Vomuna Lì’u Amip—Ten New Words

Kaltxì nìmun, ma eylan!

It’s been quite a while, I know. Takrra postì asok frato solalängew txana krr. I’ve had a lot of distractions recently, some good, some bad. But things are settling down, and I hope to post some useful new vocabulary before the year is out. This brief post is a start.

Thanks, as always, to the LEP contributors for their creativity. Some of the words below derive from their suggestions.

zum (n.) ‘object, thing (physical or tangible)’

We already have the familiar word ’u, of course, which means ‘thing’ in a number of different senses: a physical object, a fact, or an abstraction. So ’u can refer to a rock, or to bravery, or to the fact that Jake loves Neytiri. In contrast, zum is exclusively a physical or tangible object—something you can see or feel.

A. Fayzum lu peu?
‘What are these things?’
B. Ke omum, slä rä’ä tìng zekwä! Lam lehrrap.
‘I don’t know, but don’t touch them! They look dangerous.’

hìpey (vin., HÌ.pey—inf. 2,2) ‘hesitate, hold back for a short time’

This verb derives from hì’i ‘small’ + pey ‘wait.’ It differs from fpak in that fpak refers to suspending an action that’s already in progress, while hìpey is deferring the start of an action.

Hìpey taronyu, hifwo yerik.
‘The hunter hesitates and the hexapede escapes.’
(Proverbial expression. Cf.: “He who hesitates is lost.”)

Note the syntax for ‘hesitate to do something.’ Also note that as in English, hìpey can imply a reluctance to begin or accomplish an action, for whatever reason.

Furia peng fmawnit Eytukanur po hìpoley.
He hesitated to tell Eytukan the news.


tìhìpey (n., tì.HÌ.pey) ‘hesitation’

Tìhìpey tsun krro krro lesar livu.
‘Hesitation can sometimes be useful.’

Sar tsalìʼut a fìʼuri lu oeru tìhìpey nìʼit.
‘I’m a bit hesitant about using that word.’

lehìpey (adj., le.HÌ.pey) ‘hesitant, in a state of hesitation’

Taronyul lehìpey kan smarit nìlkeftang slä ke takuk kawkrr.
‘A hesitant hunter will aim at a prey forever but never hit it.’

hìpey (adv., nì.HÌ.pey) ‘hesitantly’

snäm (vin.) ‘rot, decay, degrade over time’

Snäm can refer both to the physical decaying of an object—say, a piece of meat—and also to the degrading of something abstract, like a skill.

Fìtsnganur a snoläm längu fahew akxänäng.
‘This rotten meat has a putrid smell.’

Zene fko tsko swizawit sivar nìtrrtrr fteke fìtsu’o sniväm.
‘One must use a bow and arrow regularly to prevent this ability degrading over time.’

kllrikx (n., kll.RIKX) ‘earthquake’

Txewì plltxe san kllrikx txewm lamu sìk.
‘Txewì says that the earthquake was frightening.’

A couple of derivations of latem ‘change’:

sälatem (n., sä.LA.tem) ‘change (instance of), edit, modification’

’Onìri tskoä lu tìkin sälatemä ahì’i.
‘The form of the bow requires a small change.’

tìlatem (n., tì.LA.tem) ‘change (abstract concept)’

Pxaya suteri, tìlatem lu ngäzìk.
‘For many people, change is difficult.’

txatx (n.) ‘bubble’

Yosìn kilvanä lu tatx.
‘There are bubbles on the surface of the river.’

Finally, I never provided the text and translation for the little listening exercise in the last post. Here they are:

Kaltxì, ma eylan. Sìlpey oe, ayngaru livu fpom nìwotx.

Narmew oe piveng ayngar teri mehapxìtu amip soaiä Tsyanä sì oeyä. Lu hì’ia mefalukantsyìp a syaw fko mefor Palu sì Lukan. Mefo lu tsmukan sì tsmuke. Fpìl oel futa tsun aynga tslivam teyngta tsamestxo za’u ftu pesim. Lu law, kefyak?

