Vocabulary update

Today’s post provides some new vocabulary, mostly from the A-priority list of the LEP (Lexical Expansion Project), along with a few usage notes.

In the abbreviations indicating parts of speech, VT and VI refer to transitive and intransitive verbs respectively. As you know, transitive verbs are the ones that take objects; with these, the subject is in the agentive or ergative case (L-family endings) and the object is in the objective or patientive case (T-family endings): Oel ngati kameie. Intransitive verbs don’t take objects, and their subjects are unmarked: Po herahaw.

For verbs of more than one syllable, I’ve used the excellent notation I discovered on learnnavi.org (●) to indicate where the first- and second-position infixes are inserted.

’a’aw ADJ ‘several, a few’
’okrol N ‘history (ancient)’
’okvur N ‘history (non-ancient)
alu CONJ ‘that is, in other words; used for apposition’
fnawe’ ADJ ‘cowardly’
fnawe’tu N ‘coward’
ftxìlor ADJ ‘delicious, good-tasting’
ftxì ADJ ‘bad-tasting’
fyeyn ADJ ‘ripe, mature, adult’
fyeyntu N ‘adult person’
fyeyn N ‘ripeness, maturity, full fruition’
hawngkrr ADV ‘late’
hek VI ‘be curious, odd, strange, unexpected’
hek ADV ‘oddly, strangely’
ki CONJ ‘but rather, but instead’
lìng VI ‘float in the air, hover’
ayRam aLusìng: ‘the Floating Mountains’
muntxatu N ‘spouse’
– muntxatan N ‘husband, male spouse’
– muntxate N ‘wife, female spouse’
netrìp ADV ‘luckily, happily’
newomum VI ‘be curious (want to know)’ [n●●ewomum]
lenomum ADJ ‘curious’
nomum N ‘curiosity’
ngäzìk ADJ ‘difficult, hard
ngäzìk N ‘difficulty, problem’
sung ADV ‘besides, additionally, furthermore’
ram N ‘mountain’
reng ADJ ‘shallow’
Rolun! CONV ‘Eureka! I found it!’
sa’sem N ‘parent’
smar N ‘prey, thing hunted’
starsìm VT ‘gather, collect’ [st●ars●ìm]
sunu VI ‘be pleasing or likeable, bring enjoyment’ [s●un●u]
syayvi N ‘luck, chance’
syayvi ADV ‘by chance or coincidence’
Tolel! CONV ‘Eureka! I got it! I understand!’
txukx ADJ ‘deep’
ve’ VT ‘hate’ [v●e’k●ì]
tìve’ N ‘hatred’
yaymak ADJ ‘foolish, ignorant’
ye’krr ADV ‘early’
sìkrr N ‘season’
zo VI ‘be well, be intact, be as it should be, work correctly or as nature intended’
zoslu VI ‘heal, become well, get fixed’ [zosl●●u]
– zeyko VT ‘heal, fix’ [zeyk●●o]
– frawzo CONV ‘All is well; everything is fine or OK’

Usage Notes

Used only with countable nouns (people, plants, rocks, days, ideas, . . . ), not with uncountables (water, air, time, patience, anger, . . . ). Like numbers, ’a’aw is used with the singular of the noun. Example:

Lu poru ’a’awa ’eylan. OR Lu poru ’eylan a’a’aw. ‘He has several friends.’

(These are good sentences for practicing your glottal stops!)

Don’t confuse ’a’aw ‘several, a few’ with hol ‘(only a) few, not many’:

Oel tse’a ’a’awa tutet. ‘I see several people.’

Oel tse’a hola tutet. ‘I see only a few people.’

Note that pxay ‘many’ is exceptional in that it can be used with either singular or plural nouns: pxaya tute and pxaya sute are both allowable. The form with the singular is appropriate for all contexts, while the one with the plural is mainly used colloquially.

’Okrol refers to the ancient tribal history of the Na’vi contained in the First Songs; ’okvur relates to more recent events, e.g. oeyä soaiayä ’okvur ‘my family’s history’ or ’okvur Sawtuteyä mì Eywa’eveng ‘the history of the Sky People on Pandora.’

