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1. Kamakawi by David Peterson

Texts | Grammar | Lexicon | Glossary | Orthographic Version
Next (Elliott Lash, Silindion)


Tiku ie avame,
U'upi i aila poiu.

A fulele ei e
U'upi i aila poiu.

Uila oloko o'i,
U'upi i aila poiu.

Mata i eneta li eine,
U'upi i aila poiu.
  Smooth English

Standing on the shore;
Drifting out to sea.

I wish that I could be,
Drifting out to sea.

All of my hopes and dreams,
Drifting out to sea.

I watch my wife's boat,
Drifting out to sea.
Original English

Standing on the island's shore,
Drifting off to sea.

I wish that I could be,
Drifting off to sea.

All of my hopes and dreams,
Drifting off to sea.

I watch my lover's boat,
Drifting off to sea.



  • Website:

  • Typological facts: word order = VSO; prepositional; NG; NA; NR.

  • A PP can be moved to the front of a clause, but otherwise word order is maintained.

  • Kamakawi is a pro-drop language. If the subject marker /e/ or /ae/ is used, the subject may be omitted, as it can be retained from the previous clause.

  • Subject status markers let the hearer know if the subject of the new sentence (embedded or otherwise) is the same as the subject of the previous sentence. There are three possibilities: (1) It's identical; (2) it's from the previous clause, but isn't the previous clause's subject; (3) it's brand new (or more than a clause old). To mark these statuses, a particle is used which preposes the verb. The markers are as follows:

    • (k)e = (1)
    • (k)ae = (2)
    • (k)a = (3)

    Certain discourse particles (words like "because" and "so that") are suffixed directly to these subject status markers. So if you had a sentence like Kale X Y, it'd mean "Because Y did X" ("Kale" being /ka/, past tense same subject, plus /-le/, "because").

  • Adverbs occur sentence-finally, generally. Adverbs are sometimes used like modals in English. For example, if you say Ka mama eine i nawa (PAST hug woman PREP fish), it'd mean "The woman hugged a fish". If you say Ka mama eine i nawa tou (PAST hug woman PREP fish can), it'd mean "The woman could hug a fish".

  • If a noun phrase is unmistakably definite, it need not be accompanied by the definite article /e/ (it usually does, but in verse, where things are a bit looser, it can be left off).

  • Where a verb has 2 arguments, the preposition /i/ marks the less agent-like of the two. For this reason, it's used to cover a whole range of prepositional functions, including spatial and temporal.

  • Verbs are less static in Kamakawi than in English. A verb may be a verb, a noun, a participle, or a verbal noun, depending on the context. When occurring as a participle, it will generally look like a verb in a sentence without a subject (the subject will most likely be implied somehow).

  • Certain verbs take adverbial complements. They're listed in the lexicon as X...Y. For these verbs, any objects and subjects come in between the members X and Y. Otherwise, the two function as a single verb with a single meaning.

  • When two vowels of the same quality occur next to one another, they're separated by a glottal stop.



  • a (part.) marks present tense, and that the subject of the sentence is new or different (non-obligatory)
  • aila (n.) ocean
  • avame (n.) shore
  • e (part.) the (definite article, sg.; attaches to prepositions); (part.) marks present tense, and that the subject of the sentence is identical to the subject of the previous sentence
  • ei (pron.) I
  • eine (n.) woman; (n.) wife (coll. A transitive noun: implies a spouse)
  • eneta (n.) boat, ship
  • fule (v.) to want, to desire
  • fulele (v.) to want to, to desire to
  • i (prep.) marks direct objects; marks general locations and/or times
  • ie (contr.) contraction of /i/ and /e/
  • -le (suf.) causative
  • li- (pref.) marks the genitive (X liY = "X of Y")
  • mata (v.) to see
  • o (prep.) marks the genitive (X o Y = "X of Y")
  • oloko (v.) to dream; (n.) dream
  • poiu (prep./adv.) away, away from, outside of, out
  • tiku (v.) to stand, to stand up
  • u'upi (v.) to drift
  • u'upi...poiu (v.) to drift away



1 = first person
2 = second person
3 = third person
A = adjective
adj. = adjective
adv. = adverb
caus. = causative
conj. = conjunction
contr. = contraction
excl. = exclamation
expr. = expression
G = genitival phrase
N = noun
n. = noun
nm. = name
O = object
P = preposition
part. = particle (generally freestanding)
PP = prepositional phrase
pref. = prefix
prep. = preposition
pron. = pronoun
R = relative clause
S = subject
sg. = singular
suf. = suffix
V = verb
vi. = intransitive verb
vt. = transitive verb


Orthographic Version

Orthographic version of the Kamakawi text.

Next (Elliott Lash, Silindion)

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