Voice recording added to the previous post

You can now hear Neytiri reading her poem—quite beautifully, I might add. Irayo nìtxan, ma tsmuk!

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Vurway Alor—A Beautiful Narrative Poem

Our own Neytiri has written a beautiful narrative poem leNa’vi inspired by some of the words in the 30 Sept. blog post. It’s about a pa’li and an ilu named Lilu and Luli respectively. I think you’ll really like the pamuvan it contains.

Neytiri’s English translation is in the spoiler after the poem. Suggestion: Don’t look at the English until you’re sure you’ve gotten as much as you can out of the Na’vi.

For the record, here are three new compound words, all of which you’d be able to figure out on your own:

vurway (n., VUR.way) ‘story poem, narrative poem’

pamuvan (n., PAM.u.van) ‘sound play’

Note: Pamuvan and lì’uvan ‘wordplay, pun’ aren’t quite the same. Although there’s some overlap, puns are witty and humorous, whereas pamuvan refers to simply playing with and enjoying the sounds of language, as poets often do.

paytxew (n., pay.TXEW) ‘shoreline, water’s edge’

Fìvurwayt ivinan nì’o’ nì’aw!

 

Trro aetrìp pa’lil alu Lilu ilut alu Luli rolun,
Ma hiyìka pa’li a slele nì’aw sìk, Luliru Lilu leym,
San ngari kifkeyt, rutxe, livawk ko; ngeyä vurit oeru piveng!
Ha Luli ftumfa pay tsapa’liru ’oleyng,
San txampayä olo’ä lu oe ilu, nìwin sì nìmal oe slele,
Krra lini larmu oe uvan soli, kip wura ayweopx apxay,
Oeri kifkey lu fayoang sì neni, pay, aysum, sì tatx,
Nìrangal tsirvun wivìntxu ngaru, trro fya’ot riyevun.

Nìtrrtrr fäprrfen fìmeylan fìtsap,
Pa’li sì ilu,
Nì’ul’ul mefo fìtsap slu lor,
Pa’li sì ilu,

Kaymo a pa’li sì ilu ultxa si fte tìreyti livawk,
Ma hiyìka ilu a tul sìn reym sìk, Liluru Luli leym,
San ngari kifkeyt, rutxe, livawk ko; peng oeru vurit ngey!
Ha Lilul lok paytxewit, fte Luliru pivlltxe,
San txayoä olo’ä lu oe pa’li, nìler sì nìnrra tul oe,
Krra lini larmu oe uvan soli, sìn ayramtsyìp lezeswa,
Oeri kifkey lu ayutral sì ’akra, ukxo, unyor, sì sang,
Nìrangal tsirvun wivìntxu ngaru, trro fya’ot riyevun,

Nìtrrtrr fäprrfen fìmeylan fìtsap,
Pa’li sì ilu,
Nì’ul’ul mefo fìtsap slu yawne,
Pa’li sì ilu,

Txono pa’li paytxewne pähem nìfya’o akeftxo,
Ma fyolea pa’li a slele nìlor sìk, Luliru Lilu leym,
San oeru ngaru fmawn längu; aylì’u mì te’lan lu skxe;

Latem zìsìkrr, oeyä olo’ herum, zene oe nìteng.
Ma lora ilu a tìran sìn awkx sìk, Liluru Luli ’oleyng,
San oeri vitra set tsngerawvìk, nga lom li lu oer,
Oel new f(u)ta ngahu tul oe, f(u)ta nga hu oe slele,
Oel kawkrr ke tsaye’a ngeyä kifkeyt; kawkrr ngal pumti oey!

Tsakrr nìflrr, äo sanhì, Luliru Lilu poltxe,
San tam tam, ma yawntu, ngari txe’lan mawey,
Spaw oe, tsafya’ot roleiun.

 

You can hear Neytiri reading her poem here:

 

English translation

One auspicious day, the pa’li Lilu found the ilu Luli,
“Strange pa’li who only swims,” to Luli Lilu called,
“About your world, please, tell me more; tell me your story!”
So, from out of the water, Luli answered the pa’li,
“Of a clan of the ocean, I am an ilu, quickly and surely I swim,
When I was a foal I played, amongst the many chilly waves,
My world is fish and sand, water, shells, and bubbles,
If only I could show it to you, some day, may I find a way.”

Day after day these friends visited,
The pa’li and the ilu,
More and more they found each other beautiful,
The pa’li and the ilu,

One evening, when the pa’li and ilu met to ponder life,
“Strange ilu who runs upon dry land,” to Lilu Luli called,
“About your world, please, tell me more; tell me your story!”
So Lilu approached the water’s edge, and to Luli said,
“Of a clan of the plains, I am a pa’li, steadily and proudly I run,
When I was a foal I played, upon the grassy hills,
My world is trees and soil, dry, fragrant, and warm,
If only I could show it to you, some day, may I find a way.”

