Archive for February, 2010


• Thursday, February 11th, 2010

Glyph of the word 'alule'.


  • (v.) to take a break or rest while traveling
  • (n.) break, rest, rest stop

A alule ei ikoa.
“I’m taking a break for the time being.”

Notes: I think this blog has had a pretty good run so far, so I don’t feel so bad for today’s announcement. As of today, this blog is going to go on hiatus. I’ve got some things to do, and I can’t keep this blog updated for the time being. If all goes well, I hope to have it back up and running before the month is out.

As a last tidbit, though, this word comprises an iku which kind of stands for the infix -lu-, and the iku for “to travel”, ale. Where it’s not possible to put the infix glyph where it would go linearly, it goes before the glyph into which it should be placed. In a way, the glyphs kind of serve as a modifier of the word, so even where they can be put in the correct place linearly, they’re still sometimes placed before the word.


• Wednesday, February 10th, 2010

Glyph of the word 'hopu'.


  • (n.) ash, ashes
  • (adj.) ashen

Takeke amo i hopu ae mowonu o ia.
“It’s like ashes in your mouth.”

Notes: This iku is built off the iku for “fire”, which I haven’t put up yet. Guess you’ll just have to take my word for it. Beneath that glyph is the “ground” determinative, and for good measure, the vertical line from the “fire” iku is kind of transformed into the “bad” line determinative (kind of a way to indicate what becomes of what’s burned by fire).

I rather like this iku, but I swear, I can never remember what it means. I spent a week hunting for it in my dictionary so I could include it here. Now, hopefully, this record of it will remain indelibly printed on my memory. If I forget again, it’s my own fault.


• Tuesday, February 9th, 2010

Glyph of the word 'uevolu'.


  • (n.) smoke
  • (adj.) smoky, smoking
  • (v.) to be smoky, for it to be smoky, for something to emit smoke

Avi i uevolu ape i kava.
“Where there’s smoke there’s fire.”

Notes: There aren’t many basic Kamakawi words that are tetrasyllabic. Most of them begin with either an i or a u, which, when occurring before a vowel, ordinarily become y and w respectively. The only place where they don’t is in word-initial environments where they retain their vocalic quality. I half-decided that this is what happened to word-initial glides, and I half-stand by that half-decision.


• Monday, February 8th, 2010

Glyph of the word 'fiuko'.


  • (n.) tent

A kolu ae iko fiuko…
“It’s dark in this tent…”

Notes: Hey, this one should look familiar! Indeed, this iku is identical to the one from my previous post. The crucial difference? This one has a horizontal line underneath it. That means the word is what it looks like. And what does it look like? Well, I decided it looks an awful lot like a tent, and thus the word for “tent” was born.


• Sunday, February 7th, 2010

Glyph of the word 'ava'.


  • (n.) plain, valley
  • (n.) mesa, plateau
  • (n.) beach
  • (n.) plane (geometry), or other flat surface
  • (v.) to be flat
  • (adj.) flat

Ai ava i ala ai?
“Where’s the beach?”

Notes: I have a story about the word “flat”… But…it’s not really appropriate for this venue.

I’m not willing to call this an ikuiku. It’s iconic, for sure, but what it’s iconic of is up to interpretation. The top is probably a mountain… I think my intention was that the curved line was the receding waves, and the straight line is kind of like saying, “Hey, there’s the beach!” Or something like that. But I’d rather stuff this one into the ikunima’u bin.

Today’s example sentence comes courtesy of the Four Essential Travel Phrases site. What are the four essential phrases that every traveler should know? Well, one of them’s on this page, and you can follow the link to find out the others! In fact, if you’d like to see those four essential travel phrases in most of my languages, you can find a list of them on a subsection of the 4etp site here.


• Saturday, February 6th, 2010

Glyph of the word 'kuaki'.


  • (n.) duck
  • (n.) female duck
  • (v.) to quack like a duck
  • (nm.) a girl’s given name

Kau ale kuaki ko!
“The ducks have arrived!”

Notes: This is one of the two Kamakawi words for “duck”. It’s a general term, but also refers specifically to female ducks. It’s a pretty good name, too (I mean, it looks pretty cool. It looks duckish). It’s obviously onomatopoeic. I defend its onomatopoeisis (I hope that’s a word I’m coining), even though it looks a lot like English “quack”, because I swear, it does sound like “quack”! At least, the vowel is quite clear. And if you consider that ducks don’t have lips (so they can’t have labials), and don’t really have tongues (which rules out most sounds), the closest you get in Kamakawi is either a glottal stop or k. And since there’s no way to indicate a word-initial glottal stop, k fits the bill (heh… Bill. That’s a pun one).

(Note: If you’re wondering why I used ana in this translation, it’s because ana fit the meter better. Plus, both words can just mean “duck”.)


• Friday, February 5th, 2010

Glyph of the word 'himola'.


  • (n.) blanket

He ia! Emi! Ae li ia ie himola li’i e nevi i’i!
“Hey you! Human! Get me my blanket!”

Notes: Happy Caturday!

Today’s word is “blanket”, and here’s a picture of my darling little cat Okeo curled up in one of his many blankets:

Another picture of my cat Okeo.

Okeo loves little caves, especially impromptu ones made out of cloth. He is, indeed, a magnificent cat.


• Thursday, February 4th, 2010

Glyph of the word 'mowonu'.


  • (n.) mouth (of a human, not an animal)

Olu mowonu o lea ima!
“His mouth is wide open!”

Notes: This is the counterpart to enoku, the word for an animal’s mouth.

The iku here comes startlingly close to being an ikunoala, but it doesn’t quite make the cut. It’s built off the syllabic glyph for mo, and it’s got a kind of sideways u in there, plus a good solid effort at a nu, but it’s missing an o! Thus, it’s relegated to the ikunima’u bin. Came darn close, though!


• Wednesday, February 3rd, 2010

Glyph of the word 'eili'.


  • (n.) sun
  • (adj.) sunny
  • (v.) to be sunny
  • (adj.) bright
  • (v.) to be bright

A eili kiko!
“It’s sunny today!”

Notes: The nature of this iku should be pretty obvious. The phonological sequence eili seems to pop up all over the place, whether or not the word is related to this one. It shall cross our paths again, I declare.

Actually, this is as good a time as any to really discuss the line or identity determinative used in this word. The horizontal stroke beneath the character indicates that the meaning of the word is related to what the glyph looks like. It’s used, basically, to distinguish a pictographic or ideographic glyph from a phonological glyph (often glyphs are used pictographically and phonologically). In addition to this function, though, the identity determinative is used when the sense of the word is closely related to the iku, even if it’s not commonly used phonologically. Finally, it’s used sometimes just to distinguish meanings (kind of like the acute accent in Spanish, where tu and are pronounced the same, but have different grammatical functions).

So, in the future when you see that little horizontal line below a glyph, that’s going on.


• Tuesday, February 2nd, 2010

Glyph of the word 'hopeti'.


  • (n.) cousin

Owe! Ipe ie hopeti li’i!
“Wah! That’s my cousin!”

Notes: For some reason it seems natural to me to exclaim in terror upon seeing one’s cousin.

This one is indeed an ikunoala, but it’s another strange one. It has the main body of the syllabic glyph ho, but lacks the back leg. The crossbar, then, is a mix of the syllabic glyph pe (that’s the downward-pointing tooth on the left of the middle crossbar) and the syllabic glyph ti. The back line is slightly curved to match the curve of the main vertical-tending line. All in all, I think it looks pretty good. Too bad it’s wasted on the word for “cousin”…