Glyph of the word 'pa'. and Glyph of the word 'pa'.


  • (let.) name of the Zhyler alphabet letter p
  • (syl.) glyph for the syllable pa in the Kamakawi syllabary
  • (n.) bowl

Neiwele ia ie pa ti lelea.
“Fill the bowl up with water.”

Notes: So now we get to the meat of the syllabary. Today is pa; tomorrow pe; the day after, the world.

For each of these syllables (or most of them, anyway) there will be two iku the undetermined iku and the determined iku (the one with the stroke beneath it). The determined iku is the one that bears the nominal meaning (today’s is “bowl”). The other is used exclusively as a syllabic glyph.

There’s also an important difference between these two (and like pairs to come). Kamakawi has a minimal word constraint: All content words must have two mora. A regular CV syllable has only one mora, so each of these words that are written as a CV syllable contain a phonetically long vowel. Kamakawi doesn’t distinguish between long and short vowels phonologically, of course, so this is the only place where long vowels pop up (and that’s why I don’t distinguish them even in the orthography). If you happen to be pronouncing the example sentence to yourself, then, be sure to give a little bit of extra length to pa, and you’ll be pronouncing it correctly.

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2 Responses to “Pa”

  1. Ka kavaka andrew ti:

    Is that a hint that the word for world is pi?

    The glyph for pa looks a little bowl-shaped, if bowls can sit on a pointy base.

  2. Ka kavaka David J. Peterson ti:

    Heh, heh… Unfortunately the word for “world” is inotu.

    Regarding “bowl”, recall that this is the script at time x. The modern version derives from time x-y, where y is a long, long time. Originally, the glyph for pa looked a whole lot like a bowl, but it was simplified over the years.

    Though hey, wouldn’t it be cool if there were a society that made conical bowls with sharp points so that you could stick them into the ground? This way the ground could be your table!

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