Posts Tagged ‘birds’


• 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, February 3rd, 2012

Glyph of the word 'mike'.


  • (n.) albatross

Oloko Keli ti mike.
“Keli is dreaming of an albatross.”


Here’s the picture:

Keli sound asleep.

What a big bushy tail she has!

Anyway, regarding this entry, here’s how I imagine the conversation will go in the future:

Person: So you had a Kamakawi Word of the Day blog?

Me: Yeah.

Person: And Kamakawi has a word for “albatross”?

Me: Yeah.

Person: And you had an entry that featured Coleridge’s “Rime of the Ancient Mariner”?

Me: Yeah.

Person: So was that the entry for “albatross”?

Me: No.


Yeah. Oops. And now “albatross” is relegated to “afterthought” status. So it goes…


• 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.


• Tuesday, December 13th, 2011

Glyph of the word 'io'.


  • (n.) dove

A hava ipe io iu fa li’i!
“That dove’s eating my seeds!”

Notes: Lousy doves! Always pecking away at all the seeds you worked so hard to sow! How would they feel if we went to their farms and pecked away at their seeds, huh?! :evil:

Okay, actually I got nothing against doves. They’re pretty cool birds. And I can’t imagine doves flying to a farm and eating the seeds lying on the ground…

The iku is an ikunoala, but it requires the “identity” determinative to get the “dove” meaning, so it’s classified as an ikuleyaka. For the other meaning, check tomorrow’s post.

Update: No, it’s not an ikunoala! I figured it out! For a detailed explanation, see tomorrow’s post. Spoiler alert:

Old glyph of the word 'io'.


• Monday, November 7th, 2011

Glyph of the word 'fatoi'.


  • (n.) bulbul

Mata ei i fatoi!
“I see a bulbul!”

Notes: I came across the word fatoi today while looking through my dictionary, and looked at the definition and thought, “What the heck is a bulbul…?” Then I looked at the spelling (the Kamakawi spelling, that is) and realized, “Well, it’s some kind of bird.” Heh. Pretty cool! While there are, of course, obvious drawbacks to learning a writing system with over 600 characters, this is one of the happy benefits.

For more information about the bulbul bird, go to its Wikipedia entry here. It seems like a spunky little bird. I’m not sure if I’ve ever seen one, but if I do, I’ll be sure to make a note of it and see if I can snap a picture.


• Monday, September 5th, 2011

Glyph of the word 'le'o'.


  • (n.) egret

Eli ei ie le’o hu’u!
“I love the mighty egret!”

Notes: Man, oh, man! I can’t believe I haven’t done the word for egret yet! Not only is the iku one of my favorite iku of all time, but I have a bunch of cool egret pictures and egret stories (seriously I do)! I remember telling them; can’t believe I haven’t yet. Anyway, to get us started, here’s egret picture #1:


Look at that jaunty little bird! What a sport! This was one of the many egrets my wife and I made friends with in Jamaica. In the days to follow, I shall have more egret pictures and stories (and related words).

Anyway, since I said I would, here’s my (current) fantasy roster (starters first then bench):

  • QB: Tony Romo (Dallas)
  • RB: Jahvid Best (Detroit)
  • RB: Ryan Grant (Green Bay)
  • WR: Calvin Johnson (Detroit)
  • WR: Roddy White (Atlanta)
  • WR: DeSean Jackson (Philadelphia)
  • TE: Kellen Winslow (Tampa Bay)
  • K: David Akers (San Francisco)
  • DST: San Diego Chargesr
  • QB: Matthew Stafford (Detroit)
  • RB: James Starks (Green Bay)
  • RB: Daniel Thomas (Miami)
  • WR: Davone Bess (Miami)
  • WR: Greg Little (Cleveland)

For those who follow football, you can see I’m soft at running back—and I’ve also got too many Detroit players. I’d love to move Ryan Grant (since I don’t believe in him at all) and Tony Romo (since I hate him), but I’m thinking of moving Calvin Johnson for a decent starting wideout and a major upgrade at running back (just so I don’t have so many players on Detroit). I’m quite happy I got former Cal standouts DeSean Jackson and Jahvid Best, though (and I seriously considered picking up Marshawne Lynch). Anyway, as far as I’m concerned, this is a starting point, not the end point. We’ll see what deals I can make to improve my lot.


• Sunday, September 4th, 2011

Glyph of the word 'i'iki'.


  • (n.) chicken (when it’s food), chicken meat

Kiko ka hava ei i i’iki.
“Today I had chicken.”

