Glyph of the word 'mata'.


  • (n.) eye
  • (v.) to see, to look at

Ka mata eine ie nawa.
“The woman saw the fish.”

Notes: This may not be the first Kamakawi sentence, but it may have been the second. If you go back through my example sentences, mata is the most common verb, without a doubt. It means “eye” and is also used as the verb “to see”.

This word is a bit of an inside joke. When I was taking historical linguistics at Berkeley, the professor (Andrew Garrett), in discussing the comparative method, noted how one needs to compare a whole set of vocabulary items to guard against the influence of chance resemblances. For example, the word for “eye” in Ancient Greek is, I guess, mata, which is identical to the word for “eye” in (I think?) Indonesian. They’re both basic terms, and they’re nearly identical, but it would be wrong to assume, based on that chance resemblance, that the two languages are related.

So, for fun, I made the Kamakawi word for “eye” mata as well. :)

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