Kaltxì nìmun, ma eylan! And hello again. Tse . . . it’s been a while. 🙂 I hope you’ve all been healthy and happy during my temporary absence from the blog. And I hope you’ll find the approximately 40 new words and expressions below useful.
Before anything else, though, I want to congratulate the organizers of AvatarMeet 2016. John and I returned from Pittsburgh a few days ago with very happy memories. Facilitating the move to a new city in such a short time was a daunting task, but the organizers really rose to the occasion. Soleia, ma smuk! (See below.) The guidebook to Pittsburgh and the Meet-up was, as usual, beautifully put together and extremely useful. The hotel was great, literally right next door to the arena where the Cirque du Soleil performance was held. I thought my Na’vi class—this time based on the Na’vi dialog in the show we were all going to see that night, TORUK: The First Flight—went pretty well; it was a special honor to welcome nine or ten cast members from the show who opted to sit in on the class! Their enthusiasm was infectious. And after the show, we were all treated to a Q&A session with cast members followed by a backstage tour to see how some of the Cirque magic was created. All in all, a very successful meet-up.
Here’s a little interview I did for the Cirque du Soleil Facebook page, from my seat in the arena, five minutes before the show began. (The video is currently first in the “All Videos” section.)
Looking forward to next year, I’m very excited about our meet-up in Orlando, Florida, during which we’ll visit the new Disney theme park, Pandora: The World of AVATAR, due to open next year. I’ve been working with the Disney folks on the Na’vi language elements of the park, of which there will be quite a few! 🙂 In particular, you’ll hear Na’vi spoken while you’re on the “e-ticket” ride. It’s being developed here in Glendale, California, and a few weeks ago I had the privilege of riding the prototype! Wou! I can’t say much about it right now except that it’s VERY exciting, and I know you’re going to love it! Zìsìtayri srefereiey nìprrte’!
OK, on to the new vocabulary. Nìfrakrr, I want to thank all the members of the lì’fyaolo’ who contributed ideas and suggestions. Irayo nìtxan ayngaru nìwotx, ma smuk. Some of the words and expressions below are direct consequences of their contributions. You’ll find the new items in more-or-less random order. Voice recordings of the examples will be coming soon. [UPDATE 7/07: We now have recordings for all the examples, beautifully read by our own Neytiri. Irayo nìtxan, ma tsmuk!]
ler (adj.) ‘steady, smooth (for motion)’
nìler (adv., nì.LER) ‘steadily’
Ler refers to smooth, steady motion as opposed to motion that’s jerky or chaotic.
Nìsngä’i ke tsun Tsyeyk tswivayon nìler.
‘At first, Jake couldn’t fly steadily.’
You may remember that we already have a word meaning steadily, nìk’ärìp as in fyep nìk’ärìp ‘hold steadily,’ but that’s different. Nìk’ärìp refers to stillness—keeping something from moving. Nìler refers to smooth movement. Nìler may also be extended metaphorically beyond the realm of physical movement to a more general idea of smooth, unbroken action, as is the case in English: tìkangkem si nìler ‘to work steadily (without stopping)’.
lo’a (n., LO.’a) ‘totem’
Totems are large structures built by the Na’vi for various symbolic and ritual purposes.
Naranawm (n., nar.a.NAWM) ‘Polyphemus’
From Nari anawm, ‘Great eye.’ (And if anyone is wondering, srane, this term has been officially approved at the highest level. 🙂 )
’ewrang (n., ’EW.rang) ‘loom’
sa’ewrang (n., sa.’EW.rang) ‘mother loom, giant loom. ’From sa’nok + ’ewrang.
tiretu (n., ti.RE.tu) ‘shaman’ From tirea + tute ‘spirit person’
A tiretu can be male or female. Every tsahìk is a tiretu, but not vice versa.
pasuk (n., PA.suk) ‘berry’
A pasuk is a kind of mauti ‘fruit.’
vozampasukut (n., VO.zam.pa.suk.ut) ‘grinch tree; thousand berry tree’
From vozam ‘512, equivalent in use to 1,000’ + pasuk + ut(ral)
One of the prominent features of the grinch tree is its edible fruit, which looks rather like a raspberry—that is, made up of many little round components, almost like tiny little berries themselves. Hence the “thousand-berry tree.”
paskalin (n., pa.ska.LIN) ‘sweet berry (term of endearment)’
From pasuk akalin ‘sweet berry’: pasuk akalin > paskakalin > paskalin
Hivahaw nìmwey, ma paskalin.
