Glyph of the word 'emi'.


  • (n.) person, human
  • (v.) to be human (as opposed to an animal, rock or field of poppies)
  • (adj.) human

A ine ei i uku emi ikaka! E fupomu! A mata ia?
“I do other human stuff! I age! See?”

Notes: Heh, heh… That line comes from one of my favorite Futurama episodes “Insane in the Mainframe”. I’m ecstatic that Futurama is coming back! If the internet has done nothing else, it’s successfully resurrected excellent shows that otherwise would have been nothing but a memory now.

A few days ago, Omniglot, the fantastic website that profiles just about every writing system known to man, put up a page on Kamakawi’s orthography. To commemorate its inclusion, I thought I’d devote the next few Words of the Day to the various bizarre words included in the Kamakawi translation of Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

To give you a bit of background, the translation included on the Kavaka o Fuvupo page is my first successful translation of the Declaration of Human Rights. Why? Perhaps taking a look at it will help to illustrate:

All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

Other conlangers can sympathize with the problem this poses to conlang translation. I mean, “brotherhood”? “Free”? “Equal”? “Dignity”? “Conscience”? These are extremely loaded terms with long histories in English, and one can’t simply translate them without either assuming their English language histories, or destroying them (and thus, rewriting the intent of the declaration itself).

So instead of trying to be faithful to every nuance of each of these words, I had a little fun with in Kamakawi. I figure this goes hand-in-hand with the Kamakawi belief that nothing should be taken seriously.

To start things off, though, I’ve included the word for “human”. It’s pretty standard. As for its construction, we have the iku for mi right in there, and beneath it is a tiny little e. What it looks like to me, though (and I believe what I intended it to be), is a little baby being born (that’s what the arrow is). That’s why I classified it as an iku’ume as opposed to an iku’ui. It could probably go either way.

This word is pretty straightforward. Those that follow, though, will require some explanation. Heh, heh… This is going to be fun. :)

Tags: , , , ,

2 Responses to “Emi”

  1. Ka kavaka Esploranto ti:

    Great thing Futurama! Blessed be the Internet that resurrected it. When you say it is coming back you mean ‘it came back’ right? Or will they continue since the movies?

    I completely sympathize with you in the subject of translating such things as the Human Rights Declarations. Even if you had the words ‘free’ or ‘equal’… dignity? When you start creating a language from the base up you are light-years from achieving such a concept, unless you are decidedly making a logic-lang or philosophical one. Also ‘spirit’ what kind of spirit? Maybe the lang you make doesn’t have that use of the word. I completely understand you, it’s tough. I don’t know what’s easier to translate when you start making a conlang, certainly not the Bible or this. Sometimes you have to even consider what kind of language you are dealing with.

  2. Ka kavaka David J. Peterson ti:

    When you say it is coming back you mean ‘it came back’ right? Or will they continue since the movies?

    Absolutely! Follow the links! New episodes are going to start airing on June 24th on Comedy Central. There should be (at least?) 26 of them. It’s awesome!

    And as for the other part of your comment, just wait to see what I did when I got to translating “dignity”. ;)

Leave a Reply