Posts Tagged ‘substances’


• Tuesday, November 8th, 2011

Glyph of the word 'a'iki'.


  • (n.) coral reef

I a’iki kavi pe.
“There’s a large coral reef there.”

Notes: A’iki is certainly an older word, and its iku is one of those that defies exact description. It’s, of course, built off the iku for “white”, a’i, but there’s no etymological relationship between the two. It features the “ground” determinative (used with places and locations), and it also kind of looks like a coral reef, but that could just be me. So it might’ve been an ikuleyaka, but usually those don’t have any phonological component.

Hey, apropos of nothing, if you want to see something good, check out the latest series at the Kēlen Word of the Day blog. Sylvia’s translated “The Jabberwocky” into Kēlen and is discussing the translation line by line. I never thought of the “slithy toves” as lizard, but that’s part of the fun!


• Friday, October 7th, 2011

Glyph of the word 'awi'.


  • (n.) fur (or animal hair)
  • (adj.) furry
  • (v.) to be furry

Ai ivi awi o ei i ia ai?
“Does my fur amuse you?”


Every so often I’ll be upstairs, and Erin will call up to me to “take a look at our cat”. Whenever I do so, she’s always in some amusing or cute position. On this day, she was lounging on top of one of our chairs, happy as a cat:

Keli looking up at us.

Hey, this is another one of those words that uses the mysterious glyph au. It does its job.

So for those keeping track, both teams that I predicted would get to the World Series this year have been eliminated. So…yeah. The lesson here is not to put money on my baseball picks.


• 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


• 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.


• Sunday, September 11th, 2011

Glyph of the word 'pata'.


  • (n.) dirt, earth, ground, soil
  • (adj.) brown
  • (v.) to be brown
  • (nm.) a boy’s given name

Toku ia ie pa ie pata.
“Put the bowl on the ground.”

Notes: I actually took a double take with this iku. I thought pata was a simple ikunoala, but it isn’t. It’s built off the syllabic glyph for pa, but has the glyph for water, lelea, superimposed over it. The way I think of it is the pa glyph somehow represents the earth (the top of the triangle is where the people walk, and it goes down to the core of the earth), and the lelea over it is used to indicate that it’s the substance that’s meant: the dirt.

The word pata is also used as a name for boys. To learn more about that name, go here.


• Friday, August 26th, 2011

Glyph of the word 'nukoa'.


  • (n.) meat
  • (v.) to have or be meat (said of an animal)
  • (v.) to be edible, to be nutritious
  • (adj.) edible, nutritious

Ka li ia i nukoa ke nevi i’i! Ae eli i ia!
“You have given me meat! I love you!”


After an utterly inexplicable one week absence, Caturday has returned! And to make it for it I thought I’d do something special.

I’m not quite sure when it started, but Keli and I have a tradition. Some time after Erin has gone to sleep, she meows to let me know that her food dish is empty. If she needs wet food, I give it to her, and she goes up and sniffs it and then leaves it there (the expensive food we buy for her specially doesn’t excite her in the least). If she needs dry food, though, that’s a different story.

We store the dry food in an airtight tupperware container, and what she does is she meows and follows me to the container, I open it, it makes a loud sound, and she runs away (every time!). Then I give her one or two scoops of dry food, she goes over to the dry food, and then (and this is the strangest part): she thanks me.

Every time!

She goes up to her food bowl and puts her face in as if she’s about to eat, but then she stops, turns up her head to me and gives me a look (or, if she’s feeling especially grateful, gives me a little meow), and I pat her head and she starts eating.

Though filming this little ritual ought, by rights, to be a two person job, I’ve tried my best to get the whole thing on video myself. The results are below:

A video of Keli getting dry food!

Unfortunately, she didn’t give me her darling little mmmrow this time, but her little head tilt is on camera. I’ll try to get another one where she makes her thank you noise in the future.

