Archive for April, 2010


• Friday, April 30th, 2010

Glyph of the word 'hava'.


  • (v.) to eat
  • (n.) food

Ka hava kaneko ie katativa li’i!
“The cat ate my bacon!”

Notes: Happy Caturday! :D

Today’s cat word is a useful one for humans, too, as it’s the word we’d translate as “to eat”. Eating is an affliction humans haven’t evolved out of yet, so we’ve got a lot of words to describe everything connected with the process.

Below is a picture of Keli going after her food, though I note with irony that you can’t actually see her food dish in the picture; just her water dish. I couldn’t resist her little pink tongue, though!

Keli going after food.

I’ve probably used the word hava dozens of times already in posts here, so it’s nice to have it defined. Eating just keeps happening…

Regarding the iku, I see the human face in there (you can see the iku for hu serves as the base), but I can’t recall what the “Y” shape is for… I know I had a very specific reason for putting it there, but that reason escapes me. I mean, I guess it’s food, but what kind?

Oh! Maybe it’s a mouth and a tongue, like so: :razz: Doesn’t seem Kamakawi-style, but…who knows? The actual explanation has long since left me.


• Thursday, April 29th, 2010

Glyph of the word 'ape'.


  • (num.) one
  • (adj.) first, singular
  • (pron.) such a one
  • (adj.) each
  • (n.) individuated unit of a group
  • (nm.) a boy or girl’s given name

A li ei i ape o temi e neo i ivoate.
“I use a bone as a stirring spoon.”

Notes: As I mentioned yesterday, today’s post will elaborate a bit on mass nouns. In addition to ape‘s duties as the number one and a whole bunch of other things, ape can be used to pick out a singular unit of a mass noun. Its English translation, then, will change depending on the unit. So an ape o temi is a (singular) bone, while an ape o hunu is a grain of rice, etc.

Hey, I think this takes care of the digits 1 through 9! Now I just need to do 0 and 10 (and then others like 20, 21 and 100) and I’ll be set!

For more information about the name Ape, you can check out its name entry here.


• Wednesday, April 28th, 2010

Glyph of the word 'temi'.


  • (n.) bone (the substance)

A potu temi.
“Bone is thick.”

Notes: Temi is a mass noun, and when used in this way, can only be interpreted as a mass noun. So you can’t use temi to refer to a particular bone. To do that, you need to use another construction (which I’ll say more about tomorrow!).


• Tuesday, April 27th, 2010

Glyph of the word 'uei'.


  • (pron.) we (1st person plural exclusive pronoun)

Au nemei uei; a mei ia.
We’re leaving; you’re staying.”

Notes: Kamakawi is one of those languages that distinguishes between an inclusive and exclusive first person plural pronoun. This one is the exclusive pronoun (the one that doesn’t include the addressee in the “we” part).

English’s pronouns don’t distinguish clusivity, but we have our ways (take the above, for example). I don’t think English is the poorer for it. It allows for some extra fun in romantic comedies. In fact, I think our lack of an inclusive/exclusive distinction is a direct result of our fascination with romantic comedies.

Take Notting Hill, for example. Say what you will about Julia Roberts, Hugh Grant, Richard Curtis, and everything else, for that matter, but I liked it. Fine movie.

And you know what else? Trevor Jones does some score work for it. Who is Trevor Jones, you might ask? I’ll forgive you for asking, but I hope you facepalm yourself when I tell you that it was Trevor Jones that scored the movie Labyrinth. Yes, David Bowie, the mortal god, did the songs, but Trevor Jones actually did the scored bits (the background music for the goblin battle, the music leading up to Sarah’s hallucination, etc.). Ahh…what a wonderful movie… Wish I were watching it right now, but it’s too late. :( Perhaps tomorrow…


• Monday, April 26th, 2010

Glyph of the word 'tela'.


  • (n.) sibling of a parent (non-gender specific)

Ipe iu tela oi’i: Pinia oi Kaino.
“These are my parents’ siblings: Pinia and Kaino.”

Notes: If you were looking at the word above and wondering just how it would ever be useful, this is how. Say you have an Aunt Pinia and an Uncle Kaino, and you wanted to introduce them to someone. In English, you’re stuck with just introducing them by name without stating their relation, or you say, “This is my aunt and uncle.”

Peh, I see! Kamakawi loads up on the familial terminology, and so instead of saying anything like that, you’d say, “These are my tela, Pinia and Kaino”. Bam! That’s taking care of business.


• Sunday, April 25th, 2010

Glyph of the word 'paka'.


  • (num.) nine
  • (adj.) ninth
  • (v.) to nonuple

A fulele ei e paka ie imoi li’i.
“I wish to nonuple my strawberry guavas.”

Notes: We’re nearing the end of the digits one through ten, and I wanted to use the verb form at least once. The word “nonuple” is the silliest English word, period. It almost sounds dirty. But let me tell you, if I had a strawberry guava, I’d want nothing better than to nonuple it. Just imagine: Guava juice for a week! That’s my idea of paradise.

(Well, not really. My idea of paradise is a lifetime supply of virgin piña coladas, but I’m deathly allergic to pineapple, so even when I had the opportunity to have as many free virgin piña coladas as I wanted [on my honeymoon], I couldn’t. I did have a few, but after the third, my throat started to swell, and then came the hives…)


• Saturday, April 24th, 2010

Glyph of the word 'pini'.


  • (n.) sympathy
  • (adj.) sympathetic
  • (v.) to sympathize with, to be sympathetic to

A pini ei ie imo o ia.
“I sympathize with your hunger.”

Notes: As you’ll notice, this one takes an ordinary object, rather than a ti object. Some emotion words in Kamakawi work this way, some the other. It all depends what analogical model speakers are working with; what words are considered to be in the group, and which out. I absolutely love creating new vocabulary; it’s so much fun! Sometimes I feel like I need to get through the grammar so I can get to the lexicon, even though the two really go hand-in-hand.


• Friday, April 23rd, 2010

Glyph of the word 'ponu'.


  • (n.) leg of an animal

Au lake oi awi uamo, hou ponu.
“Her legs are black and furry.”

Notes: Happy Caturday! :D

Today’s cat word is one of many lexical items in Kamakawi for an animal body part. Many languages have different terms for animal and human body parts, and Kamakawi is among them.

Today’s cat picture shows Keli lounging on our bathroom counter:

Keli on our bathroom counter.

Whenever I brush my teeth, she takes it as a personal affront (I’m paying more attention to the mirror than to her!), and so she leaps up onto the counter and demands to be petted. I, of course, comply.


• Thursday, April 22nd, 2010

Glyph of the word 'tova'.


  • (n.) mushroom


Notes: Mushroom!

Yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay mushroom! :D

I love mushrooms! They make me so happy I’m going to include a picture of a mushroom in this very post!


Hooray for mushrooms!



• Wednesday, April 21st, 2010

Glyph of the word 'tala'.


  • (num.) eight
  • (adj.) eighth
  • (v.) to octuple

Hekala ia ti “pene” tala potu.
“Say ‘pene’ eight times.”

Notes: My master’s thesis at UCSD involved me getting people to say sentences like the above eight times. Instead of pene, though, they were saying “ban”, “bang”, “bad”, “bane”, “bade”, “Ben”, “bing”, “bin”, “bean”, “bead”, “bed”, “beg”, “bag”, “big”—may have even had them saying “beag” as in “beagle”. Each of those were in the sentence above, and they said each sentence eight times. It was torturous—for them and me. Turned up some interesting results, though.

There’s an interesting expression used above. The phrase tala potu translate literally to “eight thick”. That’s how you say “eight times” in Kamakawi.