Day after day these friends visited,
The pa’li and the ilu,
More and more they fell in love,
The pa’li and the ilu,

One night, the pa’li, forlorn, arrived at the shore,
“Perfect pa’li who swims so beautifully,” to Luli Lilu called,
“I have for you some news; the words are like stones in my heart;
The season is changing, my clan is leaving, and I must leave too.”
“Beautiful ilu who walks upon the cliffs,” to Lilu Luli replied,
“My soul now weeps, I miss you already,
I wanted to run with you, you to swim with me,
I shall never see your world, and never will you see mine!”

Then, gently, beneath the stars, to Luli Lilu spoke,
“There there, my love, may your heart be calm,
I believe I’ve found that way.”

[collapse]

Edit 9 Oct.: Stress corrected for paytxew: PAY.txew –> pay.TXEW
Close quote added in the English translation, after “and I must leave too.”
Added voice recording of Neytiri reading her poem.
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More language for talking about language

Fyape pängkxo fko teri lì’fya leNa’vi . . . nìNa’vi? Tse . . . nì’awve fkol kin aylì’ut azey.

To talk about Na’vi in Na’vi, we need some specialized vocabulary. We already have a start. The following terms have long been in the dictionary:

tstxolì’u          ‘noun’
kemlì’u           ‘verb’
kemlì’uvi        ‘infix’
pamrelvi         ‘letter’
snapamrelvi   ‘alphabet’

Here are some more terms to facilitate grammatical discussion. A big irayo to our Pìlumsì alu Stefan for his creative and apt suggestions along these lines. Txampxì faylì’uä ftu eltu peyä zola’u.

lì’ukìng (n., LÌ’.u.kìng) ‘sentence’

This clearly derives from lì’u + kìng ‘thread.’ We have a similar notion in English: a string of words.

lì’ukìngvi (n., LÌ’.u.kìng.vi) ‘phrase’

“Phrase” is tricky to define precisely without talking about linguistic trees and constituent structure, but we don’t have to get into those technicalities. The basic idea is that of consecutive words that “hang together” as a unit. So, for example, take the sentence:

Oeyä ’eylanìl alu Va’ru lora fkxilet amip tolìng sneyä ’iteru.
‘My friend Va’ru gave his daughter a beautiful new necklace.’

Some of the lì’ukìngvi in this sentence are:

  • oeyä ’eylanìl alu Va’ru
  • lora fkxilet amip
  • lora fkxilet amip tolìng sneyä ’iteru
  • sneyä ’iteru

These, however, are not lì’ukìngvi:

  • ’eylanìl alu
  • amip tolìng sneyä
  • Va’ru lora fkxilet

lì’kong (n., LÌ’.kong) ‘syllable’

“Syllable” is another term that’s tricky to define technically, but the basic idea is clear: a sequence of consonants and vowels that make up a rhythmic “beat” in a word. For example, if you were singing the English word “absolutely” or the Na’vi word fìhawre’ti, in each case you could put the word on four different notes corresponding to the four syllables in each one. The term lì’kong comes from lì’u + ’ekong ‘rhythmic beat.’ (Why not *lìu’kong, you may ask? So that there’s a greater distinction between the words for sentence and syllable. We have precedent for dropping the u of lì’u in compounds—lì’fya, for example.)

Lu tsalì’ur alu fìhawre’ti tsìnga lì’kong.
‘The word fìhawre’ti has four syllables.’

lì’uvi (n., LÌ’.u.vi) ‘affix’

An affix is a prefix, suffix, or infix.

eolì’uvi (n., E.o.lì’.u.vi) ‘prefix’  (that is, an affix that comes in front)

uolì’uvi (n., U.o.lì’.u.vi) ‘suffix’  (that is, an affix that comes behind)

Lu tsalì’ur alu fìhawre’ti melì’uvi alu ’awa eolì’uvi sì ’awa uolì’uvi.
‘The word fìhawre’ti has two affixes—one prefix and one suffix.’

syonlì’u (n., SYON.lì.u) ‘adjective’

Syon, as you recall, means ‘feature, trait, characteristic.’

fyalì’u (n., FYA.lì.u) ‘adverb’

Adverbs tell you how something is done. (Well, at least that’s true for “manner adverbials.” Some adverbs serve to explain how speakers feel about what they’re saying, as in “Sadly, I don’t think he’s going to succeed.”) There shouldn’t be any confusion between fyalì’u and lì’fya.

starlì’u (n., STAR.lì’u) ‘adposition’

This compound is a shortening of sätare ‘connection, relationship’ + lì’u. Na’vi adpositions (hu, ta, eo, sìn, sre, tafkip . . .) are “relationship words.” (Stefan pointed out the similar term in German, „Verhältniswort“, lit. ‘relation word.’)

