Some highlights of Na’vi

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James Cameron's sci-fi blockbuster Avatar is opening this weekend with much fanfare. As has been widely reported, Cameron enlisted a linguist, Paul Frommer of USC's Marshall School of Business, to create the Na’vi language, spoken by the inhabitants of the alien world Pandora. We first heard about the development of Na’vi nearly three years ago, when Cameron was hyping the as-yet-unnamed language of Pandora as one that would "out-Klingon Klingon." (See my post, "Advances in cinematic xenolinguistics," Jan. 29, 2007.) When I decided to write about Na’vi and other alien tongues of the silver screen for the New York Times Magazine On Language column, I finally got to learn the real story of the language's construction from Paul Frommer himself ("Skxawng!," NYT, Dec. 6, 2009).

Paul generously shared a great deal of material describing Na’vi's phonetics, phonology, morphology, and syntax, hardly any of which found a place in my On Language column. But since there is already tremendous interest in the language, and some less-than-accurate information about it is currently floating around online, I asked Paul if he could write up a formal description of Na’vi as a Language Log guest post. He wasn't able to reveal everything about the language, but what he has sketched out should whet the appetite of even the most diehard xenolinguistics buffs.

[Guest post by Paul Frommer]


Given the interest that’s already been shown in Na’vi, I’m grateful to Ben Zimmer for the opportunity to post a few highlights of the language to Language Log. As will be apparent, the information below is not intended to be anything like a complete description; the Phonetics and Phonology section is the most complete, but the Morphology and Syntax sections are mere sketches. Given my contractual obligations, a more thorough treatment awaits another venue. But I hope this sketch will answer a few questions and perhaps serve to counterbalance some of the erroneous information that has made its way to the Internet. Needless to say, comments are welcome.

Phonetics and Phonology

Na’vi has 20 consonants, 7 vowels, 4 diphthongs, and 2 syllabic “pseudovowels,” rr and ll.

1. Consonants

The consonants are (in the “official” Na’vi transcription):

Ejectives: px tx kx
Voiceless Stops: p t k
Affricate: ts
Voiceless fricatives: f s h
Voiced fricatives: v z
Nasals: m n ng
Liquids: r, l
Glides: w y

Note the following:

  • The red consonants can occur as the first element of a syllable-initial consonant cluster.
  • The blue consonants can occur in syllable-final position.

Note also:

  • px, tx, kx, ts, and ng are digraphs representing the three ejectives, the affricate, and the velar nasal respectively.
  • In the “scientific” transcription, ts is replaced by c and ng by g. For commercial purposes, however—and also for ease of reading by the actors—the “official” transcription is preferred.
  • The letters b, d, j, and q never appear in Na’vi.

2. Vowels, Diphthongs, and “Pseudovowels”

Vowels

Na’vi has a 7-vowel system:

i , ì u
e o
ä a

Transcription and phonetics:

i [i]
ì [I]
e [ε]  Note: always lax
ä [æ]
u [u] or [U]
o [o]
a [a]

Diphthongs

Na’vi has 4 diphthongs: aw [aw], ew [εw], ay [aj], ey [εj].

3. Syllable structure and phonotactic constraints

Every syllable has a single vowel or diphthong at its center. Each vowel or diphthong in a word corresponds to a separate syllable. A single vowel or diphthong may be a syllable by itself.

Within syllables, Na’vi vowels and diphthongs can be preceded by either one or two consonants. They can also be followed by one consonant. That is, the syllable structure is (C)(C)V(C), where V represents a vowel or a diphthong. Restrictions on which consonants can occur in which positions are given below.

Initial consonants. Any consonant can occur at the beginning of a syllable.

Consonant clusters. Clusters of two consonants can occur, but only in syllable-initial position and only in the following combinations:

f,  s,  ts +  {p, t, k, px, tx, kx, m, n, ng, r, l, w, y}

There are thus 39 possible initial C-clusters, all of which are attested in the lexicon.

Final consonants. Only certain consonants occur in syllable-final position. These are:

Ejectives: px tx kx
Stops: p t k
Nasals: m n ng
Liquids: r, l

Pseudovowels. In CV syllables, the liquids l and r can replace the vowel. When they are syllabic they are lengthened (the r is very strongly trilled, the l always front and “light”) and written ll and rr respectively.

Note: Sequences of stop + liquid, though they cannot occur initially, may be found medially. In such cases, however, a syllable boundary intervenes. Example: ikran ‘banshee’ divides as ik-ran, not *i-kran.

4. Vowel clusters

Na’vi allows unlimited sequences of vowels in a word. If no glottal stop intervenes, the vowels in such clusters glide smoothly from one to another. Each such vowel represents a separate syllable.

Examples: tsaleioae (6 syllables), meoauniaea (8 syllables)

5. Phonetic detail and phonology

Voiceless stops are unaspirated. In final position they are unreleased.

Na’vi r is a flap, as in Spanish pero or Indonesian surat.

Word stress in Na’vi is unpredictable and distinctive. Stress must thus be specified for each word. (In learning materials only, the stressed syllable in a word is underlined.)

E.g. tute ‘person’, tute ‘female person’

Lenition. Following certain adpositions and prefixes, initial consonants mutate as follows:

px, tx, kx p, t, k
p, t/ts, k f, s, h

Glottal stop:

Ø

8 C’s participate in rule: px, tx, kx, ’, p, t, ts, k

12 C’s do not: f, s, h, v, z, m, n, ng, r, l, w, y

Word Classes and Morphology

1. Nouns

Nouns are inflected for case and number but only rarely for gender.

Number

Number (singular, dual, trial, plural) is indicated by prefixes, each of which triggers lenition:

Short plurals: When the plural marker ay- is prefixed to a word beginning with a lenitable consonant, it may be dropped after lenition has occurred.

Example : The plural of tokx ‘body’ is ay+tokx. Thus we have :

*aytokx → aysokx ‘bodies’

But now the plural is marked redundantly, first by the prefix itself and second by lenition of the initial consonant of the singular. So the ay- may be optionally dropped, yielding tokx ‘body’ vs. sokx ‘bodies’.

Case

Nouns and pronouns take six cases (counting Topical as a case): Subjective, Agentive, Patientive, Genitive, Dative, Topical. The case system is tripartite—i.e., it distinguishes between intransitive subjects (S), transitive subjects (A), and objects (P). Case morphemes are suffixes, generally with several allomorphs. Changes to the noun base sometimes occur with the Genitive.

The Topical form of a noun or pronoun establishes a loose semantic connection to the clause and has a wide range of uses. It may be translated along the lines of “with regard to,” “as for,” “turning to,” “concerning,” etc., but it can also appear where a genitive or dative might be expected.

Example:

Oeri ta peyä fahew akewong ontu teya längu.
I-TOP from his smell alien nose full is-NEG-ATTITUDE

‘My nose is full of his alien smell.’

2. Pronouns

Like nouns, pronouns exist in singular, dual, trial, and plural forms. In the first person dual, trial, and plural, a distinction is made between inclusive and exclusive forms.

3. Verbs

Verbs are inflected for tense, aspect, mood/dependency, and speaker attitude, but not for person or number. Verb inflections are effected exclusively through infixes, which are of two types—first position and second position.

With monosyllabic verb roots, first-position infixes simply come before second-position ones. With multisyllabic roots, however, first-position infixes occur in the penultimate syllable and second-position ones in the final syllable.

First-position infixes indicate tense, aspect, or mood; there are also participial and reflexive infixes in this position, the latter being in “pre-first” position so it can co-occur with other first-position infixes. Second-position infixes indicate speaker attitude—positive orientation, negative orientation, or uncertainty/indirect knowledge. Many of these infixes are optional on the sentence level. (In discourse, however, overt indication of tense or aspect may be required.)

Aspect is perfective or imperfective. Tense has five points on the time line: present, past proximate, past general, future proximate, future general. Verbs can be inflected for tense alone, aspect alone, or a combination of tense and aspect.

Selected examples:

Root: taron ‘hunt’

Note: English translations are only approximate and represent one of several possibilities.

Tense only:
taron ‘hunt’
tìmaron ‘just now hunted’
tayaron ‘will hunt’
Aspect only:
teraron ‘be hunting’
tolaron ‘have hunted’
Both tense and aspect:
tìrmaron ‘was just now hunting’

Many more such forms exist.

Including second-position infixes:

tìrmareion ‘was just now hunting (and the speaker feels positive about it)’

tayarängon ‘will hunt (and the speaker feels negative about it)’

In the last two examples, the root is indicated in red. Such forms raise an interesting question: To what extent can a root be obscured by inflections and still be recognizable? When Na’vi listeners hear tìrmareion, for example, do they immediately recognize it as a form of the verb taron? By the same token, are speakers able to produce such forms spontaneously? I’d like to think the answer to both questions is yes, but the matter requires further study; we need more samples of discourse from Pandora!

4. Adjectives

Adjectives are invariant and undeclined. A derivational prefix forms adjectives out of other parts of speech.

5. Adpositions

These can either precede or follow their heads with no semantic distinction; in the latter case, they’re bound to the noun or pronoun. E.g., ‘with you’ = hu nga or ngahu.

Certain adpositions, when in pre-nominal position, trigger lenition. There’s no predicting which do and which don’t—they simply have to be learned. (Adpositions are marked in the lexicon as either ADP+ or ADP-.)

Because of the “short plural” phenomenon, ADP+ adpositions can yield ambiguous structures. Example: mì ‘in’ is ADP+; does mì sokx mean ‘in the body’ or ‘in the bodies’? The language has developed ways of dealing with these potential ambiguities.

Syntax

The most notable aspect of Na’vi syntax is the freedom of word order. The case system allows all 6 sequences of S, O, and V. Additionally, adjectives, genitives, and relative clauses can either precede or follow their heads.

Nouns and adjectives are tied together by the morpheme a, which comes between them and is attached as a bound morpheme to the adjective. For example, ‘long river’ is either ngima kilvan or kilvan angim.

