It is notable for having a small phoneme inventory, like many of its Polynesian cousins. Especially notable is the fact that it lacks the phoneme /t/, one of only a few languages to lack such a phoneme. Its inventory consists of the consonants /p/, /k/, /ʻ/ (glottal stop or ‘okina, sometimes written as an opening single quote ‘), /m/, /n/, /w/ (sometimes rendered as [v]), /l/, /h/ and the vowels /a/, /e/, /i/, /o/, /u/. Vowel-length is phonemic, and long vowels are indicated in writing with macrons, known as kahakō.
Hawaiian is a member of the Austronesian language family, related to Samoan[?], Maori, Fijian[?], and other languages spoken throughout Polynesia, and more distantly to some Southeast Asian and Indian Ocean languages.
Hawaiian is a critically endangered language. Since 1900 the number of first language speakers of Hawaiian has fallen from 37,000 to 1,000, and half of these are in their seventies or eighties (see Ethnologue report below for citations).
On most of the Hawaiian islands, Hawaiian has been displaced by English and is no longer widely used as the daily language of communication. The exception to this is Niihau which because of its isolation still uses Hawaiian in daily communications.