Consider these examples:

  1. hu Eywa
  2. Eywahu

In A, hu is a starlì’u but not a lì’uvi or an eolì’u.

In B, hu is a starlì’u, a lì’uvi, and an uolì’uvi.

Finally,

tilì’u (n., TI.lì.u) ‘conjunction’

The elements here are til ‘joint, hinge’ + lì’u. A conjunction (, fu, slä, txo, tengkrr, . . .) is a kind of hinge or joint that links two things of the same sort.

IMPORTANT NOTE: I hope these terms will be useful to those of us who enjoy grammatical discussions. But please don’t get the idea that in order to speak and write Na’vi well you need to know and understand them! Many excellent English speakers and writers—probably most!—would not be able to tell you what a subordinate conjunction is, or an infinitive, or a gerund, or any other technical grammatical term—but they nevertheless use the language beautifully. The equivalent is true for any language.

Hayalovay!

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Zìsìkrr amip, aylì’u amip—New words for the new season

Kaltxì nìmun, ma eylan. It’s been a while! I hope you’ve all been happy and healthy—and doing interesting, satisfying, fun things. As for me, you can guess what’s been occupying my time more and more. Tìkangkem anawm sngolä’eiyi! Needless to say, I can’t divulge anything about the Avatar sequels except that they’re going to be absolutely terrific. You’ve probably seen this already, but just in case you haven’t, here’s the latest information that’s been released to the public.

Also in the category of things you’ve probably already seen but should see if you haven’t, there’s a beautiful Facebook post in which Avatar fans, including several members of our lì’fyaolo’, express to the filmmakers their thanks for the movie and their hopes for the sequels. You can hear some nice Na’vi in it.

We haven’t had any additions to the lexicon in a long time, so here are some new items—I counted 29—at least some of which I hope you’ll find useful. Several of these new words and examples come from our indefatigable LEP, for which I thank the members sincerely.

kemwiä (adj., kem.WI.ä) ‘improper, unfair, wrong, unjustified’

This is clearly the opposite of muiä. Note that there are two ways to say something is unfair: “Ke lu muiä!” as in Avatar 1 (we now need to distinguish among A1, A2, A3, A4, and A5!), and “Lu kemwiä!”

Derivation:

tìkemwiä (n., tì.kem.WI.ä) ‘unfairness, injustice’

leymkem (vin., leym.KEM, inf 1,1) ‘protest’

You might think the kem part is the familiar word for ‘act’ or ‘deed,’ but in fact it’s a truncated form of kemwiä. So the derivation is leym ‘call out, cry out’ + kem(wiä) ‘unfair, unjustified’—that is, when you protest, you cry out that something is unfair. The verb is intransitive. When you protest something, use the topical case or teri-. To protest that something is unfair, we use the tsnì construction, which as you know is used for complements of certain intransitive verbs, like sìlpey and mowar si.

Oe leymkem! Fìtsamìl Na’vit tìsraw seykayi nì’aw ulte kutut ke lätxayn.
‘I protest! This war will only harm the People and not defeat the enemy.’

Tsayhemìri (OR: Tsayhemteri) po loleymkem.
‘She protested those actions.’

Loleymkem po tsnì fwa Akwey slu olo’eyktan lu kemwiä.
‘He protested that it was unfair for Akwey to become clan leader.’

In colloquial speech, the first m in leymkem often becomes ng by assimilation to the following k—that is, it sounds like leyngkem, even though the spelling doesn’t change.

Derivations:

tìleymkem (n., tì.leym.KEM) ‘protesting, protest (abstract concept)’

säleymkem (n., sä.leym.KEM) ‘protest, instance of protesting’

Eyktanìl ngeyä säleymkemit stolawm ulte paye’un teyngta zene fko pehem sivi.
‘The leader has heard your protest and will decide what must be done.’

A related word is:

leymfe’ (vin., leym.FE’, inf 1, 1) ‘complain’

This word derives from leym + fe’ ‘bad’—that is, to complain is to cry out that something is bad. The syntax is similar to that of leymkem.

Fo lereymfe’ tsnì syuve lu wew.
‘They’re complaining that the food is cold.’

Derivations:

tìleymfe’ (n., tì.leym.FE’) ‘complaining’

säleymfe’ (n., sä.leym.FE’) ‘complaint’

tìleym (n., tì.LEYM) ‘call’

Eywal tìleymit awngeyä stoleiawm!
‘Eywa has heard our call!’

tìtstunwinga’ (adj., tì.TSTUN.wi.nga’) ‘kind (nfp)’

I realize I should have explained this earlier. A kind person is tute atstunwi. Kind words are aylì’u atìtstunwinga’.