There’s obviously a lot more to say about syntax—for example, how the language handles subordination and complementation. That will be for another time.



109 Comments

  1. Eli said,

    December 19, 2009 @ 1:23 am

    I really hope that "That will be for another time" is a promise that will come to fruition. The only thing that I wish had been included here is an example of how the language has developed ways of dealing with adpositions vs. short plurals.

    Good work! Having a language that sounded like language helped my suspension of disbelief (and more importantly, my enjoyment) of the movie! (Also, I kept trying to figure out word order and was relieved to find out that it was not strict. Score one for my innate linguist skills.)

  2. Tsbüzdw Kjèqq said,

    December 19, 2009 @ 2:50 am

    Lies, all lies. Typical Hoo'man black propaganda.

    Vive la Pandora libre!

  3. Aaron Toivo said,

    December 19, 2009 @ 3:42 am

    It is a welcome sight to see another commercial fictional language formed on a solid linguistic basis. It adds a lot more depth and character than is possible to get from random strings of letters pulled from the rear end of the alphabet, which are all we ever see of so many other fictional "languages". It gives us something to sink our teeth into. Tolkien and Okrand have been minor heroes of the conlang community for ages; looks to me like a third name is now joining that very exclusive list. Well done!

  4. Wm Annis said,

    December 19, 2009 @ 10:33 am

    I was enjoying the way new sentences and phrases were coming out in different interviews with you. The collection reminded me of morphology exams from far too long ago.

    Regarding "another venue" for Na'vi details — are you yet permitted to say what that venue will be? Should we be expecting a "Na'vi Grammar and Dictionary" to sit next to our Klingon learning material? Somewhere online?

    Finally, when the word order of a human language is called "free" that usually doesn't really mean free, merely not syntactic, indicating instead things like topic/focus, discourse prominence, etc. Is Na'vi the same, or is the word order really without any significance at all?

  5. Mithridates said,

    December 19, 2009 @ 11:07 am

    Recognizability: I'd say that those are still easily recognizable roots, especially for a native speaker. Turkish is often similar to this with words like başlamak (to start), başlatmak (to make something start), başlatılmak (to be made to start) and so on that look pretty much the same to someone who doesn't know the language but make good sense to those that do. Kursum başlatıldı (my course was begun, i.e. made to start), Kursunu ne zaman başlatacaksın? (when will you start your course?) and Kursun ne zaman başlayacak? (when will your course begin?) are three examples.

  6. language hat said,

    December 19, 2009 @ 11:15 am

    Word stress in Na’vi is unpredictable and distinctive. Stress must thus be specified for each word. (In learning materials only, the stressed syllable in a word is underlined.)

    Would it be possible to add the underlines to all the examples in the post? If one is actually interested in the language, it's extremely frustrating not to know which syllables to stress in (for example) the various verb forms.

  7. Jerry Friedman said,

    December 19, 2009 @ 12:39 pm

    Are all the features of Na'vi derived from human languages, or similar to features of human languages, or does it have any features so strange that (many) linguists would doubt it could ever exist in our languages?

  8. a.y.mous said,

    December 19, 2009 @ 1:26 pm

    http://bakadesuyo.com/what-english-sounds-like-to-foreigners

    Should have asked their help as well.

  9. Prrton said,

    December 19, 2009 @ 3:28 pm

    Irayo, ma Paul! Oe-ri lì'fya ngeyä sevin lu nìtxan. Slä, ke ftue. ;-)
    Thank you, Paul! I find your language beautiful. But not easy ;-)
    PS: Please correct this.

  10. StevC said,

    December 19, 2009 @ 3:52 pm

    The phonological inventory, while not entirely "crazy", is typologically weird (ok, I'm thinking in "Terran" terms, of course…)
    Let's see:
    a) most languages with a sound system complex enough to include ejectives also have distinctive aspiration (and typically have uvular consonants as well); b) it's very, very strange to see a voicing distinction in fricatives but not in stops and affricates!; c) finally, another unusual feature is the presence of a lax Í without a corresponding distinctive lax U (as if that quasi-quadrangular vowel system was not rare enough.)

  11. Tom Recht said,

    December 19, 2009 @ 5:08 pm

    What I want to know is how you land a job like this.

  12. Coby Lubliner said,

    December 19, 2009 @ 5:24 pm

    What I want to know is how you land a job like this.
    I guess you start as Vice President, Special Projects Coordinator, Strategic Planner, and Writer-Researcher of Bentley Industries, Inc, and go on to become Professor of Clinical Management Communication at the USC Marshall School of Business.

    There are quite a few outfits called Bentley Industries, but the one in Los Angeles has the following as its products: Wholesales Advertising Specialties Advertising campaign services, Media placement and fulfillment, Aerial advertising, Broadcast advertising, Print advertising, Advertising agency services.
    That's how.

  13. Trond Engen said,

    December 19, 2009 @ 5:52 pm

    Since the above is all I've ever read about Na'vi and I haven't seen the film i concider myself sufficiently neutral to add something about sociolinguistics:

    Even if the number prefix can't be dropped from the dual and trial forms pragmatics would immediately turn the short form into "two or more" and the long plural into "definitely more than three". Under the influence of adpositions the short plural would be reinterpreted as indefinite for number. The difference between lenited and unlenited roots would be that the lenited form is distributive or individualizing while the unlenited is collective.

    I'm not sure how prescriptively correct language would deal with the need for a way to discern collective from indefinite individual of unlenited roots. Affixation of a distributive pronoun? This would give two classes of nouns, "weak" and "strong". In sub-standard speech there would for a long time have been a tendency to produce analogical strong collectives from roots starting with f, s, h. These would be frowned upon by prescriptivists, resulting in an equally frowned-upon tendency to hypercorrectly drop the unlenited forms and add the affix in strong nouns. (The tendency and sociolinguistics would be equally strong without the affixed weak forms).

    But if the distributive pronoun were infixed between the number prefix and the root, and also started with a pseudo-lenited consonant, it might by some communities of speakers be reinterpreted as part of the root and result in a system where all nouns have separate collective forms…

    Hey, this language has dialects and sociolects! All sorts of interesting things might be inferred from the speech of the individual characters.

  14. Nicholas Waller said,

    December 19, 2009 @ 6:40 pm

    Ha. Only today I saw in The Times (of London) an unflattering reference to Frommer and Avatar, and idly wondered what the denizens of Language Log, my only source for academic linguists, did actually think:

    " Buried deep down among the best boys and gaffers in the credits of Avatar is a billing for 'Paul Frommer PhD — linguistic consultant'. Dr Frommer’s name, I would respectfully surmise, is not one that cuts a titanic amount of ice within the academic linguist community."

    As the world’s languages die, James Cameron invents a tongue for aliens by John Sutherland.

  15. Sai Emrys said,

    December 19, 2009 @ 6:55 pm

    Tom: If you want to be a pro conlanger, talk to us at the Language Creation Society.

    We just finished one for a major TV studio, though alas it's still under NDA so I'm not allowed to say who yet. :-/

    http://conlang.org/jobs

    See the main page for more info about what the LCS does.

  16. Sai Emrys said,

    December 19, 2009 @ 7:07 pm

    Nicholas – Try reading http://dedalvs.conlang.org/notes/manifesto.php for some counterpoint.

    One might as well accuse all linguists who aren't field linguists – which I think means most of 'em – of failing to help preserve dying languages with their silly predilections for trying to theorize, philosophize, study cognition, etc. Or accuse field linguists of failing to help feed dying African kids.

    People do different things, and art has its place too.

  17. Woofus said,

    December 19, 2009 @ 8:51 pm

    This is kind of a silly point, given that human actors have to speak the lines, but the Na'vi–though largely humanoid–seem to be about twice our size. Wouldn't this affect the availability of certain vowels, such as the _i_ sound? And maybe give them another, contrabass register?

    One disappointment I had was with the "native" music (composed by James Horner, with some spontaneous elaboration by the actors): they used plainly Western musical scales.

  18. Faldone said,

    December 19, 2009 @ 9:56 pm

    All I want to know is how to say "I don't speak Na'vi."

  19. GAC said,

    December 19, 2009 @ 9:57 pm

    Very interesting. I like that Na'vi manifests a few "alien language" tropes while still having some real lingistics behind it. One of the things that annoys me in fake alien languages is the useless apostrophe — so I was glad to find that it has a reason for existing in Na'vi, as well as the (seemingly random) x's actually having a purpose.

    To the author, I have not yet seen the movie, but I plan to, and if we get Na'vi grammatical materials a la The Klingon Dictionary I will probably buy those as well.

  20. Benjamin Zimmer said,

    December 19, 2009 @ 11:18 pm

    @Coby Lubliner: As I alluded to in my On Language column, and as discussed more explicitly in this press release, Cameron's production company got in touch with the USC linguistics department and Ed Finegan passed along the request to Paul Frommer — they coauthored Looking at Languages: A Workbook in Elementary Linguistics. Their workbook includes exercises drawn from a variety of human languages, and also Klingon.

    (A little bit of research into the actual development of the language would have served John Sutherland well, but instead he saw fit to run with ill-informed invective.)

  21. Coby Lubliner said,

    December 20, 2009 @ 12:24 am

    @Ben Zimmer: Interesting — a linguistics department passing the request for an artificial language to Management Communication.

  22. Prrton said,

    December 20, 2009 @ 1:04 am

    @Faldone: I'll propose that if you're at all out of sorts with your xenolinguistic inability try: "Oel ke tsängun Na’viyä lì’fyati plltxe." (I [feel badly/am annoyed that] I cannot speak the Na'vi language.) Or if you're going for short and to the point: "Ke nì-Na’vi oe plltxe." (I don't speak in Na'vi.) These are partial guesses on my part at this point, but I trust your listener will get the gist one way or the other. Oh, and good luck with the "ll" in "plltxe". :-)

  23. Lee CLark said,

    December 20, 2009 @ 1:08 am

    Where can a person go to learn the Na'Vi language is there any links that any can show me i just want to learn how to speak cant find any links :(

  24. Sebastian Wolff said,

    December 20, 2009 @ 2:44 am

    Kaltxì!