Lukan (alu tsmukantsyìp) sì Palu (alu tsmuketsyìp) mi lu prrnen, ulte leiu lor sì hona nìtxan. Slä längu kop nim, stum loreyu ’awnampi. Polähem ne kelku moeyä txonam, ulte kezemplltxe fìtsenge amip sì mesutan amip nìteng lu meforu stxong nìtxan nì’aw. Fitrr mì tampxì krrä wäperan. Sìlpey moe tsnì slìyevu ye’rìn tstew fìtxan kuma tsun wrrziva’u uvan sivi moehu. Fwa ’efu mawey sì nitram mì pawngip amip krrnekx, ha moe zene maweypivey.

Hayalovay, ma smuk.

Hello, friends. I hope you’re all well.

I wanted to tell you about two new members of John’s and my family. They’re two little cats named Palu and Lukan. They’re brother and sister. I think you can understand what source those two names come from. It’s clear, isn’t it?

Lukan, the little brother, and Palu, the little sister, are still babies, and I’m happy to say they’re very beautiful and cute. But unfortunately they’re also shy, almost like a touched helicoradian. They arrived at our house last night, and needless to say the new place and likewise the two new men are very strange to them. For most of the time today they were hiding. We hope they’ll soon become brave enough to come out and play with us. Feeling calm and happy in a new environment takes time, so we have to be patient.

Until next time, brothers and sisters.

Mìftxele, I’m pleased to say that Palu is now much less shy than she used to be, and Lukan is bold and fearless! They’re both doing beautifully and are very happy to accept all the love we’re bestowing on them. Here they are. (Lukan, the male, is the one with white between his eyes; Palu, the female, has black in the same place.)

Thanksgiving 2015 portrait--a




More soon! Hayalovay!

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Tskxekengtsyìp a Mikyunfpi–A Little Listening Exercise

Here’s another little listening exercise I hope you enjoy.

There’s one new vocabulary item you’ll need:

pxawngip (n., PXAW.ngip) ‘environment’

This derives from pxaw ‘around’ + ngip ‘space’

Recall too that Tsyan = ‘John’

Fìtskxekengtsyìp zivawprrte’ ayngane!

Edit 10-01-15: ayngaru > ayngane  Irayo, ma Plumps!
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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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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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Na Ayskxe mì Te’lan . . . Sad News

Ma eylan ayawne,

Txo tìkeftxonga’a fmawnit ke stilvawm ayngal, zene oe piveng san Uniltìrantokxä pamtseongopyu ayawne alu Tsyeymzì Horner tolerkängup.

James Horner, who composed the musical score for Avatar and so many other films, has died at the age of 61. He was killed in a plane crash in California.

While working on the film, it was my privilege to meet James, get to know him a bit, learn from him. I was so looking forward to seeing him again and hopefully working with him on the Avatar sequels. That is not to be, but at least we all have his wonderful music, and it will go on . . .

Tolerkup tute; pamtseo peyä tì’i’avay krrä rayey.

ta Pawl

tìkeftxo (n., tì.ke.FTXO) ‘sadness’

tìkeftxonga’ (adj., tì.ke.FTXO.nga’) ‘sad (not for people)’


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Cirque du Soleil’s “Toruk: The First Flight”–Teaser video online!

I see that some of you have already discovered this video online. It’s a brief “teaser,” whetting appetites for Cirque du Soleil’s newest production, “Toruk: The First Flight,” based on an Avatar theme. And it has some spoken Na’vi in it!

As you’ve probably guessed, I was involved in this project. I translated the needed text and worked closely with the professional voiceover artist in Montreal to coach him on the pronunciation. I think he did a fine job.

I was delighted to see the discussion about this on learnnavi.org. Several of you did beautifully in figuring out exactly what the Na’vi was! Seykxel sì nitram, ma eylan!