The Kamakawi are very much a meat-centric people. A meal isn’t a meal unless there’s a meat dish involved. Hence, something that’s “good” for you is derived from the word for “meat”. Meat is supposed to give you strength and vitality and renew your spirit; fruit and vegetables is for flavor and (for lack of a better word) regularity.

The iku for meat (in case you’re wondering. It looks right to me, but I know what I was basing it on, so you can let me know if you saw it before the following explanation) is a hunk of meat roasting on a spit (the ends of the rotating pole are on the right and left of the iku, and the line in the middle is the meat [the glyph has been simplified over time]). The Kamakawi do a lot of spit-roasting like this. Some day I’ll have to put up the vocabulary that surrounds such roasting. Some day soon… :)


• Monday, July 25th, 2011

Glyph of the word 'leleya'.


  • (n.) lake or some body of fresh, drinkable water

Ai i leleya ko ai?.
“Is there fresh water here?”

Notes: This isn’t the only word for “lake”, and also isn’t the only word leleya, but it’s a word leleya. It derives from lelea, the Kamakawi word for “water” (specifically drinkable water). Notice that it crucially has the identity determinative below its iku. That distinguishes it from lelea.

To help illustrate the unique quadrangle of terms, I’ve created this unhelpful graphic:

Weird quadrangle of words.

In each case, the word for body of water derives from the word for the type of water, but the basic iku are for the fresh substance (lelea) and the salty body (leveya).

And, since I haven’t yet linked to it, here’s a link to levea. Hooray-a! :D


• Wednesday, July 20th, 2011

Glyph of the word 'leveya'.


  • (n.) sea

…io hala’iki oi feya oi eine o ei ie leveya.
“…but my life, my love and my lady is the sea.”

Notes: Man, talk about songs I do not like! “Brandy” is certainly one of those. Just tacky. Not the lyrics, necessarily, but the campy sound of it. Those “Doo, doo, doo, doot”‘s are just awful. Awful.

I had a dog named Brandy. She lived many years. She was a beagle, and howled like a hound dog. And would let the birds eat her food (I think she liked to watch them). A fine dog.

The same iku is used for levea as leveya. And despite the fact that levea clearly came first, it gets the basic iku.

More to come with this one; the story isn’t over yet.


• Sunday, July 17th, 2011

Glyph of the word 'levea'.


  • (n.) sea water, salt water

Levea, levea iala’ala…
“Water, water everywhere…”

Notes: Boy, talk about a pair of mixed up words!

You may remember this example sentence from another post, with a slightly different word in place of levea. Translated thus, there wouldn’t be any irony in the Coleridge poem (after all, you can’t drink salt water, so it’s not surprising that there’s no water to drink when surrounded by salt water).

Undoubtedly, the words levea and lelea are connected, but the way in which they’re connected has been lost to history. This particular iku must be determined, or it renders a different meaning (more on that later).

For the time being, I think that’s all I have to say about this one. Stay tuned for more.


• Wednesday, July 6th, 2011

Glyph of the word 'hunu'.


  • (n.) rice

A hava ei i toi hunu a tou…
“I could eat some rice right now…”

Notes: I could. Sounds really good right about now. There’s a Thai place near my house that does this sweet/sticky rice with mango. That also sounds good right about now.

Lately I’ve taken to having my meals accompanied by an episode or two of One Piece. Right now, Luffy et al. are about to throw down with Crocodile. A truly fantastic series; I’ve quite enjoyed it.

Next in my random string of thoughts: The Blue Nile is incredible. They’ve only put out four albums in the last thirty years, but those cast know what they’re doing. My recommended introduction: “The Downtown Lights”.

The iku for hunu is a more-or-less standard ikunoala (cf. hu and nu). I chose this word for today because the iku struck me as quite staccato, if that makes sense for an image. It seems like it’s got four different ideas all separated into different quadrants. It’s also kind of reminiscent of that greatest hits album Van Halen did a few years back.

That’s today’s story. Tomorrow is another Thursday.