    So, along the lines of "see a need, fill a need," I created a website where all Na'vi-learning can take place. Future plans include a translation interface, basic tutorials, and clear(er) conjugation tables (once the details of the grammar are more fleshed out).

    The website is bare-bones, like the language thus far, but here it is: http://www.learnnavi.org/

    Anyone else striving to become fluent some time soon?

  25. Dan T. said,

    December 20, 2009 @ 10:54 am

    In the 1970s Saturday morning TV program Land of the Lost, a linguist (Victoria Fromkin) was employed to devise the language of the "ape-man" Pakuni.

    [(bgz) Yep, I mention this in my On Language column.]

  26. Johannes Rupp said,

    December 20, 2009 @ 10:54 am

    I thought I could speak a bit of it – until I heard Frommer himself say some of his words and sentences. For a non-linguist like me the ejectives need quite an effort… But it makes a lot of fun! I've just built my first useful sentences in Na'vi!

  27. Matthew Martin said,

    December 20, 2009 @ 11:55 am

    There is a yahoo mailing list for na'vi as well. http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/navilanguage

    Huge thanks to Ben Zimmerman and Paul Frommer for publishing the first canonical grammar.

  28. Arika Okrent said,

    December 20, 2009 @ 12:12 pm

    I do believe that comment by Prrton is the first documented transition of Na'vi from the fictional world into the real world. Anthropologists take note! A language community, 'tis born…

  29. Prrton said,

    December 20, 2009 @ 2:52 pm

    @Arika: While honored by your comment, I must humbly step a little farther back in line. Dr. Frommer’s interview with NPR’s Renée Montagne and her brief battle with the initial velar nasal ŋ (in “nga” = “you” http://bit.ly/KaltxiMaRenee) is likely a better candidate for the *first* documented exchange in our “new community.” And, surly “skxawng!” having been a popular epithet thrown about by the film crew deserves some recognition. By the time all of those hundreds of millions of dollars had been burned through, I’m sure that someone or other must have come up with an innovation à la “frakkin’ skxawng!” too. Credit where credit is due. So, please let me be content with 3rd or 4th in line. And, on a side note, I should thank you for your book, “In the Land of Invented Languages”, which I am enjoying immensely. The tale of your hotel arrangements for the qep’a’ in Phoenix would have had me rolling on the floor in laughter had I not been belted into the front seat of a moving automobile when I read it. Everything so far is fascinating. Nods to Ben as well for mentioning the book in his NYT article “Skxawng!”. That's where I learned of it. I hazard to say I’m the very first to pull it off the shelf of the Eureka branch of the San Francisco Public Library and consume its pristine pages. Now, off to the real business of the day. How DOES one say in Na’vi “I have to disassemble and stain [in the near future] the closet doors [more than 3, ugh!] in our [not including you] guest bedroom because visitors [more than 3] will be arriving [yeay!] from Tokyo and Singapore soon after Christmas.”?

  30. Joe Clark said,

    December 20, 2009 @ 3:56 pm

    Much better handled than in District 9.

    Avatar’s subtitles had numerous copy errors, and positioning and typeface were wrong in various ways.

  31. Mr Econotarian said,

    December 20, 2009 @ 4:35 pm

    I would think that an alien language could have phonemes that are not human phonemes. Certainly birds have acoustic expressions that no human could produce.

    The same could apply to syntax, we could see syntaxes that are not represented in any human language.

    For example, an alien could evolve the ability to transmit two parallel lines of communication simultaneously at different frequencies. No reason why acoustic expression can't use frequency division multiplexing.

  32. Darryl McAdams said,

    December 20, 2009 @ 4:45 pm

    There's also the very lively conlanging community over at the Zompist's board (ZBB) that complements Sai Emrys's Language Creation Society quite nicely.

  33. Faldone said,

    December 20, 2009 @ 5:39 pm

    @Prrton. Thanks for the translation. I'll probably go with short and to the point. And I think I'll have more trouble with the tx than with the ll.

  34. Arika Okrent said,

    December 20, 2009 @ 9:44 pm

    Nope, @prrton. I think you still win. A few bits of vocabulary and set phrases don't count. Productive use of grammar is where it's really at. I expect others will be joining you soon. :-)

  35. Wm Annis said,

    December 20, 2009 @ 10:18 pm

    @Arika: attempts to create new sentences in the language have been going on for a while in moderated, private fora. Unfortunately, most of that so far has consisted of stringing together words from the brief vocabulary that has escaped into the wild (transcribed from the "Activist Survival Guide" book, which came out Nov 24). But this very blog post has clarified many puzzles.

    (I also loved your book.)

    @Herr Professor Doktor Formmer! Might it be possible to get a transcription of the sentences from the NYT article sound bytes?

  36. Dr Peter Martienson said,

    December 21, 2009 @ 12:08 am

    This guy is a linguist? He describes "ay" as a diphthong using the transcription /ay/, but /y/ is the Celtic vowel in French "tu" which doesn't appear in the film. He means /aj/, where /j/ is a y sound as in German "ja." Looks like… he was lucky to get the gig.

    [(bgz) As Paul points out below, that's standard Americanist notation. I've edited the diphthongs so they're in line with IPA.]

  37. Jack said,

    December 21, 2009 @ 2:10 am

    Actually, /y/ means whatever you define it to mean. It is [y] that is the vowel in French "tu", not /y/. When writing for a lay English-speaking audience, it is common to use the letter wye for [j]. You could transcribe the vowels /♠/, /♣/, /♥/, /♦/ etc. if you like; if fact, some linguists have done just that, to emphasis the allophonic range of the vowels.

  38. Darryl McAdams said,

    December 21, 2009 @ 3:20 am

    apparently LL doesn't like my symbols, so repost:

    Martienson, Jack, it's common (tho increasingly frowned upon) in American phonology and phonetics to use <y> for IPA <j>. It's all over the place. While I do think it's humorous that people consider this guy a linguist (he got an undergraduate degree in linguistics, which I suppose is something, but not much), saying he's lucky to have gotten the job because of <y> and <j> is ridiculous.

  39. Paul Frommer said,

    December 21, 2009 @ 5:56 am

    It was a privilege to be able to contribute to LL, and I very much appreciate the helpful and supportive comments on my post.

    The public’s response to Na’vi has been astonishing, gratifying, and a bit daunting. (You should see my inbox.) If Arika’s prediction comes true and Na’vi spawns a viable language community, I’d be delighted—and eager to help it along. Just what I’ll be able to do, however, and when, remains at this point unclear. Once the relevant issues are resolved, I’ll look forward to contributing something more substantial to the community.

    On to a few specific comments:

    @Wm Annis: Your point about free word order is very well taken. You’re absolutely right: by “free” I meant, as you said, “not syntactic”; discourse issues will affect the choice of word order. Na’vi is still a work in progress, and up to now I’ve been making some word order decisions on the basis of “feel”—no doubt influenced by the languages I know, given that I don’t have native speaker intuition. (Wish I could find someone who does.) Codifying the rules of discourse is something I’m working on.

    @Mithridates: Thanks for the interesting Turkish verb forms. I see that the root (I assume it’s başla) is easily recognizable in all of them, since they all begin that way. I don’t think that’s comparable to the Na’vi situation, however. With an inflected form like tìrmareion, you don’t hear (or see) the root (taron), which is broken up into bits and pieces. So the question of recognition is still, for me, unresolved.

    @language hat: There is in fact a stress rule for verbs: speaking loosely, whatever vowel is stressed in the root retains the stress in inflected forms. Taron is stressed on the first syllable: TAron. That much is unpredictable. Once you know that, however, stress in the other forms can be determined: tìMAron, taYAron, teRAron, toLAron, tìrMAron, tìrMAreion, taYArängon, etc. (Didn't know how to do underlining here.)

    @Jerry Friedman: The logic is this: According to the plot of “Avatar,” Na’vi is learnable by humans—and in fact three human characters speak it with varying degrees of competence. If it contained elements so strange that they could never exist in human languages, it’s doubtful humans could ever learn it. (That was my working hypothesis; if anyone feels it’s not the case, I’d be interested in your thoughts.) Ergo, Na’vi doesn’t contain elements as strange as that.

    @Prrton: Tewti, ma Prrton! Plltxe nga nìltsan! (Wow, Prrton! You speak well!) You’re just about perfect. Two suggestions: You don’t need a hyphen before a noun inflection, so it’s just oeri. And sevin, meaning ‘pretty,’ is used only for people (Na’vi or humans). A better word here is lor, meaning ‘beautiful, pleasant to the senses.’

    @StevC: I’m not sure a voicing distinction in fricatives without one in stops is quite that strange. I believe you can find it in Samoan, which has /p/, /t/, /k/, no /b/, /d/, /g/, but /f/ and /v/. As for the vowel system, it is indeed asymmetrical. But as you’ve implied, what’s natural or unnatural on earth may not be the same on Pandora.

    @Trond Engen: You’ve given me a lot to think about, and I’d better take some time to do just that before I respond to your predictions. However, you might be interested to learn that I translated material in a few different registers for the film and video games. A bit of the film dialog was in an honorific or ceremonial register—nothing too elaborate, just some pronoun changes and a marker on the verb. In the opposite direction, I had to translate some rough dialog between low-level warriors for the games; it was interesting to try to predict how their speech might differ from the more standard register.

    @Woofus: Not silly at all. Although I’m not sure the size of the Na’vi would affect their ability to pronounce the /i/ vowel (think of the wide range in human size, from tiny kids to NBA stars, who can all manage it), your general concern is valid: would the Na’vi have voices like ours? The constraint we were under is that the language had to be spoken by human actors, and James Cameron didn’t want to modify the sound electronically: he wanted it just as it was pronounced naturally. So we went under the assumption that the Na’vi vocal tract and speech mechanism were very similar to our own.

