Does anyone know what "niihau" means in English? (Hawaiian)

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Does anyone know what "niihau" means in English? (Hawaiian)

Postby Boki » 2007-06-13, 19:49

how about molokai, lanai, kauai, kahoolawe?

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Postby Mamo » 2007-06-14, 11:47

I am unaware of the meaning of Ni‘ihau.

I can be somewhat sure of the translations of two names out of the eight main islands: Lāna‘i (triumphant day) and Kaho‘olawe (the carrying off). Also, Elbert suggested that Kaua‘i might be from kau (to place) and -a‘i ("transitivizing" suffix). If this is a possibility, I believe that it may also be possible that Moloka‘i is a combination of the word molo (to twist) and ka‘i ("transivitizing" suffix); however, to my knowledge this has never been proven.

The island Maui is named after the legendary Māui, but I am not sure of its meaning. One meaning for the Hawaiian word māui is "bruised, sprained." Still, his name persists throughout Polynesia, and for now, I'm not sure of what other meanings it may have in these other languages, nor what it originally meant in reference to his name.

As for the meanings of O‘ahu and Hawai‘i, I am unsure. According to Elbert in Place Names of Hawai‘i, their meanings have not been confirmed.

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Postby Nohola » 2007-10-24, 13:50

Mamo wrote:I believe that it may also be possible that Moloka‘i is a combination of the word molo (to twist) and ka‘i ("transivitizing" suffix); however, to my knowledge this has never been proven.

Some people on Molokai have the belief that "Moloka'i" is a new use, whereas the traditional pronunciation is Molokai. I've always said it without the 'okina, and a couple of my classmates claim to pronounce it with since they were young but I know I never heard that with a lot of residents when I was younger. Or maybe I never realized it. When speaking Hawaiian however, I tend to mute the 'okina quite a bit. :)
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Re: does anyone know what Niihau means in english?

Postby Nohola » 2007-10-24, 13:51

Boki wrote:how about molokai, lanai, kauai, kahoolawe?

The meanings may have been lost, but as far as I know, they were named after important people, namely chiefs. At least with Molokai, Hawai'i (a navigator actually, probably a chief too, and named after an ancestral homeland), O'ahu and Maui. The other islands, not sure.
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Postby Nero » 2007-10-24, 19:53

I thought the name Hawai'i, like the Maori word hawaiki (of course, glottal stops in Hawaiian are usually found as "k" in Maori), was the "mythical land to which some Polynesian cultures trace their origins". It also appears in Samoan as "Savai‘i"

According to Wikipedia, at least

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Postby ego » 2007-10-24, 20:11

Nero wrote:I thought the name Hawai'i, like the Maori word hawaiki (of course, glottal stops in Hawaiian are usually found as "k" in Maori), was the "mythical land to which some Polynesian cultures trace their origins". It also appears in Samoan as "Savai‘i"

According to Wikipedia, at least


Correct. I read a book "Hawaiki, reconstructing ancestral Polynesia" and this is the definition it gives. Most probably Savai'i, Tonga or Fiji is the original Hawaiki according to the author of that book, professor Kirch.

What surprised me is what wikipedia mentions about Tongan hou'eiki to be a cognate! :shock: I knew it as the "irregular plural form" of the word 'eiki = chief. It seems Taumoefolau, a Tongan professor in the Uni of Auckland supports this.

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Postby Ariki » 2007-10-25, 4:22

What surprised me is what wikipedia mentions about Tongan hou'eiki to be a cognate! I knew it as the "irregular plural form" of the word 'eiki = chief. It seems Taumoefolau, a Tongan professor in the Uni of Auckland supports this


I just saw her last week. Her Tongan language class girls performed a traditional Tongan dance - one from French Polynesia :lol: (the song is called Fakateretere and is Tuamotuan Māori. Tuamotuan is closer to New Zealand Māori than Tongan.).

her idea that "hou'eiki" is a cognate makes me cry.

