Archive for January, 2010


• Thursday, January 21st, 2010

Glyph of the word 'uela'.


  • (n.) moss

A nana Lita i uela te leya.
“Lisa licks moss off a rock.”

Notes: So, my dictionary entry actually reads as follows: “the moss that grows on the land, specifically in moist areas, like rain forests or swamps.” I find this a bit perplexing, since moss can’t grow underwater. Huh.

Anyway, I’ve always liked moss. It’s like a nice, soft carpet.

Oh, and in case you’re wondering why I’ve included a food tag in this entry (and what’s up with the sample sentence), it comes from the Simpsons episode “Das Bus”, wherein Lisa, being a vegetarian, licks moss off a rock for sustenance, while the rest of the kids eat a wild boar. The sentence above is the actual stage direction from the script.


• Wednesday, January 20th, 2010

Glyph of the word 'ole'.


  • (v.) to spontaneously rejoice because of something unexpected that has happened
  • (n.) spontaneous rejoicing
  • (adj.) rejoicing

A hame ei i kamowoipaka! He ole uei ie ki!
“I’m 29! Let’s celebrate the day!”

Notes: Today is my 29th birthday, so I figured I should have something festive on the word of the day. Ooh, I know! How about a dolphin birthday greeting!

A dolphin wishing me happy birthday.

The word ole is a tribute to my Mexican heritage. Unfortunately, the glyph doesn’t really make much sense… You see, what I think I was trying to do was use the syllabic glyph for ho, which is identical to the glyph for hopoko (“man”), and then superimpose the syllabic glyph for o over it (those would be the vertical and horizontal lines in the lower right hand corner). Unfortunately, that’s not what’s there. Instead, it looks like I took part of the syllabic glyphs for o and le (a very small part of the latter) and glommed them onto the syllabic glyph for ei, which is the word for “I”. This might make sense if the word were olei, but it isn’t… So I’m not sure what’s going on with this.

But no matter! I choose to interpret this iku as having the glyph for “I” in it because I’m having a birthday! Yeah, that’s the ticket. I meant it to be that way all along…


• Tuesday, January 19th, 2010

Glyph of the word 'ikea'.


  • (n.) halibut

…takeke ikea ie elelake…
“…like a halibut in the sky…”

Notes: I’ll freely admit that I do carry within me a lot of guilt when it comes to eating meat. I really do love animals very much—all of them—and yet… I mean, I come from a culture where a meal without meat isn’t a meal.

Regarding today’s post, I love halibut. I love seafood in general, but halibut especially. I don’t get it often, but I rarely pass up an opportunity when I can.

In case you’re still wondering about the example sentence above, halibut have this very characteristic diamond-shape, and the iku for ikea is inspired by it. The top, actually, is a shape used in a ton of iku, most notably that for keva, “shark”. The bottom half is self-explanatory.


• Monday, January 18th, 2010

Glyph of the word 'hiaka'.


  • (n.) octopus

Ka liwi ipe hiaka ie o’opo li’i poiu!
“That octopus stole my coconut!”

Notes: The octopus is a remarkable creature. If you’ve never seen one in real life, I suggest you take a look at this video (which, by the way, inspired the sample sentence above). I have a lot of respect for octopuses—partially due to the fact that there is simply no correct or universally accepted way to pluralize the word for “octopus” in English.

The glyph itself is actually comprised of the syllabic glyphs hi, a and ka. The older glyphs of this type were built in a particular way, and have evolved in bizarre ways over the course of the history of Kamakawi. With hiaka, look for the hi on top (the part that looks like a squiggly t), followed to the lower left by a great big “x” (that would be a), and then the whole thing is capped by the ka on the right.

Despite the fact that I created this iku and can still trace its origin, I look at it and think, for whatever reason, that it looks like an octopus. It doesn’t (there are only seven legs, after all, and it’s octopus, not septapus), of course, but I can’t shake it. That crazy glyph that kind of looks like an English upper case cursive “G” will till the end of my days remind me of an octopus.


• Sunday, January 17th, 2010

Glyph of the word 'foma'.


  • (n.) a word comprising exactly one iku (character)

Tomi o ei i foma.
“My name is a single character.”

Notes: I figure it was about time I introduce the last of my categories (i.e. hikuiku, or words comprising more than one iku). The word foma, though it means “a word of only one iku“, is itself a word comprising more than one iku (in this case, two). There are thousands of such words in Kamakawi, but this is the first one introduced on the Word of the Day blog. Huzzah!

