lami lioa

lami lioa is a language created by koi nilolami in 2014 that i’ve collaborated on since around 2017. it’s fairly lightweight, with quite a small core of vocabulary. but it still manages to be really expressive.

my lami lioa name is miko maolana.

me and nilolami have been writing a little introductory book on lami lioa together, so to explain the premise here’s an excerpt from the introduction.

we found that in a lot of commonly spoken languages, focus is placed on being exact when describing the world. in these languages, our reality is thus classified, organized and drawn up into lots of concise words that map (somewhat) neatly onto the objects and ideas of the world. In this type of language, you simply cannot call a kettle a pot. it is a kettle. and in spite of this, the subtleties of relationship, feeling and desire are subsumed beneath this layer of exactness and left inbetween the lines where they’re expected to be interpreted.

lami lioa offers an alternative approach, where meaning is secondary to the feelings, experiences and relationships that you posit in what you say. it doesn’t matter whether that’s a kettle, or a pot, or a glass of freshly-squeezed lemon juice - it simply matters how you relate to it, how any other things you mention relate to it, how you feel about it and what you wish the listener to feel or do about it.

in lami lioa, you can have various different sentences that all translate the same way but have subtle differences in subtext.

ka nalo sa sali
it’s hot [i’m glad]

ka nalo sa lomi
it’s hot [i’m sad]

ka nalo hao
it’s hot [i think]

this even includes the subtext of what you want the listener to do about the situation.

ka nalo po niko
it’s hot [can you cool me down]

ka nalo pa
it’s hot [but tell me why you disagree]

lami lioa is also pretty good, i find, at expressing aspects of identity.

ka kako la paio na lioa sano mo nai sa nolo
we’re fighting against cis oppression

ka miko hala noa na komo pomo ni nai
i’m a trans witch of the autumn forest

it’s also just really beautiful and expressive.

la kai ka lomi oisa io nono ni pali lo pomo
you’ve a sadness like the falling of leaves in the autumn

you can read more about lami lioa on the website or check out the dictionary.