‘Sleep well, honey.’ (Father to little daughter.)
fngä’tseng (n., FNGÄ’.tseng) ‘restroom (on earth)’
mo a fngä’ (n., MO a FNGÄ’) ‘restroom (on earth)’
Both of these terms mean ‘restroom’ and can be used interchangeably on Earth. Fngä’tseng is more general, not necessarily implying an enclosed area, so it’s also used among the Na’vi for any “place of elimination.” In contrast, mo a fngä’ is always an enclosed private structure or room.
sa (vin.) ‘rise to a challenge’
This simple verb yields some important related expressions:
Siva ko! (si.VA ko)
‘Rise to the challenge! Courage! You can do it!’
Siva ko indicates encouragement before or while attempting a challenge.
Soleia! (so.le.i.A, or usually simply so.ley.A—just make sure the stress is on the final syllable!)
‘Congratulations! Nice going! You met the challenge! You did it!’
Soleia is used for congratulating someone after successfully meeting a challenge.
‘I’ll rise to the challenge! I can do it!’
Sasya is used for self-encouragement before attempting a challenge. Recall that the <asy> version of the future infix indicates intention as opposed to a mere prediction about the future.
You can also use sasya as a friendly and somewhat humorous response to a request:
Q: Ätxäle si, oer syivaw trray ha’ngir fa Skxayp?
‘Could you [literally, may I ask you to] call me on Skype tomorrow afternoon?’
‘Yup, I’ll rise to the challenge!’ OR ‘Sure will!’ OR ‘Will do!’
An idiomatic expression:
This is short for Tsun fko pehem sivi? ‘What can one do?’ It’s used in a somewhat fatalistic way, when you throw up your hands in an unpleasant situation or when something doesn’t turn out well, and you say, “What are you gonna do? That’s life.”
- A. Rini yawne lu oer, slä oe yawne ke längu por kaw’it.
‘I’m in love with Rini, but she doesn’t love me one bit.’
B. Tsun pehem?
‘What are you gonna do? That’s life.’
tanleng (n.,TAN.leng) ‘bark (of a tree)’
From tangek ‘trunk’ + ta’leng ‘skin’:
tangekta’leng > tangta’leng > tanta’leng > tanleng
syokup (n., syo.KUP) ‘weight (physical)’
Note the the stress is on the second syllable.
syo ‘light’ + ku’up ‘heavy’ > syoku’up > syokup
kewan (n., KE.wan) ‘age’
From koak ‘old’+ ’ewan ‘young’ > ko’ewan > kewan
You can use kewan to inquire about someone’s age:
Ngeyä kewan pìmtxan? = Ngari solew polpxay?
‘How old are you?’
But the form with kewan is a bit formal and stiff; the one with solew is more common and colloquial. Recall that solew is colloquial for solalew.
Koakturi kewanti keyìl ke wan.
‘An old person’s face doesn’t hide their age.’
That is, Some things can’t be covered up.
tìnvi (n., TÌN.vi) ‘task, errand, step (in an instruction)’
tìnvi si ‘perform a task, run an errand’
Oer txoa livu, ke tsun oe kivä ngahu. Zene pxaya tìnvi sivi.
‘Sorry, I can’t go with you. I have a lot of errands to run.’
txanwetseng (n., txan.WE.tseng) ‘personally significant or beloved place, heimat’
From txanwawea tseng. txanwawea tseng > txanwea tseng > txanwetseng
Txanwetseng is close in spirit to the German word heimat. Here’s what Wiktionary says about it. (And thank you to the LEP for pointing this out.)
