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Kamakawi Orthography

From:David J. Peterson <dedalvs@...>
Date:Thursday, March 20, 2008, 10:59
I've just completed the first step of a very large project.

For who knows how many years now, I've been creating an
orthography for Kamakawi.  It was inspired by Egyptian
hieroglyphs, and I wanted the system to be similar.  The
resultant system is as follows:

-There are glyphs for numbers (base 10: 0-9, 10, 100, 1,000, 1,000,000).
-There are a few punctuation marks (a full stop; quotation marks; a
question mark; and a name marker).
-There are several grammatical glyphs (used with tense, derivation,
and a few other things).
-There's a full syllabary, including diphthongs.
-For full words, there are glyphs that are: (1) combinations of
syllabic glyphs; (2) pictographs; (3) ideographs; (4) combinations
of syllabic glyphs and/or pictographs and/or ideographs; (5)
modified glyphs (e.g., a pictograph turned upside-down).

Though I haven't counted all the glyphs yet (once I finish the
Unicode listing I'll have a full count), there are easily more than
600.  According to Trent Pehrson's definition, the system is a
complex writing system:


(Thank goodness for!  Anyone know what happened
to Trent or his site?)

I just finished the first step of the first part of what will eventually
be a full explanation of the entire system.  On my site, there will
eventually be a description of the number system, the punctuation
system, the way things are written, the syllabary, and the rest of
the glyphs, but for now, I've come up with a grid of the glyphs
that are used for bisyllabic words.  This was inspired by Middle
Egyptian.  Middle Egyptian had hieroglyphs that stood for single
consonants; hieroglyphs that stood for series of two consonants
(biliterals); and hieroglyphs that stood for series of three consonants
(triliterals) (and also a few that stood for series of four or more).
I figure the Kamakawi equivalent is the syllabary, the bisyllabic
glyphs, and the tri- and polysyllabic glyphs.  Below is the image (a
large .png):


Some notes on this:

(1) The first thing you may notice is that the table is not completely
filled in.  That's the way it's supposed to be (I'm going to resist
the urge to add more glyphs).  That doesn't mean that, for example,
there is no possible word /note/ (in this case, there is--it means
"to blink"); it just means that there's no *single* glyph that
that bisyllabic string.

(2) You may notice a few light blue, yellow and light green boxes.
When the table is finished, certain blank cells will be filled in, and
those boxes explained.  A green box means that there is a word,
and that it's a reduplication of a syllabic character.  A teal box means
the word exists, but it's a compound.  A yellow box means that
the word exists, but that it's morphologically complex (a word and
an affix).

(3) These glyphs are not necessarily finished.  Though no more
will be added, I may tweak these (e.g., I'm not happy with /nulu/.
I think the little line at the top that heads down and to the right
should match the others in the /nu/ series).

(4) I have no idea why I went from left to right and bottom to
top, alphabetically.  I'll probably fix that, flipping the whole thing
upside down.  Kamakawi alphabetical order, incidentally, is
a-e-i-o-u, then p-t-k-m-n-l-f-h (not very exciting).

(5) When this is completely finished, I want to try to fix it so that
when you mouse over a box, it gives you information about each
glyph (e.g., what the word is, what it means, its unicode entry, etc.).
Currently, the graph isn't very informative.

(6) Oh, and /f/ > [v] / V_V, and /h/ > [?] / V_V ([?] = ' in the

For now, that's all.  I'd love any comments, and would also like
to know if you see any duplicates (creating the table was taxing).

"A male love inevivi i'ala'i oku i ue pokulu'ume o heki a."
"No eternal reward will forgive us now for wasting the dawn."

-Jim Morrison


Mark J. Reed <markjreed@...>
Jim Henry <jimhenry1973@...>
Benct Philip Jonsson <bpj@...>
Eric Christopherson <rakko@...>