This word in particular has a special history. The form comes from Kurt Vonnegut’s novel Cat’s Cradle: a remarkable tale about the extinction of all life on Earth. In the book, Vonnegut creates a religion called Bokononism (which itself is fascinating) defined entirely by a series of made-up words (supposed to be from a fictional language, but not fleshed out, or otherwise conlinguistically interesting). One of these words is foma. Foma are harmless lies that are told with the intention of doing good, or perhaps being useful.

Awhile back, I realized I didn’t have any vocabulary for discussing the writing system. In particular, it became important to distinguish between words of exactly one iku, and words of more than one iku. Thus was born foma: a word for words of one iku that is itself more than one iku. Thus, foma is not a foma—but that, of course, is just foma.

Regarding the example sentence above, Kamakawi names are prized more highly if they comprise a single character—that is, if they are foma. Why? Eh. Who knows? More basic? Cleaner? More powerful? Perhaps some combination of all the above. Anyway, the need to explain this point gave rise to the word, and so here it is.

(Note: Regarding the form, it’s simply the syllabic glyphs for fo and ma in that order.)


• Saturday, January 16th, 2010

Glyph of the word 'puka'.


  • (n.) door, doorway, gate, gateway, entryway
  • (v.) to close (a/the) door
  • (v.) to disallow, to prevent, to bar

Ka puka nea ie puka o puka ti’i.
“She prevented me from closing the door.”

Notes: Kind of a silly example, but it shows all the uses of puka. Originally, puka was kind of the way through a fence or barricade. Then it came to be used for the gate (the thing that closed it off). Then that was applied to doorways, and then, when they were introduced, to doors.

I suppose there’s kind of a glass half-empty/half-full thing going on here. A door either prevents someone from getting in, or allows someone to get in. Similarly, when one interacts with a door, one can either open it, or close it. Evidently I chose “close”, and the “prevent” meaning is drawn from it. I think this may be indicative of my inherently pessimistic outlook on things. Oh well. I’ll keep on truckin'; trying to see the brighter side of things…


• Friday, January 15th, 2010

Glyph of the word 'kaneko'.


  • (n.) cat

Au noto kaneko!
“Cats are cool!”

Notes: Iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiit’s Caturday! Hooray cats!

This week’s cat word is: cat! This particular word has a special origin. It comes from the name of the first cat I ever knew: Kaneko. Kaneko was my grandfather’s cat, and he was quite a cat.

Speaking of cats, you know who else is quite a cat? My cat, Okeo! Here’s another picture of Okeo:

Another picture of my cat Okeo.


• Thursday, January 14th, 2010

Glyph of the word 'lelea'.


  • (n.) water
  • (adj.) watery, liquid
  • (v.) to give water to (something like “to feed”, but with water)
  • (v.) to water (as in to put water on), to wet

A ivi nivu o lelea i’i.
“I like drinking water.”

Notes: Water. Pretty important. I hear we die without it, we humans. I’ve yet to die or go without water, so I can’t comment.

I like water, myself. It’s very blue. And cool. And liquid. Hooray water!


• Wednesday, January 13th, 2010

Glyph of the word 'kepi'.


  • (n.) son

Oku ia ie kepi oi’i oku!
“You are not my son!”

Notes: Thou art banishèd! Heh, heh…

You know, there should be more to this word than what there is. There really, really ought to be. I’m half-inclined to make up another definition for this word. It can’t just mean “son”. Hmm…

Well what about in English? It pretty much just means “son”. Even “daughter” has more uses than “son” (daughter languages, etc.). Huh. Wonder why…


• Tuesday, January 12th, 2010

Glyph of the word 'tape'.


  • (n.) net, netting
  • (v.) to catch someone or something in a net, to net something
  • (adj.) caught in a net

Tape ti ivupu; itava’u ti inoto.
“Caught in a web; removed from the world.”

Notes: Everybody! “Hanging on by a thread; spinning the lies; devised in my head!”

That’s the ol’ Dream Theater song “Caught in a Web”. I actually didn’t like it all that much the first time I heard it, but it’s grown on me…

Anyway, what word is this? Oh, right: tape. Yeah, that’s a net all right. Where would we be without nets?

Hey, you know what I find incredibly unconvincing? Every movie or television show wherein someone has a net thrown on them and suddenly they can’t move. Know what I would do if someone threw a net on me? I’d take the net off and ask them why the heck they threw a net on me. I mean, honestly: It’s a net! What are we, fish?! Use your freaking arms! I tells ya’…