Posts Tagged ‘grammar’


• 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, December 14th, 2011

Glyph of the word 'io'.


  • (conj.) but
  • (prep.) sans, except, without, excluding
  • (phon.) glyph for the sequence io

Ka olomo i palei io nea.
“I walked home without her.”

Notes: Kind of a sad sentence not directly indicative of anything. We saw today’s iku yesterday, but there it meant “dove”. Today’s is this kind of conjunction/preposition, and it’s also used for the phonological sequence io. The iku is a combination of…

Uh oh.

Hang on a minute. What the heck is the iku about?! It doesn’t look like a combination of i and o. It doesn’t really look like a dove… What the heck is it?

Dang. Unless something comes back to me before I hit the first comma in this sentence, I think I’m going to have to classify this iku an ikunima’u. How about that.

Update: Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh snap! You are not going to believe what I just found! This is the iku that the modern Kamakawi iku for io derives from (I found it!):

Old glyph of the word 'io'.

Look at that! It’s an honest-to-goodness dove! A real, no-foolin’ dove! 8O So the modern iku, then (in the real history of the language), is my stylized representation of that dove. I ain’t never smoked a thing in my life, but…what was I smoking?!

Oh wait. Actually, I kind of see it… I took the complex image there and tried to render it with as few strokes as possible. You can do it with two. So the important part, then, was the dent of the wings on the top, and then you just carry the line down under to form most of the body. Then the tail is done with one stroke and turned slightly (as it probably would over the years). Huh. How about that! Mystery solved.


• 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, October 11th, 2011

Glyph of the word 'neyana'.


  • (v.) to be better
  • (adj.) better

Neyana ia ti eleumi!
“You’re the best!”

Notes: And today, Best was best—Jahvid Best, that is.

For those following my epic fantasy football season, my boys came through for me today in a huge way! They started slow, but then Stafford through a 73 yard bomb to Calvin Johnson. The game was won for me when Jahvid Best broke off an 88 yard rushing touchdown—and it just went up from there. Down by 60 points before the Sunday night game—and 49 points before the Monday Night Football game yesterday—I won 95-85, because the Detroit Lions killed it again. Keep it up, boys! He ale!

Today’s word means “better”, in a sense (you may notice that it’s related to eyana [or…you might, if I’d done an entry for eyana. Seriously?! One of the most basic words and I haven’t done it yet?!]), but it’s used in the example sentence to mean “best”. Basically in a comparative construction (when “better” is wanted), you use this verb with an object phrase headed by ti (that’s where the thing the subject is better than goes). If you want to say something is the best, you say ti eleumi or ti emiemi (which mean “than everything” and “than everyone”).

Anyway, guess I’d better do eyana pretty soon. How embarrassing…


• 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.


• Monday, October 3rd, 2011

Glyph of the word 'hema'.


  • (adv.) almost

Ka liki ei hema.
“I almost won.”

Notes: Today I just wrote up the last leg of the Great Reading Competition my brother-in-law and I participate in. I won this round (convincingly, I might add), but he won the pentad. He took three out of five competitions and read more books, but I was only about five hundred pages behind his page total! If I’d just read a book or two more I might’ve been able to claim a share of the overall victory. As it is, he cleaned my clock, and my hat is off to him.

Hey, congrats to the Cardinals for taking one against the Phillies! And congrats to me for winning in fantasy football this week! When the Lions were down 27-3 to the Cowboys, I thought they and I were sunk (I start Matt Stafford, Jahvid Best [Berkeley grad!] and Calvin Johnson), but the Lions came storming back, and so did I! It was a pretty good day, all told.


• Sunday, September 25th, 2011

Glyph of the word 'oku'.Glyph of the word 'ka'.


  • (adv.) never, never again

A male hava ei i omi okuka.
“I will never eat a macadamia nut again.”

Notes: Going along with yesterday’s post, Kamakawi has two words for “never”. Yesterday’s “never” (okuoku) is used with things that one will never do, and has never done (or things that have never happened and will never happen). Okuka is used with things that one has done (or with things that have happened) and implies that one will never do it again.

This wasn’t a planned distinction of Kamakawi; it just kind of arose naturally based on the morphology. I think it’s a nice distinction to have, though. I’m not sure if it’d make enough sense to port into any of my other conlangs, but it’s nice to have here.


• Saturday, September 24th, 2011

Glyph of the word 'oku'.Glyph of the word 'oku'.


  • (adv.) never, never ever

Awei! Male puke ei okuoku!
“Bah! I will never finish!”

Notes: And I really won’t, at this rate. I’ve got until midnight on October 1st to finish La Morte d’Arthur, and I don’t think I’m going to do it. I’d set myself a regimen of reading 40 pages a day, and that would’ve had me finishing it on September 30th, but I just can’t keep up with it. In order to catch up, I need to read about 70 pages before I go to sleep tonight—and tomorrow I’m going to be gone for a large portion of the day.

Nothing more to say but: Awei! :(


• Thursday, September 22nd, 2011

Glyph of the word 'ukemu'.


  • (v.) to rot
  • (adj.) rotting

A uke ipe nukoa…
“That meat is rotting…”

Notes: In conjunction with yesterday’s post, we continue with our rotten theme. The verb uke is a stative verb which describes something which is rotten. In order to describe the process of rotting, one uses the inchoative suffix -mu to get ukemu, which is “to rot”.

When used adjectivally, this sets up a nice dichotomy. Specifically, one uses uke to describe something that is rotten (e.g. nukoa uke, “rotten meat”), and ukemu to describe something which is currently rotting (nukoa ukemu, “rotting”). In this way, the two words complement each other, and almost look like English participles.

I don’t know why I chose “rotting” to serve as the example for this discussion… I swear, it just happened; I didn’t actually intend for it.


• 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.