    @Joe Clark: If you let me know the copy errors you found, I’ll pass them along to the appropriate individuals.

    @Dr Peter Martienson: Thank you for pointing out the non-IPA transcriptions in my post. Rest assured I am well aware of the difference between a high front rounded vowel and a palatal approximant. As you may know, there are other systems of transcription besides IPA. I was brought up on the “Americanist” system, which for example uses y instead of j and č instead of t-plus-long-s. If I’m not careful I can slip back into my old ways, as I did here. I’ve asked Ben to make the changes.

    As for your final remark, in one sense (although not the one you intended) it’s spot on: I consider myself fortunate indeed to have been involved in this project.

    @Darryl McAdams: My undergraduate degree is in mathematics. My Ph.D. is in linguistics. I did my dissertation, “Post-Verbal Phenomena in Colloquial Persian Syntax,” at USC under Bernard Comrie.

  40. Darryl McAdams said,

    December 21, 2009 @ 6:41 am

    @Paul Frommer: Oh really? Well then, I retract what I said. I guess my source got it backwards; I had read that you switched away from linguistics before going on to do your grad work. All too often people are called linguistics just because they fiddle with language in some way (James Doohan, for example), and it seemed like this was another one of those situations. I'm glad to see I was wrong.

    Sorry again.

  41. Mancko said,

    December 21, 2009 @ 10:13 am

    Hi,
    I'm interested in numbering systems as a small door to discover languages. They're usually simple enough to be understood in a short time, while making us look into the writing system, glimpsing into the words roots and meaning, and getting some interesting thoughts about the culture from time to time. It's always an eye-opener to dive deeper into the subject.
    From the too scarce data available, it seems that Na’vi uses a base-8 system (due to their four fingers as it's said). Is it a true base-8 system, as it remains in octal base, or does it switches base after a while? Say, do they use 64 for 100, 512 for 1,000 and so on? Has it been fully developed with a way to build any number?
    For those interested, here's the compiled data about Na’vi numbers.

  42. GAC said,

    December 21, 2009 @ 12:44 pm

    "If it contained elements so strange that they could never exist in human languages, it’s doubtful humans could ever learn it. (That was my working hypothesis; if anyone feels it’s not the case, I’d be interested in your thoughts.)"

    I tool around with conlanging and I've found that creating odd features is very difficult. My first conlang, Xala, was developed with the image of a sauroid creature with a syrinx. You can argue that most sounds would come out differently because of the differently shaped vocal tract, but the only "alien" sound I included was a "double-tone", made by vibrating either part of the syrinx at different frequencies (something birds can actually do, apparently). I fixed the human problem by saying creatures without a syrinx could realize it as a long vowel with falling tone, which approximates a variant tone found in several non-standard dialects.

    Unfortunately I'm not a linguist or a biologist, so I could have created something totally impossible.

  43. Joe Clark said,

    December 21, 2009 @ 12:52 pm

    I didn’t take notes, as I used to do. Missing vocative commas, mostly (the infamous “Come On Eileen” problem). I think the capitalized The was not necessary, but can’t remember in what noun phrase it appeared (at least twice, though) – perhaps The Eywa.

    Blinkrate between subtitles is zero frames and has to be two (no more and no fewer). And if you’re going to position subtitles like captions, go all the way or don’t bother. Neutral apostrophes just won’t cut it. Oh, and they can’t start with an ellipsis.

    On a later date, we can discuss the typeface choice.

    Maybe send me mail directly from your university account and I can expand further.

  44. Johannes Rupp said,

    December 21, 2009 @ 1:41 pm

    @Prrton:
    What about

    [..., because] payrähem ye'rin, krrpe Christmas layu, hasey ay-hewong ftu Tokyo ulte Singapore-ftu.

    ?
    (Vocabulary taken from Sebastian Wolff's page (Irayo!).)
    Because I had no word to be used for 'visitors', I took 'kewong' – 'alien'. Not exactly the same, I know; but the closest word I could find.
    I couldn't find anything with a meaning similar to 'after' either, so I tried to paraphrase it a bit (~'soon, when Christmas will be over').

    I guess there are some better ways to do this – would anyone like to try? ;-)

  45. asain said,

    December 21, 2009 @ 3:41 pm

    Kaltxi frapo!, Oe(l) ngati kameie
    Oe(l) pivängkxo fi (sevin?) Na'vi.
    Oe(l) tse'a uniltìrantokx, nìtxan sìltsan!

    ( Hello everyone! I See you. I love/like the na'vi *language. I watched (*the film) Avatar, (*it was) very good!)

    *I do not know the Na'vi word :(

    As you can see, I am not very good with languages, so I hope that the Na'vi language will be adjusted better so people who are not so skilled in languages can learn it :P
    I hope a good Na'vi learning book will come with a cd so I can hear the pronunciation of the words.
    I really do hope the Na'vi language will be popular, IT WILL BE SO AWESOME!! xD

    Eywa ngahu fra! ;)

  46. Manticora Merychippus said,

    December 21, 2009 @ 4:57 pm

    @Dr. Frommer: Huge respect for bringing such a deliciously complex language to Pandora. I look forward to a comprehensive syntax and lexicon of Na'vi at some point.

    I am astonished by the good graces with which you address the self-important and even deprecatory commentary which shows up here – I felt as though I were listening to a syntax symposium. Linguists can be some of the most pompous and arrogant Esso-Bees in all of academia. An' I oughta know, I are one.

    Thanks again.

  47. Aleytsia said,

    December 21, 2009 @ 6:39 pm

    Firstly, I am -not- a linguist. so i will admit, i was a little lost reading this, i did what i could to keep up. However after seeing the movie and hearing the language spoken, I was leaving the theatre with the singular thought of learning to speak Na'vi. This was mirrored by my partner and my younger sister who were there as well.

    So yes, i would very much love to see this develop into an active language community. I do know a few phrases of klingon and elvish, but nothing that would apply here.

    @Dr. Frommer: you have created something wholly fantastic in this language. I believe it compliments the beauty and splendor of Pandor and her People. I salute you.

  48. Prrton said,

    December 22, 2009 @ 1:41 am

    @Paul Frommer: Kaltxì, ma Paul! Oeru ‘upxare ngeyä TXANa srung leiu. Irayo. Lora lì'fyati ngeyä ftia fmereii oel tengfya ke txopu lu a ayeveng nume. Ke tsängun eltul oeyä aylì’uti ralpeng nìmuiä a krr apxay längu, slä ayrenuti stayeftxeiaw oel nìtut ulte kxawm tsun plltxe oe nìngay nìltsan a fìtrr zaya’eiu. Ngaru ätxäle [if this is in fact a verb, if not, please add "si” ] oel set futa Hal'liwutta tsayeyktanru ngal peng futa lì'fyati Na’viyä nume nereeiu a ngeyä wotxa lì’utìtäftxurenu sì aylì’uyä sänumeti perängey ayoel. Ayoel nereu a tsa’u ke tsayängun lu txo ayoel pänutìng futa rawketi sayi nìwotx ulte Eywafa ke txayey. Kawkrr!!;-) Eywa ngahu.

    Hello, Paul. Your note is VERY helpful to me. Thank you. I am happily trying to study your beautiful language as a child learns, fearlessly. At times my brain (frustratingly) cannot interpret the words properly, but I’ll (happily) continue examining the patterns and perhaps the day when I can truly speak well will come. :-) I now ask you to tell the Hollywood bosses that those of us who want to learn the Na’vi language are waiting (impatiently) for your full grammar and lexicon. We promise to raise a lotta hell if what we want is not forthcoming, and “by Eywa” we w’ont stop. Ever!! ;-) Blessings.

    PS: Ke fì’u ‘fatwa’ lu. This is not a fatwa. ;-)

    @Johannes Rupp: Kaltxì ma Yohannesì. Ngaru lu fpom srak? Ngal ngìmop a fi’renu aylì’uyä sìlronsem leiu. Slä, fì’u muiä lu fu ke lu txo Toktor Frawmmerru oeng[l?] pawm zene. Oeru txoa livu, ke omum oe, slä oeri tìfmil nagyä sìltsan leiu nìtxan! Oel tseng‘wep’ri Sepa’stìanyä stoleftxeiaw nìwotx. Kxawm Na’viyä ftiayu aftxavang lu a fraporu fì’u srung atxan slayu.

    Hi, Johannes. How are you? This syntax is clever. But, we’ll have to ask Doctor Frommer if it’s proper or not. Forgive me, I don’t know, but I find your attempt just great! I thoroughly examined Sebastian’s website. Maybe it will become a great help to everyone who’s an avid student of Na’vi.

    @Arika: Well, even here and already Johannes seems to be joining in. :-) So off we go into the wild luminescent yonder… (and I haven’t even seen the movie yet. But, tomorrow. IMAX 3D…) I understand completely what you mean by “productive grammar,” but based on my arduous journey today to produce just these few meager lines I seriously question whether I will ever truly be able to use the adjective “productive” in association with “Na’vi.” But, it is undeniably fun. Qapla’ ;-)

  49. Mokri said,

    December 22, 2009 @ 2:26 am

    How to say I love you? Please, I need it.

  50. Mokri said,

    December 22, 2009 @ 5:01 am

    Prrton, kaltxì, Where did you get huge knowledge of Na'vi? Grammar, vocabulary and stuff.

  51. Jack said,

    December 22, 2009 @ 6:06 am

    Per the comment about voicing in fricatives but not in plosives being alien to human language: The Athabascan languages do this. Chipewyan has dental, alveolar, lateral, postalveolar, uvular, & labialized uvular pairs of fricatives, while in stops there's an aspiration distinction. Navajo is similar. Granted, Na'vi doesn't have aspiration, but Hill Mari is even closer: it has labial, alveolar, post-alveolar, and velar fricative pairs, and no VOT distinction in stops at all (except for Russian loans). Itelmen is similar but more limited: it distinguishes voicing in the anterior frics but not the posterior ones. And lots of languages like Mandarin have one or two voiced fricatives in an otherwise voiceless-obstruent-only system. So yes, a system like Na'vi is rare in human language, but not unknown.

