Archive for the ‘L’ Category


• Sunday, March 4th, 2012

Glyph of the word 'loi'. or Alternate glyph of the word 'to'.


  • (n.) square
  • (adj.) square
  • (v.) to be square

Loi lipo.
“The box is square.”

Notes: Ha, ha! You can say a box is “square” as opposed to “rectangular”; you don’t need to say “cubical”. ;) (Referring to an old debate.)

Loi is one of those words that can be spelled in different ways depending on who’s doing it. The first iku is a combination of lo and oi. The second is simply a square with the “identity” determinative beneath it. The iku does enjoy use elsewhere, but it’s pretty clear when it means “square” and when it means “to quadruple”, I think.


• Thursday, February 23rd, 2012

Glyph of the word 'lu'a'.


  • (v.) to chant
  • (n.) chanting
  • (adj.) chanted

He lu’a ue ie eili kau.
“Let us chant the sun down.”

Notes: Today’s iku is a bit odd. Using the Kamakawi “head” glyph base, the syllabic glyph for ha is used as the mouth. This both gives a clue as to the pronunciation of the glyph, and also serves as a kind of evocative reminder of what the word means (the chant being a river that comes from the mouth).

On the Kamakawi islands, there’s an old tradition of going to the western edge of the island and chanting as the sun goes down. It’s not done every day—or even once a month—but on special occasions (weddings, births, funerals)—but even then, not all of them. Just certain ones. Someone will lead, but others can join in, with the chant leader setting the phrasal chanting patterns, and others joining in. I have a very specific idea for how this works, and could probably write about it, but that’ll have to wait for another day.


• Friday, February 10th, 2012

Glyph of the word 'lama'.


  • (v.) to make (refers to small things)
  • (n.) construction, making
  • (adj.) made, constructed, built, produced

Mata ei ka lama ia i…toyuku.
“I see that you’ve made…something.”


Today’s Caturday is bittersweet, as I am, sadly, without cat. :( I’m off away in the wilds of New Mexico, while Keli is at home with Erin. Before I left, though, I constructed her a little wall of books:

Keli beyond the Wall.

I imagine she’ll stay there for the duration of my absence.

Today’s word, though, really doesn’t apply to something like a wall (and its use in the sentence above is deprecatory). It really applies to something like handicrafts or trinkets—something that you make that can fit in the palm of your hand. I’m still not sure whether it would apply to biscuits… I know this is probably the first thing you thought of (biscuits are usually the first thing I think of when I hear the word “hand”), but the more complex the food, the more likely you’d use lama with it (provided the end result is handheld).

I’ll be returning tomorrow, but if you happen to be in Albuquerque and are reading this, come out to the Hyatt Regency around dinner time. I’ll be giving a talk there and we’ll be screening Episode 6 from last season of Game of Thrones. The cost is $5, but all the money is going to the local branch of the American Cancer Society, which is pretty cool.

Be sure to pet a cat today! The cat will likely appreciate it. :)


• Tuesday, February 7th, 2012

Glyph of the word 'leti'.


  • (v.) to be rusty, to be rust-covered
  • (adj.) rusty, rusted, rust-covered

Leti ei!
“I’m rusty!”

Notes: Heh, heh. That’s a little play on a song from The Venture Bros.

Today’s word is an instantiation of a very old (and no longer productive) pattern. The word derives directly from late, the word for “rust”, and the iku also derives from the iku for late. Basically, a few lines have been added, making it look like this poor, upside-down metal bird is shining with rustiness. Ha. Love it.


• Monday, February 6th, 2012

Glyph of the word 'late'.


  • (v.) to rust
  • (n.) rust
  • (n.) rusting

Late ia, he Paleti! Late!
“Rust, Brady! Rust!”

Notes: Well, it wasn’t a great game, but it was a pretty good game—and it had the right outcome! There were a couple of outstanding plays and it was a close game the whole way, but in the end, the Patriots fell to the Giants: 21-17. Nothing makes me happier than to see Tom Brady and Bill Belichick suffer.

