Posts Tagged ‘fish’


• Sunday, March 20th, 2011

Glyph of the word 'nawanaka'.


  • (n.) goldfish

Ka mama eine ie nawanaka.
“The woman hugged the goldfish.”

Notes: There’s my old friend “The woman hugged the goldfish”! It’s been awhile.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, modern day nawanaka used to be nakanawa in the early days of Kamakawi (talking about actual history, not conhistory). This was back when compounds were head-final, even though everything else in the language was head-initial. It required some fixing, and nakanawa was the very first thing to get fixed. The unintended result, though, is that nakanawa still pops right up to the front of my brain whenever I think of “goldfish”; nawanaka is still slow in coming.

In Kamakawi, a nawanaka is actually a type of nawakama. That’s not the way it is in the real world. But, hey, them’s the breaks.

Today I learned many things. One of those many things is that I’m terrible at predicting the NCAA Tournament. “But David!” you protest. “You’ve been predicting the NCAA Tournament for years! Shouldn’t you have figured out by now that you’re terrible at it?” Yes, I suppose I should have. However, I seem to forget that fact each and every year, and thus, whenever I sit down to mark up my bracket, I think, “I got this!” Even though I pay absolutely no attention to college basketball during the regular season.

Ah well. At least I don’t have money riding on it—and at least I’m doing better than Doug!


• Saturday, March 19th, 2011

Glyph of the word 'nawa'.


  • (n.) fish (not mammals)

Ei i liliki hu’u ou nawa.
“I’m a big fan of fish.”

Notes: This is a term for sea-going fellows with gills (and river-going gill-having guppies, too). This excludes all aquatic mammals, and also aquatic creatures without gills (crustaceans, crabs, lobsters, crawdads, etc.). It does include eels, which I think many Westerners wouldn’t readily categorize as “fish” (though they are fish, too).

The iku is a standard compound of na and ua. Well, kind of, anyway. The line across is meant to give the impression of ua over the shape of na.

Nawa is one of the first words of Kamakawi—certainly one of the first nouns (for the record, I think eine was the first noun). And the canonical sentence I used to test things out was:

Ka mama eine ie nawa.
“The woman hugged the fish.”

The woman was always hugging that fish! I’m certain the fish felt loved.


• Thursday, March 17th, 2011

Glyph of the word 'nawakama'.


  • (n.) koi fish

Ka mata ei iu nawakama.
“I’ve seen many koi fish.”

Notes: Here’s a picture of some of the koi I saw in the Chinese Garden at the Huntington:

Koi in a pond.

Here’s another close up:

More koi in a pond.

Let me tell you, koi that are fed by passersby can be aggressive! They’ll float right on up out of the water and nibble at your fingers if they think you have food.

But they are lovely… It’s nice to be able to sit back and watch them swim.

I see I haven’t done nawa or even nawanaka yet, so this word won’t look as transparent as it should. Nawakama translates to “dyed fish”. Oh, hey, I have done kama, so that’s something. But yeah, some day soon I’ll do nawa and nawanaka (the latter being one of the older words of Kamakawi [well, actually, nawa is older than nawanaka for probably obvious reasons, but I always remember nawanaka more]).


• Tuesday, March 8th, 2011

Glyph of the word 'ki'o'.


  • (n.) flying fish

A mata ei i ki’o.
“I see a flying fish.”

Notes: For some reason I was made to think just a few minutes ago of my old friend the flying fish. They’re quite flightsome in appearance.

I seem to be watching Persuasion. Not of my own accord, of course; it’s one of the films Erin falls asleep to. I must say, though, everyone looks quite British.



• Thursday, February 17th, 2011

Glyph of the word 'teviko'.


  • (n.) eel

A iwe havakalávata li’i tiu teviko.
“My hovercraft is full of eels.”

Notes: Eh. Today I just feel like an eel.

Of course, the example sentence is pretty famous, for some reason, so nice to get it out of the way. Naturally Kamakawi lacks a word for “hovercraft”, so I borrowed in the English word, but eels? Please! Kamakawi’s got eels, yo!


• Thursday, September 30th, 2010

Glyph of the word 'funa'.


  • (n.) skipjack tuna
  • (n.) idiot

Ei i funa.
“I am an idiot.”

Notes: I live in a condo complex where a permit is required for overnight parking. I have a permit, of course, as I am a residence. The past few days, it’s been blazing hot in Southern California (over 110° at midday), and so when I went to the gym, I opened up all the windows in my car to get a breeze going. Since the permit is flimsy and attaches to the rearview mirror, I thought it prudent to put the permit in my glove compartment so it wouldn’t blow away.