If I can figure out how to do a spoiler here on the blog, I’ll edit this post and add the text and translation. Otherwise I’ll include it soon in a separate post.

In the meantime, if you haven’t already listened to the Na’vi and attempted to figure it out, please do! I bet you’ll get a lot of it.

A couple of hints:

There’s one word you’re not familiar with: the Anurai are a Na’vi clan.

Also, keep in mind the adposition ‘against.’

Sìlpey oe tsnì hì’ia fìrel arusikx sì mì saw a lì’fya leNa’vi zivawprrte’ ayngane!  🙂

EDIT May 03: Well, I did some research and discovered I needed to add a new plugin to WordPress to allow me to do a spoiler. I did that, but for some reason it’s not working. So rather than fiddle with it further, I’ll just give you the Na’vi text below. If you don’t want to see it yet, don’t scroll down. 🙂










Oe lu Anuraiyä syena hapxì a rey.

 Tsaheyl si hu Eywa a krr,

 Stawm oel aymokrit fizayuä a lìm

 Krra kxap larmu sìreywä feyä nìwotx.

 Ayngaru tsavurit.

Edit May 03: Anuray –> Anurai
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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.KE.lu) ‘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., TOM.pa.kel) ‘drought’

syuvekel (n., SYU.ve.kel) ‘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!

Posted in General | 13 Comments

Kap sì ayunil saylahe. Threats, dreams, and other things.

Kaltxì nìmun, ma eylan! Sìlpey oe tsnì fpom livu ayngaru nìwotx.

I hope you’ll find the following new words useful, the majority of which stem from ideas provided by the LEP.

kxap (n.) ‘threat’

Tìpähem Sawtuteyä kxap atxan larmu Na’viru.
‘The arrival of the Sky People was a great threat to the Na’vi.’


kxap si (vin.) ‘threaten’

Srake nga kxap si oer, ma skxawng?
‘Are you threatening me, you moron?

kxapnga’ (adj., KXAP.nga’) ‘threatening’ (nfp)

Ngeyä aylì’ul akxapnga’ txopu ke sleyku oet kaw’it.
‘Your threatening words don’t scare me one bit.’

For threatening animals or people, we use kxap si with a rather than *lekxap:

’Angtsìk a kxap si lu lehrrap, ma ’itan.
‘A threatening hammerhead is dangerous, son.’

nìkxap (adv., nì.KXAP) ‘threateningly’

Txopu rä’ä si. Ngati ke nìn pol nìkxap. Lu lenomum nì’aw.
‘Don’t be scared. He’s not looking at you threateningly. He’s just curious.’

tìftiatu kifkeyä (n., tì.fti.A.tu ki.FKEY.ä) ‘scientist’

This is obviously related to a term we’ve already had, tìftia kifkeyä ‘science,’ and means ‘one who studies the natural world.’ It’s a concept the Na’vi got from the Sawtute. If it’s clear from the context, tìftiatu kifkeyä may be shortened to simply tìftiatu; by itself, the word has the force of ‘researcher.’

Sawtuteri sìftiatu kifkeyä var fmivi Eywevengit tslivam, slä kawkrr ke flayä.
‘The scientists among the Sky People keep trying to understand Pandora, but they will never succeed.’

Note two things here. First, the stress in tìftiatu is on the a, since that’s where it is in the root verb ftia ‘study.’ Second, to name the person doing the studying in this case, Na’vi uses –tu rather than the agentive suffix –yu. For a discussion of –tu vs. –yu, see the post “A note on the word yora’tu,” December 31, 2011.

heyr (n.) ‘chest’

This term, indicating the area between the stomach and throat, applies to both people and animals.

Oeri heyr tìsraw sängi taluna zize’ìl oet sngolap tsatseng.
‘My chest hurts because a hellfire wasp stung me there.’

tseri (vtr., TSE.ri—inf. 1,2) ‘note, notice’

Peyralä miktsangit amip ngal tsoleri srak?
‘Did you notice Peyral’s new earring?’

