Posts Tagged ‘communication’

Puo

• Friday, March 9th, 2012

Glyph of the word 'puo'.

puo

  • (expr.) an answer to an unfair yes or no question (whether neither “yes” nor “no” is technically correct)
  • (n.) refusal

Puo.
“I refuse to answer the question.”

Notes: That, of course, is Keli’s answer to the question, “Are you still in our recycling box?” And she answers thus because it’s not a recycling box: It is a Kitty Fortress!

Keli in her new fortress.

She loves that box!

A word like puo is a useful word, because it allows one to answer questions like, “Are you still guilty?” Presuming you’ve never been guilty, an answer of “no” could mean, “No, I’m no longer guilty (but I once was)”, and answer of “yes” would, of course, be an admission of guilt. There’s not much you can do with that question in English. In Kamakawi, you can say puo.

The word was inspired by the Japanese word mu, which is used in the same way. I decided to go big tent with responses to questions in ol’ Kamakawi. Thus we have puo.


Nuku

• Friday, February 24th, 2012

Glyph of the word 'nuku'.

nuku

  • (n.) a go-between for married couples

E kaneko ie nuku oieika
“The cat is our nuku.”

Notes: HAPPY CATURDAY!!! :D

Keli has a new chair, and she found herself a new little blanket to go with it:

Keli sleeping under a little pillow.

Today’s word is a unique one, I think. The word describes a person integral to Kamakawi marriage. See, when two Kamakawi get married, they have a nuku. This nuku is usually an older woman (though not always) who’s either a widow or has been married many years, and who usually is not directly related to either the bride or the groom. The job of the nuku (who doesn’t live with the couple, but drops by from time to time) is to not only help married people settle in to married life, but to covertly pass messages back and forth between couples—usually things that one doesn’t want to say to the other directly.

For example, let’s say the wife discovers that her husband snores loudly in his sleep, but doesn’t want to say anything. She tells the nuku privately, and then some time later (not the next day, but maybe a couple days later), the nuku comes by when just the husband is there and gives him several bits of advice. She might say, “Always rinse your hands after you’ve been cleaning fish”, and, “Don’t stomp around so loudly in the morning”, and, “Don’t eat opeope right before bed”, and, in addition to all that, “Don’t sleep flat on your back; you snore too loudly!” The husband won’t know which of those things is true, but he’ll know one of them probably came from his wife. Then it’s his job to try to take what advice he can and change things as he sees fit.

Now, due to the nature of their profession, the nuku has a lot of power, and must exercise caution and skill. So as not to be too obvious, the skilled nuku will often drop by with advice that wasn’t given by one or the other spouse. The best nuku will know both spouses well, and so will be able to figure out what advice makes sense for each one—and will also be able to dole it out efficiently over time so as to be able to couch all the real complaints in with the other advice. And, provided everything works out well, the nuku will eventually stop coming around often, and, finally, will simply be a friend of the family.

Of course, on account of the delicacy of their position, it’s pretty easy to be a bad nuku. The bad nuku won’t be able to disguise the true advice very well, which can lead to arguments or hurt feelings. But worse than that is the nuku who comes around too often (and at highly inconvenient times), and doesn’t know when to stop coming around (usually somewhere around year two, or after the first child has lived a full year). Then the nuku becomes a nuisance that the couple wishes to be rid of. Such a nuku is sometimes referred to (behind closed doors) as a paopu (“worm”), on account of the similarities between its iku and the iku for nuku.

Of course, the similarity between the two iku is entirely accidental. The iku for paopu is actually a combination of the iku for pa, o and pu (though it’s hard to tell at this stage). The iku for nuku is quite different.

In examining today’s iku, first take a look at the iku for ho, which is used to mean “man”. Keep that image in mind. That shape is the general shape used for a person (seen also in the iku for ei, “I”, and kupi, “sit”, among others). The iku for nuku actually has those shapes mirrored, facing each other. So rather than being built off pa, the triangle shape is an accident of the combination. The line in between the two essentially represents the nuku: the thing that’s in between the married couple.

And, of course, Keli has always served well in her role. We’re looking to keep her around for quite a while. :)


Lu’a

• Thursday, February 23rd, 2012

Glyph of the word 'lu'a'.

lu’a

  • (v.) to chant
  • (n.) chanting
  • (adj.) chanted

He lu’a ue ie eili kau.
“Let us chant the sun down.”

Notes: Today’s iku is a bit odd. Using the Kamakawi “head” glyph base, the syllabic glyph for ha is used as the mouth. This both gives a clue as to the pronunciation of the glyph, and also serves as a kind of evocative reminder of what the word means (the chant being a river that comes from the mouth).

On the Kamakawi islands, there’s an old tradition of going to the western edge of the island and chanting as the sun goes down. It’s not done every day—or even once a month—but on special occasions (weddings, births, funerals)—but even then, not all of them. Just certain ones. Someone will lead, but others can join in, with the chant leader setting the phrasal chanting patterns, and others joining in. I have a very specific idea for how this works, and could probably write about it, but that’ll have to wait for another day.


Noto

• Friday, February 17th, 2012

Glyph of the word 'noto'.

noto

  • (v.) to be shady
  • (adj.) shady, shade-giving
  • (n.) shade
  • (v.) to be cool (coll.)
  • (adj.) cool, awesome

Au noto kaneko!
“Cats are cool!”

Notes: HAPPY CATURDAY!!! :D

Here’s a picture of Keli greeting Erin’s fingertip:

Keli getting touched on the nose.

Today’s word means “shady”, but is used to mean “cool” by Kamakawi youth. I thought it was a pretty cool word for cool. I’d try to start using it in English, but I think it would give the wrong impression.