Why?

because in Niuean "Hawaiki" is "Hauiki" because they borrowed it directly from Māori. I think she got her idea from that. Please, what ever you do, don't take her assertion seriously.

Hou'eiki is not a cognate for Hawaiki. It's cognate to Māori 'hau ariki'.

And the reconstructed form in Proto-Nuclear Polynesian btw is *Sawaiki.
was the "mythical land to which some Polynesian cultures trace their origins"


If you mean mythical as non-existant well that's not true.

Hawaiki does exist. And further more, there isn't just one. There are multiple Hawaiki. Hawai'i just happens to be the most famous of them all.
Linguicide IS genocide. :)

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Postby Nohola » 2007-10-25, 6:07

riki wrote:
was the "mythical land to which some Polynesian cultures trace their origins"


If you mean mythical as non-existant well that's not true.

Hawaiki does exist. And further more, there isn't just one. There are multiple Hawaiki. Hawai'i just happens to be the most famous of them all.

I'm glad you brought this up. I was going to, but I clicked on that wikipedia page and saw that they had a link for "mythical place" and read what they wrote about that. And I shared that page with my Nish friend and just said, "So what do you think?" So we've been discussing it tonight. I always do not like it when they refer to our oral traditions as "myth". But that definition (mythical place) seems like a Wikipedia definition only and when I looked up the word "mythical" in the dictionary, one of the definitions did say that it's an adjective, based on or told of in traditional stories; lacking factual basis or historical validity. But that last part, "lacking factual basis or historical validity" tells me that they still view our stories as "myth". Of course we never hear about "religion" and stories tied to various referred to as myths. And that's b/c they see us as tribal, primitive and animistic, therefore not credible as "religion".
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Postby ego » 2007-10-25, 12:28

Nohola wrote:
riki wrote:
was the "mythical land to which some Polynesian cultures trace their origins"


If you mean mythical as non-existant well that's not true.

Hawaiki does exist. And further more, there isn't just one. There are multiple Hawaiki. Hawai'i just happens to be the most famous of them all.

I'm glad you brought this up. I was going to, but I clicked on that wikipedia page and saw that they had a link for "mythical place" and read what they wrote about that. And I shared that page with my Nish friend and just said, "So what do you think?" So we've been discussing it tonight. I always do not like it when they refer to our oral traditions as "myth". But that definition (mythical place) seems like a Wikipedia definition only and when I looked up the word "mythical" in the dictionary, one of the definitions did say that it's an adjective, based on or told of in traditional stories; lacking factual basis or historical validity. But that last part, "lacking factual basis or historical validity" tells me that they still view our stories as "myth". Of course we never hear about "religion" and stories tied to various referred to as myths. And that's b/c they see us as tribal, primitive and animistic, therefore not credible as "religion".


Don't oppose the word "myth". We all know that myths usually refer to real facts. They are called myths because the facts are presented enriched with supernatural elements and quite altered, but for sure the real story does exist.
My guess, although I am not a specialist in Polynesian history, is that as Polynesians kept migrating for centuries from island to island, they tended to miss their old abodes and make tales about them, adding supernatural and exaggerating descriptions about them. So I guess that Hawaiki is for them the islands they used to live before they migrated to the new ones. This is why I wrote that Samoa, Tonga or the Lau islands of Fiji seem like the most probable Hawaiki. All Polynesians started their voyages from there.


riki wrote:her idea that "hou'eiki" is a cognate makes me cry.

Why?

because in Niuean "Hawaiki" is "Hauiki" because they borrowed it directly from Māori. I think she got her idea from that. Please, what ever you do, don't take her assertion seriously.

Hou'eiki is not a cognate for Hawaiki. It's cognate to Māori 'hau ariki'.

And the reconstructed form in Proto-Nuclear Polynesian btw is *Sawaiki.


So in Niuean, unlike Tongan, the word Hawaiki is known..

