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Tiki vocabulary

From:Herman Miller <hmiller@...>
Date:Sunday, April 9, 2006, 1:58
I have some issues with Tiki vocabulary that I need to resolve. One is
that, since I wasn't thinking about the fictional background when I
started working on the vocabulary list, some of these words are going to
be hard to fit into the history. One possible scenario (although I
haven't decided for certain) is that the author of Tiki was a Volapük
supporter who was dissatisfied with the direction of the reforms to
Volapük that eventually led to the creation of Idiom Neutral (see and decided to produce his
own language as an alternative. The inclusion of Japanese words in the
Tiki vocabulary could be an attempt to give the language less of a
specifically European flavor (most Tiki words are of Germanic or Romance

But I've got a few words that are colloquial English in origin. One
that's giving me a bit of trouble is "kulu". As I go over the basic
vocabulary I try to create distinct entries for different meanings even
if the word is the same in English. So the main entry for "cool" is just
"pi kalu", which is the diminutive of "cold". But I also wanted an entry
for the other meaning of "cool" ("awesome", "rad", "wicked") in English,
which isn't easy to find a non-English equivalent for in dictionaries.
And this is especially tricky if Tiki was created in the late 1800's -
early 1900's! Could it be a modern invention, created by a recent
English-speaking Tiki enthusiast to fill a gap in the vocabulary? But
why didn't the original vocabulary have a suitable word then?

Other borrowings from colloquial English (such as the already mentioned
"jaki") are just as problematic. And since I didn't keep track of word
origins, they won't all be easy to track down.

Another issue with Tiki vocabulary has to do with word derivation.
French, Dutch, Japanese, and other languages that are sources for Tiki
vocabulary frequently use suffixes to derive new words. It occurred to
me as I was creating a word for "fragile" that a word derived from
"break" would be more recognizable with a suffix; something like
"bekeba" could be remembered by associating it with the Dutch word
"breekbaar". But then a 3-syllable word ending in -ba could be
misinterpreted; "maliba" (marimba) could be analyzed as "mali-ba"
(likely to be a husband?). Different stress patterns might help, but
with both suffixes and prefixes in the language, I'd need to distinguish
between the three possibilities "ma-liba", "mali-ba", and "maliba"
somehow. Perhaps all suffixes could be two-syllable roots ("beke-bale"
for "fragile").


Jim Henry <jimhenry1973@...>
Larry Sulky <larrysulky@...>