Getting to Know You, Part 3

Kaltxì nìmun, ma oeyä eylan.

Here’s the third and final part of the conversational material. Ideally I’d space all of this out a bit more, but I wanted to make sure the people would have it who are participating in the Na’vi workshop up in northern California this weekend.

Thanks to everyone for the supportive comments and great questions! Sorry I haven’t yet been able to answer them all.

By the way, if anyone lives in or close to Tulsa, Oklahoma and is free the evening of Thursday, October 7, I’m speaking at the Oklahoma Conference in the Humanities, and it’s open to the public free of charge. Za’u kaltxì si ko!

(If you’re wondering about that structure: Two verbs back-to-back without a conjunction indicates that they’re performed in sequence: come and (then) say hello.)


To ask someone’s identity (in person, on the phone, etc.):

31.  Hi. Who are you? OR Who is this (that I’m speaking to)?
Kaltxì. Ngenga lu tupe / pesu?

This is one place where the honoric form of the pronoun is standard. Nga lu tupe? could be heard as aggressive and challenging; to make it clear the questioner is being friendly, the honorific is used. The response, however, reverts back to the ordinary pronouns: Oe lu Txewì.

As in many earth languages (although not English), to ask someone’s name you don’t normally say the literal equivalent of “What is your name?” In Na’vi that would be Ngari tstxo lu pelì’u? It’s not wrong, but there’s a more idiomatic way to ask the question:

32.  What’s your name:
Fyape fko syaw ngar?

Literally, this is, of course, “How does one call you?” or “How do they call you?” The answer is:

33.  My name is Txewì.
Oeru syaw (fko) Txewì.

Getting back to age, if someone has asked you how old you are and you’re having trouble calculating it in octal, you can buy a little time with an expression that’s useful in lots of situations:

34.  Just a tiny moment. I’m thinking.
’Awa swawtsyìp. Oe fperìl.

It would be a good idea, though, to have that number pre-calculated, since you don’t want people to think you’re not sure of your age. 😉 (Grammar: If you’re wondering why there’s no case marking on swawtsyìp, it’s because the phrase is short for ’Awa swawtsyìp livu oer rather than ’Awa swawtsyìpit tìng oer.)


I’m indebted to Prrton for the material in this section, which I think is particularly rich.

35.  Who do you typically hang out with / spend time with?
Nga pesuhu teng nìtrrtrr?

  • teng [k••äteng] vi. ‘spend time with, hang out with.’ No implication of dating or romance—simply passing time with friends.

The next example introduces the important intransitive verb ’ìn, which is not only used by itself but also has many derivatives. (We already met one of them, kan’ìn, in Part 1.) ’Ìn means ‘be busy, be occupied’ and is neutral with respect to emotional impact. See below for derivatives of ’ìn that are slanted positively or negatively.

36.  What’s been keeping you busy lately?
’Ìn nga fyape nìfkrr?

Literally, “In what way are you busy lately?”

Some derivatives of ’ìn:

  • sulìn [s•ul•ìn] vi. ‘be busy (positive sense): be engrossed in something one finds especially pleasant and energizing’

37.  He is overly engrossed in his music (and I’m displeased about it).
Pamtseori po sulängìn nìhawng.

  • vrrìn [v•rr•ìn] vi. ‘be busy (negative sense): be tired out and overwhelmed by an activity that’s keeping one busy’

38.  I was completely swamped (overwhelmed) at work.
Tìkangkemìri varmrrìn oe nìwotx.

39.  His work is still completely overwhelming him (and I’m glad).
Peyä tìkangkemìl mi veykrreiyìn pot nìwotx.

  • tìkìn n. ‘free time, the absence of ’ìn

40.  What do you do in your free time?
Tìk’ìnìri kempe si nga?

  • sulìn n. ‘hobby, pleasure-yielding activity’

41.  I practice my hobby, which is archery.
Oe tskxekeng si säsulìnur alu tsko swizaw.

To express the idea of fun, we use the adjective ’o’ ‘bringing fun, exciting’ and its derivatives.

42.  Sports are great fun.
Ayuvan letokx ’o’ lu nìtxan.

Some derivatives of ’o’:

  • ’o’ n. ‘fun, excitement’

43.  What is your favorite way to have fun?
’o’ìri peu sunu ngar frato?

  • ’o’, adv. ‘ ‘funly,’ in a manner that is very enjoyable’’

44.  Studying Na’vi is a ton of fun for me.
Ftia oel lì’fyati leNa’vi nì’o’ nìwotx!

Finally, to say you’re good or bad at something, use the respective transitive verbs fnan ‘be good at’ and wätx ‘be bad at’:

45.  Are you good at Na’vi?
Srake fnan ngal lì’fyati leNa’vi?

46.  No, I totally suck at it, but I still love it to death.
Kehe. Slä hufwa oel (tsat) wätx nì’aw, tsalsungay yawne lu oer nìwotx!