Your point seems reasonable. I guess *Sawaiki would turn into Havaiki in Tongan.. besides I guess there's no such example of a PPN *w turning into a glottal stop, right? So I cannot explain the glottal stop in hou'eiki.
I wonder what the origin of this prefix hou- is though.. I haven't encountered it in other words. Is it found in other words of Maori, besides hau ariki?

However her thought about combining the ancestral land with the chiefs, old deities etc seems quite smart and logical

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Postby Nohola » 2007-10-25, 13:31

ego wrote:Don't oppose the word "myth". We all know that myths usually refer to real facts. They are called myths because the facts are presented enriched with supernatural elements and quite altered, but for sure the real story does exist.

But I don't believe that when people use "myth" that they actually have that in mind. At least not with indigenous stories. As a suggestion, since we do call them MO'OLELO, which is translated as "story", although the dictionary may also have "myth" and "fable" under the definition which is obvious that it was inserted to cover the English definition, that we think of it as a story.

The word can be broken down with 'olelo which I know you already know, but also mo'o in the sense of succession, as in to pass down something in sequence, as well as meaning "story".

Being this is a language forum, and on the Hawaiian language, another proposal would be to talk about our culture and our language, or "understand" it from a Hawaiian perspective. I've had similar arguments with people who are confused why their language is referred to as a dialect or vice versa by different people, such as linguists. I ask them what is the word for "dialect" in their language? Turns out, the word they use translates to "language". So I let them know that the western world has viewed their culture differently, nothing more.

My guess, although I am not a specialist in Polynesian history, is that as Polynesians kept migrating for centuries from island to island, they tended to miss their old abodes and make tales about them, adding supernatural and exaggerating descriptions about them.


So do you believe that only our stories can be known as "myth" because the assumption is that there are exaggerations whereas something like the bible and any other stories written down, including what's written in today's newspapers/magazines are not myths?

It's hard for me to "not oppose" the term "myth" that is almost consistently used for our stories and traditions. Given your explanation, it's like saying that what my cousin taught me about our family genealogy which was passed down to her from our ancestors generation after generation may have embellishments. That doesn't mean however, that there wasn't any because I myself could add some and pass those embellishments on. But the use of myth on our stories compared to any other person's story, tells me that our traditions need to be scrutinized whereas anything of western society does not.


So I guess that Hawaiki is for them the islands they used to live before they migrated to the new ones. This is why I wrote that Samoa, Tonga or the Lau islands of Fiji seem like the most probable Hawaiki. All Polynesians started their voyages from there.

While I know this for a fact, the way it was told to me back in the 70s was something like, "we have stories of where our ancestors came from." That of course was in English and the word they used was "story", not "myth".
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Postby ego » 2007-10-25, 18:03

I'm not going to enter a debate about the use of the word "myth", nor I'll follow your intention to blame Westerners and their customs. That would terribly bore me.
The Bible is a myth too by the way. If you want to call the hooking of islands by Maui "history", it's up to you. Everyone has his own views and responsibilities on history

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Postby Nohola » 2007-10-26, 1:31

ego wrote:I'm not going to enter a debate about the use of the word "myth", nor I'll follow your intention to blame Westerners and their customs. That would terribly bore me.
The Bible is a myth too by the way. If you want to call the hooking of islands by Maui "history", it's up to you. Everyone has his own views and responsibilities on history

I understand. Perhaps it would've been best then to not even address it at the beginning, right? :) I mean if it really would've bored you, you wouldn't have bothered responding to my comment but rather address the question asked by Boki. And please don't turn this into a native blaming a Westerner issue. I need everyone to understand from a native's perspective, not from how you define/prefer we should view things.

The hooking of the islands is obviously has poetic, or more accurately metaphormic meaning behind it. It has been explained by some people as describing amazing feats and, in the case of Polynesia that it was nothing more than people discovering unknown lands common among Polynesians which is why they believe they thought "Maui" was a name perhaps attached to discoverers.

Not everyone views the bible as myth though and I'm going to guess that you're not a Christian. At least the christians I've been exposed to I've never heard them say "myths from the bible".

