Posts Tagged ‘writing’


• Thursday, September 9th, 2010

Glyph of the word 'ia'.


  • (pron.) you (2nd person singular pronoun)
  • (phon.) glyph for the sequence ia

A male neviki ei i ia ti iko ikavaka poke ilau’u ie nakanaka oi’i kipe. Ae ha’ale!
“I’ll lend you this book I read to my sister yesterday. It’s funny!”

Notes: Nothing much going on with the second person pronoun (the iku is like a mirrored image of ei), so I thought I’d include a complex sentence. What I wanted to do was include a sentence that required the use of the passive and the applicative in a relative clause, but I couldn’t think of a plausible way to make “book” an indirect object (talk about unimaginative!). This is pretty good, though.

Ia has a good-looking iku, in my opinion. It’d be a cool name for an iku necklace, but all it means is “you”. Oh well. That is what I end up calling my cat many times…


• Thursday, September 2nd, 2010

Glyph of the word 'kavaka'.


  • (v.) to write
  • (n.) writing
  • (n.) a piece of writing (of some kind)
  • (adj.) writing

A kavaka ie hala’i o ei.
“Writing is my life.”

Notes: Yesterday’s post forced me to gloss over the fact that it was Sylvia Sotomayor’s birthday. Happy belated birthday, Sylvia! :D

Sylvia is the woman behind the Kēlen Word of the Day: The blog that started the whole conlang word of the day thing (though I take credit for suggesting the idea to Sylvia in the first place :P). It’s been a lot of fun learning about Kēlen over the past…wow, almost a year! But there’s a special reason to tune into Sylvia’s blog now.

You see, yesterday Sylvia arrived in Australia to attend WorldCon: a large convention of science-fiction and other things I’ve recently been made aware of. On the Kēlen Word of the Day blog, Sylvia will be keeping track of her progress, posting a word a day, per usual, but also including a picture from Australia, and some details about her travels. As one who hates to travel, this is top notch for me: I get to see Australia, and I don’t have to leave the house! :D

So check it out! It should be a fun month to hear about how things are going down under.

Oh, duh, I almost forgot! The sample sentence was done in honor of Sylvia. See, it’s a sentence without verbs, in honor of Kēlen, the verbless language! :D There was a method to this madness, I swear!

As for this word, it certainly does look like it was derived from kava, the word for “fire”, but you want to know the real secret? The word for “write” comes from Franz Kafka: One of my favorite authors. If you were to render “Kafka” in Kamakawi, it would come out “Kavaka”.

Of course, Franz Kafka doesn’t exist in the world where Kamakawi is spoken, but that’s just fine by me. After all, it’s a legitimate word form. And the derivation (fake or otherwise) is one I love. In fact, I love everything about this word. I’m going to give it a smiley face of some kind. :) There we go.


• Monday, August 9th, 2010

Glyph of the word 'eya'.


  • (pron.) first person dual inclusive pronoun

Nai eya i ae o hu’u o eya…
“Inside we both know what’s been going on…”

Notes: Yet again, I ditched the original meaning of the line and substituted it with one of my own. This is something like, “We both know the inner workings of our hearts”. It’s kind of similar, but ditches the vague “goings on” El Señor Astley’s hinting at.

For a bit of Rick Roll trivia, check out the Wikipedia page for “Never Gonna Give You Up”. Notice anything funny? Here’s a hint: Rick Astley didn’t even write the song! How about that! It was written by a song-writing trio referred to collectively (and perhaps ominously) as SAW—the same fellows that produced the Dead or Alive hit “You Spin Me Right Round (Like a Record)”.

Hey, speaking of which, that’s a good song. Click here to check it out!


• Monday, August 2nd, 2010

Glyph of the word 'e'.


  • (part.) cooccurs with a singular subject that is identical to the previous subject in the discourse
  • (art.) the singular definite article (i.e. “the”)

Oku male li ei, i ia e fili po…
“Never gonna give you up, never gonna let you down…”

Notes: I had to do some fun stuff to the chorus. See, while Kamakawi lexemes are (for the most part) minimally disyllabic, I can mix things up when it comes to verbs and their subjects. Here, I borrowed the serial verb construction used with li (linking to that entry; hoping it explains serial verbs) and created a single clause that takes the place of the two in the song.

I had to make a decision early on. In the original, the words “never gonna” are repeated each time. If something were to be repeated in the Kamakawi version, it would have to be “oku male”. That would leave me three syllables to translate “give you up”, “let you down”, etc. The word for “you” as an object (i ia) is three syllables already. The verbal part would have to fit into a two syllable verb, and to sing it, you’d have to run i ia together into one syllable. I thought it would sound too jumbled, so I gave it up.

