Aylì’fyavi Lereyfya 1 — Cultural Terms 1

Kaltxì nìmun ayngaru nìwotx!

North American Avatar Meet 2015 is now history. The setting was beautiful Estes Park, Colorado, where the lì’fyaolo’ and Uniltìrantokxolo’ got together again to celebrate all things Avatar. This year’s tsawlultxa included seeing the film on a big screen in a real theater; an astronomical evening at the Estes Park Memorial Observatory; a great presentation and Q&A session with Brooks Brown, VP of Digital Development at Lightstorm Entertainment; a pineapple-themed raffle; a clan meal generously hosted by LEI; and enjoyment of the breathtaking Colorado mountain environment. As for lì’fya leNa’vi, I didn’t teach a new class this time but instead held an informal session to review the material in the 101, 102, and 103 classes from previous meet-ups.

For those of you who made it to the meet-up, seeing you again was a tìprrte’ angay; for the aylomtu who couldn’t be there, nìsìlpey zìsìtay!

And now some new vocabulary.

In this and subsequent posts, I’ll present some terms that specifically relate to Na’vi life and culture and to the Pandoran environment. I hope you’ll find them useful in talking about the world of Avatar.

Note: For those of you who may have seen different versions of these terms: At the time the Activist Survival Guide was submitted for publication, understanding of the Na’vi language was still developing. As a result, the publication and Pandorapedia do not always reflect the agreed-upon definitions and usage. Please consider the following the most current approved versions.

Also, I haven’t gone into detail about how some of these objects are constructed or used, or how they fit into Na’vi culture. See the ASG or Pandorapedia for more information.

lereyfya (adj., le.REY.fya) ‘cultural’

Terms related to food and drink

huru (n., HU.ru) ‘cooking pot’

sey (n.) ‘cup or bowl minimally modified from naturally occurring resources’

’e’in (n., ’e.’IN) ‘pod, gourd’

’e’insey (n., ’e.’IN.sey) ‘drinking gourd’

sum (n.) ‘shell (from the ocean)’

sumsey (n., SUM.sey) ‘drinking vessel made of shell’

swoasey (n., SWO.a.sey) ‘kava bowl (constructed from seed pods, used for drinking intoxicating beverages), hand-sized’

swoasey ayll (n., SWO.a.sey a.YLL) ‘large social kava bowl’

tsyey (n.) ‘snack, light meal’

Ke ’efu oe ohakx nìhawng; tam tsyey.
‘I’m not too hungry; a snack will do.’

tsyeytsyìp (n., TSYEY.tsyìp) ‘tiny bite’

nik (adj.) ‘convenient, usable without much expenditure of effort’

niktsyey (n., NIK.tsyey) ‘food wrap (food items wrapped in edible leaves and vines)’

merki (n., MER.ki) ‘ground rack (for smoking meats)’

ikut (n., I.kut) ‘large pestle (grinding tool); meal-mashing pole’

sämunge (n., sä.MU.nge) ‘transportation tool or device’

This is the general term (derived from munge ‘bring’) for any object used to carry or transport something else. In compounds, the ä and e drop, yielding –smung.

syusmung (n., SYU.smung) ‘tray’

This is a compound of syuve + smung.

paysmung (n., PAY.smung) ‘water carrier’

Terms related to life and society

prrsmung (n., PRR.smung) ‘baby carrier’

nivi (n., NI.vi) ‘sleeping hammock (general term)’

swaynivi (n., SWAY.ni.vi) ‘family hammock’

This is a compound of soaia (which contracts to sway) + nivi.

snonivi (n., SNO.ni.vi) ‘single-person hammock’

sänrr (n., sä.NRR) ‘light source; lamp’

tsmi (n.) ‘nectar’

tsmisnrr (n., TSMI.snrr) ‘bladder lantern, nectar lantern’

More such terms next time. Hayalovay!

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19 Responses to Aylì’fyavi Lereyfya 1 — Cultural Terms 1

  1. Tìtstewan says:

    Faylì’uri amip ayoe seiyi irayo ngar nìtxan, ma Pawl! 😀
    Btw, is –smung (limited) productive?

  2. SGM (Plumps) says:

    Lu lesar nìtxan a aylì’uri amip oe ngaru seiyi irayo!

    It’s always difficult to interpret culturally related words. I hope I got it right for the German versions and that nothing gets lost in translation 😉

  3. Vawmataw says:

    Sunu oer faylì’u lereyfya. Irayo ma Karyu Pawl. 🙂

    Srake lì’u alu yll tsun livu lì’u a sla’tsu*?

    *lì’u a sla’tsu = adjective

  4. 'Eylan Ayfalulukanä says:

    Txantsan nìwotx! Aylì’u amip lu lesar nìngay!

    One word that seems to be missing that seems to want to be there, is a word for ‘plate’ in the sense of a flat object that food is placed on. Maybe in the next group?

  5. Blue Elf says:

    Well, ASG being corrected 🙂 Really, these word allows us to speak better about Na’vi culture. However, words created using sämunge and sähena looks quite similar in meaning, like paysena – paysmung. What is difference between them?

    • Blue Elf says:

      And sänrr is already defined as ‘glow, an instance of glowing’, so new definition in this post is addendum to existing dictionary item, isn’t it?

    • Pawl says:

      Txantsana tìpawm, ma Blue Elf. There is a lot of overlap between, say, paysena and paysmung, and they can usually be used interchangeably. The slight difference is that the smung words, being derived from munge, have more of a sense of transport, i.e. of motion from one place to another. So a vessel used to transport water from place to place, as opposed to one used to store water in a fixed place, might more often be referred to as a paysmung. But this isn’t a strict rule, and as I say, there’s a great deal of overlap. That’s OK, though! Synonyms are a natural part of any language.

      • Blue Elf says:

        Well, that’s good expanation, tsari irayo si. However in that case IMHO would be better to replace some -sena words by -smung version.
        For example tutsena / tstalsena / swizawsena are connected with transport, not with static storage (stretcher used for transport of injured one has much more sense than just laying on the ground).
        Well, I’m ugly nitpicker and know it well :), according your explanation some words look not correctly defined….

        • Pawl says:

          Furia oe ’eyng hawngkrr FÌTXAN, oeru txoa livu, ma B.E.

          There’s nothing wrong with picking nits! 🙂 In this case, though, I can only reiterate that languages which develop naturally, as Na’vi did in the world of Pandora, aren’t always consistent. Especially in the case of compounds, you can’t always predict the meaning of the compound from the meanings of the components. In my previous comment, I should have emphasized that smung words often, but not always, have more of a sense of transport. So yes, tutsena ‘stretcher’ is associated with transport more than with static storage. But we’ll see later that tutsmung also exists, with a less specialized, more general meaning than tutsena but still having to do with transport.

          The bottom line is that with compounds, you need to list them in the dictionary along with their meanings, since the meanings are not always predictable. A favorite example of mine from English, which I used to use in my linguistics classes: We all know the words “sauce,” “tomato,” and “spaghetti.” But just from the meanings of those words, could you predict that “tomato sauce” is a sauce made from tomatoes, but “spaghetti sauce” is a sauce made for, not from, spaghetti? 🙂

  6. Ekirä/Heather says:

    Great new wealth of cultural words, irayo seiyi ngaru! Nice to see these words becoming official after talking about their uncertain status at the Na’vi review session. I’m really glad that we can now truly move past the ASG confusion with these official words. 🙂

    Always wonderful to see you and have a chat, I’m already looking forward to next year.

    • Pawl says:

      It was wonderful to see you too, ma Ekirä–nìfrakrr! And yes, I’m looking forward to the next get-together as well. 🙂

      I hope to provide official terminology in the next few posts for all the terms you referred to. Glad you’re finding these useful!

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