Archive for the ‘K’ Category


• Thursday, March 8th, 2012

Glyph of the word 'kakulu'.


  • (num.) zero
  • (pron.) nothing

Ei i kakulu tou!
“I am the mighty zero!”

Notes: Zero is, indeed, the mightiest of numbers—the archnemesis of one. Multiple anything by zero, and all you get is more zero. Compare that to pushover one, who gives you back just what you gave it. Pathetic! In fact, the same thing happens if you divide anything by one. Divide something by zero? Just try it. The very act causes lesser calculators to explode. All hail the mighty zero! :!:

In Kamakawi, you can now use kakulu to mean “nothing”, but it’s a bit slangy. The standard and more general way to say “nothing” is still okuku.


• Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012

Glyph of the word 'kau'.


  • (adv.) down, downwards
  • (adj.) down, lower
  • (v.) to go down, to go downwards, to descend

Lalau ia i amo kau!
“Throw it down!”

Notes: Following up on yesterday’s word, here is a very high-frequency Kamakawi word: kau. It kind of shows up everywhere. It can serve as the adverbial part of a number of compound verbs, as well as the elements listed above.

I was a bit surprised when typing up this iku to see that it resides in the ikunoala section of my font. Then I looked at it and said, “Oh.” And I do see what I was thinking; might not have made the same choice were I doing it now, but kau is so much a part of the script that there’s no changing it.

If you take a look at the iku for u, you’ll see that the “W”-looking glyph has three peaks, and that the peaks are connected. That’s basically what this is, except that the connecting line is on the bottom, and the three peaks are all ka. So the shape is purely phonological, and you can look at it and see how it’s pronounced, but its construction is not as straightforward as some of the other ikunoala.


• Tuesday, February 14th, 2012

Glyph of the word 'kaiwea'.


  • (n.) stork

Lea i kaiwea! Ua hale ei…
“He’s a stork! I think…”


Today I got quite a surprise. Erin said she had a present for me, and I descended the stairs to see this fabulous gentleman:

My new bird statue.

Isn’t he outstanding?! I don’t know if it’s supposed to be a stork or a flamingo or some other type of bird, but I decided his name should be Kaiwea—and that has given birth to a new Kamakawi word. Storks, you see, are ubiquitous, and I’m rather surprised I didn’t have a word for it yet. Well, now I do! And it also allowed me to use the iku for le’o as a determinative, which is something I haven’t yet done.

Today is a good day! :D


• Friday, January 6th, 2012

Glyph of the word 'ka'.


  • (part.) marks the past tense (as well as a switch in subject, if no other marker is present)

Ka liki ei i iko kau.
“I have laid claim to this.”


Keli loves all boxes, of course, but she really likes boxes like this:

Keli in a box.

The iku above combines with other subject status iku like ae and e. As for function, today it marks the simple past tense, but it’s also developing into an anterior. There used to just be an imperfect/perfect distinction in Kamakawi (this being the perfect), but that developed into a tense distinction, as it often does.


• Wednesday, January 4th, 2012

Glyph of the word 'kaino'.


  • (n.) Hawaiian goose (nene)
  • (nm.) a man’s given name

Ka ni’u ipe kaino!
“That goose bit me!”

Notes: And geese do bite. You be careful around geese! Those birds don’t mess around. If only I’d had a camera the day that goose tried to run me down… You think I’m joking, but it happened! My wife was there; she’ll attest to it!

The iku for kaino is one of my favorites, on account of how goose-ish it looks. It’s certainly a proud goose. I can see a language deriving the word from “pride” from the word for “goose”. Then you could make reference to a person’s goose-ishness.

For more information about the name Kaino, go here.


• Thursday, December 22nd, 2011

Glyph of the word 'kupe'.


  • (v.) to be young
  • (adj.) young
  • (n.) youth (young man or woman)

Nemei lia kupe ie aeko o ei!
“Young girl, get out of my mind!”

Notes: Man, talk about a creepy song! You can give it a listen here, or read the lyrics here.

