Posts Tagged ‘writing’


• Saturday, January 21st, 2012

Glyph of the word 'ui'.


  • (v.) to join, to conjoin
  • (n.) joining, conjoining, coming together
  • (n.) joint (body part)
  • (phon.) glyph for the sequence ui

He ui eya i peaka!
“Let’s conjoin them!”

Notes: I’ve classified today’s word as an ikuiku, but I’m not sure about the classification. It derives from a figure that looks pretty much like this one, but it started out abstract. It’s, essentially, an abstract representation of joining (perhaps originally a drawing of a knot, though it no longer means “knot”). So the thing looks like what it’s supposed to look like, but it’s not very…picture-y. Aside from throwing up my hands and calling it an ikunima’u, though, all I can do is classify it an ikuiku.


• Wednesday, October 5th, 2011

Glyph of the word 'au'.


  • (phon.) glyph for the sequence au

Oku eteke au ti okuku.
Au doesn’t mean anything.”

Notes: I’ve had the iku for au sitting in my little “to do” folder for…over a year. It’s an iku we’ve seen before (in, for example, the words awela and awei), but it has no meaning of its own. Or, to be more precise, the meaning has been lost to the ages.

It’s clear that the iku for au is not an ikunoala (compare the iku for a and u). It’s probably not a facial expression. If it were some sort of shellfish or crustacean, presumably it would still be in use. Since no one knows, though, it remains a mystery, though the iku still enjoys use as a phonetic glyph.


• Saturday, October 1st, 2011

Glyph of the word 'oliala'.


  • (n.) poet, singer
  • (n.) poetry
  • (v.) to be poetic
  • (adj.) poetic

He noala oliala ie noala o u Nova…
“Sing ye poets the song of the Rays…”

Notes: I may be a day late, but, gosh darnit, it’s the MLB playoffs, and it’s time to make some predictions! I know that most people that come here aren’t baseball fans, but there’s at least one who writes poetry about baseball, so my predictions are going up!

(By the way, Doug Ball can verify that these predictions predated the start of the playoffs. I e-mailed them to Doug on September 29th, and the predictions below are copied directly from that e-mail.)

American League


  • Detroit Tigers def. New York Yankees 3-1.
  • Tampa Bay Rays def. Texas Rangers 3-2.


  • Tampa Bay Rays def. Detroit Tigers 4-2.

National League


  • Philadelphia Phillies def. St. Louis Cardinals 3-1.
  • Milwaukee Brewers def. Arizona Diamondbacks 3-2.


  • Philadelphia Phillies def. Milwaukee Brewers 4-1.

And for the World Series:

  • Tampa Bay Rays def. Philadelphia Phillies 4-1.

Last year’s predictions did not, in fact, go very well at all, but I’ve got a good feeling this year. Granted, the rain delay has thrown the entire Yankees-Tigers series into utter chaos, so anything can happen there, but outside of what would be a wonderfully bizarre matchup of twin expansion teams (Rays-D’Backs), it seems to me like the Phillies are destined to come out of the NL, and that either the Rays or Tigers are coming out of the AL. We’ll see how well I do this time around…

Today’s word derives form oala, but has a special relationship with noala, as you may have guessed. Kamakawi seems like a great language for poetry, and poetry, as it was, was expressed in song. That’s why the word for “poet” is the same as the word for “singer”—and, in fact, oliala and noliala (which we haven’t seen yet) are as synonymous as synonyms get, with only a slight shadow of meaning to distinguish the two.

If you’re not a fan of baseball, try to catch a Rays game on TV. There’s something about that team this year. The magic may wear off, though, so catch them quick, in case they burn out.


• Saturday, August 6th, 2011

Glyph of the word 'eko'.


  • (n.) scrimshaw
  • (v.) to scrimshaw
  • (adj.) scrimshawed (not as common as reduplicated form)

Ka eko lelitale ie temi o ielou.
“The sailor scrimshawed the whale bones.”

Notes: This may not be as familiar to some, scrimshaw. It’s the practice of carving writing or pictures into bones (or tusks or teeth). Often fancy scrimshanders will illuminate their drawings with ink, but such a thing was uncommon with the Kamakawi. They carved on bones only, and typically wrote, rather than drawing scenes.


• Thursday, August 4th, 2011

Glyph of the word 'ila'.


  • (n.) moth
  • (nm.) a woman’s given name

Awei! Ila miwimi!
“Bah! Lousy moth!”

Notes: That’s usually what I end up saying whenever I see a moth. They’re not my favorite insect. They’re not as terrifying as spiders, but they’re just kind of…there. Always be gettin’ up in my business, if you know what I mean. And they’re one of those insects that flies too close to your face… They’re the insect equivalent of the Close Talker (as are many flying insects, in fact).

The iku for ila is a genuine iku’ui (I know there aren’t many of those). The glyph is built off of the mi syllabic glyph, which means “butterfly”. It’s used mainly for the shape (which is intended to be evocative of a butterfly), but also because the main vowel is i, like the first syllable of ila. The syllabic glyph for la is dissects the glyph, giving it a further phonetic component, but it’s shape will ensure that the reader knows that some sort of a large-winged flying insect is intended.

Ila is also a girl’s name—and quite a popular one. For more information on the name, go here.


• Thursday, July 28th, 2011

Glyph of the word 'u'.


  • (part.) cooccurs with a plural subject that is identical to the previous subject in the discourse
  • (art.) the plural definite article
  • (art.) many

Ku hemata uei iu kuaki ae iolui kau.
“We spotted the ducks in the pond.”