Similarly,

tìflänga’ (adj., tì.FLÄ.nga’) ‘successful (nfp)’

A successful plan is tìhawl atìflänga’. A successful person is tute a flolä.

ekxan si (vin., e.KXAN si) ‘exclude, keep out, bar’

Srake fìkxemyo tsun tsayioangur lehrrap ekxan sivi?
‘Can this wall keep out those dangerous animals?’

nìtsleng (adv., nì.TSLENG) ‘falsely’

This word is the opposite of nìngay. And just as you can say Nìngay plltxe nga, ‘You speak truly,’ or ‘What you say is true,” you can also say Nìtsleng plltxe nga, ‘You speak falsely.’ Although the Na’vi do not have a word for “liar” per se, they can express the idea that someone is lying through this construction.

Plltxe nìtsleng! Tsafkxilet ke tolìng ngar Entul!
‘Liar! Entu didn’t give you that necklace!’

kawl (adv.) ‘hard, diligently’

Makto kawl, ma samsiyu, fte tsivun pivähem nìwin!
‘Ride hard, warriors, so you can get there fast!

yawntutsyìp (n., YAWN.tu.tsyìp) ‘darling, little loved one’

This is a tender term of endearment that a parent might call a child, for example. It exists alongside yawn(e)tu, which for some speakers, although certainly not all, carries a romantic or sexual overtone. Yawntutsyìp often reflects parental or familial love.

Semputi rä’ä srätx, ma yawntutsyìp. Tìkangkem seri.
‘Don’t bother daddy, little one. He’s working.’

And on the opposite end of the spectrum:

vonvä’ (n., von.VÄ’) ‘butthole, asshole, dickhead’

This word is highly abusive and vulgar, and is never used in polite society. It’s a strongly contracted form of vitronvä’, which is sometimes heard in that fuller form. The word derives from vitra ‘soul’ + onvä’ ‘bad-smelling, stinking.’ So a literal translation in English might be “stinksoul.” In colloquial pronunciation, the n is often lost and the preceding o nasalized: [võ.VÄ’].

weopx (n., we.OPX) ‘wave (of water)’

Krra hufwe tul nìwin, tsun fko tsive’a ayweopxit a sìn yo payä.
When there is strong wind, you can see waves on the water.’

Note: When viewed from the shore, waves can srer ‘appear, come into view’ and ’ìp ‘disappear, recede from view.’

Derivation:

leweopx (adj., le.we.OPX) ‘wave-like’

Tsayrenur leweopx a sìn neni tìng nari.
Look at those wave-like patterns in the sand.

tsìltsan (n., tsìl.TSAN) ‘good (abstract concept), goodness’

This word evolved from *tìsìltsan, much the same way as *tìsìlpey became tsìlpey.

Tìkawng a sutel ngop var rivey, tsìltsanit pxìm kllyem fkol feyä täremhu.
[See Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar.   🙂 ]

lerìn (adj., le.RÌN) ‘wooden, of wood’

letskxe (adj., le.TSKXE) ‘stony, of stone’

These words can be used to indicate the material an object is made from. For example, to say ‘a spear made of wood,’ all of the following are possible:

  • tukru a txolula fkol ta rìn
  • tukru a ta rìn
  • tukru lerìn

mawftxele (adv., maw.FTXE.le) ‘belatedly, in hindsight, after the fact, as an afterthought’

This word is parallel to mìftxele ‘in this regard’ and derived the same way.

Oel peyä ftxozäti tswolänga’, ha poltxe por san ftxozäri aylrrtok ngaru sìk mawftxele.
‘Unfortunately I forgot his birthday, so I said “Happy Birthday” belatedly.’

pìsaw (adj., pì.SAW) ‘clumsy, accident-prone’

This adjective describes a not-very-clever or impractical person. It can also be used as an interjection, for example when you’ve acted clumsily with unintended negative results, often accompanied by a sharp intake of breath.

Po lu pìsaw. Trram toltem venuti sneyä nìtkanluke.
‘He is accident-prone. Yesterday he unintentionally shot his own foot.’

Lu Sawtute wok sì pìsaw nìwotx, na prrnen.
‘The skypeople are all loud and clumsy, like a baby.’

Derivation:

tìpsaw (n., tìp.SAW) clumsiness

Poeyä tìpsawìl txopu sleykolu yerikit ha po hifwo.
‘Her clumsiness scared the hexapede, so he escaped.’

