Archive for March, 2010


Wednesday, March 31st, 2010

Glyph of the word 'fa'. and Glyph of the word 'fa'.


  • (syl.) glyph for the syllable fa in the Kamakawi syllabary
  • (n.) seed, seedling
  • (v.) to plant seeds, to seed
  • (n.) dad

Ape owa ei i fa ipuke…
“Every time I plant a seed…”

Notes: He say, “Kill it before it grow!” He say, “Kill them before they grow!” And so!

The world was given a gift in Bob Marley, the old Iron Lion himself. And while it’s too bad he fell under the sway of Rastafarianism, it didn’t strip him of his soul.

So I just now realized how suggestive it is that the word for “seed” (the determined version of fa) is cognate with the word for “dad” (just the name a kid calls his father; the proper word for “father” is different). I swear that it wasn’t intended! The shortening of fala is fa, which just happens to be the same word for sowing seeds. I’m not taking the blame for this one!


Tuesday, March 30th, 2010

Glyph of the word 'lu'. and Glyph of the word 'lu'.


  • (syl.) glyph for the syllable lu in the Kamakawi syllabary
  • (n.) a glint or flash of light, a gleaming
  • (v.) to gleam, to glint, to flash suddenly and brightly, to catch one’s eye
  • (adj.) eye-catching
  • (n.) epiphany, sudden flash of inspiration

A fe’a ei ie motu o nea ti lu.
“I knew her face in an instant.”

Notes: For the most part, I’ve been remembering how the iku for these syllabic glyphs came to exist, but this one had me buffaloed. How could a glyph whose basic meaning is “flash of light” have an iku that basically looks like a human with a line coming out of it? Well, I went back to check the original script, and actually it’s pretty good! Check it out:

Old glyph of the word 'lu'.

So that’s a dude merrily going along his way, when, all of a sudden, something catches his eye, and he turns all the way around to look at it. Huh? Not bad! At least that looks like a turned-around dude to me.

I’ve found myself thinking (if not using) this word in English—e.g. “I knew in a lu how to do it.” The first time I used it was in one of the books I did for my little sister, but there I was purposely using Kamakawi words here and there. After that, it stuck.

Two books, one apology

Tuesday, March 30th, 2010
I'm sorry I haven't posted as much the past couple of weeks. As expected, I did got very into Final Fantasy XIII, and I beat it now. Yay!

A more conlang related exciting thing happened last week too.


I got my copy of the LCK print version. I wrote about this when I first heard it was going to come out, and it's finally here! I haven't had a chance to read more than the first few sections, and I will give a full review when I have gotten more through it.

While I was on Amazon ordering that I also ordered Okrent's In the Land of Invented Languages. I have heard of this book many times since it came out, but I never happened to see a copy at my local B&N. That plus the fact that I read very slowly, and don't buy books unless I have full intentions of reading them cover to cover caused me to pass up this since it came out around 2007. Well, ordering the LKC reminded me of it, and I added it to my cart.

It only took me four days to finish the book cover to cover. Okrent's narrative of her journey into the modern invented languages, and research on older ones is insightful, inspiring and a complete delight. I definitely recommend it to anyone who's interested in conlanging, or just linguistics in general.


Monday, March 29th, 2010

Glyph of the word 'lo'. and Glyph of the word 'lo'.


  • (syl.) glyph for the syllable lo in the Kamakawi syllabary
  • (n.) root

A nolu i lo.
“Taro is a root.”

Click here for audio!

Notes: Here I mean the plantish sort of root, not the root of a word. The determined version is used for “root”, and the undetermined for the syllable.

This iku looked a lot more rootish in the original. Now it kind of looks like a 7. It lends itself to a number of fancy iku which we’ll likely see in the future, but this one, as it is, is a little plain, I suppose.

Counting days

Monday, March 29th, 2010
For the purposes of counting days in time I've divided up the year in Reisu. The word for year is nopurigi, which comes from the word nopu for day, and the word rigi for sun. Similarly the word for month is nopulaki, from nopu for day and laki for moon.

I decided to compose the week of 5 days instead of 7. 5 days in a week makes more sense to me, and a week is a totally arbitrary grouping of time anyway, so why not? The days are...


When translating the days I've been using Nopukoxu as weekend days, although the reason I named it koxu is that I imagine it to be the market day. I suppose I do associate Saturday with a market day in modern times, because that's usually when families go to the grocery store. A week itself is called Koxukusi.

I also divided up the months, but I didn't make 12 months. I made 8, by dividing each season in half. For example Lakijeva (flower month) and Lakibuxu (grass month) are the spring month. I Imagine Lakijeva starting on the Spring Equinox and lasting until half way to the summer solstice, and then Lakibuxu ending just before the summer solstice, and so on like that through the seasons until we come back to spring.

SpringLakijevaFlower monthLakibuxuGrass month
SummerLakitoxuRain monthLakiratiHot month
AutumnLakitakaYellow monthLakigapaFruit month
WinterLakifuxuCold monthLakifusoSnow month

Because there's only 8 months I imagine in this word either the way the plant and/or moon rotate is different. So that either their year is shorter, or the moon phases last longer, or maybe a little of both.


