Kaltxì nìmun, ma eylan. It’s been a while! I hope you’ve all been happy and healthy—and doing interesting, satisfying, fun things. As for me, you can guess what’s been occupying my time more and more. Tìkangkem anawm sngolä’eiyi! Needless to say, I can’t divulge anything about the Avatar sequels except that they’re going to be absolutely terrific. You’ve probably seen this already, but just in case you haven’t, here’s the latest information that’s been released to the public.
Also in the category of things you’ve probably already seen but should see if you haven’t, there’s a beautiful Facebook post in which Avatar fans, including several members of our lì’fyaolo’, express to the filmmakers their thanks for the movie and their hopes for the sequels. You can hear some nice Na’vi in it.
We haven’t had any additions to the lexicon in a long time, so here are some new items—I counted 29—at least some of which I hope you’ll find useful. Several of these new words and examples come from our indefatigable LEP, for which I thank the members sincerely.
kemwiä (adj., kem.WI.ä) ‘improper, unfair, wrong, unjustified’
This is clearly the opposite of muiä. Note that there are two ways to say something is unfair: “Ke lu muiä!” as in Avatar 1 (we now need to distinguish among A1, A2, A3, A4, and A5!), and “Lu kemwiä!”
tìkemwiä (n., tì.kem.WI.ä) ‘unfairness, injustice’
leymkem (vin., leym.KEM, inf 1,1) ‘protest’
You might think the kem part is the familiar word for ‘act’ or ‘deed,’ but in fact it’s a truncated form of kemwiä. So the derivation is leym ‘call out, cry out’ + kem(wiä) ‘unfair, unjustified’—that is, when you protest, you cry out that something is unfair. The verb is intransitive. When you protest something, use the topical case or teri-. To protest that something is unfair, we use the tsnì construction, which as you know is used for complements of certain intransitive verbs, like sìlpey and mowar si.
Oe leymkem! Fìtsamìl Na’vit tìsraw seykayi nì’aw ulte kutut ke lätxayn.
‘I protest! This war will only harm the People and not defeat the enemy.’
Tsayhemìri (OR: Tsayhemteri) po loleymkem.
‘She protested those actions.’
Loleymkem po tsnì fwa Akwey slu olo’eyktan lu kemwiä.
‘He protested that it was unfair for Akwey to become clan leader.’
In colloquial speech, the first m in leymkem often becomes ng by assimilation to the following k—that is, it sounds like leyngkem, even though the spelling doesn’t change.
tìleymkem (n., tì.leym.KEM) ‘protesting, protest (abstract concept)’
säleymkem (n., sä.leym.KEM) ‘protest, instance of protesting’
Eyktanìl ngeyä säleymkemit stolawm ulte paye’un teyngta zene fko pehem sivi.
‘The leader has heard your protest and will decide what must be done.’
A related word is:
leymfe’ (vin., leym.FE’, inf 1, 1) ‘complain’
This word derives from leym + fe’ ‘bad’—that is, to complain is to cry out that something is bad. The syntax is similar to that of leymkem.
Fo lereymfe’ tsnì syuve lu wew.
‘They’re complaining that the food is cold.’
tìleymfe’ (n., tì.leym.FE’) ‘complaining’
säleymfe’ (n., sä.leym.FE’) ‘complaint’
tìleym (n., tì.LEYM) ‘call’
Eywal tìleymit awngeyä stoleiawm!
‘Eywa has heard our call!’
tìtstunwinga’ (adj., tì.TSTUN.wi.nga’) ‘kind (nfp)’
I realize I should have explained this earlier. A kind person is tute atstunwi. Kind words are aylì’u atìtstunwinga’.
tìflänga’ (adj., tì.FLÄ.nga’) ‘successful (nfp)’
A successful plan is tìhawl atìflänga’. A successful person is tute a flolä.
ekxan si (vin., e.KXAN si) ‘exclude, keep out, bar’
Srake fìkxemyo tsun tsayioangur lehrrap ekxan sivi?
‘Can this wall keep out those dangerous animals?’
nìtsleng (adv., nì.TSLENG) ‘falsely’
This word is the opposite of nìngay. And just as you can say Nìngay plltxe nga, ‘You speak truly,’ or ‘What you say is true,” you can also say Nìtsleng plltxe nga, ‘You speak falsely.’ Although the Na’vi do not have a word for “liar” per se, they can express the idea that someone is lying through this construction.
Plltxe nìtsleng! Tsafkxilet ke tolìng ngar Entul!
‘Liar! Entu didn’t give you that necklace!’
kawl (adv.) ‘hard, diligently’
Makto kawl, ma samsiyu, fte tsivun pivähem nìwin!
‘Ride hard, warriors, so you can get there fast!
yawntutsyìp (n., YAWN.tu.tsyìp) ‘darling, little loved one’
This is a tender term of endearment that a parent might call a child, for example. It exists alongside yawn(e)tu, which for some speakers, although certainly not all, carries a romantic or sexual overtone. Yawntutsyìp often reflects parental or familial love.