In any case, my main point here, it's best to get a native's perspective on things and I've brought it up with Mamo before which he now understands. It's easy to learn any language. But to learn it without understanding the culture is like learning to read without understanding the full potential.
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Postby Nohola » 2007-10-26, 1:49

Mamo wrote:The island Maui is named after the legendary Māui, but I am not sure of its meaning.

Most of the kupuna have said that many of the island names have lost their meanings anyway. My thinking is if they don't know, it probably was a foreign name.

I've heard that the island was possibly named of the demigod too and that's b/c of the stories related to Haleakala, but I read (not told) that it was named after the chief Mauiloa who lived 27 generations before Kamehameha. Many famous Maui and Hawai'i chiefs descend from Mauiloa such as Piilani, his son Kiha and grandson Kamalalawalu , as well as Kahekili, Kiwala'o, Keopuolani, Kaahumanu and Kamehameha II, III, IV and V.
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Postby Ariki » 2007-10-26, 3:50

I'm glad you brought this up. I was going to, but I clicked on that wikipedia page and saw that they had a link for "mythical place" and read what they wrote about that. And I shared that page with my Nish friend and just said, "So what do you think?" So we've been discussing it tonight. I always do not like it when they refer to our oral traditions as "myth". But that definition (mythical place) seems like a Wikipedia definition only and when I looked up the word "mythical" in the dictionary, one of the definitions did say that it's an adjective, based on or told of in traditional stories; lacking factual basis or historical validity. But that last part, "lacking factual basis or historical validity" tells me that they still view our stories as "myth". Of course we never hear about "religion" and stories tied to various referred to as myths. And that's b/c they see us as tribal, primitive and animistic, therefore not credible as "religion".


I updated the Wikipedia page to give indigenous Polynesian understandings more justic although it is far from acceptable in the state that it is now.

It makes me really annoyed that they put up that 'Avaiki only refers to the underworld as that is completely wrong. I have a reference that says otherwise, but more importantly than that, 'Avaiki is just as real a place as Rarotonga itself is.

In fact, 'Avaiki is real. There's one in Tahiti called Ra'iatea. Tahiti (Rarotongan) is also 'Avaiki. As well as Tupua'i (Aitutakian).

Your point seems reasonable. I guess *Sawaiki would turn into Havaiki in Tongan.. besides I guess there's no such example of a PPN *w turning into a glottal stop, right? So I cannot explain the glottal stop in hou'eiki.
I wonder what the origin of this prefix hou- is though.. I haven't encountered it in other words. Is it found in other words of Maori, besides hau ariki?


Hou'eiki is actually two words fossilized into one.

The hou comes from PPN *sau which means 'power'.

Maori has 'hau', Rarotongan has 'au, Tahitian has 'hau'. And I bet Hawai'ian has *hau.

If we take away the glottal stop it would be *Houeiki...see the bias here? (Tongan does not have 'w' but can use a diphthong combination with u to create 'w' which is a glide resultant of going from back to front in pronouncing vowels). We know *w is reconstructable. At the PCE level, it was definately *w and not *v because Tahitian, Tongarevan and Maori change 0 to w in some vowel glides e.g. PCE *ko ai tou ingoa? becomes Proto-Tahitic *ko wai tou ingoa?, PCE *au becomes Proto-Tahitic *wau e.g. *ko au = *ko wau. *w becomes v except in Maori where it is retained.

The Proto-Polynesian reconstructed form of hou'eiki would be *sau ?ariki

This is why I wrote that Samoa, Tonga or the Lau islands of Fiji seem like the most probable Hawaiki. All Polynesians started their voyages from there.


I'd call that region "Pulotu" with Hawaiki being Savai'i.

However her thought about combining the ancestral land with the chiefs, old deities etc seems quite smart and logical


Smart and logical, but completely dependant on PPN having *v and not *w despite the evidence showing that *w is the likely form and not *v.

It's easy to learn any language. But to learn it without understanding the culture is like learning to read without understanding the full potential.


