Posts Tagged ‘culture’

Kakulu

• Thursday, March 8th, 2012

Glyph of the word 'kakulu'.

kakulu

  • (num.) zero
  • (pron.) nothing

Ei i kakulu tou!
“I am the mighty zero!”

Notes: Zero is, indeed, the mightiest of numbers—the archnemesis of one. Multiple anything by zero, and all you get is more zero. Compare that to pushover one, who gives you back just what you gave it. Pathetic! In fact, the same thing happens if you divide anything by one. Divide something by zero? Just try it. The very act causes lesser calculators to explode. All hail the mighty zero! :!:

In Kamakawi, you can now use kakulu to mean “nothing”, but it’s a bit slangy. The standard and more general way to say “nothing” is still okuku.


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.


Ulo

• Monday, February 20th, 2012

Glyph of the word 'ulo'.

ulo

  • (v.) to be tan
  • (adj.) tan
  • (n.) tan person
  • (n.) islander

Oku lea i ulo.
“He’s not tan.”

Notes: So today’s word doesn’t quite mean “tan” is it’s used in English. Basically this is the word that means “skin color”, as the default Kamakawi skin color is what someone living in the mountains would consider tan. So perhaps a better translation of this would be “flesh-colored”. I’m not sure that would give the right impression, though.

Looking at today’s iku, you might think it was an ikunoala, and that the word is actually pronounced hulo. That’s not, in fact, the case (though ulo is sometimes pronounced hulo on account of the spelling). Actually, here the iku for hu is used for two reasons. First, it’s used because the vowel is the same as the first syllable of the word (so does give some clue as to how the word is pronounced), but most importantly, it’s being used as a face. Then the iku for lo is dropped in there for phonological reasons, and to kind of look like coloring on the face. The idea is to show that this is the color that one’s face is (since one’s face is usually the tannest part on one’s body).

In modern times (in the fictional world where Kamakawi is spoken), ulo is used to refer to someone who lives on the islands. It kind of means “native” or “local” (in the colloquial sense).


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.


Pela

• Thursday, January 26th, 2012

Glyph of the word 'pela'.

pela

  • (n.) sibling

Ipe ioku pela oi’i!
“That is not my sibling!”

Notes: Today’s word means “sibling” in the technical sense. It’s just a basic word, but it feels much more formal, nowadays. As a result it’s generally only used when one sibling is mad at the other (e.g. “He may be my sibling, but he is not my brother!”). The iku is built off of pe, and it has the little la spearhead coming off of the little stick down at the top.


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


Lope

• Wednesday, December 28th, 2011

Glyph of the word 'lope'.

lope

  • (n.) hibiscus arnottianus

A male owa ei i lope i malalele
“I will plant hibiscus in my garden.”

Notes: This particular flower refers to what in Hawaiian is called koki‘o ke‘oke‘o. It’s a white flower which, in typical hibiscus fashion, has a little spout coming out the middle. It’s a gorgeous flower, and it brightens up any garden. For some reason, hibiscuses (hibisci…?) always relax me. They remind me of being in Hawai‘i. As does this particular brand of sunscreen. I should stock up on that…


Lume

• Monday, December 26th, 2011

Glyph of the word 'lume'.

lume

  • (v.) to eat leftovers, to eat scraps
  • (v.) to be cheap with respect to food
  • (n.) one who eats leftovers habitually

I elea i Kilume!
“Welcome to Leftovers Day!”

Notes: Ahhh…yes. Today is the day. Today I stop eating food I prepare, and start eating food I reheat that others prepared yesterday. HOOOOOOOOORAAAAAAAAAY! :D

The nice thing about Christmas is that I get prime rib at one Christmas gathering, and ham at another. The great thing about this year’s Christmas? I got prime rib at both gatherings. That is a major win.

I’ve had this word for quite some time, and really like it. I think it deserves its own lexeme in every language. And you know what? I’m proud to be a lume. I’ll takes whatever I can gets! :D


Mono

• Sunday, December 18th, 2011

Glyph of the word 'mono'.

mono

  • (n.) canoe
  • (v.) to go by canoe

A male mono ei poiu a…
“And now I’m going to canoe away…”

Notes: Something like, “And now I’m taking my ball and going home.” It’s the first week of the fantasy football playoffs, and I’m not in them. I finished with a 7-7 record, behind even the terrible division winner who finished with an 8-6 record. Total bummer. On the other hand, in my friend’s league, which I’ve been helping out in, we finished with a 12-1-1 record and got a bye in the first round in a three tier playoff system. We’ve been relying on the Jets’ defense, but picked up the Broncos’ D at the last minute, so I think we should be good.

Today’s iku is another that’s based off mo, which is one of my favorites. All the iku based off mo turned out to be pretty good, in my opinion (that one and nu). And to me, it kind of looks like a canoe (or somehow the triangle reminds me of rowing a canoe). If I ever have a canoe, I’ll probably paint this on there. Or on an oar. Maybe both…


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