Glyph of the word 'eli'.


  • (v.) to love, to be in love with
  • (n.) love
  • (adj.) loving

Oku keili eya ie eli…
“We’re no strangers to love…”

Notes: Oh snap! You all have just been Rick Rolled! 8O

This isn’t coming out of nowhere, though. A few days ago, on the Rejistanian Word of the Day Blog, friend of the KWOTD Rejistania posted an entire translation of the (in)famous Rick Astley song. She then challenged me to translate it into Kamakawi, and I’ve picked up the gauntlet!

The problem with this translation (i.e. if one were to use the translation and sing the song live) is meter. It’s not difficult to rhyme in Kamakawi (only five vowels, eight consonants), but words can accrue a number of syllable that can’t be easily jettisoned. Take this first line. “We’re no strangers to love” is six syllables. The Kamakawi translation above is eleven syllables. Yikes! One can get away with running ie eli together in song, but that’s still ten. Removing the pronoun eya would render eight, but then there’s no clear way to get the “we” in there… Plus, with no previous referent, the sentence would sound really, really odd.

One might imagine that oku could get shortened to o, but that only buys us one syllable (nine).

Hmmm… But on testing, one can add ie eli (elided) as an afterthought after eya. It would occur after the word “love” in the English and before the start of the next line. I think one would have to do that (and will have to do that for the rest of the song) to make this work (either that or translate stanzas as a whole and cut them up in a different manner from the way the song does, contentwise). We’ll see how I manage!

Oddly enough, the most interesting word in this line is keili, but since I haven’t done “love” yet, I felt I should (it’s a good word to know). I’ll get to keili later.

The iku for eli is a straight-up ikunoala with a little V for e placed on top of the glyph for li. I think it’s a fortuitous combination, as the resultant glyph looks nice. I also like how it incorporates the “giving” hand. Well, actually, it’s kind of a “giving” and a “taking” hand, but that’s what love is, after all.

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5 Responses to “Eli”

  1. Ka kavaka Rejistania ti:

    Great to see you working on it!

    I have the issue with length as well. Rejistanian is longer than English if the text originally in English (but it might be the other way around when I start with rejistanian). I generally wiggle the meaning until it fits (like: xen’komanu’ta (we are not foreign) for xen’aru’ta komanu’he’ny, which would be the literal translation).

  2. Ka kavaka rikchik ti:

    From April 1, 2008: http://rikchik.livejournal.com/16955.html

  3. Ka kavaka David J. Peterson ti:

    And you know what? I really like this song. I liked it from the first time I heard it when I was a kid. Hee, hee… We should try to spread this Rick Rolling Conlang meme; see how many people we can get to translate it!

  4. Ka kavaka Kelemta ti:

    This is a pleasing word for ‘love’ to me. I also translated the song based on the Rejistanian post and had troubles with length. In my conlang too rhyming is no problem (small inventory of sounds) but word length can get unweildy (almost all verbs have 3 syllables). I solved the problem by translating quite loosely in places and chopping up lines differently, but your solution of having ‘extra’ bits works well too. I like seeing these kinds of fun posts :)

  5. Ka kavaka David J. Peterson ti:

    Hey, I read your post. Nice! I like how after “I will always love you” comes a line about not kissing other girls. I guess that can be kind of an afterthought, though (“I only said I’d love you, babe; I didn’t say I was going to stop seeing other women!”). I tried to comment on your post, but it told me I needed to be logged in, and I don’t even have a WordPress account, for some reason, even though I have a WordPress blog, and it got confusing, and I was all like, “Whatev!”, and now I’m here.

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