Archive for December, 2009


• Thursday, December 31st, 2009

Glyph of the word 'keoni'.


  • (n.) sea lion

A ane keoni.
“The sea lion is loud.”

Notes: The glyph for keoni is the same as the glyph for eini, only with a stroke on the neck. I fancy that this is meant to symbolize the characteristic loud, booming bark of the sea lion.

I have to say, I’m a big fan of sea lions. They possess both charm and spunk.


• Wednesday, December 30th, 2009

Glyph of the word 'eini'.


  • (n.) seal
  • (nm.) a woman’s given name

A hekala i’i, he eini heva, ai a takeke ipe fe’ave’a i uku ai?
“And tell me grey seal, how does it feel to be so wise?”

Notes: Good old seals… They seem so sleek and shiny. And if you pet them the right way are, they are sleek, when wet.

Eini is also a name, though sometimes an unfortunate one, as eine is the word for “woman”. Fore more on the name, go here.

That Elton John translation is approximate. It’s more like, “Tell me, grey seal, what’s that kind of wisdom like?”


• Tuesday, December 29th, 2009

Glyph of the word 'luku'. or Alternate glyph of the word 'luku'.


  • (n.) circle
  • (adj.) round, circular
  • (v.) to be round or circular

A kavi ipe luku.
“That circle is big.”

Notes: Importantly, this word doesn’t necessarily mean to be spherical. The reason has to do with the nature of iku in Kamakawi.

Basically, luku can be spelled either way shown above. The sign on the left is a circle with the old “ground” or “earth” determinative which had a number of functions (including filling up space). The second is the sign for kola, which means “wheel”, with the line determinative beneath it. That line determinative tells the reader that the sign is what it looks like. In this case, the representation of a wheel in kola is actually a circle, so kola with a line determinative beneath it is luku.


• Monday, December 28th, 2009

Glyph of the word 'iki'.


  • (n.) chicken

A miwimi ipe iki!
“That chicken is crazy!”

Notes: Nothing to say about this, really, except that it still excites me to see a chicken (an actual, live, bock-bocking chicken). In fact, I’m pretty excited to see most animals. They’re good sports.


• Sunday, December 27th, 2009

Glyph of the word 'temi'.


  • (n.) bone (mass noun)

A huita temi i leya ti pama.
“Bone is harder than stone.”

Notes: The basic form of this word is a mass noun. In order to refer to a particular bone, you have to turn temi into a count noun. Thus, ape o temi is “a bone”.

The glyph here is a modification of the syllabic glyph te. The inside of the glyph has been turned into a kind of ribcage.


• Saturday, December 26th, 2009

Glyph of the word 'ka'a'.


  • (n.) crow

A fuila ka’a ie uomoko.
“The crow flies at night.”

Notes: Probably a couple different ways to say that, but one interesting thing about this word is I have it defined in my dictionary as “crow” or “raven”. Well I’ll be hanged if I didn’t learn recently that crows and ravens are different animals! I mean, really, how about that! So I had to decide on one of them to be ka’a, and I’ve decided on “crow” (and, yes, the word is onomatopoeic).

Regarding the iku, the syllabic glyph ha is kind of embellished to look a bit bird-like, and that’s how this one was made.


• Friday, December 25th, 2009

Glyph of the word 'iku'.


  • (n.) character or glyph of the Kamakawi writing system
  • (n.) a shell necklace with a Kamakawi glyph carved into it
  • (v.) to be covered in scrimshaw
  • (n.) word

A fatu tomi o ei ti no iku.
“My name comprises three characters.”

Notes: After doing my first post, I realized that some crucial information regarding the nature of words in Kamakawi is required to understand the categories. Kamakawi orthography comprises a large set of characters or glyphs, much like Chinese. And while words can consist of a single glyph, more than one glyph, or fewer than one glyph, the idea of a “word” is somewhat subordinate to the idea of iku.

As such, words and phrases, as their understood, are defined by iku. This results in several types. The two major types you’ll see listed in the category section to the right. They are foma, which are words that consist of exactly one iku (fans of Vonnegut might find that coinage amusing), and hikuiku, which are words that consist of more than one iku.

The first group, foma, can be further subdivided based on how the single glyph was constructed (or is supposed to have been constructed originally). There are six types of glyphs, which are described below:

  • Ikuiku: So-called “true glyphs”, these are pictographs which look like what they are a picture of (or at least the glyphs looked like the original meaning they were intended to convey).
  • Ikunoala: These glyphs comprise two or more syllabic glyphs, and can pretty much be read as they’re spelled.
  • Iku’ui: These glyphs are some combination of the previous two (usually a syllabic glyph modifying one or more ikuiku).
  • Iku’ume: These “turned” glyphs are slightly modified versions of other glyphs (usually the addition of an otherwise meaningless stroke, or a change in orientation).
  • Ikuleyaka: These glyphs have some sort of basic graphic element that is modified by one of Kamakawi’s old determinatives. These determinatives are no longer productive, but they used to encode basic semantic categories as a way of helping a reader to figure out which word was meant.
  • Ikunima’u: These “mixed glyphs” are anything else—basically anything that can’t be easily identified or categorized.

So that explains the categories on the sidebar. Perhaps I should put this information somewhere easily accessible and not merely in a post on the blog… Oh well. That’s a task for another day.


• Thursday, December 24th, 2009

Glyph of the word 'kala'.


  • (v.) to talk, to communicate
  • (n.) talk (a kind of mass noun)

Ka kala ei i nea kipe.
“I talked with her yesterday.”

Notes: I chose to start things off with this word since the glyph for kala is probably my favorite, and it’s the avatar I’ll be using for my comments. I like its look, the glyph, and talking is kind of what we do, we conlangers, so it seemed appropriate (both the glyph and the post).

This post, as its formatted, is how you can expect future posts to be formatted, as well. First I’ll put up the orthographic form of the word, then the romanized version, then the definition, then an example sentence, and then some notes.

Welcome to the Kamakawi Word of the Day Blog!

• Tuesday, December 15th, 2009

That’s right: I’ve started a daily blog devoted to Kamakawi words. If this seems like a knock-off of the Kēlen word of the day blog, don’t be alarmed: it is. Indeed, I copied the idea. Copied it! I copied it harder than anything’s been copied before. And if you’re a conlanger (and chances are that, if you’re reading this, you are), I recommend you copy it too. What a delightful idea! Imagine: Everyone with a language posts a new word in their language everyday, thereby enriching the world. I think it’d be neat! So I’m following in Sylvia’s footsteps, and I hope to see many others do so as well (and if you do start one up, let me know, and I’ll link to it here).

Here’s to enwordment!