Amen.

I praise Mamo for his serious study of the language. And I know that if (and he does) apply that knowledge in understanding culture he will be someone to be reckoned with.

But I don't believe that when people use "myth" that they actually have that in mind. At least not with indigenous stories. As a suggestion, since we do call them MO'OLELO, which is translated as "story", although the dictionary may also have "myth" and "fable" under the definition which is obvious that it was inserted to cover the English definition, that we think of it as a story.


Our word, kōrero, I tend to prefer to translate as 'account' because 'story' still brings up the images I associate with 'myth' (i.e. untrue, implausible). At least with an account, it is open to being true or false, embellished or unembellished. The word promises nothing.

Though, that's for me anyway. I wonder how others feel?
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Postby Nohola » 2007-10-26, 13:18

riki wrote:In fact, 'Avaiki is real. There's one in Tahiti called Ra'iatea. Tahiti (Rarotongan) is also 'Avaiki. As well as Tupua'i (Aitutakian).

Is Tupua'i the same as Tubuai?

Ra'iatea is the new name of the island while the old name is Havai'i. So I can see why the stories mention 'Avaiki pointing towards what is now known as Ra'iatea.

Our word, kōrero, I tend to prefer to translate as 'account' because 'story' still brings up the images I associate with 'myth' (i.e. untrue, implausible). At least with an account, it is open to being true or false, embellished or unembellished. The word promises nothing.

Interesting to know. Before you even addressed the issue of "myth", I was talking to my Nish friend about it and she mentioned "legend", another term I don't care for, but she explained it (legend) is not the same as myth. But the dictionary says for both entries that they're synonymous with each other. But the term "legend" is what I heard growing up and I viewed that as not true.
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Postby Ariki » 2007-10-26, 23:07

kia ora,

Tupua'i and Tahiti also qualify as 'Avaiki since those are places of "origin" as well for the Aitutakians and Rarotongans.

But certainly, Havai'i Nui is the "real" Hawaiki Nui. The North Island is said to be the Hawaiki of the Moriori peoples.

Ra'iatea is the new name of the island while the old name is Havai'i. So I can see why the stories mention 'Avaiki pointing towards what is now known as Ra'iatea.


The 'new' name for Havai'i is at least 1000 years old since 'Rangiatea' is remembered as an alternative name for the island. However, it would be in the interests of the French to keep the name Ra'iatea as having it appear as Havai'i or Havai'i Nui would pose a threat (it would mean that Ma'ohi culture is just international like French).

But the term "legend" is what I heard growing up and I viewed that as not true.


When I grew up, I used to hear the word 'legend' and 'myth' but personally I saw them as what I labelled as 'stories' that later became accounts because at the time I was growing up my vocabulary didn't include words like 'histories' and 'accounts' or 'chronicles'. So I stored them under stories under the proviso that I'd find a new label for them when I could.
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Postby Nohola » 2007-10-27, 0:38

riki wrote:Tupua'i and Tahiti also qualify as 'Avaiki since those are places of "origin" as well for the Aitutakians and Rarotongans.

Understandable too.

But certainly, Havai'i Nui is the "real" Hawaiki Nui. The North Island is said to be the Hawaiki of the Moriori peoples.

Oddly enough, we may not have Hawai'inui in our stories (at least none that I'm aware of), there is Hawai'iloa, a navigator who settled on the island of Hawai'i and they say it was named after him.


Ra'iatea is the new name of the island while the old name is Havai'i. So I can see why the stories mention 'Avaiki pointing towards what is now known as Ra'iatea.


The 'new' name for Havai'i is at least 1000 years old since 'Rangiatea' is remembered as an alternative name for the island.

I forgot the story of why Ra'iatea was named that. Had to do with the chief's daughter on that island.
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Postby Mamo » 2007-10-27, 0:48

Nohola wrote:
Mamo wrote:I believe that it may also be possible that Moloka‘i is a combination of the word molo (to twist) and ka‘i ("transivitizing" suffix); however, to my knowledge this has never been proven.

