Archive for May, 2011


• Tuesday, May 31st, 2011

Glyph of the word 'ulakalaka'.


  • (adj.) patterned
  • (v.) to be patterned
  • (n.) patterning
  • (n.) pattern

Leya ulaka le olomo.
“Patterned stones for walking.”

Notes: My English vocabulary is leaving me! I know what I mean by “patterning”, but I’m quite certain there’s got to be a better word for it. Patternwork? Dang, that’s not a word. Detail? Eh. I got nothing.

Anyway, this sentence comes from a picture I took at the Huntington. Here it is:

A nice patterned floor.

I thought this was pretty cool. Not only is it, essentially, a cobblestone floor, but the stones are used to create patterns that look like tile! How cool is that?! Check it out: All the lines in there and everything are just stones. Wild!


• Monday, May 30th, 2011

Glyph of the word 'foye'.


  • (n.) papaya

A havava ei i foye.
“I like papaya.”

Notes: Fresh papaya gets a bad rap, in my opinion. I think it tastes quite nice. I definitely like what it adds to juices (who doesn’t?), but the fruit itself is a nice treat. I don’t love it, but I well enjoy it from time to time.

Thus concludes my meditation on papaya.


• Sunday, May 29th, 2011

Glyph of the word 'ioala'.


  • (n.) speech, oration
  • (v.) to give or make a speech

Kiko ioala hala oi uei.
“Today our khal gives a speech.”

Notes: Today is Episode 7 of Game of Thrones, “You Win or You Die”. In it Jason Momoa, playing Khal Drogo, gives a rather lengthy speech in Dothraki—and all in one take! That’s something I couldn’t accomplish (took me three or four tries, and in my recording, I ended up splicing different recordings together). I’ll be looking forward to it, though I think I’m going to miss the East Coast feed… :(

Today’s word derives rather unambiguously from oala. I’ve always been fond of that iku for the concept of “speech”. I don’t know why, but to me it kind of looks like speech. It emanates outward… (Even though the iku looks like it’s pointing at the ground.) Actually kind of looks like barbed wire. Speech can be like that, though. ;)


• Saturday, May 28th, 2011

Glyph of the word 'eiliki'iu'.


  • (v.) to travel south

Kiko eiliki’iu ei.
“Today I travel south.”

Notes: Indeed, today I’m heading down to the Bad Yellow: My old stomping grounds. I’ll have to take in one of my favorite restaurants (so many!), and salute the ol’ Lightbulb Factory.

The iu part of the iku above is written without the line because there’s really one thing it could be. With the directions, the appended triangle always refers to movement (rather than the number three), so no “line” determinative is needed (and it’s never written).


• Friday, May 27th, 2011

Glyph of the word 'alavene'.


Ea, a male neva’a ei iu alavene li’ia i ia, he eine.
“Yes, I’ll find your cattle for you, ma’am.”


I hope you’re prepared for one adorable picture:

Keli with a cowboy hat on.


So, question number is probably, “Where’d you get a tiny little, cat-sized cowboy hat?” Erin brought it home with her from work one day. How she got it I have no idea. All I know is it’s just Keli’s size.

Second question: How did I keep the cat on Keli’s head? Answer: She didn’t seem at all displeased by it! Indeed, I’ve got about 40 pictures of her with the hat on her head. I put it on there, and though she found it strange, she made no attempt to knock it off or move. In fact, she fell asleep with the hat still on. Eventually her head drooped so far forward that the hat fell off her head and onto the floor, and the noise woke her up.

So, yes: My cat can rock a cowboy hat.

In Zhyler, the word for “cow” is arven (in the orthography arven). The Zhykhy brought the cows on over with them to the big island, and now the Kamakawi have them (though they’re great big grass munchers—more than anything else they have natively).

I’m a big fan of cows, myself. They always seem to be taking it easy.

Well, unless they’re stampeding.

Probably best to avoid a herd of stampeding cows.


• Thursday, May 26th, 2011

Glyph of the word 'petiki'.


  • (n.) prince, princess

A lutivini petiki ae ei.
“A prince rides inside me.”

Notes: More Game of Thrones translations. This one is uttered by Daenerys in Dothraki, and refers to the son in her womb.

There is a Zhyler word for “prince/princess”, and it’s gerdi (in the orthography gerdi). That word didn’t get borrowed over, though, and instead the Kamakawi created this word. It’s kind of a joke based on the behavior of a few individuals (invaders… What can you do with them?). The final iku there is the diminutive, which just happens to take the form -ki in this word (and so looks like the abstract, but isn’t).


• Wednesday, May 25th, 2011

Glyph of the word 'petí'.


  • (n.) king, queen, ruler, monarch, tyrant, sovereign [< Zhyler]

Ia ioku petí!
“You are no king!”

Notes: Hee, hee… Thought I’d have some fun translating some Game of Thrones lines.

Today’s word comes from the Zhyler word petti (in the orthography, petti). In Kamakawi, it specifically refers to the ruler of the Zhykhy people; it’s not used for internal power structures. Think of it like “tsar” or “kaiser” in English.


• Tuesday, May 24th, 2011

Glyph of the word 'uayu'. or Glyph of the word 'uayu'.


  • (v.) to limp
  • (adj.) limping
  • (n.) (a/the) limp

Uayu ei…
“I’m limping…”

Notes: Not a good game yesterday. Not in any way. My poor body can’t take this punishment for much longer…

There are variant spellings for this one on account of the association with movement. Though a folk etymology, limping is a kind of movement, and lots of movement words end with iu (which always has the “line” determinative beneath it). Add to that the fact that iu and no have the same iku, and darn it if people don’t spell it with the “line” determinative more often than not.


• Monday, May 23rd, 2011

Glyph of the word 'ie'ilelea'.


  • (n.) lilypad

U ie’ilelea i iolui.
“Lilypads on a pond.”

Notes: Another nice shot from the Huntington:

A shrine of some kind in front of a lake.

In Kamakawi, lilypads are “water footprints”—i.e. footprints left in water, as opposed to sand or dirt. According to old lore, the trees walk about at night, and wherever they step plants spring forth—including on top of the water’s surface.


• Sunday, May 22nd, 2011

Glyph of the word 'havai'i'.


  • (n.) plumeria

Ikiki o havai’i!
“Good morning!”

Notes: Taking a cue from Arabic, I thought a nice way to say “good morning” in Kamakawi would be “morning of plumeria”. In Arabic, one way to say “good morning” is “morning of jasmine”. The plumeria seems better suited to the Kamakawi islands.

And speaking of islands, this word should look familiar. :) As a tribute to the land and language that inspired Kamakawi, I named the Kamakawi plumeria after Hawai’i. Erin and I came home with a plumeria when we went to Hawai’i. As far as I know, it’s still alive… Not flourishing, but alive.