Finally, four expressions relating to Na’vi culture or the Pandoran environment:

Txintseng Sawtuteyä (prop. n., TXIN.tseng SAW.tu.tey.ä) ‘Hell’s Gate’

This literally means ‘The Sky People’s Base.’ It’s how the Na’vi refer to Hell’s Gate.

txintseng (n., TXIN.tseng) ‘base of operations’

lanay’ka (n., la.NAY’.ka) ‘slinger’

You can find a description here.

ilu (n., I.lu) ’ilu’

From the Disney pamphlet ”Guide to the Flora and Fauna of the Valley of Mo’ara”: “The ilu is a large plesiosaur-like sea creature that is the direhorse of the Pandoran ocean. With multiple fins/flippers and a long, streamlined shape, this aquatic pack animal serves the reef Na’vi clans like direhorses serve the Na’vi clans of the forests, jungles and planes.”

sye’otxang (n., SYE.’o.txang) ‘wind instrument’

From syeha ‘breath’ + ’otxang ‘musical instrument.’ This is the generic term for any instrument played by blowing. A pawk is a kind of sye’otxang.

As I don’t have to tell some of you, I still have a considerable backlog of suggestions and questions from the LEP and others that I need to get to. I’ll do that as soon as I can. Tsakrrvay, fpom livu ayngaru nìwotx.

I’ll leave you with a question. Someone recently asked me if srak can ever be used completely on its own. In other words, could someone ever say, simply, “Srak?” I responded that I had never considered that possibility but would think about it. What’s your feeling? Are there any situations in which this could make sense? For example, suppose you’ve asked a question and gotten no answer. If you then said “Srak?” angrily, could it mean, “Well, are you going to answer me or not? Yes or no???” And if you think you could use this question word this way, would it more likely be “Srake?”? Rutxe ayngeyä aysäfpìlit piveng oer!

Ta Pawl

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Pandora: The World of Avatar in The New York Times

Kaltxì, ma frapo–

I came across an article in today’s New York Times that I thought you’d like to see. It’s a feature on the Disney Avatar theme park, complete with wonderful photos. They even quoted a Na’vi phrase (Swotu Wayä) correctly!  🙂

The author was very positive about the park experience, writing:

[T]he world aims to give fans of the film (and young fans in the making) the same jaw-dropping, immersive experience that they came away with after watching the movie the first time.

Did they pull it off? The answer is a resounding yes. 

And here is a “360 video” that accompanies the article.

I can’t wait until November when I’ll get to see the park first-hand during the Avatar Meet-up. Nìsìlpey ultxarìyevun oel pxaya hapxìtut lì’fyaolo’ä awngeyä tsatseng nìteng!

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Way Tiretuä—The Shaman’s Song

Ma Eylan,

Over at LearnNavi.org., some folks took a stab at transcribing the Shaman’s Song that’s heard in Mo’ara.

Understanding sung lyrics isn’t easy. If you’re like me, you’ve often had to look up the lyrics to songs you find on the Internet, even if they’re in your own language, since it can be hard to make out what the singer is saying. (Most singers, I think, concentrate more on singing beautifully than on enunciating the words clearly.) And of course there’s a whole cottage industry of “Misheard Lyrics,” which can be pretty hilarious. (My all-time favorite is this one. For me, this song will always be, “Have You Ever Seen Lorraine?”) Given all that, I think the transcribers did a great job!

For the record, here are the actual lyrics. (I have several versions on my computer; I believe this is the final one that’s used in the park.) They go all the way back to 2015; you can see how much advanced planning goes into a huge undertaking like the Disney theme park! Keep in mind that this is poetry, and somewhat mysterious poetry at that. Poetical syntax doesn’t always follow the exact same rules as ordinary spoken language.

1

Ma Na’rìng alor,                                O beautiful forest,

Mì Na’rìng lu tsngawpay.               There are tears in the forest.

Atokirina’.                                             Woodsprite(s).

Awnga leym, lereym san                 We cry out, calling,

Ma Eywa (3X).                                      “O Eywa!” (3X)

2

’Awstengyawnem,                             Connected as one,

Ma Sa’nok aNawm.                           O Great Mother.

Atokirina’.                                            Woodsprite(s).

Awnga leym, lereym san               We cry out, calling,

Ma Eywa (3X).                                    “O Eywa!” (3X)

3

Tìnewfa leNa’vi,                                 By the People’s will,

Na’rìng tìng lawr.                              The forest is singing.

Atokirina’.                                             Woodsprite(s).

Awnga leym, lereym san                 We cry out, calling,

Ma Eywa (3X).                                      “O Eywa!” (3X)

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Aylì’u a ta “Eywa’eveng: Kifkey Uniltìrantokxä”—Words from Disney’s “Pandora: The World of Avatar”

Kaltxì, ma frapo.

