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túlelù káikwi
Pronunciation[ʔɤ́ʎɨ̯ʎù kái.kʷi]
Created byJukethatbox
Native toKaikiwi Island
Native speakers5-10 (2023)
L2: 6,000-10,000
  • Kaikiwic
    • Kaikiwan
Standard form
OPKLC Standard Kaikiwan
  • Eastern dialect(Mwípék)
  • Northern dialect(Tùwanòpék)
  • Diasporic dialects
    • Hawaiian dialects
Official status
Recognised minority
language in
New Zealand
Regulated byOPKLC
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Kaikiwan(túlelù káikwi; Kaikiwan: [ʔɤ́ʎɨ̯ʎù kái.kʷi]) is a Kaikiwi–Tol-Sun language spoken natively on the island of Kaikiwi. It is a critically endangered language with a native speaker population of around 10 at the highest estimates. Very few native Kaikiwans still inhabit Kaikiwi Island; instead, the vast majority of said native speakers live in New Zealand or Hawai'i. The youngest of these native speakers, 78-year-old Mániwamaé, was born and raised in Oahu.

Although there are not many remaining native speakers of the language, the L2(second-language) community is thriving. Thousands of non-native Kaikiwan speakers live in New Zealand, Hawai'i and Japan, with even the most conservative estimates putting the number of L2 speakers at around 6,000, with the most optimistic estimates putting it as high as 10,000.


Kaikiwans and the Kaikiwan language are native to Kaikiwi Island(Kaikiwan: pi‘kà káikwi), though very few people still live on Kaikiwi Island, with only about 10.7% of Kaikiwan speakers living on Kaikiwi Island. Instead, the vast majority of Kaikiwans are diasporic, and live in various countries, though mostly countries that border the Pacific Ocean.


The vast majority of Kaikiwan natives and L2 speakers alike live in Hawaii, specifically in Honolulu, with about 67% of the Kaikiwan diaspora living in Hawaii. Most Kaikiwan village elders also live in Hawaii, apart from the Pa‘éne-ikipíwa village, that still inhabit the eastern coast of Kaikiwi Island.



Kaikiwan uses the Latin alphabet, although with 15 letters instead of the usual 26.

Aa Ee Gg Hh Ii Kk Ll Mm Nn Oo Pp Ss Tt Uu Ww

The Kaikiwan alphabet is mostly directly phonetic, with almost all the letters only corresponding to one allophone, although ⟨Tt⟩ represents /ʔ/ in onset positions and ⟨Uu⟩ represents /ɤ/ and /u/ in both of their usages.

Phonetic tone is distinguished by putting accents on vowels.

Áá Àà Éé Èè Íí Ìì Óó Òò Úú Ùù

Elongated vowels are distinguished by a certain diacritic that looks like a dash.

Āā Ēē Īī Ōō Ūū[1]


Alveolar Palatal Velar Glottal
Plosive[2] p t k · g ʔ
Nasal[3] m n (ɲ)
Fricative s
Lateral Approximant
w ʎ

The glottal stop is represented by two glyphs: in initial position, the glyph ⟨t⟩ is used, where as in any other positions, the ⟨‘⟩(ókina), derived from Hawaiian orthography, is used.

Nasal palatalisation

When /n/ is followed by /i/ or /a/, it palatalises and becomes [ɲ]. The only exception to this rule is ‘na, which is a particle that roughly translates to "as" or "in the same way". ‘na is pronounced [na].


Short Long
Front Central Back Front Central Back
Close i ɨ u[4] ɨː
Close-mid ɤ · o ɤː[5] · oː
Open a (ä)[6]



Kaikiwan uses intonation to quite an extent in morphology, though it is rarely found in grammar(e.g. particles, noun declension suffixes, verb conjugations) and even less in loanwords from Polynesian languages or more recently, English or Japanese.

The language has two types of tones: high and low, and they are only used on independent vowels and diphthong-initial vowels e.g. /a/ → /á/ and /ai/ → /ái/.

There is some historical evidence that Kaikiwan may at one point had tone on nasal consonants, especially /m/, though modern Kaikiwan only uses tone on consonants for ideophones, like in English "hmm?".

Kaikiwan intonation is technically phonemic, meaning semantics can change based on tone pronunciation alone, though in practice very few words distinguish between themselves solely on tone. A commonly used example of this in the language itself would be the word for the islands of Hawai'i, húwui, and the word for "salmon", hùwui, although hùwui is an archaic term, and most modern speakers prefer the term sámo, based on the English term.


Kaikiwan has a (C)V(V)(C) syllable structure.


Kaikiwan has a sandhi system similar to the French liaison. The most common type of sandhi in Kaikiwan is what the OPKLC calls naso-palatal sandhis, or when one word ends with a /n/ and the next word begins with a /ʎ/, in which case the two sounds combine into one /ɲ/. A less common sandhi is the alveolo-labial sandhi, where a /t/ and a /w/ side by side merge into a /tù/.



Many Kaikiwan numerals are derived from Proto-Polynesian. Thus, this table also shows their respective etymologies. If the etymology box is empty, then it is unknown or derived from Proto-Kaikiwic.

Kaikiwan numerals
English Kaikiwan Pronunciation Etymology
one mima mima
two lwa ʎʷa From Proto-Polynesian *rua.
three olu oʎu From Proto-Polynesian *tolu.
four keno kɨ̯no
five mwó mʷó
six ono ono From Proto-Polynesian *ono.
seven sima sima From English seven.
eight lwakeno ʎʷakɨ̯no lwa, "two" + keno, "four".
nine iwa iwa From Proto-Polynesian *hiwa.
ten tumi ʔɤmi̩ From Hawaiian ‘umi.


