Aylì’fyavi Lereyfya 2 — Cultural Terms 2 — and more

Kaltxì, ma frapo—

This post adds to the cultural terminology in the previous one and hopefully fills a few important gaps in our lexicon as well. Irayo nìfrakrr to the LEP and other members of the Na’vi community for some very useful discussions, suggestions, and examples. And a special irayo to two of our sulfätu lì’fyayä, Prrton and Stefan, who very kindly and beautifully recorded the example sentences below. Seysonìltsan, ma mesmuk!

seyn (n.) ‘chair, stool, bench; any tool or device to facilitate sitting’

This word derives from sä’o ‘tool’ and heyn ‘sit’:

sä’o + heyn > säheyn > seyn

Since chairs can be comfortable or uncomfortable:

hoan (n., HO.an) ‘comfort’

lehoan (adj., le.HO.an) ‘comfortable’

nìhoan (adv., nì.HO.an) ‘comfortably’

kelhoan (adj., kel.HO.an) ‘uncomfortable’

Sko frrtu, frakrr mì helku ngeyä lu oeru hoan nìtxan, ma tsmuk.
‘I always feel very comfortable as a guest in your home, brother.’

Längu fìseyn kelhoan nìngay. Tsun oe hiveyn tsawsìn ’a’awa swawtsyìp nì’aw.
‘This chair is really uncomfortable. I can only sit on it a few seconds.’

Where there are chairs, there are tables. So:

fyan (n.) ‘constructed device for keeping something off the ground and clean’

fyanyo (n., FYAN.yo) ‘table, elevated utilitarian surface’

You’re already familiar with yo ‘surface.’ Fyanyo is a specific kind of yo. But note that colloquially, yo can be used in place of fyanyo.

A: Oeyä tstalìl tok pesenget?
B: Lu yosìn.
A: ‘Where’s my knife?’
B: ‘It’s on the table.’

Some other words compounded with fyan or yo:

yomyo (n., YOM.yo) ‘plate (for food)’

yomyo lerìk (n., YOM.yo le.RÌK) ‘leaf plate’

(Colloquially, yomyo lerìk is often reduced to rìk.)

fyanyì (n., FYAN.yì) ‘shelf’

Fyan also compounds with kur ‘hang’ to yield these cultural terms:

kurfyan (n., KUR.fyan) ‘hamper or suspended rack’

snokfyan (n., SNOK.fyan) ‘personal belongings rack’

kurfyavi (n., KUR.fya.vi) ‘hook (for hanging or suspending an item)

These last two terms developed as follows:

sno + kurfyan > snokurfyan > snokfyan

kurfyan + vi > kurfyanvi > kurfyavi

seyto (vtr., sey.TO) ‘butcher (in the sense of separating or processing the carcass of a dead animal)

Seyto is not to be confused with ‘butcher’ in the sense of killing an animal. There is some overlap with pxìmun’i ‘divide, cut into parts,’ but that word is more general and can be used for cutting up anything; seyto refers specifically to cutting up an animal. Also note the stress on the final syllable.

Awngal fìyerikit nìwin siveyto ko.
‘Let’s cut up this hexapede quickly.’

säseyto (n., sä.sey.TO) ‘butchering tool’

yaney (n., ya.NEY) ‘canoe’

spulyaney (n., spul.ya.NEY) ‘canoe paddle’

This word obviously derives from spule ‘propel’ + yaney.

lal (adj.) ‘old (opposite of mip, nfp)’

txanlal (adj., TXAN.lal) ‘ancient, very old’

Poleng ayoeru koaktel vurit atxanlal.
‘The old woman told us an ancient story.’

A word about lal vs. spuwin: Both mean ‘old’ and are generally not for people (i.e., neither one can be used for ‘elderly’—that word is koak). So there is some overlap, but there are also some differences. Spuwin has the connotation of ‘old’ in the sense of ‘former’ as opposed to ‘current,’ where an older entity has been replaced by another one. In a blog post from 2011, I gave the example, Tsatsko lu spuwin ulte ke lu mi txur, which was translated as ‘That bow is old and no longer strong.’ The implication was that the bow had been replaced by a new one: it was the owner’s former bow rather than his current one. By the same token, if we were to translate into Na’vi the last line of the Who’s “Won’t Get Fooled Again,” (does anyone younger than I still listen to the Who? J )—namely, “Meet the new boss, same as the old boss”—“old” in this case would definitely be spuwin.

On the other hand, lal indicates something that is not new and has been around for a long time, whether or not it’s been replaced. For tangible objects, it often has the implication of ‘worn out,’ ‘broken,’ ‘tattered,’ ‘no longer usable,’ etc. (Calling a person lal would be very insulting.) But for non-tangibles, it simply indicates long existence, as in lala säfpìl, ‘old idea.’

tsankum (n., TSAN(G).kum) ‘advantage, benefit, upside, gain’

In normal speech, tsankum tends to be pronounced tsangkum, but it’s not spelled that way.

Tsakemìri tsankum lu law.
‘The advantage of that action is clear.’

fekum (n., FE.kum) ‘disadvantage, drawback, downside’

Tìtaronìri längu tìkakpam fekum. Kin fkol frainanfyat.
‘I’m sorry to say that deafness is a disadvantage for hunting. You need all your senses.’


tsankumnga’ (adj., TSAN(G).kum.nga’) ‘advantageous’

fekumnga’ (adj., FE.kum.nga’) ‘disadvantageous’

tìmungwrr (n., tì.mung.WRR) ‘exception’

Fwa tawtute slu Na’viyä hapxì lolu tìmungwrr apxa.
‘It was a great exception for a human to become part of the People.’

tìmungwrr si (vin.) ‘make an exception’

Ninat tìmungwrr sìlmi fte Ralu tsivun kivä hu tarpongu.
‘Ninat just made an exception so that Ralu can go with the hunting party.’

tarpongu (n., TAR.po.ngu) ‘hunting party’

nawfwe (adj., naw.FWE) ‘fluent, (for speech)’

This useful word requires some explanation.