“Heimat refers to a place towards which one has a strong feeling of belonging, and (usually) a deep-rooted fondness. Most commonly this is one’s native region, but it may also be where one has lived for long, where one’s family is, or where one feels at home for whatever reason. Heimat may be the whole of one’s native country, but more often it is a relatively narrow region (typically with its particular traditions, landscape, dialect, and so on). Even if it refers to a country, it is always defined exclusively by a person’s emotional ties with it.” [Slightly edited.]
penghrr (vin., peng.HRR—inf. 1, 1) ‘warn’
Tsyeyk Na’viru polenghrr teri Sawtute.
‘Jake warned the Na’vi about the Skypeople.’
säpenghrr (n., sä.peng.HRR) ‘warning’
This word is often pronounced spenghrr colloquially, although the spelling remains säpenghrr.
Somwewä tì’ul a ka ’Rrta säpenghrr lu awngaru nìwotx.
‘Global warming (literally, the increase in temperature across the Earth) is a warning to us all.’
tì’ul (n., tì.’UL) ‘increase’
eyawrfya (n., e.YAWR.fya) ‘right way (of doing something), correct path’
Neytiril Tsyeykur kolar eyawrfyat a fyep tskoti.
‘Neytiri taught Jake the right way to hold a bow.’
Eyawrfyari zene tslivam fya’ot a mìn kifkey.
‘To know the right way, you have to understand how the world turns.’
(From Cirque du Soleil’s TORUK: The First Flight.)
stiwi (n., STI.wi) ‘mischief’
stiwi si (vin.) ‘be naughty, do mischief’
Stiwi rä’ä si, ma ’eveng! Uvan si mì sengo alahe.
‘Don’t be naughty, child! Play somewhere else.’
stiwinga’ (adj, STI.wi.nga’) ‘mischievous’
stiwisiyu (n., STI.wi.si.yu) ‘mischief-maker’
Note: In nouns ending in –siyu that are derived from si-verbs, the –siyu element is often pronounced –syu in colloquial speech: tsamsyu, stiwisyu. Except when we want to mimic colloquial pronunciation, however (as we do in English when we write gonna instead of going to), the spelling remains –siyu.
rawng (n.) ‘entrance, doorway’
Fpxoläkìm fo ìlä rawng ahì’i.
‘They entered through (or via) a small doorway.’
syewe (n., SYE.we) ‘fat (substance in meat)’
syewenga’ (adj., SYE.we.nga’) ‘fatty’
Poanur sunu tsngan asyewenga’; poeru ke sunu kaw’it.
‘He likes fatty meat; she doesn’t like it at all.’
laro si (vin., LA.ro si) ‘clean, make free of dirt’
This is a general term. In contrast, yur means ‘wash’—that is, with water.
Txo ke livu pay, tsun mesyokxur laro sivi fa srä.
‘If water isn’t available, you can clean your hands with a cloth.’
slukx (n.) ‘horn of an animal’
Nari si! Tsaioangur lu pxia meslukx!
‘Careful! That animal has two sharp horns!’
tsin (n.) ‘nail, claw’
ue’ (vin., vtr., u.E’—inf. 1, 2) ‘vomit, vomit up’
Oey nantangtsyìp olue’ taluna yom nìhawng.
‘My dog vomited because it ate too much.’
nantangtsyìp (n., NAN.tang.tsyìp) ‘dog (earth animal)’
This goes along with palukantsyìp ‘cat’. Recall that oey is informal/colloquial for oeyä.
Prrnenìl wutsot olue’.
‘The baby vomited up its meal.’
hiup (vin.,vtr., HI.up) ‘spit, spit out’
Tsakem rä’ä si, ma ’itan. Fwa hiup fìtseng ke lu muiä.
‘Don’t do that, son. It’s not proper to spit here.’
Well, that’s it for now. I hope to see you here again soon. Hayalovay!