Some people on Molokai have the belief that "Moloka'i" is a new use, whereas the traditional pronunciation is Molokai. I've always said it without the 'okina, and a couple of my classmates claim to pronounce it with since they were young but I know I never heard that with a lot of residents when I was younger. Or maybe I never realized it. When speaking Hawaiian however, I tend to mute the 'okina quite a bit. :)


Aloha kaua Nohola :D. Pehea mai nei 'oe? Hau'oli no au i kau ho'i 'ana mai e ho'ike mai ia makou i kou mana'o :D.

I have heard something to that effect before too. What you're saying is definitely a possibility. Some native speakers from there believe that the name may be refering to the churning of the sea.

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Postby Nohola » 2007-10-27, 0:54

Mamo wrote:
Nohola wrote:
Mamo wrote:I believe that it may also be possible that Moloka‘i is a combination of the word molo (to twist) and ka‘i ("transivitizing" suffix); however, to my knowledge this has never been proven.

Some people on Molokai have the belief that "Moloka'i" is a new use, whereas the traditional pronunciation is Molokai. I've always said it without the 'okina, and a couple of my classmates claim to pronounce it with since they were young but I know I never heard that with a lot of residents when I was younger. Or maybe I never realized it. When speaking Hawaiian however, I tend to mute the 'okina quite a bit. :)


Aloha kaua Nohola :D. Pehea mai nei 'oe? Hau'oli no au i kau ho'i 'ana mai e ho'ike mai ia makou i kou mana'o :D.

I have heard something to that effect before too. What you're saying is definitely a possibility. Some native speakers from there believe that the name may be refering to the churning of the sea.

If ever I get to speak to my cousin's grandma again, the one whom I learned Hawaiian from, I'll have to ask her about that. Because I heard of this through people who are not from Molokai and younger than me. How they heard that, I don't know but that's what I was told. I'm sure though that in the immersion school everyone uses MOLOKA'I. Out of habit though, I always say Molokai. :D

P.S., do you ever use SKYPE or WINDOWS MSGR or anything like that? YOUTUBE? I hate writing and prefer to practice speaking. I'm really lazy at writing to be honest.
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Postby Mamo » 2007-10-27, 1:56

Nohola wrote:
Mamo wrote:
Nohola wrote:
Mamo wrote:I believe that it may also be possible that Moloka‘i is a combination of the word molo (to twist) and ka‘i ("transivitizing" suffix); however, to my knowledge this has never been proven.

Some people on Molokai have the belief that "Moloka'i" is a new use, whereas the traditional pronunciation is Molokai. I've always said it without the 'okina, and a couple of my classmates claim to pronounce it with since they were young but I know I never heard that with a lot of residents when I was younger. Or maybe I never realized it. When speaking Hawaiian however, I tend to mute the 'okina quite a bit. :)


Aloha kaua Nohola :D. Pehea mai nei 'oe? Hau'oli no au i kau ho'i 'ana mai e ho'ike mai ia makou i kou mana'o :D.

I have heard something to that effect before too. What you're saying is definitely a possibility. Some native speakers from there believe that the name may be refering to the churning of the sea.

If ever I get to speak to my cousin's grandma again, the one whom I learned Hawaiian from, I'll have to ask her about that. Because I heard of this through people who are not from Molokai and younger than me. How they heard that, I don't know but that's what I was told. I'm sure though that in the immersion school everyone uses MOLOKA'I. Out of habit though, I always say Molokai. :D

P.S., do you ever use SKYPE or WINDOWS MSGR or anything like that? YOUTUBE? I hate writing and prefer to practice speaking. I'm really lazy at writing to be honest.


In reference to Molokai, I'm digging back a few years in my memory, so I could be wrong. It would definitely be great if you could get your cousin's grandma's opinion :D.

I use Windows Messenger, but I don't currently have the hardware necessary for voip. Plus I'm using dial up. I need to upgrade big time :silly:


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