Archive for the ‘U’ Category


• Friday, September 23rd, 2011

Glyph of the word 'uke'.Glyph of the word 'uke'.


  • (n.) rottenness, rot
  • (adj.) rotten

I ukeuke i ipe foye.
“There is a rottenness on that papaya.”


Today’s word has nothing to do with today’s cat picture (another from when Keli was sitting on top of the couch):

Keli reclining.

To complete the cycle of rottenness, we have ukeuke. On occasion, a stem by itself becomes a kind of verbal noun. Sometimes it takes the -kV suffix. In this case, a full reduplication was used for the nominal form, giving us “rottenness”.

Since the full reduplication is so often associated with adjectives, though, ukeuke can be used adjectivally to mean the same thing as uke.

And with that, I have finished! No more of rottenness, or rotting: Let us speak only of cats! Cats and meowing and murring! ~:D


• Thursday, September 22nd, 2011

Glyph of the word 'ukemu'.


  • (v.) to rot
  • (adj.) rotting

A uke ipe nukoa…
“That meat is rotting…”

Notes: In conjunction with yesterday’s post, we continue with our rotten theme. The verb uke is a stative verb which describes something which is rotten. In order to describe the process of rotting, one uses the inchoative suffix -mu to get ukemu, which is “to rot”.

When used adjectivally, this sets up a nice dichotomy. Specifically, one uses uke to describe something that is rotten (e.g. nukoa uke, “rotten meat”), and ukemu to describe something which is currently rotting (nukoa ukemu, “rotting”). In this way, the two words complement each other, and almost look like English participles.

I don’t know why I chose “rotting” to serve as the example for this discussion… I swear, it just happened; I didn’t actually intend for it.


• Wednesday, September 21st, 2011

Glyph of the word 'uke'.


  • (v.) to be rotten
  • (adj.) rotten

Ai uke ipe, ua…?
“Is that rotten, or…?”

Notes: You know that feeling when you’re looking at food and you can’t tell if it’s moldy or not? Tough experience, that one. For example, I had these leftover bratwursts, and they kind of looked like they might have the beginnings of mold growing on them, but it could just as easily have been congealed grease—I couldn’t tell! So…I went ahead and ate them. I’m not dead yet. We’ll see what happens.

Anyway, oddly enough, uke is a good word to illustrate the occasional nature of certain Kamakawi lexemes. Often a lexeme can be used as a verb, adjective and noun, and often the meanings will be predictable. Sometimes the predictability breaks down, though it often does so in predictable ways.

In the case of uke, it’s used only as a verb or adjective; never as a noun. We’ll see how this plays out in the coming days.

The iku for uke is fairly straightforward: the base is u, and the little tooth from ke fits on top right in the middle. ALl the ke words have the little tooth kind of glommed on somewhere where it seems to fit. This one always reminded me of a bird in a nest.


• Monday, September 19th, 2011

Glyph of the word 'uma'.


  • (v.) to squeeze
  • (adj.) squeezed
  • (n.) squeezing

Oku uma ia i’i oku! Ae ne’ava…
“Don’t squeeze me! I’m full…”

Notes: I’ve been going over to my good friend’s on the weekend to watch football, and man, does he make a breakfast! And I’m not one who usually eats before…sunset. I was losing weight for a time, but now I think I’m putting it back on. Oh well. More pull-ups for me!

Today’s iku is a modified version of u. It’s highly iconic, as I see it: You have the “W” shape of u, and it’s getting…squozen. (By the lines, you see.) I’m pretty sure the line at the top is supposed to be a head, and the line in the middle is where the squeezing happens. I think the line at the bottom is for the feet… Yeah, if there were two lines under each divot, the lines would’ve been connected over time (just easier). I’m fairly certain that’s the story of today’s iku.

As for “squozen”, well… Some English verbs just feel like they should be irregular. “Squeeze” is one of them (to me).


• Saturday, September 17th, 2011

Glyph of the word 'upi'.


  • (v.) to float (on the water)
  • (adj.) floating

Ka mata ei i kuaki poke upi ie lelea!
“I saw a duck floating on the water!”

Notes: I kind of forgot about this word for awhile. I assumed, just looking at it, that it was an ikunoala. Then I went to actually look at it, and I saw that line, and thought, “That looks nothing like u…”

And, sure enough, it’s not an ikunoala. Rather, what it is is the iku for pi with a line over it to indicate the water line (the same line used in me). And while the pi is under the water, it kind of makes sense to me—like something is floating above, but you just can’t see it.

I’m sure the reason I did this is because the glyph for pi is such a meaty glyph. It can stand on its own easily, and should serve as a base for other glyphs wherever possible, says I.