Used mainly for nouns or noun phrases in apposition—e.g. ‘my friend Amhul,’ ‘Eytukan, leader of the Omaticaya,’ ‘Eywa, the Great Mother,’ etc. It comes from a + lu, with a fusing of the two words into one and a change in stress to the first syllable. Example:

Tskalepit oel tolìng oeyä tsmukanur alu Ìstaw. ‘I gave the crossbow to my brother Istaw.’

You can also use alu conversationally as an “explainer,” in the sense of “that is to say” or “in other words”:

Txoa livu, yawne lu oer Sorewn . . . alu . . . ke tsun oeng muntxa slivu. ‘Sorry, but I love Sorewn . . . in other words, you and I cannot marry.’

These are adverbs, not adjectives:

Hawngkrr rä’ä ziva’u! ‘Don’t come late!’

If you need the adjectives, they’re lehawngkrr and leye’krr: tìpähem leye’krr ‘an early arrival’

This verb conveys the idea of something appearing odd, strange, unexpected, or surprising.

Ngeyä säfpìl Sawtuteteri heiek oer nìtxan. ‘Your idea about the Sky People is very interesting to me (because it seems unusual).’ OR ‘I’m very curious (and delighted) about your idea regarding the Sky People.’

Note that nìhek is a sentence adverbial only, not a manner adverbial . . . alu . . . nìhek is ‘strangely’ in the sense of the speaker making a comment about the situation:

Nìhek fo nìNa’vi plltxe. ‘Strangely, they speak Na’vi.’

If on the other hand you want to say that someone does something in a strange manner, you’d use nìfya’o a hek, ‘in a way that’s strange’:

Fo nìNa’vi plltxe nìfya’o a hek. ‘They speak Na’vi strangely.’

Note the difference between the verb hek and the adjective stxong ‘strange, unfamiliar, unknown.’ Hek is used for something odd, unexpected, or puzzling but not necessarily bad. Stxong is stronger and usually has a negative connotation: it’s applied to something previously unknown or unimagined that appears threatening or dangerous. Example:

Larmu tsatsamsiyuhu tìvawm a lu stxong ayoer. ‘That warrior carried with him a darkness unknown to us.’

Don’t confuse slä and ki. Ki is ‘but’ in the sense of ‘not A but (rather) B.’ (Speakers of German will see the parallel with aber vs. sondern.) Ke and ki form a pair:

Nga plltxe ke nìfyeyntu ki nì’eveng. ‘You speak not like an adult but a child.’


These words primarily refer to physical depth: kilvan areng, kilvan atxukx. They can’t be applied to people: *tute areng makes no sense. But as in many languages, they are sometimes applied metaphorically to thoughts, ideas, analyses, etc.: e.g. aysäfpìl atxukx ‘deep thoughts.’

Rolun and tolel are conversational exclamations used for “Eureka!” moments. The difference is that Rolun! means you’ve found something, e.g. a lost object, the answer to a question, the solution to a problem, whereas Tolel! means you’ve had a flash of insight and now you “get it”—you’ve received knowledge or understanding.

This word appears in a famous Na’vi proverb:

Ätxäle si palulukanur tsnì smarit livonu. ‘Ask a thanator to release its prey.’ Refers to a futile gesture, an attempt to achieve something that might be desirable but will clearly not happen. In conversation it’s usually shortened to Ätxäle pa(lu)lukanur. (In fast speech, palulukan tends to simplify to palukan, which is acceptable in colloquial style.)

This important verb, which works similarly to Spanish gustar, is used to say you like something:

Sunu oeru teylu. ‘I like teylu.’ (Teylu sunu oeru is also possible.)

Sunu and prrte’ lu both mean that the speaker enjoys something. While sunu is ‘like’ in the general sense, prrte’ lu is generally deeper and more heartfelt; it’s often used in social situations, translating to “It’s a pleasure . . .”:

Furia tsolun oe ngahu pivängkxo, oeru prrte’ lu nìngay. ‘It was really a pleasure to be able to speak with you.’

[Digression: The prrte’ construction can be a bit confusing. Prrte’ is an adjective meaning ‘pleasurable,’ so an alternate way of saying the previous sentence is:

Fwa [fì’u a] tsolun oe ngahu pivängkxo oeru prrte’ lu nìngay. Literally: ‘The fact that I was able to speak with you is really pleasurable to me.’

