Glyph of the word 'lava'.


  • (v.) to save, to rescue
  • (v.) to preserve, to keep from spoiling (said of food)
  • (n.) rescuer

Ka lava’u ei!
“I’m saved!”

Notes: Sometimes things actually go well. Thanks to a good friend’s intervention, I got my car back and didn’t have to pay anything. What unimaginable luck! Man, that poor car of mine… This year it’s been stolen, broken into twice, towed, and run ragged all over sunny Southern California… The Green Shark, I call it. (Keva Falele in Kamakawi.) It’s a dark green 1993 Honda Accord, and it’s going to need to last a few more years (at least).

This word has a special origin. Back in 2002, when my wife and I first started hanging out (she wasn’t even my girlfriend yet), one of the things we did is we went over to her place and watched an anime called Vampire Princess Miyu. In this show, Miyu, the daughter of a human and a demon, is compelled to send stray shinma (demons of a kind) back to the Darkness. She’s helped out by a shinma called (for some bizarre reason) Larva, which is rendered as ラヴァ in Japanese, and sounds pretty much like “lava” on the show.

The show is pretty formulaic: Something sinister happens, Miyu is called to the scene, she figures things out, finds the demon, battles him, and then, when the fights not going her way, she calls out “Lava!”, and Larva comes and saves the day. Sometimes it goes the other way, with Miyu saving Larva (not often), and sometimes Miyu just kicks butt on her own, and all the while, there’s hints of a budding (yet forbidden!) romance between these two less-than-human characters that’s never realized.

At the time, I wasn’t sure if Erin liked me at all (or, worse: if she liked me as a friend!), so I did any number of amateur, sophomoric things to get her attention. One of the things I did was coin two words from the characters in this series. One was miyÿ (or miyh), the Zhyler word for “kiss”, and the other was today’s word of the day: lava, “to save”.

While I can’t credit our marriage to my coining these words, doing so apparently didn’t hurt my chances (as I recall, she was flattered that I had done so [or at least that’s what she told me at the time]). Keep that in mind, single conlangers. There is hope. There is always hope.

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2 Responses to “Lava”

  1. Ka kavaka Riccardo ti:

    What exactly *is* a morphome, David? ’cause your article baffles me. XD

  2. Ka kavaka David J. Peterson ti:

    It’s “a unit of linguistic representation known only to the morphology”. Let me try to give you a made-up example that will help to illustrate. Let’s say you had a language with three cases. Here are two lexemes:

    Nominative Sg./Pl.: mora/more
    Accusative Sg./Pl.: morinka/morke
    Genitive Sg./Pl.: moru/morinu

    Nominative Sg./Pl.: sanata/sanate
    Accusative Sg./Pl.: sanatoka/sanatke
    Genitive Sg./Pl.: sanatu/sanatou

    Now here are two different derivational affixes:

    Agentive: morela, sanatela
    Resultative: morinur, sanatour

    Each of these words has two stems. The stems themselves aren’t predictable in form, though this much isn’t important. What is important is that these suffixes (/-o/ and /-in/) have no meaning. There is nothing that the accusative singular, genitive plural, and resultative derivational suffix have in common. All this suffixed form is is a stem used by the morphology (consistently) in certain situations. This second stem, then, is a morphomic stem. The morphology requires it to exist, but it has no independent meaning.

    Hopefully that’s slightly clearer.

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