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 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
Posted in General | 22 Comments

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 ‘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., ‘drought’

syuvekel (n., ‘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., ‘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., ‘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., ‘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:

Part 2:

Part 3:

Part 4:

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’ 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.,—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., ‘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., ‘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., ‘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
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Tson sì Fpomron—Obligation and Mental Health

Kaltxì, ma frapo.

I have some new vocabulary for you today that I think you’ll find useful. Most of these will be in the categories of obligation and mental health, but there will be some miscellaneous words as well. Thanks as always to our intrepid LEP members and others for some of the ideas I’ve used here, several of which go back quite a while.

Tson: Obligation

tson (n.) ‘obligation, duty, imposed requirement’

A tson is a duty, task, obligation, etc. that’s imposed on you by someone in a position to do so—that is, someone with some kind of authority over you or who is higher than you in some relevant hierarchy. It could be a parent, an older sibling, a boss, a clan leader, Eywa, and so on. The imposer of the obligation is indicated with ta.

Za’u tsatson ta Eywa.
‘That obligation comes from Eywa.’

Längu oeru tson a fìfmawnit piveng ngar.
‘I’m sorry that I’m obliged to tell you this news.’

Lu Neytirir ta Mo’at a tson a kar Tsyeykur ayfya’ot Na’viyä.
‘Neytiri is under obligation by/from Mo’at to teach Jake the ways of the Na’vi.’

Derived form:

nìtson (adv., nì.TSON) ‘dutifully, as an obligation’

Pol vewng fratrr ayevengit nìtson.
He observes his duty to care for the kids every day.’

A verb that often accompanies tson is kxìm:

kxìm (vtr.) ‘command, order, assign a task’

As a transitive verb, kxìm always takes tson or a synonym as its direct object; the person being assigned the task is in the dative.

Ayevengur kxolìm sa’nokìl fìtsonit.
‘Mother imposed this task on the children’ OR ‘The children were assigned this task by their mother.’

To specify what the task is, you would expect tsonit a. That is in fact what you use, except that over time tsonit a has contracted to tsonta. Note that tsonta is NOT derived from tson + ta!

tsonta (conj., TSON.ta) ‘to (with kxìm)’

Ayevengur kxolìm sa’nokìl tsonta payit zamunge.
‘The children were told by their mother to fetch water.’

(Note in the previous sentence that as long as “their” can be understood from the context, it doesn’t need to be expressed in Na’vi.)

Derived forms:

tìkxìm (n., tì.KXÌM) ‘commanding, ordering, assigning tasks’

Sìltsana eyktan zene fnivan tìkxìmti.
‘A good leader must be skilled at assigning tasks.’

tìkxìm si
(vin., tì.KXÌM si) ‘be above someone in a hierarchy, be someone’s superior’

Po tìkxìm si oer.
1. ‘He is above me (in some relevant hierarchy).’
2. ‘I am under him.’
3. ‘He has authority over me.’
4. ‘He is my boss.’

(n., KXÌM.yu) ‘commander, one with authority over another’

Ngeyä kxìmyu pesu?
‘Who’s your boss?’

(Note that in the above sentence, lu has been omitted, which is very frequent in conversation with interrogative words like pesu/tupe, peu/’upe, etc.)

Another way to say the above sentence, of course, is Pesu tìkxìm si ngar?

Finally, note this useful conversational expression:

Kxìmyu nga. ‘Please! Go ahead. You first.’

Literally, this says, “My commander (is) you.” It’s used as politeness formula to tell someone (who doesn’t necessarily have to be above you) to go through a door first, take the last piece of teylu, etc.

And speaking of et cetera:

saylahe (adv., say.LA.he) ‘et cetera’

Saylahe is a contraction of sì aylahe ‘and others.’ In writing, the abbreviation sl. may be used where we would use etc.

Fpomron: Mental health

You’re already familiar with the words having to do with bodily health or well-being: fpomtokx, lefpomtokx, kelfpomtokx. If we substitute ron for tokx in these words (ron is shortened from ronsem, ‘mind’), we get the corresponding words for mental health:

fpomron (n., fpom.RON) ‘health or well-being (mental)’

lefpomron (adj., le.fpom.RON) ‘healthy (mentally)’

kelfpomron (adj., kel.fpom.RON) ‘unhealthy (mentally)’

Pori fpomtokx sì fpomron yo’.
‘His physical and mental health are perfect.’

Ke tsun nga tìkxìm sivi oer. Lu nga kelfpomron!
‘You can’t order me around. You’re mentally unsound!’