The structure of the original sentences with furia is more like: ‘As for the fact that I was able to speak with you, (it) is really pleasurable to me.’ Either structure is acceptable.]

Mowan implies physical or sensual pleasure, and often has a sexual connotation:

Plltxe fko san ngaru lu mowan Txilte ulte poru nga. ‘I hear you like Txilte and vice versa.’

Mowan is also used slangily as a general term for ‘like’:

Tìtusaron mowan lu oer nìngay. ‘Hunting really turns me on.’

Syay by itself means ‘fate’ in the sense of one’s destiny—the arc of one’s life:

Tsakrr syay ayngeyä, syay olo’ä oeyä layu teng. ‘Then you will suffer the same fate as my clan.’

Syayvi refers to a “little piece of fate”—that is, chance or luck in a particular situation. For example, the expression for ‘Good luck!’ is Etrìpa syayvi!

Note that nìsyayvi means ‘by chance, by coincidence, as luck would have it’—it does not mean ‘luckily.’ For that you use netrìp.



This stative verb indicates that “all is well” with the subject—something or someone is functioning correctly. Both zo and lu fpom can mean the subject is well, but there’s a difference in usage. Fpom is a noun meaning ‘well-being, peace, happiness.’ Zo is a verb with a narrower scope, usually implying physical health. So contrast these two questions:

Ngaru lu fpom srak? ‘Are you well?’ (Are you experiencing a general sense of happiness and well-being?)

Nga zo srak? ‘Are you well?’ (Have you recovered from your illness? Are you OK after that nasty fall?)

Examples of the derivative verbs zoslu and zeyko:

Oeri nì’i’a tsyokx zoslolu. ‘My hand is finally healed.’

Eywal zeykivo ngat nìwin. ‘May Eywa heal you quickly.’

Frawzo is from fra’u + zo. Compounds with ’u often lose the glottal stop. Here the resulting au combination has changed into a diphthong as well.

Edit 17 July–Two errors corrected: nìhek classed as ADV; glottal stop added to ftxìvä’.

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32 Responses to Vocabulary update

  1. Kxrekorikus says:

    Txantsan! Ohe seiyi irayo ngengar. So many new very usefull words 🙂
    I’m writing short story in Na’vi 🙂 I’ll send as soos as possible.

  2. Ftiafpi says:

    Tewti! Faylì’u sìltsan lu nìtxan.

    I can’t help but notice some similarities between the sounds of “hiyìk” and “hek”, I love how Na’vi can be so logical at times, makes it very easy to learn.

    Tse, set oel stivarsìm faylì’u leNa’vi ulte yem aylì’uti nemfa oeyä eltu…pximaw oel lahea aylì’uti nume nìwotx. 😉

  3. Kemeoauniaea says:

    Yay for new vocab!

    I have one question about usage though. I know we’ve had the word for a while, but can nì’aw be used to mean “merely”, given its derivation it would seem unlikely to me, but of course etymology isn’t everything when it comes to semantics.

  4. Gisle Aune says:

    Wou nang! Ngaru seiyi oe nìmun irayo nìtxan furia lesara lì’u apxay, ma Karyu.

  5. Keyl says:

    Na tsmukan Ftiafpi san Tewti! sìk zene pivlltxe oe!

    Nì’i’a lu awngaru “mutxatu” sì “sunu” sì “ve’kì”. Faylì’u lu fwa a oel narmew ivomum tsayut nì’ul frato ta sngä’ikrr lì’fyayä leNa’vi. “Wusoua” fmawn. 😀


  6. Plumps says:

    ayLì’uri amip oe ngaru seiyi irayo!

    I gather that
    – nìhek N ‘oddly, strangely’
    should be ADV instead, kefyak?

    And what happened to the glottal stop of vä’ in ftxìvä?


