Hawaiian Thought of the Week

Kai Nō: Why not?; I thought, presumed, or assumed (but it was not so)

Figuratively speaking in English, using “kai nō” in this manner can be seen as a colloquial way of saying something like, “I thought we were supposed to work on Friday, but it was a holiday,” as compared to the more formal example, “I had no prior knowledge that there was a holiday last week.”

Our kūpuna had a way with words and idioms. If you looked deep enough, you could find a response, which created balance in such a conversation in Hawaiian. An appropriate response to “kai nō” would be “eia kā” (“At last!” or “There it is!”). These phrases may also present themselves in situations other than verbally. You might even see it in action at work with keiki or caregivers. There may be some times that they don’t quite give a correct answer to a question or they thought they found the right solution but didn’t succeed, you know that they’re still trying to figure it out. That can be seen as an example of the term, “kai nō.”

When they do finally figure it out and that ‘light bulb’ goes on, that could be seen as an example of “eia kā.”