Notes: Today’s word derives, unsurprisingly, from the word iki, “chicken”. In Kamakawi there’s a distinction drawn between an animal and the meat of that animal. I decided to do this on purpose, but I now forget the reason… I’m pretty sure it was high-minded, but I don’t know if I agree with the sentiment any longer (especially as I can’t remember what it is). Nevertheless, the distinction remains.

There’s a famous case of lexical ambiguity that involves chickens that’s discussed by Sanford Schane in his class “Language and the Law” (you can see a syllabus here). The case (which you can read up on here) involves a fellow who ordered some chickens, and when they arrived, he discovered they were stewing hens (ones used primarily for stock or in soups) as opposed to young chickens, which are used for eating generally (fried chicken, roast chicken, etc.). He refused to pay for the stewing hens, claiming that they’re not what he ordered. The guy who sent the stewing hens claimed that they were, technically, chickens. The court ended up finding in favor of Frigaliment (the guy who expected young chickens) because while the stewing hens were chickens, it was ruled that any ordinary person who heard “chicken” would not expect a stewing hen (kind of like if someone is looking for bachelors, presenting them with a three week old male baby wouldn’t fit the bill—though the little fellow would, technically, be a bachelor).

Anyway, I brought this up because it occurred to me that the Kamakawi term would solve this ambiguity, but it does’t, actually: I’iki would be used for both stewing hens and young chickens that have been slaughtered for their meat. Oh well.

In other news, today is my good friend Scott Yarborough’s 30th birthday. For my very close friends, he is the last one to turn 30 in our year of 30s. Today we are officially “real” adults, and can no longer use our youth as an excuse for anything. We’re all old and supposed to be responsible. Oh well. It was a good run, while it lasted.

But yeah, happy birthday to Scott! Of us men of a certain age, you are the youngest. Today our hats are off to you. Tomorrow… Well, tomorrow is another day (which isn’t so bad after all).


• Thursday, June 23rd, 2011

Glyph of the word 'ke'i'.


  • (n.) chukar partridge

A mata ei i ke’i!
“I see a chukar!”

Notes: I felt I needed a bird word, and so here one is. I encourage you to do an image search for the chukar partridge. They’re quite funny looking birds. Very plump. They look like they’re wearing a headband, or something. Funny little birds. :)


• Monday, May 9th, 2011

Glyph of the word 'pewo'.


  • (n.) nest (of a bird)

Au neyana fuila ti’i: u paki iu pewo tou.
“Birds are better than me: They can build nests.”

Notes: This is a fun word: The iku is actually compositional, but the word itself isn’t.

If you’re familiar with ikuleyaka, the composition of the iku for pewo should be pretty straightforward: You’ve got your bird there (same one from fuila), and beneath him the “ground” determinative indicating a place. Thus, bird place = nest. Pretty straightforward!

The word pewo, on the other hand, has no such etymology. It’s a word that goes back many ages, and has meant “nest” from time immemorial (in fact, it’s older than the current word for “bird”, which is a [relatively speaking] recent invention and is used to refer to any bird, as opposed to a specific species).

Nests have always fascinated me. They look pokey. I couldn’t imagine them being comfy (unless you put feathers down [which, themselves, are pokey]). I’ll take a hammock any day.


• Sunday, March 27th, 2011

Glyph of the word 'humeyo'.


  • (n.) frigatebird

A o’emu hoya o ei takeke humeyo.
“My throat is swollen like a frigatebird.”

Notes: Thankfully it’s not, but check out the picture on the Wikipedia entry for frigatebird! That’s a male bird who’s ready for a mate. :)

Humeyo is one of the digraphic words that works in a very particular fashion. In these words, the first iku is a syllabic glyph for the first syllable of the word (in this case, hu). The second iku is a glyph that serves kind of like a determiner in ikuleyaka. In this case, the iku used is that of fuila. This second iku gives the reader a clue as to which word is intended. So the spelling here kind of tells the reader, “It’s the bird word that starts with hu.”

Obviously, only one spelling like this is possible for each syllabic glyph and “determiner” pairing (so if there was another bird whose name began with hu, it’d need to be spelled out with the kavaka i oala if it didn’t already have its own glyph), but that leaves a large number of possible spellings—and helps to shorten up a lot of words that would otherwise need to be spelled out syllabically.

[Note: Oh, actually, I’ve done a word like this before: neyu, “sea urchin”. Hurrah!]