As you all know, the new Walt Disney theme park in Orlando, Florida, “Pandora—the World of Avatar,” opened to the public at the end of May. Nìkeftxo, due to family health issues I wasn’t able to attend the Grand Opening. From what I’ve heard from people who were there, however, the park turned out beautifully. Barring any further difficulties, John and I are looking forward to finally seeing Mo’ara in November, at this year’s Avatar Meet-up. I hope to see a lot of you there as well!

The Disney people respected the language and worked hard to get the Na’vi in the park right, which was gratifying to me. There may be a couple of tiny things that still need to be tweaked, but all in all they did a fine job. In this long-overdue post, let me preview some of the Na’vi used in the park and go over some new vocabulary you’ll encounter there.

First, some names:

mo’ara (n., mo.’A.ra) ‘gathering place’

A mo’ara is a designated place where people gather, generally for some specific purpose. When it’s capitalized, Mo’ara is the name of the park itself.

satu’li (n., sa.TU’.li) ‘heritage’

You’ll encounter this word in the name of the main park restaurant, the Satu’li Canteen. What does a restaurant have to do with heritage? It’s simply that this restaurant is almost a museum, with unique exhibits of Na’vi art, artifacts, and cultural items—hand-woven tapestries, bows, cooking tools, jewelry, sketches and photographs . . . Important elements of the Na’vi heritage are on display here, hence the name Satu’li (Heritage) Canteen.

Pongu Pongu

As the name of the bar and refreshment stand in Mo’ara, Pongu Pongu requires some explanation.   🙂  You’re familiar, of course, with pongu as the word for ‘group of people’ or ‘party,’ as in tsampongu, ‘war party.’ As I understand it, this drink location was built by a tawtute who fell in love with Pandora and decided to stay. He was apparently a high-spirited type who loved to have a good time and “party hearty.” He must also have been a bit of a prankster. So even though pongu does not mean ‘party’ in the sense of “Let’s have a party!” he used it for the name of his bar as a kind of cross-linguistic pun, with tongue firmly in cheek.

The most extensive written Na’vi you’ll find in Mo’ara is on a Guide to the Flora and Fauna pamphlet handed out to all visitors. The safety instructions contained in this pamphlet are bilingual in English and Na’vi. I’ll explain some of the new vocabulary first and then show you the Na’vi instructions.

tìkxuke (n., tì.KXU.ke) ‘safety’

This is clearly derived from the adjective kxuke ‘safe.’

emkä (vtr., em.KÄ  inf. 2, 2) ‘cross’

This is the verb ‘cross,’ as in ‘cross a barrier’ or ‘cross a river.’ Note that although itself is intransitive, emkä is transitive and takes an object. This is of course parallel to za’u (vin.) and emza’u (vtr.).

kxu si (vin.) ‘harm’

Poeru kxu rä’ä si!
‘Do not harm her!’

tswìk (vtr.) ‘suck’

The reason sucking enters the picture is that the Na’vi term for smoking literally means ‘to suck smoke.’

tswìk kxenerit (vin.) ‘smoke’

And now you should have everything you need to understand the Na’vi safety instructions. See if you can figure them out without the Engish, which I’ll include at the end of this post.

FMAL TÌKXUKET NGEYÄ SÌ MO’ARAYÄ

Tengkrr lerang Mo’arat nì’o’ nì’aw,
rutxe ayoeru srung si fte tsivun ayoe fmival
tìkxuket ngeyä sì Mo’arayä fa fwa lek faysänumet:

  • Rä’ä yomtivìng ayioangur
  • Rä’ä fmivi livok fu emkivä ayekxanit a fkol ngolop
    fpi sìkxuke ayfrrtuä sì ayioangä
  • Rä’ä fmivi kxu sivi ayioangur fu helkur feyä
  • Ke tung Na’vil futa tswìk kxenerit Mo’araka nìwotx

Srake fìtìralpeng sunu ayngar?

Finally, two expressions you’re likely to hear during your visit:

taksyokx (vin., tak.SYOKX  inf. 1, 1) ‘clap hands’

This verb is derived from takuk ‘strike’ + tsyokx ‘hand.’

Taksyokx, ma frapo!
‘Let’s give (him/her/them) a hand, everybody!’

And when you’ve completed your journey and returned to your starting point, you’ll probably be greeted with:

Tolätxaw nìprrte’! ‘Welcome back!’

Now that things are finally returning to normal here at home, I’m hoping to catch up on my Na’vi backlog, which includes some fine suggestions from the LEP along with quite a few new terms for Pandoran flora and fauna. Nìsìlpey ye’rìn.