Then I forgot to put it back.

I realized this today when I went out to my car to go to my parents’ house for my stepdad’s birthday. My first thought was, “Oh, geez, the car didn’t get stolen again, did it?” Then the obvious answer dawned on me, and I was ashamed.

Unlike the first time my car was towed (parking in LA is a violent pastime), this time it’ll cost, at the most, $150. That’ll about halve my reserves, but at least I can afford it.

The origin of this word comes from the fact that the skipjack tuna swims in great big schools right up near the surface of the water where even the laziest shark can snap them up. Perhaps they think the odds are on their side (“If there are three hundred of us, what are the odds that hammerhead will get me?!”), but in the long run, they probably get eaten. They’re large, foolish, and yet remarkably fertile fish: the rabbits of the sea, but far more foolish, and not nearly as cuddly.

So, yeah. I’m a skipjack.


• Saturday, September 18th, 2010

Glyph of the word 'kanaka'.


  • (n.) animal
  • (adj.) animal (bestial; used to describe something that is animal in nature)
  • (v.) to be natural (said of beings)

Mata ia iu ipe kanaka!
“Look at those animals!”

Notes: Today’s post is an advertisement for Sylvia Sotomayor’s Kēlen Word of the Day blog, because…man! Take a look at this post!

Reluctant to click? Let me list just some of the animals Sylvia has taken pictures of in Australia:

  • Bats
  • Koalas
  • Penguins
  • Sea Lions
  • Tree Frogs

And there are more. And they’re all on the same page! There are some incredible shots there. Let me tell you, this didn’t make my day: It made my month. (And I didn’t even mention the hopping kangaroo!)

So, yeah. Head over there. I promise you, you will not be disappointed. (And if you are, this animal fanatic doesn’t want to hear about it.)

This iku is a strange one, because I’m certain I had a reason for designing it the way I did, but what that reason is completely escapes me. The word, of course, is based on the Hawaiian word kanaka, which means “man”. Perhaps it was an inside joke that the iku is built off the glyph for hopoko, the Kamakawi word for “man”.

Anyway, let’s think about this. There’s a little notch on the right side which means…something. And then a slash through the leg. I think my original idea was to draw a connection between humans an animals, which is why this iku is built off hopoko. As for the notch and the slash… I get the impression that the slash is supposed to be a claw of some kind. I don’t know. It’s a puzzle. Anyway, there it is. What, what, rah-ther, and all that.

It’s all right to have some mysteries in one’s writing systems, so long as there aren’t too many (I mean true mysteries, not just etymologies that have been lost to one’s imagined speakers). With Kamakawi’s system, I think there’s just the right amount.

Now, to bed! Or…water first, then bed! And teeth brushing… Something or other.


• Wednesday, July 14th, 2010

Glyph of the word 'polao'.


  • (n.) blowfish (or puffer fish)

A iwe ipe polao ti heka.
“That blowfish is full of air.”

Notes: There’s a story behind this word, but it’s not for today. It came up when Sylvia came over for the Southern California Conlangers’ Meetup (second Tuesday of every month; go here for more info!). In order to get to what I need to, though, we have to start with the word for blowfish.

It’s an old word—been around since the beginning—as has its iku. I guess it kind of looks like a blowfish… It’s got spikeys.

Hey, speaking of blowfish, check this out!


Now that’s a cute blowfish if I’ve ever seen one!

Probably because of how old it is, this is one of the words I think of as characteristic of Kamakawi. It rarely sees any use (how often does one talk about blowfish?), but it’s always on my mind. Seems like a good word for a blowfish.


• Tuesday, January 19th, 2010

Glyph of the word 'ikea'.


  • (n.) halibut

…takeke ikea ie elelake…
“…like a halibut in the sky…”

Notes: I’ll freely admit that I do carry within me a lot of guilt when it comes to eating meat. I really do love animals very much—all of them—and yet… I mean, I come from a culture where a meal without meat isn’t a meal.

Regarding today’s post, I love halibut. I love seafood in general, but halibut especially. I don’t get it often, but I rarely pass up an opportunity when I can.

In case you’re still wondering about the example sentence above, halibut have this very characteristic diamond-shape, and the iku for ikea is inspired by it. The top, actually, is a shape used in a ton of iku, most notably that for keva, “shark”. The bottom half is self-explanatory.


• Thursday, January 7th, 2010

Glyph of the word 'huka'.


  • (n.) anchovy

A havava ei ie huka.
“I like anchovy.”

Notes: Anchovies are much maligned, when it comes to pizza. I’m not sure if the fish themselves like or dislike this. Nor do I know how they feel about anthropomorphism. This is a curious world.