For the negative, we need to distinguish intentional from unintentional non-notice. When you overlook or fail to notice something unintentionally or carelessly, that’s simply the negative of tseri:

Oeru txoa livu. Ke tsolerängi oel futa ngari kxetse eo oe lu.
‘Forgive me. I didn’t notice that your tail was in front of me.’


tìtseri (n., tì.TSE.ri) ‘awareness, notice’

tìktseri (n., tìk.TSE.ri) ‘unawareness, lack of notice’

As you might suspect, tìktseri is derived from + ke + tseri.

Tìktseri lu tìmeyp.
‘Lack of awareness is (a form of) weakness.’ (Proverb)

For intentional overlooking, we have a separate verb:

yäkx (vtr.) ‘not notice; ignore, snub’

Srake fo hangham taluna nga snaytx? Foti yäkx.
‘They’re laughing because you lost? Ignore them.’

Tsamsiyu zene tsivun yiväkx sneyä tìsrawit.
‘Warriors must be able to ignore their own pain.’


tìyäkx (n., tì.YÄKX) ‘lack of notice; snubbing’

Tìyäkx ke lu srunga’, ma tsmuk. Nga txo sti, oeyktìng teyngta pelun.
‘Snubbing isn’t helpful, brother. If you’re angry, explain why.’

srunga’ (adj., SRU.nga’) ‘helpful’ (nfp)

Tseri: Srunga’ comes from srung + nga’. Here the two ng’s have coalesced into one. Compare sngum + nga’ which becomes sngunga’ ‘worrisome, troubling.’

In fact, there’s a proverb that capitalizes on the similarity in sound of srunga’ and sngunga’:

Hem asrunga’ nì’ul, hum asngunga’ nìnän.
‘More helpful actions lead to less troubling outcomes.’

Parallel to kxapnga’, srunga’ is not for people. A helpful person is tute a srung si or srung si a tute.

säyäkx (n., sä.YÄKX) ‘snub’

Fìsäyäkxit ayoel ke tswaya’.
‘We will not forget this snub.’

ngip (n.) ‘space, open or borderless area’

Ngeyä ikranìl ngipit letam kin fte tsivun kllpivä.
‘Your ikran needs enough open space to be able to land.’

Plltxe Sawtute san kifkeyìl ayoeyä tok txana ngipit a sanhìkip.
‘The Sky People say that their world is in the great space among the stars.’

Note the difference between mo and ngip, both of which have to do with spaces. Mo refers to an enclosed open area or hollow, while ngip refers to an unenclosed, borderless area.

txepram (n., txep.RAM) ‘volcano’

txekxumpay (n., txe.KXUM.pay) ‘magma, lava’

Txep ‘fire’ is a component of both these words. In txekxumpay, the p of txep has dropped.

Txepram pxor a krr, txana txekxumpay wrrza’u.
‘When a volcano erupts, a lot of lava comes out.’

wrrza’u (vin., wrr.ZA.’u) ‘come out, emerge)

tskxevi (n., TSKXE.vi) ‘pebble’

nìkx (n.) ‘gravel’

Tskxevi refers to small stones polished smooth by natural forces. Nìkx is rock that has been crushed either naturally or artificially.

tìralpeng (n., tì.ral.PENG) ‘translation, interpretation’

Spängaw oel futa fì’upxareyä tìralpeng ke lu eyawr.
‘Unfortunately, I don’t believe the translation of this message is correct.’

unil si (vin., U.nil si) ‘dream’

uniltsa (vtr., U.nil.tsa—inf. 3, 3) ‘dream of, dream about, dream (that)’

Both unil si and uniltsa (a contraction of unil + tse’a, “dream-see”) mean ‘dream,’ but they’re used differently. Unil si just indicates the action of dreaming:

Tìtxen si, ma ’ite! Unil sarmi nga tengkrr zerawng. Lu fpom srak?
‘Wake up, daughter! You were dreaming and screaming. Are you okay?’

To say you were dreaming of or about something, use uniltsa:

Nìtrrtrr oel uniltsa sa’nuä teylut.
‘I regularly dream of my mom’s teylu.’

Uniltsola oel txonam futa tswayon Neytirihu.
‘Last night I dreamed I was flying with Neytiri.’

mauti (n., MA.u.ti) ‘fruit’

Pefnemauti sunu ngar frato?
‘What kind of fruit to you like best?’ OR ‘What’s your favorite fruit?’

utu (n., U.tu) ‘forest canopy’

utumauti (n., U.tu.ma.u.ti) ‘banana fruit’

The delicacy known in English as ‘banana fruit’ is actually ‘canopy fruit’ in Na’vi, since it grows high in the forest canopy and is relatively inaccessible.

slayk (vtr.) ‘brush, comb’

New sa’nok slivayk nikret ’evengä.
‘The mother wants to brush the child’s hair.’

Finally, here are links to videos of the Na’vi 103 class I taught at the Avatar Meet-up last year in Los Angeles. As always, our intrepid videographer, Alan Taylor, has done a fantastic job in putting it all together in a totally professional and very appealing format. Irayo nìtxan ngar, ma Älìn! Ayrelìri arusikx leiu nga tsulfätu nìngay!

Part 1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WY35uTrkapo

Part 2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZKtF4JnKCko

Part 3: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aqUDwdiL6jc

Part 4: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=79q79UMXxrE

I’ll post the handout as well.

Hayalovay, ma frapo.

Edit 01 April 2015: Hyperlinks added for videos.
Posted in General | 14 Comments

Ayngaru tsìnga yora’tut! May I present the four winners!

Ma eylan,

To close out the year I have a real treat:

It is my pleasure to announce the winners of the 2014 Na’vi Writing Contest and present their work to you.

This year’s theme was:

Mrra zìsìt hu Uniltìrantokx sì LearnNa’vi.org teya ta vur lu. Pivlltxe pum ngeyä!

Five years with Avatar and LN are full of stories. Tell yours!

The participants were asked to write about these themes:

  • Why do you love the Na’vi language?
  • What do you like about the Na’vi’s culture, life, and environment?
  • What was/is your best experience with this community or regarding learning Na’vi?

As in past years, the categories were Poetry and Prose, with a winner and runner-up in each one. I’ve been informed that this year, the four judges—Kemaweyan, Plumps, Prrton, and Tìtstewan—working independently, found the decisions difficult but eventually reached exactly the same conclusions. Without further ado, the winners are:


First place:                 Vawmataw
Second place:             Alyara Arati


First place:                 Wllìm
Second place:             Blue Elf

Seykxel sì nitram, ma smuk! Fyolupa aysängop ayngeyä oeru teya si nìngay.

Congratulations to the winners for your beautiful and moving work; thank you to everyone who submitted entries; irayo to the judges who adjudicated fairly and conscientiously.

And a heartfelt irayo to all of you, my friends, in the Lì’fyaolo’. It continues to be a huge source of pride for me to see the language I created embraced with such dedication and love by a worldwide community of Na’vi-ists at all levels of mastery. As the language continues to develop, I know that my connection to all of you will remain one of the great joys of my life.

Oh, and . . .

MIPA ZÌSÌT LEFPOM! 2015 promises to be an exciting year for the Avatar community as the three sequels begin filming. Furia tìkangkem oeyä ye’rìn nìmun sngìyä’i, ’efu oe nitram nìtxan!

All the best, my friends, for a wonderful new year. Mì zìsìt amip lìyevu ayngaru nìwotx txana fpomtokx, fpomron, tìyawn, sì tì’o’.


And now, the winning entries:


1st place: Vawmataw

Oet yune

Ayi’enit zamunge
Fte reykivol fa tirea
Eo sanhì sì Eywa
Ulte rivol vaykrr srer tsawke.

Vitrautraleo heyn oe.
Krra srer atan txonä,
Pam hum ftu kxa oeyä.