Instead, what we have is a phrase that means, “I will never let you go”. Literally, though, it’s “Never will take I you and let go”. The nice thing about the serial construction is that it takes with it the object, so the second verb is intransitive.

The second time around, unfortunately, the lines are much more contentful. We’ll see what I manage there…

The iku above isn’t simply e. When used by itself it is, but it will often cooccur with the present tense glyph (which I haven’t done yet), or the past tense glyph, or the plural glyph, etc. It could very well be realized as e, u, ke or ku. It’s difficult to define in terms of sounds. It makes much more sense in the original orthography.

For today’s Rick Roll moment, how about a change of pace? See, when I was a kid, I really loved this song, and the other one by Rick Astley. I didn’t know who did them, had no idea what he looked like (or how he danced), or any of it: I just loved the sound of the songs, and the sound of his voice. In case you haven’t heard in awhile, here’s a link to Rick Astley’s other big hit from the 80s: “Together Forever”.


• Thursday, July 29th, 2010

Glyph of the word 'oku'.


  • (expr.) no
  • (part.) not (sentence-final negator)
  • (part.) used with negative sentences in the present tense in place of a subject status marker
  • (adj.) no
  • (aux.) shouldn’t
  • (aux.) wouldn’t

Oku hea i iko ti ho’o ika…
“You wouldn’t get this from any other guy…”

Notes: Funny story about this iku… I think I originally intended this word to be oko, in which case it would have been a perfect ikunoala. I think, though, I either forgot that that was the word, or I mixed up the glyphs for ko and ku (which, at this point, seems quite absurd to me, since the Iku for ku is so distinctive). As it stands, though, the iku looks like a face with a superimposed o over it, which is pretty good. It looks like a face in the middle of saying “no” (oku). I’ll take it!

Back to the song, without even trying, the first three lines rhymed. This line, though, so fits the meter, that I abandoned the rhyme. It still doesn’t sound bad…

For the content, I changed the lyric to, “You won’t hear this from another guy”.

Hey, actually, you know what? I could switch out ika for toi (“any”) and get the rhyme. For some reason I don’t think it sounds as good, though… I reserve the right to put it in there, though, if I change my mind.

Here’s something I found randomly on the internet that’s pretty good. Mouse over for the answer!

Multiple choice Rick Roll quiz.


• Saturday, July 24th, 2010

Glyph of the word 'fatu'.


  • (n.) number
  • (v.) to count
  • (v.) to number
  • (adj.) orderly, in order
  • (adj.) obedient

A fatu ue!
“Let’s count!”

Notes: Awhile back, a commenter posted a short comment about how conlangs ought not have the same number of words beginning with each letter/phoneme in their inventory. This was when I had pointed out that there weren’t enough l words in the Word of the Day. I pointed out then that, as I select which words to do, the Word of the Day words were not a random sampling of Kamakawi words, but that got to me thinking: Just how close are the counts?

Counting today’s f word, here’s the percentage breakdown for the initial phonemes of the Words of the Day so far:

Rank Initial Phoneme # of Posts % of Posts
1 T 25 12%
2 H 24 12%
3 K 21 10%
4 I 19 9%
5 P 17 8%
6 O 16 8%
7 F 14 7%
7 M 14 7%
9 N 13 6%
10 L 12 6%
11 E 11 5%
12 A 10 5%
12 U 10 5%

That’s the Word of the Day breakdown. Now let’s compare that to the actual breakdown in Kamakawi.

To do that, I’m going to make use of a statistical analysis conducted by a great conlanger Jim Henry a year or so ago (two years? Can’t remember). Jim created a Perl script which he ran on my modified Kamakawi dictionary (he stripped out all the definitions leaving just the words). What it did was it separated the entire list into syllables, and counted initial, final, medial and total syllables. Though the lexicon has since expanded, I think it’s a fair representation of just how frequently a given syllable is used in Kamakawi—and in which position.

In order to get the initial phonemes, I took his count of the initial syllables of Kamakawi and added all the like CV forms together. Then I did a little math and came up with the percentages for initial phonemes in Kamakawi. Here are the results:

Rank Initial Phoneme % of Words
1 I 16%
2 K 11%
3 H 9%
4 T 8.6%
5 N 8%
6 M 7.6%
7 F 7%
8 P 7%
9 L 6.6%
10 E 5%
10 O 5%
10 U 5%
13 A 4%

Quick note on the above: F and P have pretty much the same percentage, but there are two more F words than P words, so I didn’t list them as tied. Oddly enough, though, there are exactly the same number of words starting with E, O and U (or, rather, there were at the time that Jim ran these statistics. I’m sure that’s no longer the case).