Notes: I thought I’d do a short grammatical post today. We’ve already seen the singular counterpart to this (p)article. Basically it marks plurals. It’s used in several ways, though, including as a stand-alone subject status marker, and in conjunction with other subject status markers.

Though it’s quite simple in the romanization (or schematically), writing it is a different story. This iku is used in conjunction with the plural new status marker au, as well as with the same-subject status marker u. The iku for e is also used, but you don’t pronounce it—it’s just there in the orthography. The ordering, though, can sometimes be a little tricky, since it’s purely a formal element. Some writers put the e one first; some the u one; some leave the e out entirely. I’d imagine that eventually it’d disappear entirely (or the whole thing would morph into some other iku or series of iku).

As for the iku itself, it’s kind of a combination of the glyph for ka, no and to (without the top). The idea is that the plurality marker is used with duals, trials and plurals. That marking is only realized on pronouns (and optionally on nouns); the non-singular status is what’s important to the verbal system (and the definite marking of non-subject nouns).

At some point, this system will have to break down, and it will likely mean the end of the dual and trial. That will happen some day down the line, though; not now. :)


• Monday, July 18th, 2011

Glyph of the word 'ilalau'. or Alternate glyph of the word 'ilalau'.


  • (v.) to be literate
  • (n.) literacy
  • (adj.) literate
  • (n.) familiarity (with some subject matter)

Ilalau o u ikavaka ti-Kavaka i oi’i.
“I’m familiar with the works of Kafka.”

Notes: Or literally, “Familiarity of the books of Kafka is with me”. Today I wanted to mention that I’m relaunching (finally) a formerly low-tech section of my website as a new WordPress blog: the book reviews section. I’ll be posting there semi-frequently (along with my wife, my brother-in-law, and my good friend from college) about what I’m reading, and I’ll also continue to review books. (And, of course, they’ll do the same thing. The parentheses don’t really work there with the rest of the sentence… I.e. they won’t be posting about what I’m reading [though it would be amusing if they did].) Anyway, if you enjoy that kind of thing, the blog is called Literature, Literature, Literature…

Today’s word is quite tangled. It’s derived from the word ilau, “to read”. The idea is that to read over a prolonged period of time is to read with ease, and reading with ease is what defines literacy (this is reading literacy, not necessarily writing literacy. I’d say the former is higher than the latter on the islands). The reduplication pattern is quite strange, though (coming from ilau, that is), so there’s a couple of different schools of thought on how to spell it. The first is the traditional way, but the second has its own story.

See, since the reduplication pattern is so strange, the word sounds like i- plus lalau (which I haven’t done yet, but which means “to throw”). The i of the traditional spelling, then, was replaced with i-, with a new meaning arising from the spelling: the latter meaning about familiarity with a subject (think of it like the word “fluency” in “cultural fluency”). At the time I’m thinking of, the spellings haven’t separated into different meanings yet (or not completely), but they’re on their way.

And these meanings remain distinct from the other ilalau (which I haven’t done yet), but the similarity of the words led to another meaning for that word which I’ll get to when the time comes.


• Wednesday, June 15th, 2011

Glyph of the word 'eika'.


  • (pron.) first person dual exclusive pronoun

Kau oinemu eika.
“We two are married.”

Notes: Erin and I, that is. :)

And now I’ve done about…25% of the pronouns in Kamakawi. Hooray! :D

Though this may look like a foma, it’s technically two iku. Here, the ka is just written very close to the ei customarily. Perhaps it’s on its way to becoming a foma! One can always dream…


• Friday, October 8th, 2010

Glyph of the word 'ilau'.


  • (v.) to read
  • (n.) reading

A ivivi ilau ie feya oi’i.
“My baby loves to read.”

Notes: And it’s true. She reads a lot, too—and fast. I read a lot, but read very, very, very, very, very, very, very slowly. Erin, on the other hand, once read four novels in one day. Four novels! It’s unthinkable.

Anyway, HAPPY CATURDAY! :D To accompany today’s word and sentence, here’s a nice picture of Keli and Erin:

Erin and Keli reading.

Actually, Keli there looks like what I look like if I’ve been reading for longer than thirty minutes (another impediment I have to deal with).

The iku for ilau should look slightly familiar. You’ve got the “eye” shaped thing from i, and it has the “ground” determiner beneath it. I kind of think of it as an eye on a book.

If the Kamakawi were to advance so far as to be in a “modern” world like we have, I always imagined that this iku would be used as an icon for libraries—even if the Kamakawi writing system were replaced entirely by the Zhyler writing system. I could see it working very well on signs…


• Monday, September 20th, 2010

Glyph of the word 'neyu'.


  • (n.) sea urchin

Owe! Ka olomo ei i neyu!
“Ow! I stepped on a sea urchin!”

Notes: Yeah. I done that. It’s not really a big deal if you figure it out quick. It’s only if you really put your full weight on it that you get the poison.

Today’s word has an iku of an altogether new type. In order to save room, I lumped all hikuiku together, but there are many different types. There are a series of hikuiku that are composed of two iku where the first iku is the first syllable of the word, and the second iku is a kind of determinative. It’s either some basic glyph that characterizes the word (e.g. the glyph for “bird” is used for bird words), or resembles its shape or type in some way.

The iku for neyu, then, begins with the syllabic glyph for ne, to give the reader a clue as to how the word is pronounced, and ends with the iku for “circle” (i.e. luku). There are a whole bunch of words like this, but, as far as I know, this is the first one to show up on the Word of the Day blog, so I decided to make a big production out of it.

(Watching The Gay Divorcee right now. It’s a good one! You know, most of the time Ginger Rogers looks kind of goofy, but in this scene, she’s hot.)