  52. Jack said,

    December 22, 2009 @ 6:20 am

    And Itelmen: it has ejectives as well as /F B s z/ and, apart from additional palatal and uvular series, an inventory very similar to Na'vi.

  53. Emanuel Thomas said,

    December 22, 2009 @ 7:01 am

    Is there a way i can be explained every detail because im a novice with vocabulary and grammar. I really want to learn the language but i don't understand the words like dyphthong and pseudovowels. I'm going to continue to research the words and try to get an understanding on the english words first before i can with the Na'vi language. My cousin Dewayne Deadmon is actually going to USC for the basketball team hopefully that will help me get my foot in the door to meeting you Paul and getting alittle help with learning this awesome language. Thank you for taking the time to look at this post, hopefully we meet soon!

  54. Fortuna said,

    December 22, 2009 @ 4:07 pm

    Mì unilyä

    Mì unilyä oe ka atxkxe ne na’rìng kolä. Na’rìng swotu lu, na’rìng hu tìrey lolu. Oe hu fnu tìran, krrpe ean atan tolse’a. Sìltsan-a sì swoka-a aungia lam lolu. Tsakrr tsamsiyu oe tolse’a. Poe sevin lolu. “Nari si! Aysawtutel Na’viti ‘ayeko. Na’vil Na’viti hawnu zene.” Poe pollltxe. Tskarr poe neto kolä. Tskarr…oe txolen.

    Oe rä’ä omum pe umilyä ral lu…

    Just a very short story I wrote yesterday. Am I the first fan to write a story in Na'vi? XD Please correct me!

  55. Johannes Rupp said,

    December 22, 2009 @ 6:52 pm

    Lemme try to translate it – and if you don't mind, I'll write my ideas (they are not really corrections) about it then.

    Dreaming

    Dreaming, I've been going across the country to the woods. The forest is a sacred place, the forest has been with life(?). I walk with quiet, when I've seen a blue light. [What about: 'Oe ni-fnu tìran, krrpe ean atanti [oel] tolse'a'? Then, quiet should be an adverb and the blue light should be an object ("Patientive"), shalln't they?]. [It] seems to have been a good and sacred sign. At that time, I see a warrior. [Here I'd used 'tsamsiyuTI' as well]. She is pretty. "[Take care!] Sky people! They will attack the Na'vi. The Na'vi have to protect the [other] Na'vi.", sagt sie. Then, she's gone away. Then… I woke up!

    Why do you put 'a's behind the adjectives? I've seen it in Prrton's message to Dr. Frommer as well ("LorA…") and don't know what the meaning is :-\
    And: Why do you use the infix -ol- in most of your verbs? If it ain't the way I've tried to translate it, I can't imagine the meaning of this aspect in present (which doesn't mean, that it doesn't have any – I just don't get it…)

    Tewti ma Fortuna! Tsa'u leiu sìltsan sì lor! Ulte ni-ftue oel tsolun zamunge ne 'inglìsì a si tsa'u nawm oeru. ;-)
    Wow, Fortuna! That was good and beautiful. And I could easily bring [~translate] it to English, which makes it great to me. ;-)

    Nice peace of wirting Na'vi – and I think, that Frommer has, until now, been the only one producing such work in Na'vi. Respect!

  56. Johannes Rupp said,

    December 22, 2009 @ 7:11 pm

    Sorry, I scrambled the languages -.-
    …, sagte sie. = …, she said.
    And the "peace of writing" should of course be a "piece of writing"… Today I've definitely had to many languages in my mind…

  57. Trond Engen said,

    December 22, 2009 @ 7:33 pm

    With an inflected form like tìrmareion, you don’t hear (or see) the root (taron), which is broken up into bits and pieces. So the question of recognition is still, for me, unresolved.

    It struck me that the answer is in productivity and will come some time soon. How do native speakers treat loans from earth languages?

    @Trond Engen: You’ve given me a lot to think about, and I’d better take some time to do just that before I respond to your predictions.

    Keep in mind that my speculations are just that. It struck me later that the sociolinguistic forces in Na'vi could be completely different from those in human languages, reflecting different social instincts in a different species. I don't think one can dispose of analogical remodeling since that's what made a human-language-like grammar in the first place, but the social forces behind linguistic change could be different. If some truly alien forms of social life — interaction or organization — are depicted in the film, it might also be reflected in sociolinguistics. It might also be significant that (if?) the people of a whole planet share a common tongue in what seems to be a pre-modern, tribal society. The forces of convergence might be significantly stronger than in a human society.

    But what do I know? I really should get to the cinema.

    However, you might be interested to learn that I translated material in a few different registers for the film and video games. A bit of the film dialog was in an honorific or ceremonial register—nothing too elaborate, just some pronoun changes and a marker on the verb. In the opposite direction, I had to translate some rough dialog between low-level warriors for the games; it was interesting to try to predict how their speech might differ from the more standard register.

    Yes, I am indeed interested. Then, obviously, there's actual attestation of these registers, and what I say is probably against all evidence.

    And thank you for answering, This is fun.

  58. Prrton said,

    December 22, 2009 @ 7:35 pm

    @Mokri: Kaltxì, ma Mokri. Ngaru lu fpom srak? Oeri Na’viyä lì’utìtäftxurenu sì aylì’uyä tìomum ke nìtxan längu. Oe tengfya eveng nume. Oel fayseng‘wep’ri stoleftxeiaw nìwotx ulte ta lahea ayhapxì aylì’uri aletìkin tengfya ta “tseng” + “wep” (nì’ìnglìsì “web” lu) za’u a “tseng‘wep’” nìkeatxopu ngerop. Oel pol’lltxe a ayseng‘wep’:

    – Ta'em fìseng‘wep’ (Toktor Frawmmerta hapxì sänumeyä)
    http://bit.ly/KaltxiMaRenee (nawma aypam nìNa’vi nìtxan srung leiu)
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Na'vi_language (fìtìplltxe alaw leiu nìltsan)
    http://bit.ly/NYT-Skxawng (aypam nìNa’vi nìmun sìltsan leiu. Irayo, ma Pen :-)
    http://www.learnnavi.org/ (aysìkenong, lì’utìtäftxurenu, suteyä pongu sì tìplltxe nìNa’vi)

    @Fortuna: Kaltxì, ma Fortuna. Aylì’u ngeyä lor leiu nìtxan slä oel ralti angay ke tsängun tslam nìmun. Kxawm frapoyä fpomfpi ta Eywa ngahu a ‘upxare fì’u lu. :-)

    @Johannes: Kaltxì, ma Yohannesì! Fì’uri ngahu fpe’ oel:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Na'vi_language#Adjectives

    Lì’u “lor”ri ta Tr. Frawmmer zola’u ulte mì sänume poyä ayoenghu ralri tìkenongyä nì’ìnglìsì “beautiful, pleasant to the senses” lu a poleng pol. Ta fìlì’u “sevin” oehu tìmuiä soli po.

    ~~~~ nì’ìnglìsì ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Greetings, Mokri. How are you? Unfortunately, my knowledge of the Na’vi grammar and lexicon is not so great. I am learning like a child. I’ve checked out many websites thoroughly and am fearlessly creating necessary words out of other parts as in “web-place” which comes from “tseng” and the English “web”. These are the sites I mentioned:

    – The above (portion) of this site (the didactic part from Dr. Frommer)
    http://bit.ly/KaltxiMaRenee (the noble sounds of Na’vi are a great help)
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Na'vi_language (this discourse is delightfully illustrative)
    http://bit.ly/NYT-Skxawng (again, the sounds of Na’vi are just great. Thanks to Ben :-)
    http://www.learnnavi.org/ (Na’vi examples, grammar, populated fora and discourse)

    Hey there, Fortuna. Your words are quite beautiful but I’m afraid I also cannot understand the true meaning. Perhaps it is a message to you from Eywa for the sake of universal well-being. :-)

    Hi, Johannes! I’m sending this for you:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Na'vi_language#Adjectives

    The word “lor” comes from Dr. Frommer and in his instruction he told us that the meaning of the example in English is “beautiful, pleasant to the senses”. This is from his having corrected the word “sevin.”

  59. Emanuel Thomas said,

    December 23, 2009 @ 7:53 am

    Wow! thats crazy! how do you guys learn it?! I want to figure it out but i don't know where to start or how to. Aargh! I need help please. email is emanuel.thomas3@yahoo.com thank you.

  60. Tawtute said,

    December 23, 2009 @ 6:17 pm

    Katxi
    I've just been looking over the comments and i just.. Wow oO.. i've startet to learn Na'vi too but hm.. I can't learn it at fast as I want to. In comparison of that you guys have already posted here.. i only have learned a few words and i just don't get it right how to form a full sentence.. can you give me some tipps? irayo
    kìyeváme

  61. Morgann said,

    December 24, 2009 @ 12:31 am

    hey!

    saw the movie the other day and was instantly totally fascinated with the language, have been trying to find out about it since! finding this page and all your comments is amazing!

    @prrton: you may feel fairly uneducated in the language but from the looks of things you speak it incredibly well! i just hope that with a bit of practise i can speak it at your level haha!

    just as a side note, as much as i think these online collaborations of language are great, traditionally on pandora (or as my research has told me anyways) the na'vi don't actually write their language. if there could be more verbal lingual tools online to help those of us who are non-linguists (As you can tell by my possibly horrible grammar and such)?

    thanks for this though, and a great thankyou to paul frommer! :D

    xx.

  62. Jerry Friedman said,

    December 24, 2009 @ 12:45 am

    @Paul Frommer: Thanks for answering my question! That's a very interesting point you raise: If a language has a feature so strange we feel it couldn't occur in any human language, could a human learn to use that feature? Maybe the conlangers have addressed this experimentally by inventing such a feature—or maybe the fact of inventing it would prove that it could occur in a human language.

