Glyph of the word 'uila'.


  • (adj.) all of, every, whole, every bit of
  • (det.) all

Uku uila poe fule ti ia i eli.
“All you need is love.”

Notes: Here’s a good shot of a surprise decoration at the wedding I mentioned yesterday:

All you need is love.

The wedding was held on a dock behind a set of historic cottages (half of which was, I believe, a beachside inn), and as the unused half was open, there was a faux wall put up (the white wall in the photo). It would’ve been rather bare, though, so it was, I think, the groom’s sister that came up with this to drape over it, which I thought was a really nice touch (the two are Beatles’ fans [as are all of us (or as we all should be)]).

A couple notes on translation. First, I used the singular “you” there because…well, I needed to decide on one. The nice thing about having a lexeme (in this case, a pronoun) that doesn’t distinguish number is that it doesn’t matter if it’s singular or plural. I’m sure that as far as number and the second person pronoun in English goes, the only thing that ever gets discussed is the drawbacks; rarely do we discuss the advantages. Here I think it works out better in English.

As it is in the original, it’s unclear whether John Lennon is singing to one person, a group of people (e.g. the world), or using the generic (i.e. not “all you need is love” but “all one needs is love”). Leaving that unstated works better than stating it specifically—and this ambiguity is impossible in a language like Kamakawi, with number specified on second person pronouns.

The translation is more verbose than English (rather unusual for Kamakawi), mainly due to the nature of uila, which isn’t generally used as a noun. As such, it needs to modify something—a dummy noun—which in this case turns out to be uku.

One odd quirk of Kamakawi grammar that actually simplifies the translation slightly is the alignment of fule, which is a bit different from ordinary transitive verbs. With fule, the wanter or needer is the object (expressed by ti), and the wanted or needed entity is the subject. Since Kamakawi can only relativize on subjects, the verb in the embedded clause can be rendered ordinarily, rather than in the passive.

Regarding the iku, it’s a combination of ui (which I see I haven’t done yet. Oops!) and la. Guess I’d better do ui soon…

Oh, as an aside, “All You Need Is Love” is the song that Erin and I walked out to right after we were pronounced husband and wife. :)

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