Aysanhìl oet yune
Tsengio nìfya’o a fnu.
Eywal oet yune,
Tìng mikyun lefpoma ‘upxareru
Sì sngumluke a vitraru
Tìme’em syamaw
A srew oehu.

Krra zayene hivum kifkeyftu,
Oe neiew sivalew Eywahu.

2nd place: Alyara Arati

ma oeyä smukan
fu stum aysmukan
aylì’uta oeyä
smivon ayngar oeti
hufwa ayngakip oe
tìran ‘ukluke mi

pam mevenuä oeyä
lu sätsyìsyì hufweyä
ulte rururìri wokto
ke lam oey txe’lanä kato
slä tsranten oe

teri lì’fya leNa’vi
sì lì’fyaolo’ leNa’vi
fìsyon oer sunu frato:
tute aketsawne’a
tsun leykivatem
wotxit, keng pum oena

’erong Na’vi, tsawl sleru
ulte ‘ewan rìkeansì lu
kxawm oe ke ro’a nìtxan,
fahewti ngop oel ngian
syulangä afyole


1st place: Wllìm

Lì’fyari leNa’vi nume oe ‘awa zìsìto set. Tafral oe lu numeyu nìyol nì’aw to pxaya numeyu alahe. Kop ke tamängok oel tìsngä’iti lì’fyayä, krra fkol ke omum ke’uti a lì’fyateri, mungwrr aysäomum a fkol rolun srungluke.

Tse, pelun sunu oeru fìlì’fya? Lun atxin lu fwa suru oeru ayfam lì’fyayä. Fwa oeyktìng ke lu ftue; ngian fpìl oel futa pam lu kewong, slä kop smon. Kop fpìl oel futa pam pxaya lì’uä rì’ìr si ralur. Oeri, pamìl fìlì’uä alu pìwopx vll kouma ‘onit pìwopxä. (Ulte sunu oer fwa rì’ìr säpi fìlì’u alu rì’ìr!) Nìsyen oe new livawk soaiat aynumeyuä lì’fyayä. Tìnusume lu ‘o’ nìlkeftang, taweyka franumeyu lu tstunwi nìtxan, ulte ‘eyng fratìpawm a lì’fyateri.

Fìvur lìmu oeyä lun a ftia lì’fyati leNa’vi, ulte sìlpey oe tsnì ‘ìyevong Na’vi tì’i’avay krrä!

2nd place: Blue Elf

Tsìnga zìsìtkam tsole’a oel relit arusikx a ro’a oer nìtxan. Tsal nìngay takuk oeti ne txe’lan. Vurìl sla’tsu kosmana kifkeyt a mì tukxa tseng a sanhìmìkam sì syay tutanä alu tawtute a slu hapxì tsakifkeyä.

Tsarel arusikx lamu Uniltìrantokx, kezemplltxe. Solunu oer lì’fya a fko plltxe tsafa mì rel arusikx, ha lolu oer säpfìl a ftia fìlì’fyati ulte new ivomum nì’ul. Krra tätxaw oe ne kelku, fwew  aysäomumit a teri fìrel. Tsafya rolun oel tìpängkxotsengit alu Learn Na’vi ulte slu hapxìtu tseyä.

Pxaya tutel anawm tok tsatsenget ulte tìnusumeri srung soli oer nìtxan krra lolu oe zìma’uyu. Set oe nìteng tsun srung sivi aysngä’iyur alahe. Keng lolu oer skxom a frrfen ultxati eylanä Uniltìrantokxä mì Perlin ulte ultxa si hu awngeyä nawma karyu Pawl. Furia tìleno asteng tsunslu, ke srefoley oe kaw’it.

Plltxe Pawl san fìtìpängkxotsengìri mipa sì’eylanit fkol ngop fìtsenge sìk. Tsun oe mivllte, rolun oel eylanot nìteng.