  63. Mokri said,

    December 24, 2009 @ 4:17 am

    I just can't get in, should i pronounce ll and rr in words pllte and prrton like p(e)lte and p(e)rton or like pl(e)te and pr(e)ton. I'm not linguist so it's realy difficult problem for me.

  64. Mokri said,

    December 24, 2009 @ 10:12 am

    to Paul Frommer:
    I just got a point of view, and don't know am I right.
    We have ikran and Iknimaya. All we know is iknimaya means path to heavens an ni means to. So, am I right, thinking that path to heavens is ik ni-maya, where ik is path and maya is heavens, and so ikran has this ik (path)?

  65. Jerry Friedman said,

    December 24, 2009 @ 12:21 pm

    @Mokri: As I understand it, there's no vowel either before or after the "ll" in "pllte". The "ll" is the only vowel in the syllable. Maybe first try putting your tongue in position to say an "l" as in "leap", but just say "lllllll". That's the "vowel" you want. Now put your tongue in that position with your lips closed. Without moving your tongue, make a "p" sound. It should be easy to follow it with an "ll" sound with no vowel in between. Now you can add the "te".

    I suggested "l" as in "leap" because that's a front or light "l" (unless someone corrects me). If your native language isn't English and you want help with that sound, I'll bet someone here can help you if you say what your native language is. When I make a front "l", I have the very tip of my tongue between my teeth.

    For "Prrton", make a trilled or rolled "r" and hold it: "rrrrr". That's the "vowel" you want.

  66. Mokri said,

    December 24, 2009 @ 2:04 pm

    @Jerry Friedman, thanks, for explanations (I think I realised about ll), it really helps.
    No, i'm not native english. I'm russian…
    So for me r in word like nari (eye) is really easy because it sounds the same like in russian. But am i right that rr is trilled (or rolled) like in french, or german? Or like in english?

  67. Tawtute said,

    December 24, 2009 @ 4:55 pm

    I've a question… is it right (grammar) if i say (you are leader…): Ngal ektan lu? i've got a few problem what case i take in phrases… like in this one if -l at Nga is right or false or is it even a topic so I have to take -ri at the end so its Ngari? I would be very happy about an answer…
    kìyeváme

  68. Rich said,

    December 24, 2009 @ 9:01 pm

    Kaltxì.
    Oel fmi zong ngati ta oeyä meyp-a Na’Vi fa tì-plltxe nì’ul nì’ìnglìsì to nìNa’Vi.
    Can anyone help me answer a few questions about the language?
    Irayo nìtxan.

    – In Tr. Frammerta-yä’s enigmatic sentence, “It is a pleasure to be able to chat with you in Na’vi”, the word for pleasure is arguably pivängkxo. That seems really odd, having the infix in the middle. Has anybody been able to reconcile that?

    – In the descriptions of verb conjugations (on at least a few websites), we learn that taron, taron, taron, tairon represent valid conjugations, but we are not told what the various infixes mean. And we know there are infixes for reflexive, participial, past, and near future, but we aren’t told what they are. From the lexicon phrase txantslusam = txan-tslam = much knowing, it follows that is the participial, thus tusaron = hunting. Similarly, the phrase, “See you soon,” is rendered kìyevame = kame. The only way I can make sense of that is if is the reflexive infix and is an allophone of , indicating near future, so that kìyevame actually means we’ll see each other soon. Then we would have tovaron = will soon hunt and tiyaron = hunt each other. Can anyone confirm or deny?

    – I expect that when you use adpositions, most notably ta, you must decline the attached noun. I think the Slavic languages do that. Any thoughts on what case(s) goes with the various adpositions? Especially ta, so I can correct my opening sentence.

    – I hear that taron is pronounced gadon. I follow the ‘d’ sound in the middle, because it is a flap. And I could believe an unaspirated ‘t’ sounds like ‘d’, but not ‘g’. Does anybody get how the first letter is pronounced ‘g’?

    – In the phrase, “ngaru fpom lu srak?”, why is ngaru (the subject of the sentence) dative?

    – Is telem cord or chord? The lexicon says cord, but way-telem is a musical chord.

    @Prrton – sorry to single you out, but you currently are the Na’vi tì-plltxe eyktan, srak? Your posts often use –hu to form indirect objects (ngahu, ayoenghu, oehu) where I would expect –ru. Why do you choose –hu? Also, when you say “oeru txoa livu” as “forgive me”, is livu “to be” with an infix of –iv-? If so, what does that infix mean? I’ve heard speculation that it is a conditional infix, but it does not look like you are using it that way. If using it as “that”, can you speculate on the relationship to the word tsnì? Also, you use the word futa a couple of times, I think to mean “that”, to avoid having to use infinitives. Do I have that correct, and is futa part of the attested language?

    @mokri – regarding your suggestion that ik=path, also consider ik=heaven. Thus ik-ran = walks-the-heavens, which is no stranger than toruk-makto = rides-the-toruk. That leaves maya = stairway, and ik-ni-maya = stairway to heaven.

    Irayo fti any srung-yä.

  69. Don Carlos said,

    December 24, 2009 @ 11:57 pm

    How to say merry Christmas

  70. Mokri said,

    December 25, 2009 @ 10:28 am

    @Rich.
    Well, maybe you was misunderstood.
    My suggestion
    "iknimaya" means "path-to-heavens" where we can single out "ni" that means "to". So we see "ik-to (something)-maya", and i continue "ik" like "path" and "maya" like "heavens".
    So if I'm right, I think that "ikran" has this "ik"-root that means "path" and "ran" that means something else.
    My questions: I'm I right and what does this "ran"-root mean?

  71. Rich said,

    December 25, 2009 @ 10:48 am

    Ernk.

    Evidently text in angle brackets (and italics) get dropped from posts. To clarify my previous post:

    – in pivängkxo, the infix I'm concerned about is äng

    – the other infixes I asked about are us = participial, iy = reflexive, and ev/ov = near future.

    tì-sìlronsem ngahu

  72. Mokri said,

    December 25, 2009 @ 10:51 am

    @Rich, about Your "
    fpom means well-being, or literally "peace". In russian we can say "peace (is) to you" (when leaving people), that exactly means "ngaru lu fpom", so i think it's normal to you dative (for me).

    Sorry for bad eenglish.

  73. Mokri said,

    December 25, 2009 @ 10:56 am

    @Rich, I tink in pivängkxo is infix iv and root in päng. But there's another question, what does kxo here mean?

  74. Rich said,

    December 25, 2009 @ 11:03 am

    @mokri – I think you are correct that ni = to. I believe ran=walk (verb), because the lexicon lists tiran=walk, and ti-verb = noun.

    If you are right that ik=path, then ikran=walks-the-path. That is a strange name for a bird. But if ik=heaven and maya=path, then ikran=walks-the-heaven, which makes sense for a bird, and ik-ni-maya = stairway-to-heaven, which makes sense for floating rocks.

  75. Mokri said,

    December 25, 2009 @ 1:49 pm

    @Rich, yeah, yeah, I tink you're right, but as I know from grammar if you want to use preposition, then you use it as in inglish – before the noun, so "to heavens" possibly may be should be like ni maya, or, if ik is heavens, ni'ik.

  76. Mokri said,

    December 25, 2009 @ 2:04 pm

    @Rich and by the way, tìran is already verb (look in the lexicon), so i tink it does not work.

  77. Detaas said,

    December 25, 2009 @ 5:16 pm

    How to pronounce words with apostrophe (') ?
    Shall i pronounce word I'EN like jist IEN ?

  78. Tawtute said,

    December 25, 2009 @ 7:44 pm

    sooo.. pls answer my question if you know xD…. I've changed a few words in the sentence: It's a pleasure to chat with you. (tsun oe ngahu pivängkxo a fì’u oeru pllte’ lu) and I've cut a few words out… so the result is:
    Pivängkxo tsun tìng pllte oe ngahu fì'u — what means in mi opinion the same, but i don't know if i can say this… i thought about that thing Mr. Paul Frommer wrote, that we are able to construct a phrase in different ways because of the grammar etc…
    so is it right or not? ^^
    Eywa ayfohu)

  79. Rich said,

    December 25, 2009 @ 7:57 pm

    (my apologies if this content posts twice)

    @Mokri – regarding prepositions, I got my grammar from the wikipedia page. It says that adpositions can go before or after the noun. So ikne = to-heaven or to-path, depending on what ik means. I assume ikni is an allophone of ikne.

    Regarding tiran being a verb in the lexicon, do we know whether the parts of speech in the lexicon are from Dr Frommer or from one of us? My vocabulary is from the wikipedia lexicon, which does not list parts of speech. Other lexicons, such as the learnnavi site, have parts of speech, but I question some. For instance, it lists swok (sacred) as a noun, when surely it is an adjective. It lists both kin and tikin as verbs, but if kin is a verb, then tikin must be a noun. And if tikin is a noun, then there are many nouns that start with ti-, but only two verbs: tiran (which I think is a noun) and ting (probably a verb). So again, do we know whether the parts of speech are Dr Frommer's?

  80. Prrton said,

    December 25, 2009 @ 7:59 pm

    @Morgann: Kaltì ma Morkxan. Oeru txoa livu, nì-Ìnglìsì pìylltxe oe… I agree that our current environment for learning and playing with Na’vi is quite “unnatural”, but in the absence of native speakers as models, this “cut and paste” approach is what we have. I am very much enjoying the ride so far and intentend to be around for the good, bad, ugly, and especially “beautiful” of it all. Oehu tsa’fya’oìlä sute nìtxan zaya’u futa unil oeyä leiu. nì-Ìnglìsì: My dream is that a great many people will come along with me on that path.