You’re familiar with the expression nìwin na hufwe ‘as fast as the wind,’ which can be used in any situation to express rapidity. The shortened version na hufwe has become specialized as an adverbial expression for the fluent (not just rapid) use of language.

Fteria oel lì’fyati leNa’vi, slä mi ke tsängun pivlltxe na hufwe.
‘I’m studying Na’vi, but I’m afraid I still can’t speak it fluently.’

Na hufwe can contract further to nawfwe, which is a full-fledged adjective:

Toitsyeri lu poe plltxeyu anawfwe nìtxan.
‘She’s a very fluent speaker of German.’

Finally, a question has arisen regarding time expressions like tsakrr. As you know, tsakrr is listed in the dictionary as an adverb meaning ‘then, at that time.’ The question is: Since krr is a noun, can tsakrr also be a noun meaning ‘that time,’ as in Muntrram oe koläteng hu Ralu ulte sunu oer tsakrr, ‘I spent last weekend with Ralu and had a good time (literally, that time was pleasant to me)’? The answer is: absolutely! Many time expressions double as adverbs and also as nouns or noun phrases. You can tell from the context which usage is relevant. (The stress does not change.)

Hayalovay, ma smuk!

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10 Responses to Aylì’fyavi Lereyfya 2 — Cultural Terms 2 — and more

  1. Kxrekorikus says:

    Aylì’uri lesar oe irayo si ngar, ma Karyu. Sìlpey oe, tsìyun oe pivlltxe nìNa’vi na hufwe.
    Ma Prrton sì Stefan, mengaru tsulfä!

  2. Vawmataw says:

    Tewti ma Karyu Pawl (sì LEP)! 😀

    I have a question regarding the table, the chair, the shelf and the rack:
    Were those objects known to the Na’vi before the arrival of the Skypeople?

    I also have a comment concerning the word nawfwe: How would you say ”fluently”? Nìnawfwe, nìfya’o a nawfwe?

    Nìmun, furia awnga ‘eykong lì’fyati leNa’vi irayo ulte so’ha.

  3. 'Eylan Ayfalulukanä says:

    Txantsan nìwotx, ma Pawl

    Snokfyanri, pam lì’uyä sunu oeru!

    Irayo nìtxan!

    One question about säseyto: It surprises me that tstal or some derivation of it is not used here. Is this a special, non-knife kind of tool (Like for instance, a special tool for breaking body armor plates), or is it a term for a (possibly specially designed) knife specifically used for butchering?

  4. Sasa says:

    Before I forget it (lala re’o tafral lala eltu ) : bon anniversaire et surtout bonne santé pour toute la maisonnée.

  5. SGM (Plumps) says:

    Nìpxi, aylì’u lesar nìtxan!
    Irayo nìtxan, ma Karyu.

    Ma Kxrekorikus, ngaru irayo seiyi. Lolu oeru apxa meuia.

  6. Thank you for making the word for hunting party. Please continue to invent words related for hunting, as it is such an important part of Na’vi life.
    I think back to my childhood when I learned to hunt with my father and uncles. They would quietly but insistently question me while in the woods. Can you see our prey? If not, can you spot any signs? Tracks on the ground, eaten or broken vegetation, fur on trunks or branches? You must always stay downwind of the game. Which way is the wind blowing? Do you smell the game? Do you smell any urine or feces? Finding and examining the spoor will tell you what animals are in the area, and how long since they passed through. Do you smell dead carcasses? The condition of the remains will tell you what other predators have been here, and when. What sounds do you hear? Can you hear the prey moving or grazing? Are the sounds tranquil? When the area is too quiet or too noisy, you must be wary. [In America, human hunters rarely become prey, but bears and mountain lions do exist in the wilder places.] If the air is full of alarm sounds, did you cause the ruckus, or something else? Maybe the hunter is also the prey.
    Once the game is killed, it must be blooded. You must decide how to return it. It can be carried back whole, if it is light enough. If it is too heavy, maybe just removing the head and gutting it is sufficient. If it is still too heavy, it can be skinned and butchered in the field. The meat can be wrapped and divvied up among the hunting party members for packing out. If the head or skin is worth saving, they too can be prepared and carried out depending on the weight. You must stay aware of your surroundings, as other predators and scavengers will be attracted to the smells of the butchering place and the meat you are carrying. [Depending on game and jurisdiction, you may have to present the kill intact to the authorities before butchering it. The hunter should not kill anything that cannot be brought back to civilization in that situation.]
    Concerning the new word for butchering tool, please be advised that a variety of tools are normally used to skin and butcher game and also work the skin into something useful. I’m assuming that this word is a generic term, and not something specific.
    After five plus years, I am heartened that the everyday objects and activities are getting some attention. Please continue this good and much needed effort. I started learning the language in the hope that it would give me a window into how the Na’vi think, and gave up when I saw that is not the case. However, I will ping you on occasion just to prove that somebody is still interested in a more Na’vi-centric language. In the deliberations on which words to add, does anyone in the group speak for the needs of the Na’vi? From my perspective, I see no evidence of that. Is this life imitating art? Maybe you should ask Cameron to fly in some experts in hunting, butchering, and tanning that can show your committee what the Na’vi are doing on a daily basis. A demonstration with real animals would be ideal. It is very dirty, smelly, and unpleasant work, but it is how our ancestors lived, and presumably how the Na’vi live in their fictional Eden.

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