviewing each name that appears on the quadrangle maps and in the U.S. Geographic Names Information System (GNIS) and adding the ‛okina and kahakō, or diacritical marks, as appropriate.  The lists below are the decisions that have been rendered so far by the Board.  Since this is an ongoing process, new names will be added to the list until all quadrangles have been reviewed.  It should also be noted that the Board has adopted a policy of only adding diacritical marks where there is solid evidence that there should be an ‛okina kahakō.  Therefore, there are many instances where no decision has been rendered and the Board has advised USGS to leave the name without any diacritical marks until further research can be conducted.  As a general rule of thumb, the Board has used the book, Place Names of Hawai‛i (Pukui, Elbert & Mookini), supplemented with the recommendations of ‛Ahahui  ‛Ōlelo Hawai‛i.  The Board has deviated from these sources when other experts, such as native Hawaiian speaking elders from a particular area, have provided alternative pronunciations.

Additional projects that have recently been undertaken by the Hawai‛i Board are to reorganize the spreadsheets to make them more understandable, to document guidelines that have been followed when making decisions in the past, and to create a document that describes the guidelines that are currently being followed.

Status by Island: