Twenty before the Holidays

Kaltxì ayngaru, ma eylan.

I hope you’re all doing well and looking forward to healthy and happy holidays.

Here are some new vocabulary items I hope you’ll find useful. Thanks, as always, to the stalwart LEP contributors for some of these ideas.

First, some words for good and bad sights and sounds.

Na’vi distinguishes two kinds of ‘noise’:

väpam (n., VÄ.pam) ‘noise: ugly or unpleasant sound, screech’

hawmpam (n., HAWM.pam) ‘noise: sound that is excessive, unnecessary, inappropriate, unexpected, or startling’

As you see, väpam, from vä’ ‘unpleasant to the senses’ + pam ‘sound,’ is always an unpleasant sound; hawmpam, from hawng ‘overabundance’ + pam, is not necessarily an ugly sound but rather one that’s somehow wrong—a sound that in some sense shouldn’t be there.


Ninatìri tìrusol Txewìyä lu väpam.
‘To Ninat, Txewì’s singing is noise.’


A: Sunu oeru nìtxan aysäftxulì’u peyä.
‘I like his speeches a lot.’
B. Srake nìngay plltxe nga? Oeri ke tsun oe yivune tsaväpamit.
‘Really? I myself can’t listen to that noise.’

Fìhawmpam pelun, ma ’itan? Fnivu set!
‘Why all this noise, son? Be quiet now!’


lehawmpam (adj., le.HAWM.pam) ‘noisy’

nìhawmpam (adv., nì.HAWM.pam) ‘noisily’

Taronyul lehawmpam ska’a sätaronit.
‘A noisy hunter destroys the hunt.’

Txo fko tivul mì na’rìng nìhawmpam, stawm ayioang.
‘If you run noisily in the forest, the animals will hear.’

And here are some other adjectives relating to good and bad sounds—and sights—built on the ftxìlor/ftxìvä’ (‘good tasting/bad tasting’—literally, ‘pleasant or unpleasant to the tongue’) pattern we’ve already seen. These words are more specific than the general adjectives lor and vä’, which can be applied to any sensory experience.

miklor (adj., mik.LOR) ‘pleasant sounding, beautiful sounding’

mikvä’ (adj., mik.VÄ’) ‘bad-sounding’

narlor (adj., nar.LOR) ‘beautiful visually’

narvä’ (adj., nar. VÄ’) ‘ugly, unsightly’

And since we’ve been talking about sounds:

zawr (n.) ‘animal call’

Let me quote the LEP committee here, since they’ve provided a nice explanation of this word:

Zawr is used for the sound an animal makes for vocal communication. It can be used alone to mean “an animal cry” or “the call of an animal,” but it’s very general . . . When translating into English, it can then be changed to mean whatever sound is normally associated [with a particular animal]: the roar of a palulukan, the screech of an ikran, the bellow of a talioang.”

Zawr thus takes the place of a more specific word for a particular animal’s vocalization, like nguway for the howl of a nantang. It’s always correct, although the specific words are more colorful.

Zawr yerikä lu ’ango.
‘The call of the hexapede is quiet.’

(n., tì.NEW) ‘desire’

Tìnew is parallel to tìkin ‘need,’ in that it can refer either to the general state or concept or to a specific instance.

Tsamsiyuri lu tìyora’ä tìnew lekin.
‘A warrior must have the desire for victory.’

Lu oer tìnew a tse’a txampayit.
‘I have a desire to see the ocean.’

Pxìm lu tìnew lehawng kxutu fpomä.
‘Excessive desire is often the enemy of peace.’

(vtr.) ‘put away, store’

Tsko swizawti nivopx, ma ’ite. Ke taron oeng fìtrr.
‘Put away your bow and arrow, daughter. You and I are not hunting today.’

(vtr.,—inf. 1, 2) ‘count’

Rutxe tiviam aysrokit tsakrr holpxayti piveng oer.
‘Please count the beads and tell me the number.’

Derived from tiam we have a word for infinite or uncountable:

ketsuktiam (adj., ‘uncountable, infinite’

Note that this word doesn’t necessarily mean something is literally uncountable or infinite, but only that the number is exceedingly large.

Holpxay sanhìyä a mì saw lu ketsuktiam; keng ke tsun fko tsive’a sat nìwotx.
‘The number of stars in the sky is infinite; it’s not even possible to see them all.’

