Close this search box.

Hohole Samoka!

Cover Image: Masthead of Ka Nupepa Kuokoa published on April 20, 1895.

Image: “No Soudana,” Ka Nupepa Kuokoa, March 15, 1884, p. 2.


This article includes a brief summary of Sudan’s geography and inhabitants. The final paragraph reads: “This large land is inhabited by wild people of all ethnic groups of Arabia, and they number between thirty and forty million. Their appearance is frightful like no other people for they are their own enemies and they slaughter and eat one another.”

“Holoholo.” If you have spent an extended amount of time here in Hawaiʻi, this word should not be unfamilliar. You may have heard it from local fishermen in an attempt to conceal their intentions from their unsuspecting prey. You may have heard it from a group of aunties reveling at the idea of a leisurely shopping spree. At the very least, you may have seen it written alongside the tourist buses which frequent the streets of Waikīkī. What you may not know, though, is that “holoholo” is an example of what is known as a reduplication. Reduplication is a common feature of the Hawaiian language in which a word is completely or partially repeated, or “reduplicated,” with the purpose of altering its meaning slightly. Thus, “holoholo” is a full reduplication of the word “holo.” Where the latter may mean to “run,” the former means, generally to “run around” here and there. Another form of reduplication is what is called a “partial reduplication.” As the name implies, only a portion of the word is repeated––not the whole; “hoholo” would be an example of a partially-reduplicated “holo.”

Not all Hawaiian words are known to have reduplicated variations. “Kalakupua” and “mauli” are two examples.

If not all indigenous Hawaiian words can be reduplicated, it begs the question, can non-indigenous loan words be reduplicated?

“Enemy,” “broom,” and “holy” are all have been transliterated into the Hawaiian language as “ʻenemi,” “pūlumi,” and “hole” respectively. These selected articles show that the Hawaiian practice of reduplication can, and have, been applied to non-indigenous loan words. “ʻEnemi” becomes “ʻeneʻenemi,” “pūlumi” becomes “pulupulumi,” and “hole” becomes “hohole.”

Have you come across other English loan word reduplications? What about loan words from other languages?

Image: Hoikeikaoiaio. “Puhilolelole,” Ka Nupepa Kuokoa, April 20, 1895, p. 3.


This article deals with the subcontracting of roadwork on Maui by H. M. Hoehoe. “He gave twenty dollars to J. Kapaku Jr., forty to Kukami, and six dollars to J. K. Kanuiheana. The nature of the job he left to his roadwork subordinates, is this: Spreading over dirt, digging, and arranging, and sweeping away rocks off the cliffs.”

Image: “KELA A ME KEIA.,” Ka Makaainana, March 9, 1896, p. 8. “Hole samoka! Hohole Samoka!”


This is a regularly appearing column of the newspaper that is a collection of short news articles of all topics. This portion reads, “Holy smoke! Holy, holy smoke! The floating clouds are shady this morning. Dr. McLean is feeling better.”

This post is part of He Aupuni Palapala: Preserving and Digitizing the Hawaiian Language Newspapers, a partnership between Bishop Museum and Awaiaulu with assistance from Kamehameha Schools. Mahalo nui loa to Hawaii Tourism Authority for their support. Learn more about this project here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Sign up for our Newsletter

Nūhou Mondays

Introducing Nūhou Mondays

Member Spotlight

Paula Pua


Patience Namaka Wiggin