Conlang Relay 17/Kamakawi

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U Meneivenei Nowoku

Ka i nanai oi-Meneivenei ke tomi'u ti Emi--io, ti imata, ke tovukale Emi i nea fei. Kapalele, ka he polinu ke pote ie talima. Ie fa'u'u o pote, ka huyaya Meneivenei, kaupe ale meneivene ko iti. Kupe ewemia Emi ae. Ku euku i nea kupe ni'u i nea heva. Ku nemilele i Emi pe.

Smooth English

The Bad Little Deers

The Little Deer had a friend named Human, but, to tell the truth, Human was annoying him. The animal began fighting the two-legged one. While fighting, the Little Deer screamed, and myriad more deer came fast. And then, they chased Human. They captured him and they bit him up. They killed Human there.

Relevant Grammar (Overview)

  • Typological facts: word order = VSO; prepositional; NG; NA; NR.
  • A PP or adverb 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 /ku/ or

/ke/ 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".

  • 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".

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • There's a particular construction in here that may cause confusion.

In Kamakawi, you can't say anything like "I have an uncle" or "I have a boss" in the same way as you can with English (with a verb like "to have"). Instead, you use the following construction. Let's say you wanted to say "I have a fish". You'd say the following:

A i nawa oi'i. /new.sbj. fish GEN.-1sg./ "I have a fish" (lit. "There is a fish with me")

The genitive preposition used depends on the nature of the relationship, but that's not something you should have to worry about for the relay.


  • ae (prep.) in (combines with verbs to form complex verbs)
  • ale...ko (v.) to arrive
  • Emi (n.) human being (here used as a name)
  • euku (v.) to capture, to trap
  • (v.) to chase down
  • fa'u'u (n.) pit of a pitted fruit (a part of the phrase "ie fa'u'u o x", which

means "in the middle of x")

  • fei (adv.) up (combines with verbs to make complex verbs)
  • he (v.) to begin, to start
  • huyaya (v.) to scream
  • i (prep.) marks direct objects; marks general locations and/or times
  • i (v.) to exist (equiv. to English "there is/are")
  • ie (contr.) contraction of /i/ and /e/
  • imata (n.) truth (a part of the phrase "ti imata", which means "in truth",

or "truthfully")

  • io (conj.) but
  • iti (adv.) fast
  • ka (part.) marks past tense, and that the subject of the sentence is

new or different

  • kapalele (expr.) and thus, as a result of that
  • kau (part.) marks past tense, and that the subject of the sentence is

new or different and plural

  • kaupe (contr.) contraction of *kau and *-pe
  • ke (part.) marks past tense, and that the subject of the sentence is

the same as the last sentence and singular

  • ko (adv.) here (can combine with verbs to create complex verbs)
  • kou (pron.) 3sg. pronoun that has no reference (a generic pronoun

like "one")

  • ku (part.) marks past tense, and that the subject of the sentence is

the same as the last sentence and plural

  • kupe (contr.) contraction of *ku and *-pe
  • meneivene (n.) deer
  • Meneivenei (n.) little deer (here used as a name)
  • nanai (n.) friend
  • nea (pron.) he (third person singular masculine pronoun)
  • nemilele (v.) to kill
  • ni'u...heva (v.) to bite all up, to bite all over
  • nowoku (adj.) bad, evil
  • o (prep.) marks the genitive (X o Y = "X of Y")
  • oi- (pref.) marks the genitive (X oi-Y = "X of Y")
  • pe (adv.) at that place, there
  • -pe (suf.) and then (attaches to subject status markers)
  • polinu (n.) quadruped
  • pote (v.) to fight; (n.) fighting, fight
  • talima (n.) biped
  • ti (prep.) with (instrumental); marks oblique phrases; by, because of
  • tomi (v.) to name, to call (object takes *ti)
  • tomi'u (v.) passive of *tomi
  • tovukale...fei (v.) to annoy
  • u (part.) the (definite article, plu.; attaches to prepositions); (part.) marks

present tense, and that the subject of the sentence is identical to the subject of the previous sentence and plural

  • u (prep.) plural marker


1 = first person 3 = third person A = adjective adj. = adjective adv. = adverb conj. = conjunction contr. = contraction dem. = demonstrative G = genitival phrase GEN. = genitive 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 sbj. = subject sg. = singular suf. = suffix V = verb v. = verb that can be transitive or intransitive vi. = intransitive verb vt. = transitive verb