A related word is:

txewluke (adj., ‘endless, boundless, without limit’

The basic difference between ketsuktiam and txewluke is that the former is for countables while the latter is for noncountables:

Spaw Na’vil futa tìyawn Eywayä lu txewluke.
‘The Na’vi believe that Eywa’s love is boundless.’


’umtsa (n., ’UM.tsa) ‘medicine’

Ralul ngolop ’umtsat fa aysyulang fwäkìwllä.
Ralu made medicine from flowers of the Mantis orchid.

Fìsäspxinìri ngeyä ke längu kea ’umtsa.
‘Unfortunately there is no medicine for this disease of yours.’

(vtr.) ‘investigate, explore’

There is overlap in meaning between lang and steftxaw ‘examine, check.’ Lang has a sense of exploring something previously unknown, without preconceived notions of what you’re going to find; steftxaw can imply a detailed examination of the components of something, perhaps against a checklist. But the two are often interchangeable.

Lumpe lerang Kelutralit Sawtutel?
‘Why are the humans exploring Hometree?’


tìlang (n., tì.LANG) ‘exploration (general sense)’

sälang (n., sä.LANG) ‘an exploration or investigation’

Srane, sunu Sawtuteru tìlang, slä ke omum fol teyngta kempe zene sivi mawkrra ’uoti rolun.
‘Yes, the Skypeople love exploration, but they don’t know what to do once they find something.’

Kum sälangä leyewla längu. Ke rolun awngal ke’ut.
‘The result of the investigation was, I’m sorry to say, disappointing. We found nothing.’

Finally, here are a couple of idiomatic expressions you may find useful.

First, a couple of new words:

kxum (adj.) ‘viscous, gelatinous, thick’

kxumpay (n., ‘viscous liquid, gel’

Kxumpay is the word used for the aloe-like gel derived from the leaves of the paywll ‘dapophet’ plant that’s used as an ’umtsa.

Idiom: (Na) kenten mì kumpay

Literally, this is ‘(like) a fan lizard in gel.’ (Note that we would expect a linking a in this phrase: na kenten a mì kumpay. In proverbial expressions, however, the a is often omitted.)

The sense is one of being in an environment where you’re prevented from acting naturally or doing what you want to do. The kenten wants to spread his beautiful fan and fly away, but being encased in gel, he is unable to.


Narmew oe foru na’rìngä tìlorit wivìntxu, slä ke tsängun fo tslivam. ’Efu oe na kenten mì kumpay.
‘I wanted to show them the beauty of the forest, but sadly, they weren’t able to understand. I felt completely stymied.’

Idiom: (Na) loreyu ’awnampi

Literally, ‘(like) a touched helicoradian’ (Again, the expected a has been omitted in a proverbial expression.)

As you recall from the film, loreyu are the beautiful spiral-shaped plants that immediately curl up and vanish when touched. The analogy is used to indicate extreme shyness.

Lu por mokri amiklor, slä loreyu ’awnampi lu. Ke tsun rivol eo sute.
‘She has a beautiful voice, but she’s extremely shy. She can’t sing in front of people.’

Until next time. Hayalovay, ma smuk!

Edit 01 Dec.: tìyawnìl Eywayä –> tìyawn Eywayä
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17 Responses to Twenty before the Holidays

  1. Wllìm says:

    Woeiu! Faylì’u amip lu lor sì lesar! 🙂

    One question about “Spaw Na’vil futa tìyawnìl Eywayä lu txewluke.” I would expect “tìyawn” there because of “lu”; is this agentive caused by the proximity of the patientive “futa”, or some other cause?

    Ngeyä pamrelìri a teri lì’fya leNa’vi, irayo nìtxan! 🙂

  2. Robert Marshall Murphy says:

    As always, irayo for your continuing creativity!

  3. Tìtstewan says:

    Nì’awve: WOU!! Seiyi irayo ngaru nìtxan!
    Fìpìlok leiu txantsan!

    About that sentence:
    Spaw Na’vil futa tìyawnìl Eywayä lu txewluke.
    I think it should be:
    Spaw Na’vil futa tìyawn Eywayä lu txewluke.
    tìyawn without -ìl, kefyak? 😉

  4. SGM (Plumps) says:

    Ma Karyu, good to hear from you again! We were worried.
    Wonderful words! Thank you so much for your continued efford in creating the language.

