Kaltxì, ma oeyä eylan. Greetings from Los Angeles, where for a couple of days now I’ve been trying to overcome jet lag. I had hoped to post something from Paris, but a minor ailment had me out of commission for a while, and when I recovered, there was too much sightseeing to cram in in the remaining time. Pari yawne lu oer nìngay!
This post concerns some practical expressions useful when meeting new people. It represents a collaboration: a large part of the content originated with awngeyä ’eylan alu Prrton, whom I thank for his excellent suggestions and tireless efforts on behalf of tì’ong lì’fyayä leNa’vi.
The next post will continue the conversational theme, dealing with some common topics you might want to talk about with your new acquaintance.
If you need to get people’s attention first:
1. Your attention, please, everyone!
Rutxe tivìng mikyun, ma frapo.
The general “introduction formula” is easy: You don’t use a verb but simply say, “To you my X,” where X, in the objective (or patientive) case, is the person you’re introducing.
2. Allow me to introduce my colleague.
Ngaru oeyä lertut.
3. Everybody, please allow me to introduce (to you) my sister, Newey.
Ma frapo, ayngaru oeyä tsmukit alu Newey.
In highly formalized or ceremonial situations, the honorific pronouns are available:
4. Allow me to introduce my sister, Newey te Tskaha Sorewn’ite.
Ayngengaru oheyä tsmukit alu Newey te Tskaha Sorewn’ite.
As in many human languages, knowing a person or a place in Na’vi requires a different expression from the one you use for knowing a fact. So, for example, you cannot say *Oel pot omum for ‘I know him.’ For ‘know’ in the sense of ‘be acquainted with,’ use the verb smon ‘be familiar’: Po smon oer. ‘I know him.’ (Literally: ‘He is familiar to me.’)
5. Do you know my friends Entu and Kamun?
Srake smon ngar oeyä meylan alu Entu sì Kamun?
For ‘Please introduce yourself,’ use the transitive verb lawk, ‘discourse on, talk about, say something concerning.’ Example: Poel oeti larmawk. ‘She was talking about me.’ For ‘introduce oneself,’ just add the reflexive infix:
6. Please talk a little bit about yourself.’
Rutxe läpivawk nì’it.
Note for the record that a reflexive verb does not take an ergative (agentive) subject: For example, ‘He talked about himself’ is Po läpolawk, not *Pol läpolawk.
7. This is Ìstaw.
Fìpo lu Ìstaw.
Fìpor syaw fko Ìstaw.
Be careful to distinguish between fìpo and fì’u. The former means ‘this person,’ the latter ‘this thing or concept.’ Using fì’u for a person would be highly insulting.
8. Say hello, Ìstaw.
Kaltxì sivi, ma Ìstaw.
9. Hi! Excuse me. May I interrupt a moment? I’m Va’ru from the plains. How about you? Who might you (all) be?
Kaltxì. Hìtxoa. [This can be accompanied with the “I See you” hand gesture in the appropriate context and atmosphere. The gesture increases the level of formality.]
Tsun miväkxu hìkrr srak? Oe lu Va’ru a ftu txayo zola’u. (Ay)Ngari tut?
As you can guess, hìtxoa is a “small forgiveness,” used routinely where politeness is called for: “pardon me,” “excuse me,” etc. Oeru txoa livu is a more serious apology for something you know you did wrong.
Mäkxu [m••äkxu] is a transitive verb meaning ‘interrupt’ or ‘throw out of harmonious balance’ in the context of an ongoing activity. In English it’s possible to ‘interrupt’ a person directly, but in Na’vi mäkxu is only used for activities or established conditions, not people. Pol moläkxu ultxati. ‘He interrupted the meeting.’ It does not necessarily have a negative connotation even though it evolved from a compound containing the component kxu, which in other contexts is clearly ‘harm.’ In contrast, hultstxem [h•ultstx•em] is a transitive verb meaning ‘hinder’ or ‘be an obstacle to.’ Its object can be either an activity or a person, and it usually has a negative connotation. Example: Hìtxoa, ke new oel futa fìtìpängkxot ayngeyä hivultstxem, slä tsun miväkxu hìkrr nì’aw srak? ‘Excuse me. I don’t want to derail your chat, but can I interrupt for just a moment?’
By the way, notice that to say you come from somewhere, you use ftu, not ta. Ftu pairs with ne: they indicate directions from and to a place respectively.
10. Hi. You’re Sorewn, right? I’m Tsenu. Sister Rini over there suggested that I introduce myself. She said you’re really into cooking and that we might share that in common.
Kaltxì. Nga lu Sorewn, kefyak? Oer syaw fko Tsenu. Tsatsmukel alu Rini molok futa oe ngar muwäpivìntxu. Poltxe po san Sorewnìl kan’ìn tì’emit nìtxan ulte kxawm tsatxele mengane za’atsu nì’eng.
This example contains a number of interesting things.
First, note that when two nouns are in apposition with alu, only the main noun—the one before alu—gets the case marking. So in this case it’s Tsatsmukel alu Rini, not *Tsatsmukel alu Rinil.
Next are two useful transitive verbs, mok ‘suggest’ and muwìntxu [muw•ìntx•u] ‘introduce’ or ‘present.’ This latter word can be used not only for introducing a person but also for presenting an idea, report, analysis, etc. Here it has the reflexive infix for ‘introduce oneself.’ Remember, though, that the most usual way to introduce another person omits the verb entirely. See 2 and 3 above.
The transitive verb kan’ìn [k•an’•ìn] means ‘focus on, specialize in, be particularly interested in.’ Example: Entul kan’ìn tìwusemit. ‘Entu specializes in fighting’—that is, fighting is a major interest of his or focus of his activity.
The expression for ‘share an interest in common’ is za’u nì’eng, literally, ‘come in a level or equal manner.’ Example: Tìrusol za’u ne fo nì’eng. ‘They share an interest in singing.’ (Literally, ‘Singing comes to them equally.’)
Finally, note how san works in the last sentence. (Sìk is not required here, since the utterance ends with the quoted material.) Tsenu needs to quote what Rini said exactly, so a less natural but more literal translation would be, ‘She said, “Sorewn is really into cooking, and perhaps the two of you might share that matter in common.”’ That explains the appearance of menga ‘the two of you’ where you might be tempted to use oeng ‘you and I.’
Edit 27 Sept: Sorewn corrected to Sorewnìl in last sentence of #10. Irayo, ma Plumps!