Archive for the ‘A’ Category


• Saturday, December 3rd, 2011

Glyph of the word 'ala'.


  • (n.) to be located at
  • (prep.) at
  • (adj.) placed
  • (n.) place
  • (v.) to have (subject is possessee; object possessor)

Ala oko i’i.
“I have a drum.”

Notes: Here’s a really common word I haven’t done yet. Ala actually works as a locative copula—the only type Kamakawi has. It’s general, and can be used in conjunction with locative prepositions, but it usually just means “at” or “near” or “around”.

The iku is a bizarre combination of a and la that I call the “broken spear” iku because the darn thing looks a lot like utu. The difference is so slight (a shorter stick on utu), you’d think the two would’ve merged, and yet the distinction is preserved.


• Saturday, November 26th, 2011

Glyph of the word 'awitipo'.


  • (v.) to be sweet, to taste sweet
  • (adj.) sweet, sweet-tasting
  • (n.) sweetness

Owe: E awitipo! E feya i’i kau!
“Ahhh, the sweetness! It knocks me down!”

Notes: I’m back from my sojourn up to Northern California, where I was able to get a taste of some Shubert’s ice cream. Here’s what I had:

My ice cream from Shubert's.

For those not in the know, Shubert’s was voted the second best ice cream store in America awhile back. And since the number one ice cream store got its title because it offers a $1,000 sundae (that’s how much you pay. What a joke!), I don’t think it’s too far-fetched to say that Shubert’s is the best ice cream shop in America.

And it just so happens to be in my wife’s hometown. Not bad!

Anyway, whenever we go up, I make sure to get some Shubert’s. I only made it out once this time, but man, was it good! That’s three scoops of ice cream: mocha chip, chocolate chip and cookies and cream. I love their mocha chip. Will not touch coffee (the drink), but when it comes in ice cream form, it’s pretty darn good.

Today’s word derives from the word uitipo, the word for “mango”. While “mango” is pretty incredible, I think the word awitipo doesn’t quite cover what “sweet” covers in English. That is, awitipo still has the “mango” right in it, so you get a certain type of “sweet” with it. Of course, in the era I’m thinking of, things like “ice cream” are completely unknown to the Kamakawi (reason enough for staying put here in 21st century Southern California), so the taste sensation doesn’t really need to be described by the language. Some day, though, far in the future…

Oh, by the way, this is what Shubert’s ice cream looks like when it’s gone:

My empty ice cream container from Shubert's.



• Friday, November 25th, 2011

Glyph of the word 'aeiu'.


  • (v.) to enter, to go into
  • (prep.) into

Aeiu ia, talima!
“Enter, human!”


Here’s another shot of Keli enjoying the tower she got from her auntie Sylvia Sotomayor:

Keli in the middle part of her new little house.

She loves the top, loves the middle (which is where she is in this picture), loves the little ball toy, loves the rope-wrapped pole—just loves every little bit of it! Christmas came early for her this year.

My hope is that familiarity with this new piece of cat furniture will soften her to the other one we got for her that she won’t touch. We’ll see…


• Wednesday, November 9th, 2011

Glyph of the word 'ae'.


  • (part.) cooccurs with a singular subject that is different from the previous subject in the discourse, but which, otherwise, is not new to the discourse

Ka nu’e ei ie alama kae mamaka i’i!
“I picked up the sand crab and he pinched me!”

Notes: Today’s word is a grammatical word, but I hadn’t done it yet, so I figured today was as good a day as any.

As I mentioned previously, in Kamakawi there are switch-reference markers that occur sentence-initially. These tell the hearer the status of the subject: whether it’s brand new to the discourse, whether it’s the same as the subject of the previous sentence, or, in this case, if it comes from somewhere else in the discourse other than the subject position.

The place to use such a marker is exactly as shown above. In the example, alama, the sand crab, is the object of the sentence (it gets picked up). It then serves as the subject of the next clause, so you use ae (or, in this case, kae, since it’s in the past tense) to let the hearer know. And then, since the subject is clear, you can drop it and don’t need to use a pronoun to refer to it, either. This is one of the things that helps to shorten up Kamakawi sentences.

I’m still trying to figure out how to present the writing of the grammatical bits, but I don’t think it’s going to happen, since I’m going with one word a day (or, actually kae is one word, even though it’s written with two glyphs…). Essentially, though, using kae as an example, you write it with two glyphs: the past tense glyph and then the glyph for ae. But you can still use the past tense glyph by itself where it stands for ka (though to be maximally clear, it’s best to use the past tense glyph along with the switch-subject glyph, which is required when there’s a new plural subject in the past). It seems a lot more confusing than it is. Maybe I should actually add something to the actual Kamakawi webpages… (Something I haven’t done in ages.)