Collective nouns

For a full list, see Nouns § Collective nouns.
In English, collective nouns are used to indicate mainly groups of animals, like "a murder of crows" or "a rafter of turkeys". In Kaikiwan, there are collective nouns for almost all non-abstract nouns, and different collective nouns are used based on the number of said noun.

For example, take the word tona; "person". When there are one or two people, there is no collective noun nor plural declension; it is simply mima tona or lwa tona(lit. "one person", "two person"). After three, the plural declension is used. Then, at 5 people, the collective noun iku, roughly translating to "group" is used, and at 10 people, the word mwéké("army") is used.

Thus, there are two categories of collective nouns: 5+ and 10+.

Because the usage of collective nouns is dependent on the grammatical number, they can be used to infer the number of a noun, e.g. one could infer that Mwéké-na tonai, "army of people", means at least 10 people.

Some other examples are:

Noun Collective noun
Quintuple Decuple[7]


Singular Plural
Near wa‘é
Far yo yo‘é


Personal pronouns

Kaikiwan has five personal pronouns, divided into two categories: inclusive and exclusive.

Person Singular Plural
1 po tèo
2 sáwa sákona
3 tona iku

Unlike in English, third person pronouns are not gendered, so the sentence "tona ìn po mai" can mean "he is in front of me," "she is in front of me," "they are in front of me," "the person/man is in front of me" or "a person/man is in front of me."



Kaikiwan has five tenses: simple present, simple past, imperfect, simple future, conditional. Kaikiwan is quite conservative in this regard, only dropping the perfect tense from Proto-Kaikiwi–Tol-Sun.

To indicate tense, prefixes are added.

Simple Present
Simple Past a‘-
Imperfect ā‘-
Simple Future i‘-
Conditional ī‘-



Kaikiwan noun cases are distinguished by a hyphen before the case suffix. This does not appear phonetically- it is entirely an orthographic convention.

There are four noun cases: nominative, absolutive, genitive and dative. Specifically the absolutive suffix varies in tone based on the previous noun's tone, e.g. sámo-tó or hùwui-tò. If there is no clear tone, e.g. in túlelù, -to is used.

Noun cases
Tone Case
Nominative Absolutive Genitive Dative
No tone -to -na
Rising -tó
Falling -tò

Noun phrase


Weak verbs

Kaikiwan weak verbs do not have inflection or conjugation, and thus require a pronoun preceding the verb to understand the aspect of the verb. Most weak verbs are verbs relating to everyday things, e.g. tikīa(to toast), néwa(to work).

Strong verbs

Kaikiwan strong verbs change form irregularly based on pronoun and context. However, because strong verb conjugations are unique(usually based on intonation), strong verbs do not require a preceding pronoun.

Strong verbs are often related to the emotional state of a person.

īni("to be")
1.SG 1.PL 2.SG 2.PL 3.SG 3.PL
Simple Present in ini ín íni ìn ìni
Simple Past san sani sán sáni sàn sàni
Imperfect isen iseni isén iséni isèn isèni
Simple Future tan tani i‘an i‘ani i‘ān i‘āni
Conditional ana ani ána áni na‘na na‘ni
ēso("to have")
1.SG 1.PL 2.SG 2.PL 3.SG 3.PL
Simple Present es esi és ési si‘sa si‘si
Simple Past ske skē ské ském skè skèm
Imperfect ka kasi ika ikasi kes kesi
Simple Future ala ali ála áli àla àli
Conditional lak laki lāk lāka‘i ki‘lā ki‘lāi

Verb phrase


Constituent order

Kaikiwan uses an SOV or SVO constituent order.

Sentence phrase

Sáwa-na imol lampa ìn sa‘āk po-na sakani, igo tike po-na loda.
2.sg-gen word lamp.sg is.3.sg.prs for 1.sg.gen foot.pl, light.sg on 1.sg.gen path.sg.
Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.
(Psalm 119:105)
Dependent clauses

Example texts

Matthew 6:9-13

Based on the 21st Century King James Version.

In Kaikiwan

9 Wá kelo-ō, itana sákona-ō: tèo-na Pa‘pā
tona itani-ō ìn, sáwa-na nā‘ma ā‘itana.

10 Sáwa-na imuwiká wá ena‘a. I‘an
‘na itela-ō ‘na itani.

11 Yaká wá ito tèo-ō tèo-na iki‘i pán.

12 Waka nati‘ka tèo-na isikiti, ‘na tèo nati‘ka tèo-na isikitonai.

13 Waka īpi imu‘kea tèo kùkù-tò, kài ni‘ipig-na kawéka tèo. Sa‘āk sáwa ìn imuwiká, waka kitik kao ka‘pá‘ā igini‘pò. Āmen.

In English

9 In this way, you shall pray: Our Father
who is in Heaven, blessed be your name.

10 Your Kingdom come. You will be on earth, as it is in Heaven.

11 Give us this day our daily bread.

12 And forgive our debts, as we forgive our debtors.

13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For you is the Kingdom, and the power and the glory always. Amen.

Seventh Linguifex Relay

This language is participating in the Seventh Linguifex Relay. As such, this section will be updated once the relay begins.

Other resources

  1. ^ Elongated ⟨Ūū⟩ only represents /ɤː/.
  2. ^ All plosives apart from /ʔ/ can be labialised.
  3. ^ Only /m/ can be labialised in this case.
  4. ^ Substitution for /ɤ/ at the end of a syllable.
  5. ^ Elongated /uː/ does not exist, even at the end of syllables.
  6. ^ Substitution for /a/, mostly used by L2 speakers who are not familiar with native phonetics.
  7. ^ Idk man