Sign spelling causes confusion

John Outland
John Outland
Gayle Harimoto
Gayle Harimoto
Russ Saito
Russ Saito

By Minna Sugimoto - bio | email

HONOLULU (KHNL) - Some have questioned the spelling of an often misused word on certain signs in Honolulu.

Just Google the word capital, spelled either with an "A" or an "O" and you'll find many explanations.

There's even a quiz to see just how well you know the different meanings of the word capital. This confusion has some on Oahu wondering if some signs around the Capitol are spelled wrong.

About two years ago, these signs were put up around the Capitol. It was a project to label certain buildings in the area.

Little did the State know that these signs would also be labeled with confusion.

"Whomever put out the signs didn't bother to open a dictionary and messed it up and put up the signs all over and wasted money," Honolulu resident John Outland said.

"I think the capital district with the "AL" versus Capitol building probably has two different meanings, so that's my best guess," Pearl City resident Gayle Harimoto said.

So is it capital with an "AL" or Capitol with an "OL?" We asked State comptroller Russ Saito for the answer.

"I actually reviewed all of the plans before we actually created the signs and asked the question at that time, how to spell, capital with an "A" or an "O," he said.

And here's his explanation.

"The capitol with an "O" refers very specifically to a site, site where the State Capitol sits, the idea was to capture the area around the Capitol," Saito said. "The capital with an "A" also stands for the Capital of the State, Honolulu is the Capital of the State, so the civic center, that has Honolulu Hale, plus the Capitol, is sort of like a Capital District."

Still others remain solid in their stance, just like the signs they question.

"Capitol is Capitol Building and the "AL" is money or capital letters, etc. and I think the sign should be, might be wrong, but should be Capitol District and Capitol Building, both should be "O," Outland said.

Whether it's an "O" or an "A," some feel overwhelmed just thinking about it.

"I'm retired, my brain doesn't work too well," Harimoto said. "The capital is so small, I can't really see it anyway, versus, the Capitol Building. I'm so old, so I have bad vision."

Bad vision or not, Saito says these signs are correct and here to stay. Saito tells us they even consulted with some linguists about the use and definition of the words.

He says the consensus was that capital with an "A" was a better, more descriptive use than Capitol with an "O."