• Tuesday, November 8th, 2011

Glyph of the word 'a'iki'.


  • (n.) coral reef

I a’iki kavi pe.
“There’s a large coral reef there.”

Notes: A’iki is certainly an older word, and its iku is one of those that defies exact description. It’s, of course, built off the iku for “white”, a’i, but there’s no etymological relationship between the two. It features the “ground” determinative (used with places and locations), and it also kind of looks like a coral reef, but that could just be me. So it might’ve been an ikuleyaka, but usually those don’t have any phonological component.

Hey, apropos of nothing, if you want to see something good, check out the latest series at the Kēlen Word of the Day blog. Sylvia’s translated “The Jabberwocky” into Kēlen and is discussing the translation line by line. I never thought of the “slithy toves” as lizard, but that’s part of the fun!


• Saturday, October 22nd, 2011

Glyph of the word 'ane'.Glyph of the word 'ane'.


  • (v.) to be really loud
  • (adj.) really loud

Aneane ipe lona ima!
“That’s way too loud!”

Notes: Some aspects of reduplication are predictable in Kamakawi. One of the common uses of reduplication (especially full reduplication) is intensification. A large number of stative predicates can be intensified by using full reduplication (in this case, ane).


• Sunday, October 9th, 2011

Glyph of the word 'ane'.


  • (v.) to be loud
  • (adj.) loud

Ane uia, he Kemevene!
“Be loud, Lions!”

Notes: The Detroit Lions have started off 4-0, and face yet another test in the Chicago Bears. I need them to come up big to claw above the .500 mark in fantasy. Let’s see it!

So I’m looking at the iku for ane, and…I’ve got no clue what I was thinking. There appears to be an hour in there, but it looks like it’s pointing down… It almost looks like it’s built off the iku for keva, “shark”, but the shape isn’t quite the same, and it wouldn’t make any sense, anyway (sharks are silent). It’s definitely an ikunima’u.


• Saturday, October 8th, 2011

Glyph of the word 'ani'.


  • (adv.) too, as well, also, furthermore
  • (conj.) conjoins two verbs (subject is preceded by he)

A eli ani ile he ei i Ala Teviti.
“I love and hate Al Davis.”

Notes: Well, how about that. Al Davis, the owner of the Oakland then LA then Oakland Raiders is dead. I kind of revile him for taking the team from LA and doing just some stupid, stupid stuff, but he was a true innovator and a giant of the game. He revolutionized not only football, but modern sports (albeit mainly through his legal dealings). I can’t say I’ll miss him, but he was a tough old cuss. I hope the Raiders beat the tar out of the Texans this Sunday to commemorate his passing.

Today’s word is used as an ordinary adverb to mean “too” or “also”, but it also has a specialized use as shown above. When the subject and object of a verb are the same, you can combine the verbs with ani. When doing so, though, the subject must be preceded by he.

The iku itself is a standard combination of a and ni. For whatever reason, I often forget this word exists. It’s quite handy, and it’d seem like I’d use it all the time, but I rarely use it. I’ll try to change that.


• Friday, October 7th, 2011

Glyph of the word 'awi'.


  • (n.) fur (or animal hair)
  • (adj.) furry
  • (v.) to be furry

Ai ivi awi o ei i ia ai?
“Does my fur amuse you?”


Every so often I’ll be upstairs, and Erin will call up to me to “take a look at our cat”. Whenever I do so, she’s always in some amusing or cute position. On this day, she was lounging on top of one of our chairs, happy as a cat:

Keli looking up at us.

Hey, this is another one of those words that uses the mysterious glyph au. It does its job.

So for those keeping track, both teams that I predicted would get to the World Series this year have been eliminated. So…yeah. The lesson here is not to put money on my baseball picks.


• Wednesday, October 5th, 2011

Glyph of the word 'au'.


  • (phon.) glyph for the sequence au

Oku eteke au ti okuku.
Au doesn’t mean anything.”

Notes: I’ve had the iku for au sitting in my little “to do” folder for…over a year. It’s an iku we’ve seen before (in, for example, the words awela and awei), but it has no meaning of its own. Or, to be more precise, the meaning has been lost to the ages.

It’s clear that the iku for au is not an ikunoala (compare the iku for a and u). It’s probably not a facial expression. If it were some sort of shellfish or crustacean, presumably it would still be in use. Since no one knows, though, it remains a mystery, though the iku still enjoys use as a phonetic glyph.