Feta

• Monday, February 13th, 2012

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Glyph of the word 'feta'.

feta

  • (v.) to be quiet
  • (adj.) quiet
  • (n.) quietness

Feta ia! A olo ei a.
“Quiet! I am sleeping.”

Notes: This is a translation of the first lines of a favorite Smashing Pumpkins’ song of mine.

And now for a real treat. I’d eschewed interlinears on this blog (and others) because they simply don’t format correctly. Well, thanks to Carsten Becker (creator of Ayeri), we now have a WordPress plugin that does it for us! :D I found this extremely exciting. Here it is in action:

Feta
[ˈfɛ.ɾə
/be quiet
ia!
ˈi.ə
2SG
A
a
NS
olo
ˈɔ.lɔ
sleep
ei
ˈe.i
1SG
a.
a]
PRG/

“Quiet! I am sleeping.”

How about that?! Not bad! :D Basically what it does is it lines up the first word of each line; the second word of each line; the third, etc. This way you can see how each one is glossed. I totally love it! I’m still messing around with the settings, so this may look different if you look at it a few hours from now, but I couldn’t be more pleased with the way this works!

As for today’s word, the iku may look a bit familiar…or would if I’d done that word yet. Dang! Could’ve sworn I’d done that word. Well. When I do do that word, you’ll see why this iku gets classified as both an iku’ume and an ikunoala.


Payu

• Friday, January 27th, 2012

Glyph of the word 'payu'.

payu

  • (v.) to show, to display to
  • (n.) displaying, showing

Ai fulele ia ae mata ie palei li’i ai? Ale ko! He male payu ei i ia!
“You want to see my home? Come on in! I’ll show it to you!”

Notes: For a present, we got something in a brown paper bag. We set it on the ground, and Keli had found a new little home:

Keli hunkering down in a bag.

I suspected she would exit the bag if I approached her, so I took out my camera and started taking pictures from a distance, and continued to do so as I edged closer. This was the best of the bunch (since, indeed, she did exit the bag when I got closer).

Today’s word is built off the iku for moko (“eight”), but in this case, it’s actually serving the function of an ikunoala. See, the glyph for pa is an upside-down triangle, and the glyph for iu is a right-side-up triangle. By setting one above the other, you get payu. Of course, it couldn’t be identical to moko, so to disambiguate the pair, a notch was added to the top.


Pa’a

• Wednesday, January 25th, 2012

Glyph of the word 'pa'a'.

pa’a

  • (n.) mallet, hammer, club
  • (n.) drumstick, mallet for a large drum or gong

Li ia i ipe pa’a ko.
“Bring that hammer here.”

Notes: I gots a little smashing to do.

After designing this iku, I thought, “Naaah! Too simple!” But I went with it, and it’s stuck. And it is a good design, in principle; it’s not inconceivable that another culture would come up with it. Seems useful for those great big drums—and also for cracking open crabs and mussels and other shellfish.


Powi

• Sunday, January 8th, 2012

Glyph of the word 'powi'.

powi

  • (n.) music

Oku hala’i ei io powi tou oku.
“I can’t live without music.”

Notes: The Kamakawi word for “music” is an homage to the greatest musician of the 20th century: David Bowie. (That’s right: I’m saying it! If anyone comments, “But what about Elvis?”, so help me…)

The iku for “music” gives a clue as to the real derivation of the word—that is, it’s onomatopoeic. The concept derives from drumming, as the beat is the backbone of all music. I kind of think of it as the spine, and the rest of the instrumentation branches off from the spine (and from those bones the muscles, the tissue, etc.).

Oh, and by the way, today is David Bowie’s birthday. He’s now 65, which means that 66 is the new old: if you’re 65 or younger, you’re now young. And so it shall go from here on out! :D


Huya

• Tuesday, January 3rd, 2012

Glyph of the word 'huya'.

huya

  • (v.) to yell (at), to scold
  • (n.) yelling

Huya ia i’i oku, he mai!
“Don’t yell at me, mom!”

Notes: Today’s iku is a true ikunoala (a combination of hu and ia), but because of the look of it, it tends to be used when a parent is scolding a child—the reason being that it looks like the hu glyph is swallowing up a second person pronoun. It also just means “to yell” in a neutral sense (that was the original meaning, anyway), but it’s picked up this other sense—and one day it might replace the original.


Oko

• Sunday, January 1st, 2012

Glyph of the word 'oko'.

oko

  • (n.) drum

Au noala oko!
“The drums are sounding!”

Notes: The frost if off the ground: Moving day is at hand.

It’s a new year, and it’s time for some news. I’ve done 731 words of Kamakawi so far, and it’s been fun. But this pace is absolutely exhausting (as evidenced by when this post and the last one went up in real time), and I can’t keep it up. There’s no way I’ll be able to put up every word of Kamakawi (there are several thousand, and I’m not even at a thousand yet), but I did vow to at least get all the foma up, and that I’ll do. Once I’ve got them all up, though, this blog will become the Kamakawi Word of the Every-So-Often-If-That (or something similar). I may drop in and do a word now and then, but there won’t be a word everyday.

That said, there’s got to be at least 200 foma left, and they don’t always fit with the caturday pictures, so there may yet be another full year of “daily” Kamakawi word posts. But I’m letting my many fan (no typo. I elea, Anatoni!) know that the end is coming. Probably some time after the new Mayan calendar begins, but it’s coming.

Thanks for following along or dropping in every now and then! It’s nice to have an online catalogue of all these glyphs, so they exist somewhere other than in my computer. Have a happy new year!


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