Kavaka o Fuvupo
The Kavaka o Fuvupo (literally the “Elders’ Script”) was invented
by David Peterson and is used to write the Kamakawi language. It is
a complex script which comprises a syllabary plus several subsystems involving
pictograms, logograms, ideograms and other mixed glyphs.
Internal History and Usage
The full writing system developed over the course of several centuries,
with the syllabary being the last step in the process. The script itself
takes the iku (a word meaning “character” or “glyph”) as its basic
unit. All iku take up the same amount of physical space, but a given
iku may stand for a syllable, a whole word, part of a word, or simply
an idea. Altogether, there are almost 600 iku. Sentences are written either
from top to bottom (in formal texts), or from left to right, with no spaces
The Kavaka i Oala (literally the Spoken Script) is used to spell
out borrowed words, but is also used for many native words. In addition, syllabic
iku are often used in conjunction with other iku to create
Other Glyph Types
In addition to syllabic iku, there are six main iku types used
to encode the bulk of Kamakawi’s vocabulary.
These are pictographs that are intended to depict the word they encode.
These iku comprise one or more syllabic glyphs, resulting in an
iku whose pronunciation can often be guessed from its parts.
A kind of combination of the previous two, iku’ui usually involve a
superimposed iku which adds phonological or semantic information to
a base iku.
Iku’ume are slightly modified variants of other iku (often
a stroke is simply added to one iku to produce a related iku).
Formerly, the Kamkawi script had a series of determinatives. Ikuleyaka
are iku which retain some of the old determinatives. (The examples below
all contain the negative line determinative.)
Finally, ikunima’u comprise iku that don’t fit neatly into one
of the categories above.
The Kamakawi have a base 10 counting system which is represented graphically by the iku below.
There are four main punctuation marks in Kavaka o Fuvupo which are
used to demarcate sentences, to set off emphasized material, to surround questions,
and to surround quotations. Those four marks are shown below in the order listed above.
Au emimu uila emi takemi u iema poe takoiki oi pou ikopuku. Au aemu omoko oi foyoko ti upea ae ha’ala’i i ikaika tie takeolaka ea.
All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed
with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
(Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights)
More information about Kavaka o Fuvupo
More information about the Kamakawi language
Kamakawi Word of the Day (featuring Kavaka o Fuvupo)