  7. Kemaweyan says:

    Irayo, ma Karyu. Nìngay tsaw lu txantsana aylì’u a kin oel pxìm 🙂

    Ngian lu oer tìpawmo. Lì’u san zeyko sìk lam na san z-eyk-o sìk ulte ral lu teng, kefyak? Slä nìngay fpìl oel futa hufwa tsun fko ngivop tsat, ngal solung fìlì’ut fì’upxeremì talun tsaw ke lu letrrtrra lì’u. Fpìl oel futa tsun fko pivlltxe san zeykäpo sìk fu sanzeykuso sìk fu keng san zeykeyko sìk, kefyak? Sivar tsun fko hemlì’uvit (infixes) a sivung zene fko mì . Fu oeru tìkxey srak?

    • Pawl says:

      @Kemaweyan: Ngeyä tìpawmìri irayo, ma Kemaweyan. Nìngay lu ngar tìyawr, lu ngar tìkxey. Tsalì’uri alu zeyko lu kemlì’uvi (lì’u atxantsan nang!) mì kamtseng: z-eyk-o . . . Ha lu lì’u letrrtrr nì’aw. Oel lumpe tsat solung mì upxare? Fte wivìntxu futa lesar lu fìlì’u nìtxan. Tsalsungay tsalì’u alu zeykuso lu eyawr. Slä zene fko pivlltxe san zäpeyko sìk. (*Zeykäpo lu keyawr.) Ulte kawkrr ke tsun fko pivlltxe san *zeykeyko!

      Kemaweyan asked a good question, so let me explain this in English so it’s available to more people. He noted that zeyko appears to be a garden-variety derivative of zo, with the causative infix -eyk- added: zeyko = z-eyk-o. If that’s true, then why give it a special place in the vocabulary? This led Kemaweyan to speculate it might actually be a separate lexical item not derived via -eyk-, which could then lead to a form like *zeykeyko.

      K.’s first impression was correct: zeyko is just the causative form of zo. I called it out only to emphasize its usefulness: it’s the standard way to say “fix” or “heal.” But he’s right: It didn’t have to be included.

      The question of how the “pre-first position” infixes relate to each other and to the rest of the infix inventory is important, so I’ll save it for a future post.

  8. Kemaweyan says:

    Ngaytxoa, hama ‘upxareri pìlokìl skola’a lì’uti oeyä san sre-awve sìk:

    … a sivung zene fko mì sre-awve.

  9. Ftiafpi says:

    Wou! Just noticed the word for mountain! “Ram”, good word 🙂 YAY!

  10. Nìwotxkrr Tìyawn says:

    Loving the new words but I’m especially digging that sentence with “tse’a ’a’awa” not too often you see things like that. 🙂

  11. Plumps says:

    Oeru meuia, ma Karyu

    Lu ’it ahì’i nì’aw srungwä apxa ngeyä a tìng ayoer fte ayoe tsun pivlltxe sì pivängkxo fa fìlì’fya alor!

    Tìralpengìri leToìtse tsun fko rivun fìtseng:

    Thank you, Teacher,

    It’s only a little bit compared to the great help that you give us so that we can speak and chat by means of this beautiful language!

    A German translation can be found here (cf. link)

    Danke, Lehrer,

    Es ist nur eine kleine Sache im Vergleich zu der Hilfe, die Sie uns geben, damit wir in dieser schönen Sprache sprechen und kommunizieren können!

    Eine deutsche Übersetzung findet sich hier (s. Link)

    —ta Plumps

  12. Tìve’kìri, tsalì’u oeru hek, talun fko plltxe san nga yawne lu oer sìk, oel *poleyomum futa fko plltxe san nga fkay lu oer sìk, slä kxawm pivlltxe nìtsafya’o a fì’u lam hìyik.

    The word hate was unexpected to me, because of “nga yawne lu oer”, I expected that one would say “nga fkay lu oer”, but perhaps that sounds strange to say.

  13. Nìwotxkrr Tìyawn says:

    One of the words seems pretty strange to me: zìsìkrr (season)
    I assume its made up of zìsìt (year) and krr (time), which is weird, I thought it would end up as zìsìtvi or something to that effect. Is there any particular reason you chose year and time?