Srake tsun aynga pivlltxe nìteng fayluta relìl arusikx leykatem tìreyt oeyä?

Edit Jan. 3, 2015: In title, Yora’tu –> Yora’tut
Posted in General | 16 Comments

Twenty before the Holidays

Kaltxì ayngaru, ma eylan.

I hope you’re all doing well and looking forward to healthy and happy holidays.

Here are some new vocabulary items I hope you’ll find useful. Thanks, as always, to the stalwart LEP contributors for some of these ideas.

First, some words for good and bad sights and sounds.

Na’vi distinguishes two kinds of ‘noise’:

väpam (n., VÄ.pam) ‘noise: ugly or unpleasant sound, screech’

hawmpam (n., HAWM.pam) ‘noise: sound that is excessive, unnecessary, inappropriate, unexpected, or startling’

As you see, väpam, from vä’ ‘unpleasant to the senses’ + pam ‘sound,’ is always an unpleasant sound; hawmpam, from hawng ‘overabundance’ + pam, is not necessarily an ugly sound but rather one that’s somehow wrong—a sound that in some sense shouldn’t be there.


Ninatìri tìrusol Txewìyä lu väpam.
‘To Ninat, Txewì’s singing is noise.’


A: Sunu oeru nìtxan aysäftxulì’u peyä.
‘I like his speeches a lot.’
B. Srake nìngay plltxe nga? Oeri ke tsun oe yivune tsaväpamit.
‘Really? I myself can’t listen to that noise.’

Fìhawmpam pelun, ma ’itan? Fnivu set!
‘Why all this noise, son? Be quiet now!’


lehawmpam (adj., le.HAWM.pam) ‘noisy’

nìhawmpam (adv., nì.HAWM.pam) ‘noisily’

Taronyul lehawmpam ska’a sätaronit.
‘A noisy hunter destroys the hunt.’

Txo fko tivul mì na’rìng nìhawmpam, stawm ayioang.
‘If you run noisily in the forest, the animals will hear.’

And here are some other adjectives relating to good and bad sounds—and sights—built on the ftxìlor/ftxìvä’ (‘good tasting/bad tasting’—literally, ‘pleasant or unpleasant to the tongue’) pattern we’ve already seen. These words are more specific than the general adjectives lor and vä’, which can be applied to any sensory experience.

miklor (adj., mik.LOR) ‘pleasant sounding, beautiful sounding’

mikvä’ (adj., mik.VÄ’) ‘bad-sounding’

narlor (adj., nar.LOR) ‘beautiful visually’

narvä’ (adj., nar. VÄ’) ‘ugly, unsightly’

And since we’ve been talking about sounds:

zawr (n.) ‘animal call’

Let me quote the LEP committee here, since they’ve provided a nice explanation of this word:

Zawr is used for the sound an animal makes for vocal communication. It can be used alone to mean “an animal cry” or “the call of an animal,” but it’s very general . . . When translating into English, it can then be changed to mean whatever sound is normally associated [with a particular animal]: the roar of a palulukan, the screech of an ikran, the bellow of a talioang.”

Zawr thus takes the place of a more specific word for a particular animal’s vocalization, like nguway for the howl of a nantang. It’s always correct, although the specific words are more colorful.

Zawr yerikä lu ’ango.
‘The call of the hexapede is quiet.’

(n., tì.NEW) ‘desire’

Tìnew is parallel to tìkin ‘need,’ in that it can refer either to the general state or concept or to a specific instance.

Tsamsiyuri lu tìyora’ä tìnew lekin.
‘A warrior must have the desire for victory.’

Lu oer tìnew a tse’a txampayit.
‘I have a desire to see the ocean.’

Pxìm lu tìnew lehawng kxutu fpomä.
‘Excessive desire is often the enemy of peace.’

(vtr.) ‘put away, store’

Tsko swizawti nivopx, ma ’ite. Ke taron oeng fìtrr.
‘Put away your bow and arrow, daughter. You and I are not hunting today.’