Semputi rä’ä srätx, ma yawntutsyìp. Tìkangkem seri.
‘Don’t bother daddy, little one. He’s working.’
And on the opposite end of the spectrum:
vonvä’ (n., von.VÄ’) ‘butthole, asshole, dickhead’
This word is highly abusive and vulgar, and is never used in polite society. It’s a strongly contracted form of vitronvä’, which is sometimes heard in that fuller form. The word derives from vitra ‘soul’ + onvä’ ‘bad-smelling, stinking.’ So a literal translation in English might be “stinksoul.” In colloquial pronunciation, the n is often lost and the preceding o nasalized: [võ.VÄ’].
weopx (n., we.OPX) ‘wave (of water)’
Krra hufwe tul nìwin, tsun fko tsive’a ayweopxit a sìn yo payä.
‘When there is strong wind, you can see waves on the water.’
Note: When viewed from the shore, waves can srer ‘appear, come into view’ and ’ìp ‘disappear, recede from view.’
leweopx (adj., le.we.OPX) ‘wave-like’
Tsayrenur leweopx a sìn neni tìng nari.
Look at those wave-like patterns in the sand.
tsìltsan (n., tsìl.TSAN) ‘good (abstract concept), goodness’
This word evolved from *tìsìltsan, much the same way as *tìsìlpey became tsìlpey.
Tìkawng a sutel ngop var rivey, tsìltsanit pxìm kllyem fkol feyä täremhu.
[See Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar. 🙂 ]
lerìn (adj., le.RÌN) ‘wooden, of wood’
letskxe (adj., le.TSKXE) ‘stony, of stone’
These words can be used to indicate the material an object is made from. For example, to say ‘a spear made of wood,’ all of the following are possible:
- tukru a txolula fkol ta rìn
- tukru a ta rìn
- tukru lerìn
mawftxele (adv., maw.FTXE.le) ‘belatedly, in hindsight, after the fact, as an afterthought’
This word is parallel to mìftxele ‘in this regard’ and derived the same way.
Oel peyä ftxozäti tswolänga’, ha poltxe por san ftxozäri aylrrtok ngaru sìk mawftxele.
‘Unfortunately I forgot his birthday, so I said “Happy Birthday” belatedly.’
pìsaw (adj., pì.SAW) ‘clumsy, accident-prone’
This adjective describes a not-very-clever or impractical person. It can also be used as an interjection, for example when you’ve acted clumsily with unintended negative results, often accompanied by a sharp intake of breath.
Po lu pìsaw. Trram toltem venuti sneyä nìtkanluke.
‘He is accident-prone. Yesterday he unintentionally shot his own foot.’
Lu Sawtute wok sì pìsaw nìwotx, na prrnen.
‘The skypeople are all loud and clumsy, like a baby.’
tìpsaw (n., tìp.SAW) clumsiness
Poeyä tìpsawìl txopu sleykolu yerikit ha po hifwo.
‘Her clumsiness scared the hexapede, so he escaped.’
Finally, four expressions relating to Na’vi culture or the Pandoran environment:
Txintseng Sawtuteyä (prop. n., TXIN.tseng SAW.tu.tey.ä) ‘Hell’s Gate’
This literally means ‘The Sky People’s Base.’ It’s how the Na’vi refer to Hell’s Gate.
txintseng (n., TXIN.tseng) ‘base of operations’
lanay’ka (n., la.NAY’.ka) ‘slinger’
You can find a description here.
ilu (n., I.lu) ’ilu’
From the Disney pamphlet ”Guide to the Flora and Fauna of the Valley of Mo’ara”: “The ilu is a large plesiosaur-like sea creature that is the direhorse of the Pandoran ocean. With multiple fins/flippers and a long, streamlined shape, this aquatic pack animal serves the reef Na’vi clans like direhorses serve the Na’vi clans of the forests, jungles and planes.”
sye’otxang (n., SYE.’o.txang) ‘wind instrument’
From syeha ‘breath’ + ’otxang ‘musical instrument.’ This is the generic term for any instrument played by blowing. A pawk is a kind of sye’otxang.
As I don’t have to tell some of you, I still have a considerable backlog of suggestions and questions from the LEP and others that I need to get to. I’ll do that as soon as I can. Tsakrrvay, fpom livu ayngaru nìwotx.
I’ll leave you with a question. Someone recently asked me if srak can ever be used completely on its own. In other words, could someone ever say, simply, “Srak?” I responded that I had never considered that possibility but would think about it. What’s your feeling? Are there any situations in which this could make sense? For example, suppose you’ve asked a question and gotten no answer. If you then said “Srak?” angrily, could it mean, “Well, are you going to answer me or not? Yes or no???” And if you think you could use this question word this way, would it more likely be “Srake?”? Rutxe ayngeyä aysäfpìlit piveng oer!