  14. Kemaweyan says:

    Irayo nìngay! Set tslolam oel tsalì’ut, slä ke law lu san z-äp-eyko sìk sì san zeyk-us-o sìk. Oeyä eltur tìtxen si tsaw, ngian pìyey haya ‘upxaret 😉

    Ma Nìwotxkrr Tìyawn, nìngay ke omum oel lunit. Slä new oe piveng futa nìngay tsaw lam oer muiä nìtxan, talun oeyä lì’fyari tsalì’u lu san krr zìsìtä sìk. Ulte fpìl oel futa san zìsìtvi sìk nìteng tsun livu (fu kxawm zene livu) san month sìk, kefyak?

  15. Kemaweyan says:

    Ma Nìwotxkrr Tìyawn, really I don’t know the reason. But want to tell really that seems to me proper, because in my language that word is “time of year”. And I think “zìsìtvi” can be (or perhaps should be) “month”, right?

  16. Nìwotxkrr Tìyawn says:

    Now that you say it, its seems pretty obvious for “time of year”. It’s possible for zìsìtvi to be month (if the na’vi have months) but really the only separation between a season and a month is the length of time, so it could have gone either way I suppose.

    I’m no good at Ukrainian so I hope you can bare with my English.

  17. Taronyu says:

    Irayo seiyi, ma Karyu.

    I particularly like “ram”. Finally! 😀

  18. Yay! More informational overload! XD

  19. Txur'Itan says:

    Mip aylì’u lolu!

  20. Gisle Aune says:

    These are very useful words.

    A lot of terminology to describe the yaymaka ayve’kìyu from the Internet next time a Na’vi related vid hits Youtube.

  21. Roope Kuisma says:

    Hi. I have one think to ask.

    I’m confused with the word “bond”. Some say it’s spelled tsahaylu, some say tsaheylu. Which one is correct?

  22. Wm Annis says:

    Roope, it’s tsaheylu. The ay spelling was, I suspect, a help for the actors that escaped into the wild.

    • Roope Kuisma says:

      Thank you Wm Annis.

      I already had it figured that way, but when I saw it was spelled tsahaylu in learnnavi.org vocabulary site.. I became unsure.

  23. Kxrekorikus says:


    I want to start a blog in Na’vi.
    I will put articles and notes in Na’vi to train my skills.
    But I need your help This is my first attempt of something harder than few sentences so I can make mistakes.
    Any of your suggestions and corrections will help me a lot.
    I will put news in 3 languages: English, Na’vi and Polish- there are not much of polish materials. Not everyone knows English so good to understand grammar of Na’vi etc. I want to help people from my country
    so… ‘Ivong Na’vi!


  24. Tstewa Ikrantsyìp says:

    Kaltxì ma Karyu

    I am a young woman, 17, and I am same-gender orientated when it comes to relationships.
    I have been part of the community for little over a year and have always wondered, but never known how to ask:
    “Are there are terms in the Na’vi language for the LGBTA community, or any-one same sex oriented in their preferences?”
    I myself have been unable to find anything to do with it, in the Na’vi language and am unsure what to do.
    thank-you for reading
    Eywa ngahu

    ta Tstewa Ikrantsyìp

    • Pawl says:

      Ma Tstewa Ikrantsyìp,

      Nice to meet you, and please excuse the long delay in replying. I’ve been traveling, and just got back home last night.

      As of yet, we don’t have terms specifically relating to same-sex orientation. So, for example, to translate a question like “Is she gay?” we’d have to use circumlocutions–perhaps something like: Srake nulnew poel tutét sko yawntu? ‘Does she prefer women as love persons?’ Perhaps some members of the lì’fyaolo’ have more creative ideas in this area?

      On a related note, when it comes to gender, Na’vi often gives you the choice of specifying gender or leaving it unspecified, similar to English ‘child’ vs. ‘son’ and ‘daughter.’ So, for example, tute (TU.te) ‘person’ vs. tuté (tu.TE) ‘female person’ and tutan ‘male person’; muntxatu ‘spouse’ vs. muntxatan ‘husband’ and muntxate ‘wife.’ So when referring to my husband John, I can say either muntxtatu if his gender is irrelevant or understood, or I’d rather not specify it, or muntxatan if I want to make it clear.

      Thanks for pointing out an area in Na’vi that needs development. 🙂

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