Archive for the ‘Ikunima’u’ Category


• Friday, February 24th, 2012

Glyph of the word 'nuku'.


  • (n.) a go-between for married couples

E kaneko ie nuku oieika
“The cat is our nuku.”


Keli has a new chair, and she found herself a new little blanket to go with it:

Keli sleeping under a little pillow.

Today’s word is a unique one, I think. The word describes a person integral to Kamakawi marriage. See, when two Kamakawi get married, they have a nuku. This nuku is usually an older woman (though not always) who’s either a widow or has been married many years, and who usually is not directly related to either the bride or the groom. The job of the nuku (who doesn’t live with the couple, but drops by from time to time) is to not only help married people settle in to married life, but to covertly pass messages back and forth between couples—usually things that one doesn’t want to say to the other directly.

For example, let’s say the wife discovers that her husband snores loudly in his sleep, but doesn’t want to say anything. She tells the nuku privately, and then some time later (not the next day, but maybe a couple days later), the nuku comes by when just the husband is there and gives him several bits of advice. She might say, “Always rinse your hands after you’ve been cleaning fish”, and, “Don’t stomp around so loudly in the morning”, and, “Don’t eat opeope right before bed”, and, in addition to all that, “Don’t sleep flat on your back; you snore too loudly!” The husband won’t know which of those things is true, but he’ll know one of them probably came from his wife. Then it’s his job to try to take what advice he can and change things as he sees fit.

Now, due to the nature of their profession, the nuku has a lot of power, and must exercise caution and skill. So as not to be too obvious, the skilled nuku will often drop by with advice that wasn’t given by one or the other spouse. The best nuku will know both spouses well, and so will be able to figure out what advice makes sense for each one—and will also be able to dole it out efficiently over time so as to be able to couch all the real complaints in with the other advice. And, provided everything works out well, the nuku will eventually stop coming around often, and, finally, will simply be a friend of the family.

Of course, on account of the delicacy of their position, it’s pretty easy to be a bad nuku. The bad nuku won’t be able to disguise the true advice very well, which can lead to arguments or hurt feelings. But worse than that is the nuku who comes around too often (and at highly inconvenient times), and doesn’t know when to stop coming around (usually somewhere around year two, or after the first child has lived a full year). Then the nuku becomes a nuisance that the couple wishes to be rid of. Such a nuku is sometimes referred to (behind closed doors) as a paopu (“worm”), on account of the similarities between its iku and the iku for nuku.

Of course, the similarity between the two iku is entirely accidental. The iku for paopu is actually a combination of the iku for pa, o and pu (though it’s hard to tell at this stage). The iku for nuku is quite different.

In examining today’s iku, first take a look at the iku for ho, which is used to mean “man”. Keep that image in mind. That shape is the general shape used for a person (seen also in the iku for ei, “I”, and kupi, “sit”, among others). The iku for nuku actually has those shapes mirrored, facing each other. So rather than being built off pa, the triangle shape is an accident of the combination. The line in between the two essentially represents the nuku: the thing that’s in between the married couple.

And, of course, Keli has always served well in her role. We’re looking to keep her around for quite a while. :)


• Saturday, February 11th, 2012

Glyph of the word 'oli'.


  • (n.) fruit
  • (v.) to pick (fruit, nuts, etc.), to harvest
  • (adj.) picked, harvested

Ai ipe i oli ai?
“Is that fruit?”

Notes: Fruit sounds good right now. I may have to go and harvest me some.

So this iku is a bit of a mystery. It doesn’t contain either o or li, and it doesn’t really look like an ikuiku. (What do you think? Does that look like a piece of fruit?) My first idea, on looking at it again, was that it kind of looked like a harvested field, but that doesn’t seem likely.

No, I think I may have intended this to be some sort of bizarre iconic representation of the category “fruit”. I’d say it looked like a coconut, but this is what a coconut looks like to the Kamakawi. Yes, I have to say that this one is a true mystery. We may never know what it’s supposed to represent…

Well, aside from the word oli.


• Sunday, January 22nd, 2012

Glyph of the word 'oka'.


  • (v.) to be dull
  • (adj.) dull

A oka tiva.
“The knife is dull.”

Notes: As with the example sentence, this is only “dull” as in “not sharp”, not “dull” as in “boring”.

I wanted to do something different with this iku. I had no ideas for it (couldn’t be an ikunoala), so I thought I’d play it by ear. Then I came up with this. And then I decided to stick with it. I still don’t get it…


• Friday, January 13th, 2012

Glyph of the word 'uoi'.


  • (v.) to attempt (something), to try (something) out
  • (adv.) to try to

Ai ine ia i uku ai uoi?!
“What are you trying to do?!”


You know, I could have sworn that I’d already put this picture up:

Keli surprised.

But no. I was thinking of this picture. Apparently “surprised” is something Keli does well—and often.

As for this iku… Yeah. It’s, uh…something. Sometimes you just have to throw up your hands and say, “I don’t know where this came from.” I think that’s what all those involved say about Small Soldiers. It just happened, and now we’re stuck with it—just as I’m stuck with this really bizarre (and yet, somehow, specific-looking) iku. Ikunima’u? Check.


• 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.


• Tuesday, November 29th, 2011

Glyph of the word 'lia'.


  • (n.) girl

Male fineli ia i ipe lia.
“You’re gonna lose that girl.”

Notes: One of my all-time favorite Beatles songs! If you’re unfamiliar, give it a listen. :D

This is one of those words I thought I’d done. After all, it’s pretty basic, and a foma. The iku’s a little funny. It incorporates li, but it’s kind of built off of part of live, the word for “coyote”. It’s done so it looks human (the iku), but beyond that, I can’t say why it looks the way it does. An old one, though.


• Thursday, November 17th, 2011

Glyph of the word 'mele'.


  • (num.) one thousand
  • (adj.) one thousandth

Mele i fatu kavi.
“One thousand is a big number.”

Notes: And its iku looks like a cage that houses a wild beast! RAAAAAAAAAAWRRRR! :twisted:

Nothing much to say about today’s word. It’s a placeholder word, since I found myself without much time today. Bleh. So it goes… Should be asleep already. That’s the kind of day it is.


• 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”).


• 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.)


• Saturday, October 29th, 2011

Glyph of the word 'ue'.


  • (phon.) glyph for the sequence ue
  • (pron.) first person plural inclusive pronoun

Ue ie inotu.
“We are the world.”

Notes: Today’s iku completely mystifies me. It kind of looks like ua, but it shouldn’t be related to the word for “hill”. And yet, I think that’s what I was doing. I think by adding the line below, that kind of made it an e sound…somehow. Perplexing.

Anyway, Kamakawi, like many languages, distinguishes between a “we” that includes the addressee and a “we” that excludes the addressee. This is the one that includes the addressee—and today, that means you! :D So jump on in and enjoy the inclusivity!