Glyph of the word 'i'.


  • (part.) predicate marker (used before direct objects [or second arguments] for most verbs)
  • (v.) equivalent to “there is” or “there are” in English
  • (pref.) a prefix which derives a noun from a verb or adjective (sometimes another noun) which focuses on the instance of action, or picks out a characteristic point of whatever quality is being discussed

Ai iake ia i ipe omi i’i tou ai?
“Can you crack that macadamia nut for me?”

Notes: I realized a couple posts ago that I keep writing posts that ultimately end up referencing other glyphs that I haven’t posted yet. Today, then, I decided, “Enough is enough!” and I went to do this one, i, and realized…I’m going to end up having to make reference to another glyph.

So the basic object marker is i, and it looks like it does above. The glyph is abstract (I’m pretty sure) and doesn’t come from anywhere; just kind of looks like a big “T” with a thing on the left.

Way back when, though, when I was first planning the orthography, I thought I’d make the glyph for the direct object marker “iconic”. So I made the glyph look like an eye (since the direct object is getting “looked at”, so to speak).

Then I got to thinking. It’d get mighty confusing if this glyph for i is used both as a direct object marker and simply as a syllabic glyph. So I decided to create a different glyph. The glyph I ended up creating was this one.

That, though, left the eye glyph as the syllabic glyph for i. So now the syllabic glyph for i looks like an eye for pretty much no reason. Oh well.

In addition to marking objects (always the second argument, whatever its thematic role [though sometimes the second argument is marked by ti]), the use of i has been extended. Well, to be more accurate, the structure of Kamakawi sentences actually derives from i being the verb for existential clauses (think of the common sentence as a serial construction), not the other way around. But today, its role as object marker is probably the more common one.

One actual extension was its use as a prefix. It gloms onto words to kind of turn verby words into nouny words. There are tons of these. For example, if luku means “round”, then iluku is “ball”. If lu’a means “to chant”, then ilu’a is a chant. Etc.

There are more of these types of words than you can shake a stick at, though the association isn’t always as obvious. For example, moi is a strawberry guava tree, and an imoi is a strawberry guava; kavu is garlic, and ikavu is a clove of garlic; aye is a bee, and iaye is honey…

It’s polyfunctional and funky, I guess, but I figured since you see it all the time in the example sentences, I should probably say what it is.

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3 Responses to “I”

  1. Ka kavaka Amanda ti:

    Headsup: third-to-last sentence, you have “suffix” instead of “prefix” and/or “affix”.

  2. Ka kavaka Amanda ti:

    Doh, I meant paragraph.

  3. Ka kavaka David J. Peterson ti:

    D’oh! Fixed.

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