(vtr., TI.am—inf. 1, 2) ‘count’

Rutxe tiviam aysrokit tsakrr holpxayti piveng oer.
‘Please count the beads and tell me the number.’

Derived from tiam we have a word for infinite or uncountable:

ketsuktiam (adj., ke.tsuk.TI.am) ‘uncountable, infinite’

Note that this word doesn’t necessarily mean something is literally uncountable or infinite, but only that the number is exceedingly large.

Holpxay sanhìyä a mì saw lu ketsuktiam; keng ke tsun fko tsive’a sat nìwotx.
‘The number of stars in the sky is infinite; it’s not even possible to see them all.’

A related word is:

txewluke (adj., TXEW.lu.ke) ‘endless, boundless, without limit’

The basic difference between ketsuktiam and txewluke is that the former is for countables while the latter is for noncountables:

Spaw Na’vil futa tìyawn Eywayä lu txewluke.
‘The Na’vi believe that Eywa’s love is boundless.’


’umtsa (n., ’UM.tsa) ‘medicine’

Ralul ngolop ’umtsat fa aysyulang fwäkìwllä.
Ralu made medicine from flowers of the Mantis orchid.

Fìsäspxinìri ngeyä ke längu kea ’umtsa.
‘Unfortunately there is no medicine for this disease of yours.’

(vtr.) ‘investigate, explore’

There is overlap in meaning between lang and steftxaw ‘examine, check.’ Lang has a sense of exploring something previously unknown, without preconceived notions of what you’re going to find; steftxaw can imply a detailed examination of the components of something, perhaps against a checklist. But the two are often interchangeable.

Lumpe lerang Kelutralit Sawtutel?
‘Why are the humans exploring Hometree?’


tìlang (n., tì.LANG) ‘exploration (general sense)’

sälang (n., sä.LANG) ‘an exploration or investigation’

Srane, sunu Sawtuteru tìlang, slä ke omum fol teyngta kempe zene sivi mawkrra ’uoti rolun.
‘Yes, the Skypeople love exploration, but they don’t know what to do once they find something.’

Kum sälangä leyewla längu. Ke rolun awngal ke’ut.
‘The result of the investigation was, I’m sorry to say, disappointing. We found nothing.’

Finally, here are a couple of idiomatic expressions you may find useful.

First, a couple of new words:

kxum (adj.) ‘viscous, gelatinous, thick’

kxumpay (n., KXUM.pay) ‘viscous liquid, gel’

Kxumpay is the word used for the aloe-like gel derived from the leaves of the paywll ‘dapophet’ plant that’s used as an ’umtsa.

Idiom: (Na) kenten mì kumpay

Literally, this is ‘(like) a fan lizard in gel.’ (Note that we would expect a linking a in this phrase: na kenten a mì kumpay. In proverbial expressions, however, the a is often omitted.)

The sense is one of being in an environment where you’re prevented from acting naturally or doing what you want to do. The kenten wants to spread his beautiful fan and fly away, but being encased in gel, he is unable to.


Narmew oe foru na’rìngä tìlorit wivìntxu, slä ke tsängun fo tslivam. ’Efu oe na kenten mì kumpay.
‘I wanted to show them the beauty of the forest, but sadly, they weren’t able to understand. I felt completely stymied.’

Idiom: (Na) loreyu ’awnampi

Literally, ‘(like) a touched helicoradian’ (Again, the expected a has been omitted in a proverbial expression.)

As you recall from the film, loreyu are the beautiful spiral-shaped plants that immediately curl up and vanish when touched. The analogy is used to indicate extreme shyness.

Lu por mokri amiklor, slä loreyu ’awnampi lu. Ke tsun rivol eo sute.
‘She has a beautiful voice, but she’s extremely shy. She can’t sing in front of people.’

Until next time. Hayalovay, ma smuk!

Edit 01 Dec.: tìyawnìl Eywayä –> tìyawn Eywayä
Posted in General | 17 Comments