Note that the four adjectives lefpomtokx, kelfpomtokx, lefpomron, and kelfpomron are ofp—only for people. If you want to say that something is unhealthful, you need to use the nfp—not for people—forms, which end in –nga’.

fpomtokxnga’ (adj. nfp, fpom.TOKX.nga’) ‘healthful (physically)’

kefpomtokxnga’ (adj. nfp, ke.fpom.TOKX.nga’) ‘unhealthful (physically)’

fpomronga’ (adj. nfp, fpom.RO.nga’) ‘healthful (mentally)’

kefpomronga’ (adj. nfp, ke.fpom.RO.nga’) ‘unhealthful (mentally)’

(Note that in these words, -ronnga’ à -ronga’. Cf. ingyenga’.)

Tsat rä’ä yivom! Ke lu fpomtokxnga’.
‘Don’t eat that. It’s not healthful.’ (I.e., It will make you unhealthy.)

Ma Entu, fìkem rä’ä sivi; lu kefpomronga’.
‘Entu, don’t do this; it’s not healthy (mentally).’

Fwa lawk aysì’efuti ayeylankip lu fpomronga’.
‘It’s healthy among friends to discuss feelings.’

By the way, we used to have this distinction in English: there was “healthy” for a person and “healthful” for things that promoted health. So Alice would be healthy, but the salad she was eating would be healthful. Almost no one seems to observe that distinction anymore; the word ‘healthful’ has declined precipitously.

A note on pronunciation: When an ejective is immediately followed by a consonant, it can be hard to pronounce. In many such cases it’s simply pronounced as a “regular” stop, although there’s no change in the writing. So in particular,

__pxm__  –>   __pm__

__txn__     –>   __tn__

__kxng__  –>   __kng__

in pronunciation only. For example, fpomtokxnga’ is pronounced as if it were simply fpomtoknga’.

Also notice what happens to the pronunciation of kx in fpomtokx sì fpomron in one of the above examples.

And some miscellaneous vocabulary:

srefpìl (vtr., sre.FPÌL—inf. 2, 2) ‘assume’

Srefpìl is stronger than ’en si ‘guess,’ in that it reflects the speaker’s current understanding of a situation from the available data.

Srefpìl oel futa nga lu toktor Lìvìngsìton.
‘Doctor Livingstone, I presume.’

(That’s one of the example sentences that came directly from the LEP. I love it!)

Srefpìl may also be used intransitively with tsnì:

Srefpìl Omatikaya tsnì Tsyeyk kawkrr ke tayätxaw maw kavuk sneyä.
‘The Omaticaya assumed that Jake would never return after his treachery.’

(conj., SRE.fwa) ‘before’

This word corresponds to mawfwa ‘after.’ I was surprised to discover it wasn’t in the dictionary, so here it is.

Srefwa oe hum, new pivlltxe.
‘Before I leave, I want to speak.’

And finally, a pair of “correlatives”—words that go together in pairs.

ken’aw (adv., ken.’AW) ‘not only’

släkop (adv., SLÄ.kop) ‘but also’

Ken’aw is derived from ke + nì’aw; släkop is obviously slä + kop. They’re usually used together, although släkop can appear by itself as well.

Ngeyä tsmuke lu ken’aw lor släkop kanu.
‘Your sister is not only beautiful but also intelligent.’

Frakrr lu ngeyä sìpawm ngäzìk släkop letsranten.
‘Your questions are always difficult but also important.’

If you think these words are very like the corresponding words in English in their structure and use, you’re right. Needless to say there’s no connection between Na’vi and English (other than a few borrowed terms), but sometimes things in unrelated languages develop in parallel ways. This is an example of that phenomenon.

That’s it for now. Ayngari sìlpey oe tsnì ken’aw fpomtokx släkop fpomron yivo’. 🙂 Hayalovay!

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Stxeli Alor: The text

Here’s the text to the listening exercise in the previous post. If you haven’t already, I think it would be a great idea to listen to the narrative several times and try to write out what you hear. Then compare it to the text below.


Tengfya omum aynga, krrka tsawlultxa Uniltìrantokxolo’ä a mì LosÄntsyelesì vospxìam, kaymo zola’u frayultxatu ne kelku moeyä fte yivom wutsot, ftivia nì’it lì’fyati leNa’vi, ulte kiväteng nì’o’. Tsyanìri sì oeri loleiu tsakaym tsyeym angay.

Kaymkrrka tolel moel ta ayultxatu stxelit akosman—nìfkeytongay, mestxelit alu lora merel Tsyanä sì oeyä. Tsun aynga mesat tsive’a fìtseng:

Lu txantsan nìngay, kefyak? Fìmerelit ’ongolop awngeyä tsulfätul reltseoä alu Älìn. Tengfya tsun tsive’a, lupra eltur tìtxen si nìtxan. Relit oeyä ngolop Älìnìl fa hì’ia aylì’u leNa’vi, relit Tsyanä fa hì’ia aysìreyn. (Sunu Tsyanur tìreyn nìtxan.)

