Archive for the ‘M’ Category


• Saturday, November 5th, 2011

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. :)


• Tuesday, November 1st, 2011

Glyph of the word 'mopi'.


  • (n.) candlenut

A male neo uei iu mopi.
“We’ll make use of the candlenuts.”

Notes: In Hawaiian, these are called kukui. In English, they’re called, “What the heck is a candlenut…?”



• Sunday, July 31st, 2011

Glyph of the word 'mate'.


  • (v.) to pour (liquid)
  • (adj.) pouring
  • (n.) deluge (not as common as reduplicated form)

Mate ia i tolu lilelea fiviti i’i.
“Pour me a cold glass of water.”

Notes: This is kind of a strange sentence. Ordinarily it’d be prevented by an applicative, so it would read Matemu ia i’i ti tolu lilelea. That, though, would be a different word, so I stuck with this clunky one.

You may recognize this iku from the glyph for “soup”, novu. This one’s rather upside-down. This is another case of one iku following another, even though the word for “pour” is probably older than the word for “soup”. Languages and writing systems are different things, though. They’re rather like dancing partners.

Or maybe not. I’m watching Roberta right now; it’s likely influencing me.


• Thursday, June 30th, 2011

Glyph of the word 'mena'.


  • (n.) scallop

Ka hava ei iu mena kipe.
“I had scallops yesterday.”

Notes: Among other things. Since I’d just been talking about it, I had some cioppino yesterday for dinner. It was exquisite, but I simply can’t eat the way I used to be able to… :( I brought home a lot of it as leftovers. It was quite good, though! Scallops are easily one of my favorites.

The iku is a rendering of the famous scallop shell (perhaps the most visually salient of seashells). The reason it has no top is because this iku, in fact, is a modification of another iku, which…I haven’t done yet. :lol:

You’d think after more than a year I would have finally done an entry on every glyph in the Kamakawi writing system. Looking at the numbers, though, I think I’m about…halfway done? I think there are about 600 distinct glyphs. I’m getting there!


• Sunday, May 8th, 2011

Glyph of the word 'mala'.


  • (n.) mother

A li ei i kiko e nevi i mala oi’i.
“I give this day to my mother.”

Notes: My dear mother, whom I have sorely aggrieved many a time. One day a year is not enough, surely, but what would be?

And so I go off to sit for awhile in an El Torito to try to get a table where I neglected to make a reservation. I figured four days advance reservation would be enough. It was not. Learn ye all this lesson well, so sayeth me! Thou shalt make reservations a week in advance, at the very least, lest ye wish to wait an hour or more afore your desired brunch time on Mother’s Day!


• Saturday, May 7th, 2011

Glyph of the word 'moi'.


  • (n.) strawberry guava tree

A kapolo ipe moi.
“That strawberry guava tree is tall.”

Notes: So it is. Barely made it under the deadline. But I made it.

Moi is a standard ikunoala. The base is the glyph for mo, and then in the hindquarters of the birdish fellow, there’s a line that kind of looks like i. Combined, it forms moi.

And this is the glyph that imo is based on.


• Monday, March 7th, 2011

Glyph of the word 'mowoyape'.


  • (num.) eleven
  • (adj.) eleventh

A mata ei iu mowoyape kuaki.
“I see eleven ducks.”

Notes: This is what happens when I’m sick. I feel a lot worse than yesterday. So we get the number “eleven” as a Kamakawi Word of the Day. I can’t promise that tomorrow won’t be twelve.

Ugh… Soooooooooo sick… :(


• Wednesday, February 9th, 2011

Glyph of the word 'make'.


  • (v.) to kiss
  • (n.) (a/the) kiss

Kape make lea i’i…
“And then he kissed me…”

Notes: That lyric comes from the famous song by The Crystals. Great song.

So funny story. This entry was originally about the word lea. In fact, I’d finished it and even published it, and would’ve gone merrily on my way until I happened to glance at the permalink and saw that the last bit was /lea-2/. “Huh. That’s odd,” I thought. “It wouldn’t give it that title unless I already had—”

And then it hit me.

“But wait!” I thought. “Maybe that first link is for the word le’a!” But, no, it wasn’t, because there is no word le’a in Kamakawi.

Luckily, I was able to unpublish this post and correct my error.

So! “To kiss.” Yeah, that’s today’s word.

So I get this whole “some cultures don’t have kissing” thing, but you know what? This is my language, and my fake imaginary people, and, by gum, they will figure out what kissing’s all about, and they’ll enjoy it! So there!

Back to the whole lea issue, I actually kind of like what I wrote up, so I’m going to add it (with a note) to the original entry. Some of it ends up being redundant, but some of it isn’t, so I’m throwing it in.

Mata Kivio

• Wednesday, February 2nd, 2011

Glyph of the word 'mata kivio'.

mata kivio

  • (n.) vista, viewpoint, view (of a landscape)

Ipe mata kivio!
“What a view!”

Notes: We’ll now turn our attention to the incredible Chinese Garden at the Huntington:

A panoramic view of the Chinese Garden at the Huntington.

The Chinese Garden, aside from the library, is the high point of visiting the Huntington. A lot of care went into its design, and it delivers. In the coming weeks (or maybe months, the way I keep to a schedule) we’ll see some close-ups of the highlights.


• Monday, January 31st, 2011

Glyph of the word 'maka'.


  • (n.) crab
  • (nm.) a boy’s given name

A male liki maka ie tinitié li ia.
“And a crab shall hold your sword.”

Notes: And a charming crab at that! Take a look at this picture of the interior of a typical medieval Japanese house at the Huntington:

A crab statue in a house.

What a helpful little crab! I think it is a sword-holder (why would the pincers be upturned thus?), and if so, well done! It’s the most unique sword-holder I’ve ever seen.

I’ve still got a lot more pictures from the Huntington; I’ll eventually get to them all.

Today’s iku is a pretty standard ikuiku, but the line in the middle there has two duties: (1) to fill up the space, and (2) to remind one of the glyph for ka, giving this iku a slight phonetic component. This was one of the first iku I designed for Kamakawi. It’s an old friend.

For more information about the name Maka, see its corresponding entry in the baby names section.