Some New Words for May Day

Kaltxì, ma frapo!

Sìlpey oe tsnì fpom livu ayngaru nìwotx ulte sngerä’i a zìsìkrr asang zivawprrte’ [see below] ayngane.

The well-known saying “April showers bring May flowers” has for several years now been far from true in California. I only wish we had had some April showers here! But we’re in the midst of a drought of historic proportions, and it’s been dry as a bone. So I don’t know about the May flowers. Rutxe, ma eylan, ayoeru fpe’ payti! 🙂

Here in no particular order is some new vocabulary, some of which is related to the above. As always, a big thank-you to the LEP contributors for their excellent suggestions.

tìkelu (n., tì ‘lack’

The derivation, I think, is obvious.

The particular lack you’re talking about is indicated by a noun in the genitive, just as we say in English, “a lack of ____.”

Tìkelu tìeyktanä asìltsan längu mì olo’ awngeyä tìngäzìk.
‘Unfortunately, the lack of good leadership in our clan is a problem.’

Certain important lacks, however, have become lexicalized. For these, “lack” is indicated by the suffix –kel. It’s not productive, which is to say you’re not free to construct your own –kel words; you just have to learn them. Two examples are:

tompakel (n., ‘drought’

syuvekel (n., ‘famine’

Tompakeltalun zene tute Kälìforniayä payit sivar nìnän.
‘Because of the drought, Californians have to use less water.’

zawprrte’ (vin., zaw.PRR.te’—inf. 1,1) ‘be enjoyable’

This word derives from za’u + nìprrte’, that is, ‘come pleasurably.’

As with the related word sunu, the syntax here is not “I enjoy X” but rather “X is enjoyable to me.” Because of the underlying za’u, however, the experiencer is not indicated by the dative but rather by ne, which we use with verbs of motion.

Tsafnepamtseo ke zawprrte’ oene.
‘I don’t enjoy that kind of music.’

(Note that oene is pronounced in two syllables [ˈwɛ.nɛ]. The other way around, ne oe, it’s three [nɛ ˈo.ɛ]. This is exactly parallel to oeta vs. ta oe.)

You’re probably wondering if there’s any difference in meaning between sunu and zawprrte’. The two overlap quite a bit and can often be used interchangeably. Zawprrte’, however, has somewhat more of a sense of deriving physical or emotional pleasure from something, while sunu is ‘like’ more generally.

nawri (adj, NAW.ri) ‘talented’

Nga lu rolyu anawri slä Ninat lu pum aswey.
‘You’re a talented singer but Ninat is the best (one).’


tìnawri (n., tì.NAW.ri) ‘talent’

Tìrusolìri ke lu oeru kea tìnawri kaw’it.
‘I have absolutely no talent for singing.’

tìng zekwä (vin., tìng ZEK.wä) ‘touch (intentionally)’

(Note that this does NOT mean what the literal English translation might indicate!)

Rä’ä tìng zekwä oer!
‘Don’t touch me!’

susyang (adj., su.SYANG) ‘fragile, delicate’

Lu fìvul susyang nìtxan. Txo fko tivìng zekwä kxakx.
‘This branch is very fragile. If you touch it, it’ll break.’

Rey’eng lu susyang.
‘The balance of life is fragile.’

reym (n.) ‘dry land’

The difference between reym and atxkxe is that atxkxe is the general word for land or territory, which includes waterways and oceans; reym refers specifically to dry land as distinct from water.

Peioang tsun mì tampay kop mì reym rivey?
‘What animal can live both in the sea and on the land?’

In the above sentence, note the use of kop:

kop (conj.) ‘and also’

tuvom (adj., tu.VOM) ‘greatest of all, exceedingly great’

Entu lu tuvoma taronyu. Kawtut na po ke tsole’a oel mì sìrey.
‘Entu is an incredible hunter. I’ve never seen anyone like him before.’

yengwal (n., yeng.WAL) ‘sorrow’

Sa’semìri lu ’evengä kxitx yengwal atuvom.
‘For a parent, the greatest sorrow is the death of a child.’

nip (vin.) ‘become stuck, get caught in something’

Rini fmarmi hivifwo slä venu nolip äo tskxe.
‘Rini tried to escape but her foot got caught under a rock.’

Members of the LEP noted that as with fyep, we can use already existing adverbs to further describe the scale of nip:

nip nìklonu ‘stuck tightly’

nip nìsyep ‘stuck irremovably’

nip nìmeyp ‘weakly, loosely stuck’

hän (n.) ‘net; web’

Tsun fko sivar hänit fte payoangit stivä’nì.
‘One can use a net to catch a fish.’

Fìhì’angìl txula hänti fte smarit syivep.
‘This insect constructs a web to trap its prey.’

’rrko (vin., ’RR.ko—inf. 1,2) ‘roll’

As with frrfen, the Imperfect Aspect (<er>) form of ’rrko is simply ’rrko.

In its root form, ’rrko indicates that something, usually an inanimate object, is rolling involuntarily:

Rum ’olrrko oene klltesìn.
‘The ball rolled towards me on the ground.’

