Spring Vocabulary, Part 2

Here’s a bit more progress towards dealing with my backlog of great suggestions from the Vocabulary Committee. (Fpìl oel futa pìylltxe pxaya tute san Nì’i’a! sìk. Tse . . . za’u fra’u ne tute lemweypey, kefyak?  😉 )

syeha (n., SYE.ha) ‘breath’


syeha si (vin.) ‘breathe’

Ma Ralu, srung si por! Nìwin! Syeha ke si!
‘Ralu, help her! Quick! She’s not breathing!’

(A note on pronunciation: Since si never carries stress, the stress pattern with negative si-constructions is KE si, not ke SI.)

sko (ADP+) ‘as, in the capacity of, in the role of’

A. Sko Sahìk ke tsun oe mìftxele tsngivawvìk.
     ‘As Tsahik, I cannot weep over this matter.’

Note: There’s another way to say the same thing, which is in fact more idiomatic than using sko:

B. Oe alu Tsahìk ke tsun mìftxele tsngivawvìk.

But sko has its advantages. Look what happens when you have a coordinate structure:

A´. Sko Sahìk ke tsun oe mìftxele tsngivawvìk; sko sa’nok tsun.
B´. Oe alu Tsahìk ke tsun mìftxele tsngivawvìk; oe alu sa’nok tsun.
      ‘As Tsahik, I cannot weep over this matter; as a mother, I can.’

As you see, the A-structure allows you to be somewhat more concise.

sna’o (n., SNA.’o) ‘set, group, pile, clump, stand’

Ayskxe a mì sasna’o ku’up lu nìtxan.
‘The rocks in that pile are very heavy.’

Note: Sna’o is nfp—not for people. For a group of people, use pongu.

What’s interesting about sna’o is that it has an abbreviated form, sna-, which functions as a noun prefix to indicate a group or collection. With living things other than people, sna- is productive—you can use it to indicate a group of any plant or animal: snanantang ‘a pack of viperwolves,’ snatalioang ‘a herd of sturmbeest,’ snautral ‘a stand of trees,’ etc. These words are not listed in the dictionary.

However, in all other cases sna– is not productive, and you’re not free to form your own words with this prefix. The meanings of such sna– words can be unpredictable, and so they have to be listed in the dictionary. For example:

snatxärem (n., sna.TXÄ.rem) ‘skeleton’ (lit.: ‘a set of bones’)

snafpìlfya (n., sna.FPÌL.fya) ‘philosophy’ (lit.: ‘a group of mindsets’)

snatanhì (n., sna.tan.HÌ) ‘constellation’ (lit.: ‘a clump of stars’)

One more thing to note about sna– words: they indicate naturally occurring groups or sets. For example, a snasyulang is a patch of flowers growing naturally on the ground or on a tree branch. Contrast that with a sästarsìm syulangä, a collection of flowers selected and put together intentionally by a person—that is, a bouquet.

sästarsìm (n., sä.STAR.sìm) ‘collection (put together intentionally by a person)’

tsu’o (n., TSU.’o) ‘ability’

Tìrusolìri ke lu poru kea tsu’o kaw’it.
‘As for singing, he has no ability whatsoever.’

Like sna’o, the most useful thing about tsu’o is its abbreviated form. In this case it’s –tswo, which is a suffix for verbs that changes the verb to a noun indicating the ability to perform the action of the verb. The great thing about –tswo is that it’s productive: you can add it to practically any verb. For example: tarontswo ‘ability to hunt,’ wemtswo ‘ability to fight,’ roltswo ‘ability to sing,’ etc.

Pori wemtswo fratsamsiyur rolo’a nìtxan.
‘His ability to fight greatly impressed all the warriors.’

It’s tempting to try to equate –tswo with English –able/-ible—after all, they’re both suffixes having to do with ability. But there’s a big difference. For example, inantswo means the ability to read; it is not equivalent to English ‘readable,’ which is the ability to be read. For that, recall that Na’vi prefixes tsuk– to form adjectives: tsukinana pamrel ‘readable writing.’

One little wrinkle: We indicated that –tswo is attached only to verbs. That’s true except in the case of si-constructions. With si-verbs, drop the si and attach –tswo to the non-verbal element: srungtswo ‘ability to help,’ pamreltswo ‘ability to write,’ tstutswo ‘ability to close.’

Kxari tstutswo tsranten krra* ke lu kea säfpìl lesar.
‘When one has no useful thoughts, the ability to close one’s mouth is important.’

*I’ve just become aware that krra is not in our official dictionary. It’s in my own database, but I guess I forgot to publicize it. Krra is the conjunction ‘when’:

krra (conj., KRR.a) ‘when, at the time that’

For example:

Oel tskoti ngaru tasyìng krra oeng ultxa si.
‘I’ll give you the bow when we meet.’