    @Rich: Kaltì ma Ritx. Fa san ngeyä ler’rrtok txe'lan oeyä slä, oeri aylì’u kxawm tsteu, ke muiä nìwotx längu. What you’ve said makes my heart smile, but my words, though perhaps brave, are sadly (to me) not completely correct. (1) Txeleri ‘-hu’yë: Most are likely either copy & paste errors or just plain mistakes on my part. I’ve caught myself doing it here and there, and am sure that many of them have slipped out. Where you would expect “-ru” in things that i’ve written as “-hu” I’m confident that you’re correct. Ngari tìtxantslusam lì’fyayä leiu nang! (2) Txeleri ‘-iv-’yä sì “futa”yä: This sentence directly from Dr. Frommer to me in an e-mail informs my use of both ‘-iv-’ and ‘futa’. (It’s only “attested” if you believe me. ;-) Ke fparmìl oel futa lu tute a tsun nì-Na'vi set fìfya pivlltxe! (“I didn't think there was anyone who could speak Na'vi like that at this point!”) Based on that sentence, I’ve been using ‘futa’ to mark relative clauses that “tell stories/state a fact or facts” (Thai does this with ‘waa..’). I have not parsed the verb “to think” yet, but *guess* that the root is “fpìl” and it is infixed by -arm- (“was not in a state of [thinking]”. "Fpìl" is not officially attested as a root anywhere I’ve seen and “-arm-” is also not documented to my knowledge. But, the short with an *exotic* initial consonant cluster aspect and the importance of “knowing facts” in any language makes it an alluring candidate for “to think(be under the impression) [that]…”, srak? “-Iv-” shows up in this example also in "p-iv-lltxe”. It feels subjunctive to me here and in “Oeru txoa l-iv-u” (LIT? “MAY forgiveness BE (given) to me.” ??) If and when you/we get definitive answers to these questions, let’s be sure to let each other know. (learnnavi.org :: Intermediate Forum).

    @Detaas: Kaltì ma Txetaasì. Where the apostrophe is written just think of that as a brief break. (e.g. pa’li (direhorse) = pa+li. It prevents the mistake of pronouncing it pal’i (pal+i)).

  81. Emanuel Thomas said,

    December 25, 2009 @ 9:06 pm

    @Prrton: I want to learn Na'vi. Where do you think I should start? Is there any advice you can give as to learning it the best and most correct way? Time is not of the essence. Thank you and good fortune.

  82. avatar navi language said,

    December 26, 2009 @ 8:53 am

    @Emanuel Thomas: Come join the online community over at http://forum.learnnavi.org/ . Tutorials, instructions, everything–all backed by an amazing community. It should probably be the best resource right now :)

  83. Mithridates said,

    December 26, 2009 @ 9:55 am

    On the Turkish examples again: I don't think there will be any problems with recognition among native speakers. The roots of the verbs themselves are the same but the bits in the middle clarifying them are all infixes, and add to that the fact that Persians have little problem identifying Arabic plurals (vaght –> oughât) that occur frequently enough in the language and I don't see why Na'vi would be any different in that regard, especially since we're considering the Na'vi themselves as native speakers.

    Plus, for all we know they don't really think of taron as the root – to them the root might just be t- plus an -aron suffix that naturally fits with this verb, and another verb that starts with t might also be thought of as another flavour of a t-type verb, with a different suffix.

  84. Mokri said,

    December 26, 2009 @ 12:48 pm

    I have strange question, but
    if we have movie where Na'vi language is used as real language and they speak it very fluent like there already are grammar and lexicon and stuff but in fact in the site learnavi.org we just have some lexicon that hasn't many other words, and I'm not sure that it'd come from Mr. Frommer. And our knowledge about grammar is very little. Why so?

    If this language is used in movie very fluent, it supposes to have a full grammar and stuff. But we have not.

  85. Prrton said,

    December 26, 2009 @ 2:23 pm

    @Emanuel Thomas: I agree with avatar navi language that the learnnavi.org fora are the best place to be for a community learning experience. Some of the members are creating guided materials, and while nobody there is speaking 100% "correctly" at this time (because that really isn't possible yet), they're speaking *something* (a LOT actually) and for learning vocabulary and the bits of grammar that do seem stable I judge it not a bad place to be. Tsatsengri nìfra'trr oe leiu. ("I'm happily there every day")

    @Mithridates: I agree with you. I don't speak any Semitic languages but based on what I know about the tripartite verb stems (primarily from Guy Deutscher's examination of its '*evolution' in his book "The Unfolding of Language" (http://www.unfoldingoflanguage.com/), which I REALLY liked, I'm pretty confident that native speakers would handle multipositional, stacking infixes with aplomb. For the "common" and especially "short" verb roots/infinitives?/stems? that we already have documented in Na'vi. I can "see" them or at least find them without too much trouble. The more complex the verb base, however, the more I am or will likely to be confused. Time (and an expanded lexicon) will tell.

    @ Mokri. Kaltxì ma Mokri. Fìtxeleri ngal tsun learnnavi.orgìlä oeru 'upxareti fpive' srak? Oengru fya'o leiu. ;-) Eywa ngahu!

  86. Raven Blue said,

    December 26, 2009 @ 3:18 pm

    I too, am fascinated with the Na’vi language and want to learn to SPEAK it. But, disclaimer, I’m not a linguist. Though I have always been able (after a great deal of study) to read, write, and understand the mechanics and structure of other languages, when it comes down to the speaking other languages I have trouble. So I’m throwing out a huge Wish/Suggestion (for those of us that need a little extra help): I’ve seen the Na’Vi-English Dictionary, it would be really nice to see a variation of this where the Na’vi words have a Pronunciation Key alongside them (like in our dictionaries). Personally, I think this would greatly speed up the process of this beautiful language being able to be learned and spoken by anyone.

    If this already exists out there and I just have not come across it yet, if someone could send me the link – I would greatly appreciate it!

    ravenblue2u@yahoo.com

  87. Jack said,

    December 26, 2009 @ 3:39 pm

    As for mountain banshee and floating mountains above, what if those translations are literal, and the "ik" is "mountain"?

  88. Aelixander said,

    December 27, 2009 @ 8:52 am

    Hey, Dr. F…. Is there any chance you could get us a copy of the Na'Vi portions of the movie script with translations? I'm sure seeing all those examples would be very beneficial to the community =)

  89. Tawtute said,

    December 27, 2009 @ 5:04 pm

    Kaltxì ma Dr. Paul Frommer
    Oel Raphael Hitzinger lu ulte oe neu aytutehu nìNa’vi pivängkxo.
    Txi tsatu ngati lu, tsun srung ngal oeru?
    Ttìng ngal tsun oeru ma E-Mail ngeyä?
    Nawm meuia leiu tsal (guessing ERG 3. Form) oeru!
    Kìyevame ulte Eywa ngahu

    Hello Dr. Paul Frommer
    I am Raphael Hitzinger and I want to learn Na’vi
    If you are the Person, can you help me?
    Können sie mir ihre e-mail adresse geben? I may have a few questions
    It would be a honor glory to me!
    Good-bye/See you again and may Eywa be with you!

    If you have a little time can you tell me if it was right what I wrote and.. maybe correct it?

    Or maybe you guys if you find something, rutxe. Txoa!

  90. Daniel Conklin said,

    December 27, 2009 @ 6:47 pm

    Is there an etymological connection between the Hebrew "Nabi/Nevi'im" (prophet) and Na'vi? They sound very much alike and I was wondering if it's simply variations of spelling of the same word. It would "fit" if there were a connection, since the Na'vi people have an obviously prophetic message to proclaim.

  91. Ibadairon said,

    December 27, 2009 @ 11:51 pm

    Prophetic message?

    (It would be rude to snicker now, right?)

    Daniel, remember aleph? The glottal stop is consonantal in Hebrew as well, so no, there should not be any connection. Unless the name was created by someone who had no idea what they were doing.

    I really appreciate that Cameron cared enough about the details to hire Dr Frommer to create the language, and I'm interested in learning more *about* it (I'll dutifully purchase any dictionary or grammar eventually published … and when I'm done looking through them will shelve them beside my books on Klingon and Sindarin), but I'm just not feeling the urge to LEARN it or even try to analyze what's currently available. I have to wonder if much of the current interest isn't in fact motivated by the scarcity of information; people love a puzzle, after all. Will the "early adopters" here be as fired up as they are now once more is known, and by more people? Time will tell.

    Don't get me wrong: I think anything that brings linguistics and conlanging more to public attention is fantastic. But I also recognize signs of the nebula of silliness that often condenses in orbit around a bright new shiny-shiny like this movie and its content. (To wit, prophetic messages? Or Na'vi as the new Esperanto? Please.)

    Think about this: how many of you would have gotten as excited about "Prawnese" if Blomkamp had gotten him a linguist, too.

  92. Fortuna said,

    December 29, 2009 @ 10:08 am

    http://forum.learnnavi.org/index.php?topic=318.msg5828#msg5828

    I am such a dork. I've actually attempted to translate Colors of the Wind into Na'vi.

    Mock me, if you dare.

  93. twobyfour said,

    January 1, 2010 @ 2:03 pm

    If I were to invent an alien language for feline hominids with 4 fingers, I'd use Aymara as a basis. But instead of already very alien trinary logic (3-way — yes, intermediate, no) that has no equivalent in any other human language, I'd use pentary logic (yes-yes, yes-intermediate, intermediate, no-intermediate, no-no), which would make for some very interesting logical grammatical constructs. I'd also use base-9 numerical system (base-8 + 0), as the 0 would be added to already existing base-8 when later discovered. The language would be, as in Aymara case, agglutinated, e.g. a sentence would be formed from a string of suffixes–which would be probably the only imaginable situation the pentary logic would work.

    I'd probably use some more feline sounds, like unvoiced kh' (short hiss) and unvoiced p' (beginning of a spitting sound), and of course the hairball sound, despite of the apparent loss of fur. ;-)

    No, skip the hairball, I recall no fur whatsoever or any critter in the movie. Sort of makes sense as the "sun" is a jupiteran gassball with a plasmatic sheath envelope that creates rather consistent climatic conditions on the whole Pandora globe, so the critters do not have to deal with insulation to reflect temperature swings–perhaps just a diff of a few degrees between night and day.