Sìlpey oe, zaya’u trro a tsun awnga nìwotx pivlltxe san fnan oel nìngay lì’fyat leNa’vi sìk! 🙂

Kìyevame, ma eylan.

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22 Responses to Getting to Know You, Part 3

  1. Plumps says:

    Oeyä re’o tìsraw si … nìfya’o asìltsan ;D

    Irayo nìtxan, ma Karyu!

    ta Stefan

  2. Le'eylan says:

    # 46 lu yawne oer 😉
    Irayo seiyi ngaru ma Pawl!
    Pxepamrel lu lesar nìtxan.

  3. Sxkxawng says:

    Irayo seieiyi ngengaru × 46 😀

    …ulte srane, that is a double-laudative in the si 😉

  4. Ngawng says:

    #46 😀

  5. Carborundum says:

    Nìfya’o a pxaya tute poltxe, ftxozä zola’u ye’rin 🙂
    NGian, lu oer tìpawm. Syena lì’fyaviri, pelun kea fìlì’ut alu “tsnì” ke sar?

    • Carborundum says:

      Edit: that’s supposed to be “ye’krr” 😛

      • Tirea Aean says:

        That’s been around for ages. He says stuff like “sìlpey oe, ” seemingly more often than “sìlpey oe tsnì ” i dont know where the idea that we MUST use tsnì came from. (i think we need a pìlok post on tsnì, what it is and when to use it)

        Pawl once said something like ‘ sìlpey oe, ‘ has kind of an adverbial effect like “hopefully”

  6. Swoka Swizaw says:

    ‘MaPawl, oeru nga kawng lu lì’ufpi, ‘o’. Sunu oeru lì’u, tsat tslivam. Slä seykxel ‘efeiu oey lì’upamteri vaykrr tsole’a oel lì’ut san ‘o’ sìk. Tìpuslltxe tìftang ro sngä’ikrr lì’uä oeru ngäzìk längu.’

    Of course, to be sure, I LOVED everything else.

    • Tirea Aean says:

      pelun lu ngäzìk krr a tìftangìl sngeykä’i lì’ut?

      I hear all the time from people that they have trouble with words that start with a tìftang.

      it should not be a problem to say ‘o’ if you have a sentence like “oel fpìl futa tsakem livu ‘o’.”

      clearly, when ‘o’ comes after a word like lu, it is very clear.

      now what if it were something like “tì’efumì oeyä tìtusaron ‘o’ ke lu” where the ‘o’ is surrounded by consonants? that i can Maybe see a problem, but literally the difference is that it isnt continuous like normal. make it a point to sound choppy around that o. 😉

      OH and this trilogy on conversation is GREAT. irayo ma Pawl.

    • Prrton says:

      It’s actually quite great to have a word like «’o’» that both starts and ends with a glottal stop. Keep in mind that it is an adjective. That means that it will very commonly appear with a requisite -a- as in uvan a’o’ or ’o’a ultxa. And, of course, part of me just wants to say, “Welcome to a language with initial and final glottal stops as normal, everyday consonants. Deal with it.” 😉

  7. Mìhìl says:

    Hufwa oel (tsat) wätx nì’aw, tsalsungay yawne lu oer nìwotx!

    At least now I can respond with a fair respond instead of quickly searching for words ^^

  8. Kì'eyawn says:

    Tewti! Irayo nìmun, ma Karyu!

    There are so many useful words and expressions in these past three posts. It’ll take me a while to digest it all—tsari oel sasyuleiyìn!

    Fìlì’fyavi alu “uvan letokx” oeyä eltur tìtxen si, ma Karyu. Ke omum oel futa pefnel ayuvanä letokx lu Na’viru… (Tewti, fwa tsat plltxe ke lu ftue!)

    ta Lawren

  9. `Eylan Ayfalulukanä says:

    I love the new vocabulary, especially `ìn and its derivatives, and `o`. `o` is fun to pronounce!

  10. Ataeghane says:

    How is it possible “nìfkrr”? It seems to be “nìf.krr” when it’s divided into syllabes but as far as I know it’s not allowed for “f” to occur in syllable-final position.
    What do you think about it?

    • Plumps says:

      Ma Ataeghane,

      There’s only one solution 😉 namely that CCrr (e.g., fkrr) is possible. That would divide nìfkrr into nì.fkrr and all is fine again 🙂
      I think it was made public by Prrton back when he was Na’vi of the Week.

  11. Ataeghane says:

    First it’s written that ‘vrr’ìn’ is intransitive but then we see: ‘Peyä tìkangkemìl mi veykrreiyìn pot nìwotx.’
    Isn’t it a mistake?

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