Today’s word isn’t related at all to the word for “metal” (moka), but the iku is. Check it out. Late, which means “rust”, is the iku for moka turned on its head (to indicate that something bad has happened to it). As metal in its natural state isn’t rusty, rusted metal is the “bad” version of it—hence, the iku.


• Sunday, February 5th, 2012

Glyph of the word 'leke'.


  • (n.) olona, hemp (used to make fabric, rope, etc.)
  • (adj.) made from olona

Li ia i ipe levu leke e nevi i’i.
“Give me that olona rag.”

Notes: This is, basically, hemp that’s used to make stuff. I always get a kick out of this iku, though. I call it “Old Tooth-Head”. Also kind of reminds me of those things that pump oil. When I was a kid, I would call them army ants.

I’ve made my piece with the Patriots winning this Super Bowl. I’m prepared to approach with a zen-like calm. Instead, I will focus my attention on replays of the Puppy Bowl. Nothing warms the heart (or the feet, come to think of it) more than adorable puppies. I shall think on them while enduring an awful Patriots victory.


• Thursday, February 2nd, 2012

Glyph of the word 'latu'.


  • (v.) to suck in (air or some other substance), to inhale
  • (n.) sucking in
  • (adj.) sucked up

Ka latu lea i levea lona ima!
“He drank too much salt water!”

Notes: This is a difficult word to describe to those who haven’t spent a lot of time looking at other natlangs without the conversation devolving into smut. Those who have (like most conlangers) know that a word like this is actually quite common in the world’s languages, and it isn’t always associated with sexual activity. In fact, there’s actually two words for this in Kamakawi: One that has to do specifically with air, and this one, which applies to everything else (but also includes air). If the Kamakawi had cigarettes, this is the verb they’d use.

As for the iku, it actually uses the box from tu (making this iku partly phonetic) and makes it into a mouth inside the boxish Kamakawi head you see in a lot of glyphs (e.g. huva, the opposite of this word). In this way it’s pretty solidly an iku’ui (I know there aren’t many, comparatively speaking).


• Thursday, December 29th, 2011

Glyph of the word 'lolota'.


  • (v.) to sew
  • (n.) sewing

Lolota, he fupone! Lolota takeke e hevaka!
“Sew, old woman! Sew like the wind!”

Notes: From one of my old favorites: ¡Three Amigos! Today is the aforewarnedabout word for “to sew”. I learned basic sewing as a kid, so I guess I know what I’m doing if I have to something to something else (or to itself). I’m no seamster, of course. Seamsters are lame. All their skinny hemmed jeans, saying things like, “Yeah, I don’t use needle threaders”, and, “Yeah, I use the model of sewing machine invented by Walter Hunt. You’ve probably never heard of him…”


• Wednesday, December 28th, 2011

Glyph of the word 'lope'.


  • (n.) hibiscus arnottianus

A male owa ei i lope i malalele
“I will plant hibiscus in my garden.”

Notes: This particular flower refers to what in Hawaiian is called koki‘o ke‘oke‘o. It’s a white flower which, in typical hibiscus fashion, has a little spout coming out the middle. It’s a gorgeous flower, and it brightens up any garden. For some reason, hibiscuses (hibisci…?) always relax me. They remind me of being in Hawai‘i. As does this particular brand of sunscreen. I should stock up on that…


• Tuesday, December 27th, 2011

Glyph of the word 'lota'.


  • (v.) to stitch together
  • (v.) to mend (clothing)

Kopuku ia i’i ae lota i ipe.
“Let me fix that.”

Notes: This was a word I coined because I couldn’t fathom how a word for “to sew” could be basic. It didn’t seem basic in Kamakawi: It seemed like something that would be the result of reduplication. And, in fact, it’s a reduplication of this word. So look out for the word “to sew” some time in the future!