    The music… or songs… I was also somewhat put off by the western scale, maybe I expected something akin to the diva from the Fifth Element. ;-)
    But the western scale could be forgiven if it was interlaced with a purrr!

  94. Ryan Cody said,

    January 3, 2010 @ 12:07 am

    So, I'm guessing it's recommended for those wishing to learn Na'vi to have some background in linguistics? I know very few linguistic terms, but I have been looking at http://www.learnnavi.org for a few days now, and it seems to be something I might be able to learn. Anyone know a good explanation of the language that's relatively light on linguistic terms so the average Joe could understand?

  95. Cereal said,

    January 4, 2010 @ 10:26 am

    Very interesting language and discussion.

    Having seen the movie, I have to say I was quite impressed with the visuals and the effort to create a beautiful, coherent environment, including a language..but much less so with overall imagination. It is, in the end, an predictable, shopworn of plot and situation. Plus it's full of glaring logical problems..for example, if humans have the technology to create Na'vi bodies from scratch and control them with their thoughts/embed them with their consciousness, then surely they could avoid the idiotic necessity of keeping the human body in a vulnerable control unit, and of having the avatars go unconscious when the humans are disconnected. Why not create a back-up or copy of the personality, and either put the human in storage or let them live parallel lives? What raises it from B-movie status is the meticulous craftsmanship of Cameron and the lovely images, and of course the language.

    Along those lines, though, I kind of wish some more thought/creativity had gone into the language. (I think the problem is Cameron, not Frommer – Cameron's plots and ideas are not very complicated, as shown by his films.) For example, a lovely detail about Pandora is the abundance of bioluminescence, not just passive but active and clearly referencing the vitality connection of living things on the world. Na'vi have some bioluminescent freckles and their connecting tentacles, but otherwise little is made of this. One would think that organisms on Pandora would naturally evolve so as to use bioluminescence as communication – indeed, they seem to if only as responses to stimuli (plants being stepped on or smacked) or as code for a fiber-optic kind of network (with the tentacles, tree strands, etc.). Why would the Na'vi not use luminescence in their language? Even if only to indicate emotion, mood, attitude, rather than more technical bits of grammar? This is not something beyond human learning..humans could learn to use their avatars' bodies appropriately, and humans in suits could use small lights to "translate" after a fashion.

    My point isn't to claim this should have been done and the film (or language) are bad because they weren't..I just wish generally that science fiction films showed a bit more creativity, especially when the whole project seemed geared towards that kind of coherent world creation. Instead, we get laudable efforts to create visuals and languages, which stop however from going beyond (recombining, limiting, etc.) the most basic elements of things we already have on Earth. It's a good effort, but so much more could be done…

  96. ASG said,

    January 5, 2010 @ 5:00 pm

    What a fascinating discussion. Thank you.

    I am particularly interested in the attitudinal infixes. Are there human languages that do that? I wonder at the possibilities for double meanings, irony, and sarcasm by the deliberate misuse or omission of these infixes.

  97. Able Lawrence said,

    January 7, 2010 @ 2:15 pm

    Of all the extant human languages, the family of click languages are the strangest and arguably the oldest. May be Frommer could have taken inspiration from the click languages. My own language Malayalam, has many unique sounds not existing in other languages (even closely related languages have lost those sounds)

  98. evie said,

    January 7, 2010 @ 8:16 pm

    Na'vi is a relly hard languge but i was determend to finsh it and i did look kaltxi. ngaru lu fpom srak im kinda good well i love it goodbye

  99. Videojuegos said,

    January 8, 2010 @ 5:00 am

    expectacular really, I found this reference in wikipedia, I hope that with the thousands of followers of the film is to structure a language as it did at the time J. R. R. Tolkien, and we can understand more thoroughly the future installments. Since the success achieved is more than confident we will soon deliver new supplies quality used by Cameron

  100. Alex Zuvuya said,

    January 8, 2010 @ 11:59 am

    I just want to be able to use greetings and friendly frases, as "I see you", "we are one and the same", and mainly, I want to say "FRIEND" in Na'vi, but… I can't find how to say those phrases and words. And FRIEND!? How come this important, (fundamental I would say), esencial word is no translated in the Learnnavi.org page? Can any of you fulfill my enquiry?

    Thanks!

    (By the way, I speak just a little of english, so my APOLOGIES in advance for any error in this message. thanks!)

  101. Britton Watkins (aka: Prrton) said,

    January 11, 2010 @ 2:09 pm

    The phenomenon of the conlang in popular culture evolves: http://masempul.org

  102. guliip09 said,

    January 13, 2010 @ 1:06 pm

    Kaltxi!
    Me gustaría que ponga una parte en español si :)

  103. Tom G. said,

    February 9, 2010 @ 12:19 pm

    For digital representation of Na'vi it would be better to use something other than the straight or curly apostrophe (U+0027 or U+2019) for the glottal stop, because this character is actually "punctuation" rather than a "letter" and is often ignored in text processing operations like sorting, matching, and searching. Also it cannot be used in an internet domain name.

    To avoid such problems one could use the Modifier Letter Turned Comma (U+02BB) or the Modifier Letter Apostrophe (U+02BC). The former is the glottal stop in Hawaiian (called ʻOkina) and the latter in Navajo. Unfortunately these are not available on the US keyboard, so one would have to make a custom layout for Naʻvi. That is just a few minutes work, however.

  104. twinzpaw said,

    February 14, 2010 @ 1:13 am

    Oel ngati kameie.

    I have many names but my true name is unknown. You may call me Twinzpaw, or by one of My other commonly used names such as Fred Or Mathias. I have recently been introduced to the language of Na'vi And found it uncommonly beautiful. I have even gone so far as to make recorded samples of the words and phrases I've had the pleasure of hearing. I made two sets of recordings one is the untranslated version and the other is the translated version. I have a great fondness for the learning of languages but Im by no means a linguist. My command of the inglisi language is reudemantry at best but I wish to learn Na'vi as much as I wish to learn other conlang and auxlang that have been invented and learned. In this rare bit of luck I have found that the creator is in the state I currently reside so there maybe a chance to learn from the source. I have read all of the posts placed here and ave seen some amazing headway in the development of Na'vi but I must admit I dont understand alot of what is written or how to pronouce certain word and letters. I am shamed by this fact, but wish to correct it. I come before you all seeking instruction. I wish to be mentored in this for I to wish to see Na'vi grow into a Practiced language and be part of its community. It is one of my greatest dreams to one day create a language of my very own. so I figure by learning Conlang and Auxlangs One Day that dream will be a reality. I beg your guidence in both the learning of Na'vi and other conlangs such as klingon and even help with languages that have occured naturally such as the native american sioux, new zealand maori or japanese. Im 22 years old but Ive been called grandfather by my people. This is also reason I love langage in general. I come from a mixed heritage and we have many bloodines thathave been passed down. From what im made of I know a little in each language that makes up my mix but having no solid roots and no homeland MY people have lost their language in the most recent generations. We have no sense of a one true language for me Na'vi represents a chance to get a little of that back. It is aslo the first stone in helping me rebuild my sense of culture. If YOU find the challenge of teaching Na'vi or any conlang to meintrestin you may reach me at any of the following places:

    Aim – G3M1N1PAW
    Yahoo im – INDIAN_PRIDE_06@YAHOO.COM
    FACEBOOK – FREDERICK BIDINGER III

    I am happy people like you are in the world and on the web. It gives young one like me hope and a place to learn from. I cant wait for the responces. having friends in linguistics or that are merly intrested in it is more than I coud have hoped for Irayo! Thank you for existing.

    P.S There is so much more Id like to say but feel kind of intimidated by what I've read in the prvious posts. I already feel Like an ant among giants so I figured stop before you make a lousy impression. Probably to late huh? ha ha ha> Irayo

  105. Anna said,

    February 17, 2010 @ 4:56 pm

    @Darryl – Hi! Nice to see you around on the interwebs.
    First off, I was quite impressed with Avatar as a whole. I was very excited that Na'vi was created with great depth to it, as it's always fun (as a linguist) to try and pick out phonemes, word order, etc of a foreign language.
    I was was hoping for something a bit more extreme – I love ejectives, and it's super cool that James Cameron opted for them, but I wish Na'vi had some uvular fricatives or stops, velarized stops as well, more ejectives, or some of the more unusual fricatives/affricates found in many Native American languages (ɬ, tɬ, for example). It did sound very plain and not very alien to me. Of course I am biased seeing as I'm a linguist. A budding one, anyway.
    But despite its failure to meet my personal standards for weird and unusual, it was still very, very cool. I do hope, as many other people have said here, that a full grammar and dictionary of Na'vi will be completed at some point so that it could be learned completely. And hey, the best way to figure out the kinks in the language is to teach it to your kid(s)! I'm totally up for it if I can learn it well enough by the time I make babies. But seriously, that would turn it into a real language, and at least test how it works with human speakers. Na'vi nanny anyone?

  106. Merrily Hilliard said,

    February 22, 2010 @ 3:25 pm

    Can anyone tell me how you would say "See me"? I am terrible at linguistics and need help. Thanks!

  107. Tom G. said,

    February 22, 2010 @ 8:27 pm

    Merrily — go to this site for all kinds of info and help:

    http://www.learnnavi.org/

  108. john in denver said,

    March 24, 2010 @ 6:02 pm

    My girlfriend is deeply religious and 'speaks in tongues.' Could your work be useful to me in my search to translate into English her direct discussions with Yahweh?

  109. Giovanni from Lodi (laus nova), Lombardy, Italy said,

    September 30, 2010 @ 10:08 am

    I LOVE creating languages. it's my favorite hobby but it's sooooo complicated… I tried creating some conlangs but I failed. So i've gone to the cinema and I've viewed Avatar. I've liked it so much! so I've tried constructing a new lang on the base of Na'vi and I did it well! So a great THANK YOU!!! to Paul Frommer and to his work.
    PS: My language's called Làan and it's agglutinative (it's more easy to do than the fusional ones). It has a vowel harmony… Is it a good choice?
    PPS: Sorry for my bad English.

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