So this iku is a bit of a mixed bag. It features part of the iku for ku, which gives the reader a clue how to pronounce it, but it also features the “ground” determinative. Here, though, that “ground” determinative is being used rather literally. The idea is that it will look like a flower springing out of the ground (recall that ku means “aloe”), and thereby stand for youthfulness. By definition, then, I believe this is an iku’ui, even though it looks like an ikuleyaka.


• Sunday, December 11th, 2011

Glyph of the word 'kakalaka'.


  • (n.) interview

Kakalaka oye kaneko!
“Interview with the cat!”

Notes: Keli received some exciting news today: Her picture was in The New York Times! Check it out here (scroll down to see the picture).

The photographer is Monica Almeida, who’s a staff photographer for the Times. She’s an animal lover herself, so she was more than happy to take pictures of me and Keli. I didn’t think one would actually make it into the article. I was quite pleased to see it! It’s funny, she took a bunch, but I think she chose this one purpose because the contrast between my expression and Keli’s is pure hilarity. That’s just like my cat: Anxious to be the center of attention, and then once she has everyone’s attention, desperate to escape. What a cat she is!

Kamakawi also gets a brief mention in the article. A long while back someone added a Wikipedia page for Kamakawi, and it got deleted. Maybe if it ever gets re-added it’ll stick around.

And if it does, maybe then it’s time to add a Wikipedia page for Keli… 8O


• Saturday, November 19th, 2011

Glyph of the word 'kamelaye'.


  • (v.) to wander, to walk around aimlessly (slowly)
  • (adj.) wandering
  • (n.) wandering

Ka kamelaye lea ie falele.
“He wandered through the forest.”

Notes: From yesterday’s word, kamelaye is, in my mind, onomatopoeic. That was how I created it, and that was the intent. I’m not sure quite how to describe how it’s onomatopoeic, but to me it evokes an image of someone walking around through a forest—perhaps with their hands clasped behind their back. The image in my mind is quite clear, but realistically, I don’t think the sounds of the word lend themselves to the actual sounds of the endeavor at all. For some reason, it just sounds like the activity.

Anyway, but as kamelaye is to wander without aim, nekamelaye is to search without a specific end in mind—hence, to explore. That’s how yesterday’s word derives from today’s. :)


• Wednesday, November 16th, 2011

Glyph of the word 'kapa'.


  • (num.) one hundred
  • (adj.) one hundredth

Kapa Ulili o Awape.
One Hundred Years of Solitude.”

Notes: That’s the name of my favorite novel by Gabriel García Márquez. I realized there were still a couple crucial numbers missing from the Word of the Day posts, so I decided to get them out of the way. Today’s is the word for one hundred.

At this point, the iku for numbers stopped being lines connecting dots, and got a bit more abstract (after all, 100 dots would be pretty unreasonable). That’s why this one’s classified an ikunima’u (though it’s clearly based on the iku for mou, “ten”).


• Friday, September 16th, 2011

Glyph of the word 'kapalele'.


  • (adv./conj.) in this way, in this manner, and so, así, thus, thusly, like this
  • (adv.) so (with stative predicates)

Ea. Olo ei kapalele.
“Yes. I sleep like this.”


I was quite happy to come back home to see both Erin and Keli. And Keli was quite pleased to see me. After awhile we sat on the couch, and she came up behind my head, curled up, and went to sleep. Here she is:

Keli reclining.

I can’t for the life of me remember how this word works. I know I had a very, very specific reason for building it this way. I wanted a word that worked (basically) like así does in Spanish, and I spent a lot of time thinking of how exactly it would be derived in Kamakawi. This is what I came up with. And, as I said, I know I had a very good reason for deriving it, ultimately, from pale: I simply can’t remember what that reason is.

But anyway, it’s quite a useful word, so don’t let it’s dubious etymology deter you from dropping into everyday speech (even in English [especially in Dutch]). I know I had a good reason for making it the way I did; I just access that information at this time.