Don’t use tsakrr for this purpose. Tsakrr is an adverb, not a conjunction, meaning ‘then’ or ‘at that time.’ It’s often used with txo: txo . . . tsakrr, ‘if . . . then.’

The spelling convention krr a, as two words, is not incorrect, but krra is preferred. With the reverse clause order, however, a krr is the correct spelling. This mirrors the convention with a fì’u.

A note on stress: In keeping with the general rule, sna– and –tswo do not affect the stress of the word they’re attached to: tanHÌ, snatanHÌ; TAron, TArontswo.

Kìyevame vay vospxìay!

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18 Responses to Spring Vocabulary, Part 2

  1. Kamean says:

    Irayo seiyi! 🙂

  2. Dawid says:

    Irayo nìtxan, ma Pawl!

  3. SGM (Plumps) says:

    Ma nawma Karyu,

    again, wonderful additions to the lexicon! Thank you so much for posting these.

    säfpìl is both ‘idea’ and ‘thought’? I’ve been wondering what ‘thought’ would be 🙂

    Speaking of si-verbs and their behaviour: You haven’t told us yet how they behave with tsuk- 😉

    I was wondering, in Oel tskoti ngaru tasyìng krra oeng ultxa si. is there a fìtsap implied? Because it basically says ‘… when we meet (each other)’, right?

    • Pawl says:

      Ma Plumps,

      Srane, I have säfpìl glossed as ‘idea, thought’ in my database.

      Tsuk– with si-verbs . . . tìoeyktìng zìya’u. 🙂

      About oeng ultxa si: You’re the second person who has asked about that. Good question. With ultxa si, i.e. the “intentional” meet (as opposed to the transitive ultxarun ‘meet by chance, encounter’), we generally use hu: Oe pohu ultxa soli ‘I met with him.’ Without hu, the understanding is that the subjects met with each other or as a group. So depending on the context, there’s an implied fìtsap or ’awsiteng. Vola taronyu mì na’rìng ultxa soli. ‘Eight hunters met (together) in the forest.’

  4. `Eylan Ayfalulukanä says:

    Tewti! And I thought part 1 was good!

    A question about säsanhì: You have it listed here for ‘constellation’. In the Pandoran night sky, there should be a number of naked-eye open star clusters visible, such as the Pleiades. Would säsanhì apply to these as well? What would you use for nebulae or nebula-like objects?

    • Pawl says:

      Hmm. Good questions, ma ’E.A. (I think you mean snatanhì, kefyak? 🙂 ) Although I’ve glossed the word as ‘constellation,’ we don’t yet know enough about Na’vi astronomy–or, rather, the way the night sky is perceived in their culture–to know if they have anything equivalent to our constellations: fanciful perceptions of people and animals and other objects in the unchanging patterns of the stars. So a more precise translation would be, “a culturally recognized and significant pattern of stars.” As for a cluster like the Pleiades, I suspect it would be referred to as a snatanhìtsyìp. Nebulae, though, are probably different. It’s not clear the Na’vi would connect them with stars. I bet something like M42 would be called a pìwopxtsyìp.

  5. Kxeyeytsyìp: vospxìay

  6. Talis says:

    TXANTSAN!!! Irayo, Irayo, Irayo, Irayo, Irayo! 🙂

  7. Alyara Arati says:

    Irayo nìtxan! 😀 You keep creating words that I need for what I’m writing; it’s a bit eerie. Although I’m still waiting patiently for “lightning”. 😉

  8. Nikita says:

    Mì lì’fya leNa’vi kawkrr ke layu lì’u alu nì’Ìnglìsì Space…

  9. Ftiafpi says:

    Eltur tìtxen seiyi! I didn’t know that si was never stressed! I always assumed they were stressed evenly. It does sound a lot more natural without being stressed, though. KE si it is then, very interesting.

    I’m very happy to see sko. While the A. format definitely “feels” more Na’vi to me I enjoy being able to use more “conversational” Na’vi whenever I can.

    Wait, krr a/krra and a krr aren’t in the dictionary? I specifically remember them being there at some point and have used them countless times. I shall make sure to point this oversight out to the dictionary gurus.

    Irayo ma karyu fpi geyä nawma tìkagkem!

  10. Sxkxawng says:

    Nìfrakrr, kosman, nìtxan!

    tsuk- vs. -tswo vs. tsun…I’m a little lost with this.

  11. Futurulus says:

    Lunit oel ke omum, slä pam fìlì’fyaviyä alu san za’u fra’u ne tute lemweypey sìk oer sunu nìtxan! Srew tsaylì’u mì ftxì…

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