For transitive ‘roll,’ that is, when you roll something, use the causative infix <eyk>:

’Evengìl skxevit ’eykrrko sko uvan.
‘Children roll pebbles as a game.’

And if you yourself are rolling—i.e., causing yourself to roll—use <eyk> along with the reflexive infix <äp>:

Tseyk ’äpeykamrrko äo utral a zolup fte hivifwo ftu aysre’ palulukanä.
‘Jake rolled under the fallen tree to escape from the thanator’s teeth.’

tsngem (n.) ‘muscle’

Lu pa’lir sngem atxur.
‘A direhorse has strong muscles.’


tsawsngem (adj., tsaw.SNGEM) ‘muscular’

This is derived from tsawl ‘big’ + sngem ‘muscles.’ Tsawsngem is irregular, since it’s an adjective coming from a noun phrase without the use of le– or –nga’.

Akwey ke lu tsawsngem kaw’it slä lu sayrìp nìtxan.
‘Akwey isn’t at all muscular but he’s very handsome.’

wìngay (vtr., wì.NGAY—inf. 1,1) ‘prove’

This is derived from wìntxu ‘show’ + ngay ‘true.’ (Compare pllngay ‘admit’ from plltxe + ngay.)

Fa fwa tsyìl kxemyot akxayl frato, pol ayoer wolìngay futa tsyìltswo tsan’olul.
‘By scaling the highest wall, he proved to us that his climbing ability had improved.’


tìwìngay (n., tì.wì.NGAY) ‘proof, proving (abstract)’

säwìngay (n., sä.wì.NGAY) ‘proof (particular instance)’

Txo new ngal futa sutel ngeyä aylì’uti spivaw, tsranten tìwìngay.
‘If you want people to believe you, proof is important.’

Tsasäplltxeri säwìngay a tolìng ngal lu meyp.
‘The proof you gave of that statement is weak.’

That’s it for now. Hayalovay!

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13 Responses to Some New Words for May Day

  1. SGM (Plumps) says:

    Kosmana aylì’u amip! 🙂
    Sunu oer nìtxan.

    Keftxo fwa inängan futa lu ayngar tompakel. Sìlpey oe tsnì fìtìkelufkeyk tsan’ìyevul ye’rìn! Zun tsirvun oe tsakem sivi zel tompayä fìwopxit fpe’ ayngar…

  2. Vawmataw says:

    Oer frakrr sunu ngeyä aylì’u amip ma Karyu Pawl.
    Oer lu tìpawm: Tsun fko sivar lì’ut alu hän fte ralpiveng lì’ut alu web (internet) srak?

  3. Blue Elf says:

    Mipa aylì’u – sìltsana fya’o nì’ul a tsun fko sivar lì’fyati leNa’vi 🙂
    Looking at examples, one question pops to my mind: is sko good here?

    ’Evengìl skxevit ’eykrrko sko uvan.

    As it means “in the capacity of, in the role of, as”, wouldn’t be “na/pxel” better here?

  4. Tìtstewan says:

    Txantsana aylì’u amip! Seiyi irayo nìtxan!
    Not sure, but sko is fine there: ’Evengìl skxevit ’eykrrko sko uvan. – Children roll pebles in role of a game.
    The use of na/pxel sounds weird for me. “The children roll pebbles as/like a game”?
    The pebbles are in a role of a game, not like a game.

  5. Pawl says:

    Ayngeyä sìpawmìri atxantsan seiyi oe irayo, ma smuk! Hufwa krro krro lu ngäzìk, frakrr zawprrte’ oene.

    About hän for “web”: I believe people have already been using weptseng for “web site” [ma Markì: We should add that to the dictionary], which I think is perfectly legitimate–a common way to develop terms for things that the Na’vi are unfamiliar with is to borrow from English, the earth language they’ve been most exposed to. But since we have the distinction between web and ‘Net (i.e., the Internet), why don’t we use wep for web and Hän for ‘Net.

    About sko: It’s OK here. When we use X as Y, “as” is sko. (Perhaps we should expand the dictionary definition to make that clearer.) Here the rolling of peoples is being used as, or taking the role of, a game.

    • SGM (Plumps) says:

      That’s true. People use the quasi-borrowing of weptseng for the internet. Seems only logical to me when the Na’vi would hear it that they filter it through their sound system.

      I think it’s good that hän is both ‘web’ (e.g. cobweb etc.) and ‘net’ (e.g. artificially made). Often we think of the same word in English with different meanings and assigning different words for it in Na’vi. But the other way around is far more seldom 😉 but happens in natural languages all the time. Just for comparison, German doesn’t destinguish between ‘web’ and ‘net’ – it’s both „Netz“. It’s only made clear by adding description, e.g. „Spinnennetz“ for ‘cobweb’.

    • Vawmataw says:

      I didn’t know (or remember) that weptseng was used to say website (the net, the web) and it seems logical to use loan or semi-loan words for things that are foreign to the Na’vi. Tì’eyngìri irayo ma Karyu Pawl.

    • Markì says:

      Added wep and weptseng to loan words. Hope I am not stomping anything by putting wep there? -M.

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