One more thing: A while ago, I believe someone sent me an email with their transcription of one of the songs heard in the park, asking me to review it. Tsa’upxaret fwolew oel slä ke tsängun rivun. If whoever sent me that would please send it again, I’ll be happy to take a look at your transcription.

Hayalovay, ma eylan! And for those of you in the States, a very happy Fourth.

 

Here’s the English for the safety instructions:

KEEP YOURSELF AND MO’ARA SAFE

While you enjoy your exploration of Mo’ara,
please help us put safety first for both you and Mo’ara
by following the guidelines below:

  • Do not feed the animals
  • Do not attempt to approach or cross any barriers
    designed for Guest and animal safety
  • Do not attempt to harm the animals or their habitats
  • The Na’vi have banned smoking in Mo’ara
Edit 9 Oct.: . . . ma frato –> ma frapo
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Tìtusemteri—Concerning Shooting

Shooting—whether it’s the Na’vi with their tsko swizaw or the Sawtute with their hunsìp—plays a significant role in “Avatar.” Recently, Tsm. Plumps alu Stefan requested clarification on the Na’vi terminology for shooting, so let me share with you here what I told him:

We have two words that specifically mean ‘shoot,’ tem and toltem.

Tem (vin.) is the intransitive ‘shoot.’ It talks about the action itself, without mentioning the weapon used or the object to be shot.

Tem rä’ä!
‘Don’t shoot!’

It’s also the verb used to translate “shoot at”—that is, the act of discharging a weapon towards someone or something with the intention of killing or maiming. In this construction, “at” is translated as ne:

Oene fko terem!!!
“Someone is shooting at me!!!”

Toltem is vtr. Stress on the second syllable: tol.TEM. Infixes are 1, 2. The object is the person, animal, or thing shot and presumably injured or killed—that is, the target of the shooting.

Plltxe Ralu san oe new tivoltem yerikit.
‘Ralu says he wants to shoot a hexapede.’

Now note something interesting: In English we can say “shoot an animal” or “shoot an arrow.” These are both transitive constructions that take objects. But semantically they’re very different. “Animal” is the target; “arrow” is the weapon used. Na’vi distinguishes these. For the former we use toltem, for the latter we use tsweykayon ‘cause to fly, let fly.’  So ‘shoot an arrow’ is swizawti tsweykayon. (Since tsweykayon is a predictable infixed form, it’s not listed separately in the dictionary.)

Swizawti tsweykayon nefä ne taw, tsenga zup ke lu law.
‘I shot an arrow into the air, / It fell to earth, I know not where.’ (H.W. Longfellow)

Txo nga zene tivem, tsatìtusem livu muiä.
‘If you must shoot, let it be justified.’

Hayalovay!

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Ayioang amip sì ayu alahe—New animals and other things

Kaltxì, ma frapo.

As you know, Cirque du Soleil’s production “Toruk,” created with James Cameron’s participation and full approval, has expanded our knowledge of the Na’vi universe, and that includes new additions to our Na’vi dictionary. Let me give you some of that new vocabulary here—clan names, animals, and cultural items.

First, we have names for four clans other than the Omatikaya:

Anurai [n., A.nu.ra.i]

Kekunan [n., KE.ku.nan]

Tipani [n., TI.pa.ni]

Tawkami [n., taw.KA.mi]

You’ll be able to find some descriptive material for these clans online.

Next, a couple of animals:

[Note: The descriptions below of animals and cultural items, which I’ve put in quotes, are excerpted and slightly paraphrased from the information I’ve received from official sources.]

tspìng (n.) ‘austrapede’

“Similar to the Terran ostrich or emu, the austrapede is a flightless avian-like creature with a long extended neck and two vestigial “wings” on either side of its body.  Spindly, multi-jointed legs and neck and head protuberances resemble Terran avian plumage.  It’s decorated with mottled skin and has a long tail. Size: Up to 4 meters in height, fully grown.”

mawup (n., MA.wup) ‘turtapede’

“Large six-finned aquatic creature with a plated and armored outer carapace shell leading to a multi-colored dorsal ‘fin’.  Four ‘arm’ fins are used for propulsion, with the two ‘back’ fins used in a rudder-like fashion.  Mouth is a long snout-like protuberance with small, baleen-like teeth. Size: 5-6 meters from snout to tail, and roughly 4 meters tall.”

And some cultural items:

Txärpawk (n., TXÄR.pawk) ‘Palulukan Bone Horn’

This is derived from txärem ‘bone’ and:

pawk (n.) ‘horn, wind instrument’

[Note: The general term for musical instrument, as you know, is ’otxang. Pawk refers to a specific kind of instrument, one you play by blowing into or across.]

