Glyph of the word 'iku'.


  • (n.) character or glyph of the Kamakawi writing system
  • (n.) a shell necklace with a Kamakawi glyph carved into it
  • (v.) to be covered in scrimshaw
  • (n.) word

A fatu tomi o ei ti no iku.
“My name comprises three characters.”

Notes: After doing my first post, I realized that some crucial information regarding the nature of words in Kamakawi is required to understand the categories. Kamakawi orthography comprises a large set of characters or glyphs, much like Chinese. And while words can consist of a single glyph, more than one glyph, or fewer than one glyph, the idea of a “word” is somewhat subordinate to the idea of iku.

As such, words and phrases, as their understood, are defined by iku. This results in several types. The two major types you’ll see listed in the category section to the right. They are foma, which are words that consist of exactly one iku (fans of Vonnegut might find that coinage amusing), and hikuiku, which are words that consist of more than one iku.

The first group, foma, can be further subdivided based on how the single glyph was constructed (or is supposed to have been constructed originally). There are six types of glyphs, which are described below:

  • Ikuiku: So-called “true glyphs”, these are pictographs which look like what they are a picture of (or at least the glyphs looked like the original meaning they were intended to convey).
  • Ikunoala: These glyphs comprise two or more syllabic glyphs, and can pretty much be read as they’re spelled.
  • Iku’ui: These glyphs are some combination of the previous two (usually a syllabic glyph modifying one or more ikuiku).
  • Iku’ume: These “turned” glyphs are slightly modified versions of other glyphs (usually the addition of an otherwise meaningless stroke, or a change in orientation).
  • Ikuleyaka: These glyphs have some sort of basic graphic element that is modified by one of Kamakawi’s old determinatives. These determinatives are no longer productive, but they used to encode basic semantic categories as a way of helping a reader to figure out which word was meant.
  • Ikunima’u: These “mixed glyphs” are anything else—basically anything that can’t be easily identified or categorized.

So that explains the categories on the sidebar. Perhaps I should put this information somewhere easily accessible and not merely in a post on the blog… Oh well. That’s a task for another day.

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