Sunday, March 28th, 2010

Glyph of the word 'li'. and Glyph of the word 'li'.


  • (syl.) glyph for the syllable li in the Kamakawi syllabary
  • (let.) name of the Zhyler alphabet letter l
  • (v.) to get, to obtain, to take hold of, to grasp, to take
  • (pref.) genitive prefix used between humans that bear a professional relationship (for more information, see the section on Kamakawi pronouns)

Ka li ei i kolata ke nevi i nea.
“I gave her a pineapple.”

Notes: Determined Li may be the most frequently used verb in Kamakawi (well, unless you look at my examples, in which case mata is probably the most common verb, since whenever I can’t think up an example sentence, I end up writing, “I see x“). Its functions are too numerous to list, but essentially, it encodes the idea of obtaining (as you might be able to tell from its iku, which is an arm with a hand holding an object).

The sentence above showcases a common serial construction in Kamakawi. Rather than ditransitive verbs, Kamakawi uses a construction like the above which literally translates as “I got a pineapple (and) I gave to you” (there is no “it” in the second clause).

The genitive prefix li- is used when the possessor possesses an inanimate object that is not a product of the possessor. For example, if someone in general is holding a copy of Paradise Lost, then that book is their book, in a sense, and you would use li-. However, if John Milton were holding a copy of Paradise Lost, then it would be his book in quite a different way, since he wrote it. In that case, one would use a different prefix (in this case, ti-).

I imagine we’ll be seeing a lot more of li in the future. For the time being, this shall suffice. Thus I have commandeth! And soeth shalleth iteth beeth doneth!


Saturday, March 27th, 2010

Glyph of the word 'le'. and Glyph of the word 'le'.


  • (syl.) glyph for the syllable le in the Kamakawi syllabary
  • (prep.) because of, on account of, for, in order to, to
  • (suf.) because, that, for that, as a consequence of, on the occasion that (attaches directly to the status subject marker)

Ka li ei ie leka li ia poiu aele takepalaki ia ima!
“I took your potato away because you’re really mean!”

Click here for audio!

Notes: This was the first sentence that came to mind that used the word “because”. I’ll leave it to you to decide if being mean is reason enough to deprive someone of their beloved potato.

As happened several times in the history of the Kamakawi writing system, this iku was designed to encode a concept that eventually came to be encoded by another iku. The suffix -le (not the one above, but the other one) is used in causative constructions (so hava is “to eat” and havale is “to feed”), and this iku was a kind of iconic version of the causative (one human pushing another human). Later, a new iku took the place of the causative suffix, leaving this one to represent the syllable le.

The determined version of le is used only with the preposition “because of”, and then only when it clears things up. Otherwise, the undetermined version is used.

I got a question about how the sometimes long strings of vowels are pronounced in Kamakawi, so a little later I’m going to make a recording of this example sentence and post it here. Stay tuned!

Edit: I added an .mp3 file which you can listen to above!

Conlanging Educational Resources

Friday, March 26th, 2010

School of Athens by Rafael

Have you ever wanted to share your love of conlanging with a group in a more-or-less formal classroom setting? Have you ever wanted to give a presentation on the art and science of conlanging? The Conlanger’s Library can now help! The Education page at the Library contains materials you can use to create a PowerPoint presentation, handouts, and also includes inspirational videos. Materials there have been created by Nathan Richardson, Sai Emrys, Sheri Beth Wells-Jensen, and yours truly. If you have any items from formal classes which you have taught or presentations which you have given and you’d like to share them with the community, email lcs (at) conlang (dot) org.


Friday, March 26th, 2010

Glyph of the word 'la'. and Glyph of the word 'la'.


  • (syl.) glyph for the syllable la in the Kamakawi syllabary
  • (n.) spear
  • (expr.) a positive answer to a negative question

He tivale ei ie la li’i…
“Let me sharpen my spear…”

Notes: Good ol’ la pops up a lot. The determined version is used for “spear”, and the other is used for a positive answer to a negative question. We don’t have a word for this in English, but other languages do (French, for example). To give you an example for how it might be useful, consider the question, “Don’t you love me?” An answer of “yes” in English could mean “Yes, I do love you”, or it could mean “Yes, I don’t love you”. Quite a predicament! In languages like French and Kamakawi, there’s a special affirmative answer to negative polarity questions like this which always means “yes” (or the most positive answer), and then “no” means the negative one. That’s how undetermined la is used.

Recent Additions

Friday, March 26th, 2010

The Conlanging Librarian has been busy adding new items to the Library:

  • A new book has been added to Books (Science Fiction): Years in the Making: The Time-Travel Stories of L. Sprague de Camp.
  • Several new articles and a video (from Arika’s appearance at Geeking Out) have been added to the Press Coverage of Arika Okrent and her popular book.
  • And, finally, a new article by Arika Okrent herself that appeared at about Paul Frommer’s Na’vi. Find this one in the Press Coverage of Dr. Frommer and his language of Pandora.