“The Palulukan Bone Horn is a sacred object created by the Anurai, a Na’vi clan that reside in a vast bone sanctuary.  This fine piece of craftsmanship has the ability, once blown, to summon from the skies the great Leonopteryx.”

Lo’akur (n., lo.’a.KUR) ‘Toruk Makto Amulet’

This literally means ‘hanging amulet,’ from lo’a ‘amulet’ and kur ‘hang.’

lo’a (n., LO.’a) ‘amulet’

“The first of five sacred items that fit into the prophecy and legend of the first ever Toruk Makto.  This totem is suspended above a raging fire pit, and as part of a young Na’vi’s Iknimaya rite of passage, the young Na’vi must climb the precarious rope to reach and retrieve the suspended amulet.”

Note: In writing, this word is identical to the dative case of the Na’vi name Lo’ak. But in speech they’re distinguished. Do you see how?  🙂

Nawmtoruktek (n., nawm.TO.ruk.tek) ‘Toruk Makto Totem’

Derived from nawm + toruk + :

tekre (n., TEK.re) ‘skull’

“In the center of the Omatikaya clan’s Hometree eating area is a huge skull of a Great Leonopteryx, which serves as a totem to the Toruk Makto, the great, great, great, great grandfather of the Olo’eyktan. This totem serves as a constant reminder of the legendary hero who rode the Great Leonopteryx and brought together the Na’vi clans in a time of great strife.”

ionar (n., I.o.nar) ‘banshee rider visor’

Derived from io ‘over, above’ and nari ‘eye.’

Hayalovay!

Edit March 1: txär —> txärem  Irayo, ma Plumps!
Edit March 1: Changed stress in Tawkami from TAW.ka.mi to taw.KA.mi, which seems to be more in keeping with how the Cirque du Soleil cast members are pronouncing it.
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Melì’uteri alu tung sì pllhrr—About tung and pllhrr

TUNG

I’ve been reminded that I never specified the syntax of tung ‘allow, let, permit,’ so let me do that now:

Tung is a vtr—a transitive verb. Its object is the thing that’s being allowed:

Ke tung fkol tìwusemit fìtseng.
‘Fighting isn’t allowed here.’

With sentences like “He allowed me to go,” however, two different structures are possible, depending on how you analyze the object of tung.

On the one hand, the object of tung—that is, the thing being allowed—is simply the going itself. In our example, “me” represents the receiver of the permit, so to speak, and goes into the dative case. So we have:

A1. Pol tolung oeru futa kivä.
      ‘He allowed me to go.’

Just plain would be OK in such sentences as well:

A2.  Tung oer futa kä!
        ‘Let me go!’

By the way, in colloquial speech futa can be pronounced simply fta, with the u dropping, although it’s not usually written that way. (We also have, as you know, the word fta meaning ‘knot,’ but I can’t think of a situation where there would be the possibility of confusion.) So A2 can be even shorter, just four syllables: Tung oer f(u)ta kä!

On the other hand, we can think of the object of tung as MY going, not just the going itself. In this case there is no receiver in the dative case, and we have:

B. Pol tolung futa oe kivä.
    ‘He allowed me to go.’

So A says that what he allowed is going, and he allowed it to me; B says that what he allowed is my going. It’s hard to see a difference there. The A and B structures are identical in meaning, and both are common, although sometimes one or the other will fit better into a particular context.

PLLHRR

Some of you have come across the word pllhrr:

pllhrr (vin., pll.HRR, inf 1,1) ‘warn’

It’s identical in meaning and use to the word for ‘warn’ that you already know, penghrr.

Tseyk Na’viru polhrr teri Sawtute.
‘Jake warned the Na’vi about the Skypeople.’

And parallel to säpenghrr ‘warning,’ we have:

säpllhrr (n., spll.HRR) ‘warning’

Like its counterpart, it can be pronounced colloquially without the ä: spllhrr.

How did Na’vi come to have two slightly different words for the same thing? We can speculate. Looking at the <ol> form of both verbs—polenghrr and polhrr—we see they’re quite similar. Assuming penghrr was the original word, we can imagine young Na’vi hearing polenghrr in fast speech, where the middle syllable is unstressed, and thinking they’re hearing polhrr. This would lead them to assume the original verb was pllhrr, which actually makes sense from a derivational point of view, with pll coming from plltxe ‘speak.’ (To warn, you can “tell danger” or “speak danger.”) In time pllhrr came to be accepted as standard Na’vi alongside penghrr.

The two different syntactic structures with tung and the two different words for ‘warn’ are examples of how language sometimes gives you a choice, where there are few if any consequences of choosing one possibility over the other. It’s rather like how we contract “he is not” in English: either “he isn’t” or “he’s not,” with no difference between the two (at least none I can think of!).

Hayalovay!

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