  5. Pawl says:

    Irayo nìtxan, ma smuk! And thanks to all for catching the error. The word should of course be tìyawn. Karyu harmahängaw. 😉

    Sngum rä’ä si, ma Plumps. Mi teiok oel fìtsenget. 🙂

  6. Blue Elf says:

    Sìltsana aylì’u amip! Hufwa tsolun fko srefivey ‘a’awa pumit a tsatakip (alu miklor saylahe), lu aylì’u amawnll’an set.

    But I’d want to make one nitpicking question: in this example
    Txo fko tivul mì na’rìng nìhawmpam, stawm ayioang. (If you walk noisily in the forest, the animals will hear)
    I’d expect ….stawm ayioangìl as I hear unspoken “you” in this part (stawm ayiongìl ngat). IMHO they hear even if you do not move or move silently 🙂
    Am I too wrong? And maybe tivìran instead of tivul would be nearer to translation (well, no need to be exact and literal, but I still think it is better).

    • Blue Elf says:

      One more question: is it possible use ta in Ralul ngolop ’umtsat fa aysyulang fwäkìwllä example?

      • SGM (Plumps) says:

        I’d say there’s a difference in meaning here. ta meaning that the ingrediants for the medicine came from the plant, fa that the medicine was made with the help of the plant… Or am I wrong? 🙂

        • Pawl says:

          Sìltsana tìoeyktìng! Ta and fa are both possible, but the meaning is, as you say, a bit different. Fa might best be translated into English as “using” the plant, implying that there could be ingredients from other sources as well. Ta implies that the medicine was made entirely from the plant.

    • Pawl says:

      Txantsana tìpawm, ma B.E. 🙂

      When a verb that typically takes an object appears without one, it’s sometimes a judgment call whether or not to include the –(ì)l suffix on the agent. Some cases are clear. For example, in the sentence Tsatute a ngal tse’a lu tsmukan oeyä, the –l appears on the agent even though the object isn’t explicitly mentioned in the clause containing tse’a, since it is explicitly mentioned in the main clause, and we know exactly what it is. On the other hand, in an exchange like this:

      A. Kempe seri ngeyä eylan?
      B. Fo yerom.

      we don’t know explicitly what the friends are eating (presumably it’s something edible!), and it doesn’t matter: they’re simply engaged in an act of eating. So the agentive marker isn’t necessary: It’s fo, not fol.

      In the running-noisily sentence, you could certainly argue that the object of stawm is implicitly fkoti, which would justify the agentive suffix. But it’s not entirely clear. The object might also be hawmpamit fkeyä, or something similar. Since the object hasn’t been mentioned clearly and explicitly, leaving off the agentive suffix is also justifiable. I suspect that that’s what a native speaker would do in this situation, in colloquial conversation. But this is one of those ”gray area” cases where you could argue either way.

      You’re right about run vs. walk. I’ve changed the English to “run.” Irayo!

  7. `Eylan Ayfalulukanä says:

    Ma Karyu Pawl, Irayo nìtxan taluna terìng ayngaru aylì’u amip!
    Pxaya lì’u lesar mì fìposti!

  8. Vawmataw says:

    Suneiu oer fìpostì taluna leiu txana aylì’u lesar.

    If ”kifkey” is countable, do I need to use ”a txewluke” to say ‘borderless’?

    • Blue Elf says:

      Txewluke is for uncountables, ketsuktiam for countables, so correct answer is ketsuktiama kifkey -> infinite world
      For “borderless world; world without borders” we probably need to use kifkey a luke (ay?)txew

      • T. J. says:

        But ketsuktiama kifkey means “uncountable worlds”, isn’t? In Na’vi here is no plural because we know that’s may be used in general meaning. As in palulukanìl taron yerikit.
        Tì’efumì oeyä, for “infinite world” we can use txewluke a kifkey in any way, both countable nouns and uncountable ones. IMHO, this construction “noun and adposition” isn’t contrast to txewluke as adjective when this used with uncountable noun. Only one space 🙂 But in using with countable noun word has different meaning to ketsuktiam.
        About plurality of txew: as known, word meaning is not single, therefore its plurality depends on context.

  9. Markì says:

    Dictionary has been updated. The mobile apps should update in the next couple of days.

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