As you can see, the percentages are close sometimes, but not near enough to be accurate. Also, you can see by the real count that I words blow all the rest out of the water. That’s due in large part to the i- prefix which enjoys a lot of use. If you stripped those out, K would be the winner, which isn’t surprising (or, at least, not to me, the one who coins the words).

Other than I, though, I realized that it shouldn’t be surprising that the vowel-initial words should come in last. Vowel-initial words can be thought of as, essentially, beginning with an empty consonant. If you added them all together, then, you’d get a count much like the other consonants, where, with K, for example, you get every word that starts with ka, ke, ki, ko and ku all together.

A small note about the iku here. This is essentially the Kamakawi equivalent of the pound (#) sign. It just means “number”. You may recognize this iku from the entry for ape, “one”. All the number glyphs are shapes traced from the original number system, which was just a series of dots. Since one dot is too small for a character, a short stroke (or dot above, originally) was added to the glyph for fatu, and that’s what became the iku for “one”. Basically, it reads as if it were “number one”.

All right, now to start on something exciting for the next week or so!


• Friday, July 23rd, 2010

Glyph of the word 'ikavaka'.


  • (n.) book, or other piece of writing (document, tract, etc.)

A fulele e ni’u i iko ikavaka…
“I want to bite this book…”

Notes: Happy Caturday! :D

Here’s the picture that inspired the sentence:

Keli getting cosy with a book.

So my wife’s brother sent us a book for us to scan and send to him while he’s in Sénégal (apparently he needs to finish it for school). I opened it up and put it on the bed, and Keli was fascinated by it. She rubbed up against, she started to bite it, she clawed at it a bit. Eventually she laid down on top of it, finding it to be a fine seat. We did get it scanned in, but not until she’d had her way with it.

This word is derived from kava—or at least that’s what it looks like. It’s not immediately apparent to me what fire has to with writing, but the derivation from “write” to “book” is pretty clear.

Oh, but I forgot to do an entry for “write”… Oops. I’ll get to it by and by.


• Tuesday, June 15th, 2010

Glyph of the word 'oe'.


  • (phon.) glyph for the sequence oe
  • (v.) to wipe away, to wash away
  • (v.) to erase
  • (n.) erasure
  • (adj.) clean, wiped clean
  • (adj.) washed away

Ka oe lelea iu ie’i.
“The water washed the footprints away.”


Notes: This word is a good word to hang onto. It can find use in a number of situations: erasing a chalkboard, wiping crumbs off a table cloth, squeegeeing water and soap off a windshield, swiping chess pieces off the board when I realize I’m losing (that’s my secret weapon)… And it rolls right off the back of the throat.

The iku is a modified version of the syllabic glyph ta, which means “sand”. The stroke across the midline of ta is iconic—kind of wiping away the sand, as a wave does on the beach. That being the case, one might be able to call this an ikuiku, but I think it’s more likely that it’s an iku’ume (though now that I’m thinking about it, I may have created an old version of this glyph… Though even at that point, “sand” already had its iconic shape, so it might not matter).


• Sunday, April 18th, 2010

Glyph of the word 'eu'.


  • (n.) clam
  • (phon.) glyph for the sequence eu

A hoku ipe eu!
“That clam is huge!”

Notes: The “clam” part of that glyph takes a line determiner; the other is just the phonetic glyph.

You know, I do enjoy clams (e.g. in clam chowder), but I feel bad about how defenseless they are… They’re simply no match at all for our tools; they can’t even put up a fight. In fact, fishing (all kinds) is probably the most barbaric of all forms of hunting and harvesting. Most fish suffocate to death. At least cows get a quick death…

On the other hand, I suppose seafood (not farmed seafood, but seafood from the sea) at least gets to know freedom. Perhaps that’s consolation enough…?


• Friday, April 9th, 2010

Glyph of the word 'hu'. and Glyph of the word 'hu'.


  • (syl.) glyph for the syllable hu in the Kamakawi syllabary
  • (n.) brow (as in the area above the eyes)

A kavi hu o nea.
“His brow is large.”

Notes: Hooray! :D

That does it for the syllabary. This should make it a lot easier to show which iku are built off of which.

Well…almost. So in addition to the basic CV syllables, there are all these glyphs for VV…sequences. They’re not syllables, and so they shouldn’t be a part of the syllabary, but they exist. I haven’t decided if I should go through those systematically the way I have for the syllabary, or how I should categorize them. Some of the VV glyphs have no meaning at all. They’re used to build a lot of other iku, though, so knowing them could prove useful. They’re also used in spelling, where applicable (especially those beginning and ending with either i or u). I’m just not sure what to do… I guess we’ll have to wait until tomorrow to see what I decide. :)

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