Maui News

UH Maui College Professor Releases Hawaiian “Hulihua” Word Game

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PC: courtesy Keola Donaghy

Just in time for the start of “Mahina ‘Ōlelo Hawai‘i” (Month of the Hawaiian Language), University of Hawaiʻi Maui College Assistant Professor of Music Dr. Keola Donaghy has released a Hawaiian language version of the popular “Wordle” online game.

The Hawaiian game is named “Hulihua” and can be found at http://hulihua.net . It is played on the internet and users do not need to download a program to play. One new word is provided to players each day.

Like Wordle, players try to identify a five-letter word and receive hints from the game that help them solve it. Wordle was released in October 2021 and went viral quickly. “Hulihua” was created using Open Source code initially released by Hannah Park and later modified by Aidan Pine, a linguist and software developer from British Columbia. Park’s modifications empowered language activists such as Donaghy to create localized versions of “Wordle.”

“I thank Noelani Arista of McGill University in Canada for pointing me to Aidan and his work. Aidan helped me tremendously with the modifications to his code to create and deploy an ‘ōlelo Hawai‘i version of Wordle,” Donaghy said. “There are several other indigenous languages that have their own versions of this game and many more are under development. The fact that it happened so close to the start of Mahina ‘Ōlelo Hawai‘i makes it even more special.”

February was declared to be Mahina ‘Ōlelo Hawai‘i in 2012 to celebrate and encourage the use of the Hawaiian language. “This is a wonderful time to be learning ‘ōlelo Hawai‘i.” says UHMC Chancellor Lui Hokoana. “There are more classes and programs than ever, many available online, and having a growing number of learning resources like ‘Hulihua’ makes it even better.”

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The program currently contains a list of approximately 400 five-letter words assembled from some older texts. Donaghy says that while the vocaularly list is incomplete at this time, he will continue to expand the number of words in the coming months.

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Mākaukau anei? E pā‘ani! (Are you ready? Go play!)

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