• Saturday, September 10th, 2011

Glyph of the word 'ukia'.


  • (adv.) left (as in the left side of one’s body)
  • (adj.) left
  • (v.) to be to the left of something
  • (n.) left side

Ukia o’opo ie pa.
“The coconut is to the left of the bowl.”

Notes: This is a companion to yesterday’s word of the day. Many languages derive the word for the left side of the body from something like “the weak side” or “the opposite of the right side”. Here I decided intentionally not to do that—pretty much just because. I’m not certain that there’s a language out there that does it this way (mainly because I haven’t looked up the words in many non-IE languages), but there probably is. I mean, somewhere in Papua New Guinea or Australia, one has to assume.


• Thursday, September 1st, 2011

Glyph of the word 'utulini'.


Ka ale utulini ko. Ka ale ieyalele hema.
“September is here. Summer’s almost gone.”

Notes: And that never fails to make me sad. :( I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again: I’d rather be too hot than too cold. (Well, not too too hot, I guess. Wouldn’t want to be on fire.)

Hey, today is a special day. With today’s post, I’ve posted all of the Kamakawi month names borrowed from Zhyler. Hooray! :D Come October 1st, if you want to know what the name of the month is, you can go back one year and check out the entry from last October 1st. (Oh, no, wait, that’s not right… Looks like I did the word for “October” on October 4th, for some reason. Oops!)

Anyway, today’s word comes from the Zhyler word Ÿslin (or, in the orthography, hsliN). That word also happens to be the Zhyler name for their letter ÿ, or h. Beyond that, its etymology remains a mystery.

Hey, if you’re a conlanger and have a minute, check out the new Fiat Lingua: a place for conlangers to put up journal-style articles, or even non-journal-style articles about conlanging, their conlangs, or what have you. We’re starting out small and slow, so if you’re interested in putting something up, shoot me an e-mail.


• Monday, August 29th, 2011

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. :)


• Monday, August 15th, 2011

Glyph of the word 'uomoko'.


  • (n.) night, nighttime
  • (v.) for night to fall
  • (adj.) nighttime, night
  • (adv.) tonight

A fuila ei i Leno uomoko!
“I fly to Reno tonight!”

Notes: Which means I’ll be leaving Keli for five days. :cry: Far more than anything else, I’ll miss my kitty. She’ll be in good hands, though.

As will I, I think. I’m heading up to Renovation, a.k.a the World Science Fiction Convention. It’s the largest such convention, I hear, and I’ll be participating in several panels (schedule here). I hear they’re having some “kick the can” ice cream. Anything that ends in “ice cream” is something I’m excited about (unless the preceding words are “total lack of”, or something similar).

If I were a good little duck, I’d have a whole series of Kamakawi Word of the Day posts scheduled for while I’m gone. But…I don’t. We’ll see how well I do up there… I will have a lot of time to spend alone sitting at a table with WiFi, though (I think?), so it should be good. (WiFi better be stellar, in fact; none of that Palm Springs nonsense.)

Either way, you can always catch me tweeting away on Twitter. Probably Dothraki stuff mostly, but I’ll see if I can drop a K-bomb here and there. ;)


• Thursday, July 28th, 2011

Glyph of the word 'u'.


  • (part.) cooccurs with a plural subject that is identical to the previous subject in the discourse
  • (art.) the plural definite article
  • (art.) many

Ku hemata uei iu kuaki ae iolui kau.
“We spotted the ducks in the pond.”

Notes: I thought I’d do a short grammatical post today. We’ve already seen the singular counterpart to this (p)article. Basically it marks plurals. It’s used in several ways, though, including as a stand-alone subject status marker, and in conjunction with other subject status markers.

Though it’s quite simple in the romanization (or schematically), writing it is a different story. This iku is used in conjunction with the plural new status marker au, as well as with the same-subject status marker u. The iku for e is also used, but you don’t pronounce it—it’s just there in the orthography. The ordering, though, can sometimes be a little tricky, since it’s purely a formal element. Some writers put the e one first; some the u one; some leave the e out entirely. I’d imagine that eventually it’d disappear entirely (or the whole thing would morph into some other iku or series of iku).

As for the iku itself, it’s kind of a combination of the glyph for ka, no and to (without the top). The idea is that the plurality marker is used with duals, trials and plurals. That marking is only realized on pronouns (and optionally on nouns); the non-singular status is what’s important to the verbal system (and the definite marking of non-subject nouns).

At some point, this system will have to break down, and it will likely mean the end of the dual and trial. That will happen some day down the line, though; not now. :)