Glyph of the word 'le'. and Glyph of the word 'le'.


  • (syl.) glyph for the syllable le in the Kamakawi syllabary
  • (prep.) because of, on account of, for, in order to, to
  • (suf.) because, that, for that, as a consequence of, on the occasion that (attaches directly to the status subject marker)

Ka li ei ie leka li ia poiu aele takepalaki ia ima!
“I took your potato away because you’re really mean!”

Notes: This was the first sentence that came to mind that used the word “because”. I’ll leave it to you to decide if being mean is reason enough to deprive someone of their beloved potato.

As happened several times in the history of the Kamakawi writing system, this iku was designed to encode a concept that eventually came to be encoded by another iku. The suffix -le (not the one above, but the other one) is used in causative constructions (so hava is “to eat” and havale is “to feed”), and this iku was a kind of iconic version of the causative (one human pushing another human). Later, a new iku took the place of the causative suffix, leaving this one to represent the syllable le.

The determined version of le is used only with the preposition “because of”, and then only when it clears things up. Otherwise, the undetermined version is used.

I got a question about how the sometimes long strings of vowels are pronounced in Kamakawi, so a little later I’m going to make a recording of this example sentence and post it here. Stay tuned!

Edit: I added an .mp3 file which you can listen to above!

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4 Responses to “Le”

  1. Ka kavaka Amanda ti:


  2. Ka kavaka David J. Peterson ti:

    Okie doke, it’s up!

  3. Ka kavaka Amanda ti:

    Wow, I cannot imagine how you did that fast speech version. Do you have a gift for pronouncing things like a native, or did you use pronunciation expertise gained from learning a similarly-phonotactic’d language?

  4. Ka kavaka David J. Peterson ti:

    It takes practice (still. I had to do that a few times before recording). For me it also helps to not just read it like a sequence of sounds, but to think of it in phrases. I’m not sure why, specifically…

    But also, I do have an ear for Hawaiian. I listen to it (in song, at least) just about everyday, and its phonotactics are very, very similar. Probably a combination of all of the above. You know, when I have time, I might record more of these for fun, just as practice, because it’s still not easy…

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