Fìmestxeli alor kur set ta kxemyo a mì helku moeyä.

Fìmeuiari seiyi moe irayo nìtxan, ma smuk. Moeru teya si nìngay.


And here’s the English translation:

As you know, during the Avatar Community Meet-up in Los Angeles last month, all the participants came to our house one evening to have dinner, study a little Na’vi, hang out together, and have fun. For John and me, that evening was a real treasure.

During the evening we received a wonderful gift from the participants—actually, two gifts: two beautiful pictures of John and me. You can see both of them here:

They’re excellent, aren’t they? The two portraits were created by our Master of Visual Arts, Alan. As you can see, the style is very interesting. Alan created my portrait out of little Na’vi words; John’s he created out of trains. (John likes trains a lot.)

These two beautiful gifts are now hanging on a wall in our home.

We thank you so much for this honor, brothers and sisters. We’re greatly touched.

One thing to note here is the adverb kaymo ‘one evening.’ As you can see, it’s simply kaym ‘evening’ with the indefinite –o suffix. You can use this same structure to form other such adverbs from many of the other words you know relating to time of day or the calendar:

trro                ‘one day’

rewono        ‘one morning’

ha’ngiro       ‘one afternoon’

txono            ‘one night’

kintrro         ‘one week’

muntrro      ‘one weekend’

vospxìo        ‘one month’

zìsìto             ‘one year’

Don’t confuse, for example, trr a’aw with trro. Both can be translated ‘one day,’ but their use is very different. Trro is an adverb, answering the question, When did it happen?

Po fnarmu frakrr, slä trro poltxe.
‘She was always silent, but one day she spoke.’

Trr a’aw or ’awa trr, on the other hand, is a noun phrase that can be the subject or object of a verb:

Fìtìkangkemviri oel kin ’awa trrti nì’aw.
‘For this project I only need one day.’

Stay tuned for some new vocabulary . . .

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Stxeli Alor–A Beautiful Gift

Kaltxì, ma smuk.

As a little listening exercise, I’d like to tell you about a beautiful gift John and I received.

First, a couple of new words you’ll need:

krrka (adp-, KRR.ka) ‘during’

tìreyn (n., tì.REYN) ‘train’ (borrowed from English)


PF pic 1


JB pic

PF pic 2

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Tsawlultxamaw a Aylì’u—Post-meetup Words

Kaltxì nìmun, ma frapo!

Another great North American meet-up of the lì’fyaolo’ and the wider Uniltìrantokxolo’ is now behind us. As you know, AvatarMeet 2014 was held in Los Angeles, and so it was a pleasure for my muntxatu alu John (alu Tawtutan aTstunwi) and me to be able to have old and new friends alike over to our house for an afternoon and evening of food, festivities, and fun.

Back at the hotel the next morning, I taught a Na’vi 103 class that picked up where last year’s class left off. Our very talented videographers Alan and Mikko taped the whole thing, and as soon as I let Alan know which misstatements I made that I’d rather not have preserved for posterity, he’ll be once again editing the raw footage into videos that will be posted online. Ngeyä tìkangkemìri atxantsan irayo nìli nìtxan, ma tsmuk!

And now for some new vocabulary. Irayo, as always, to the members of the LEP, whose suggestions are incorporated in some of these words.

First some concrete nouns:

ngoa (n., NGO.a) ‘mud’

Mawfwa zup tompa, lu ngoa atxan fìhapxìmì na’rìngä.
‘After rain, there’s a lot of mud in this part of the forest.’

(conj., MAW.fwa) ‘after’

Note: mawfwa and mawkrra are synonymous: they’re both conjunctions meaning ‘after’ and can be used interchangeably.

neni (n., ‘sand’

Neni lew si fìtxayor vay txampay nìwotx.
‘Sand covers this expanse all the way to the ocean.’

(n.) ‘dust (on a surface)’

fwopx (n.) ‘dust (in the air)’

Although English uses the same word for airborne dust and dust on the ground or on a surface, Na’vi makes a distinction. As you may have guessed, fwopx was originally derived from fwep + pìwopx ‘cloud.’

Slärìl ngaʼ fwepit atxan.
‘The cave is very dusty.’

Txewìl ʼolaku fwepit ftumfa kelku sneyä.
‘Txewì removed the dust from inside his house.’

Tsawke slolu vawm talun fwopx.
‘The sun became dark due to dust in the air.’

Next, a useful adverb:

nìyey (adv., nì.YEY) ‘directly, straight to the point; just’

You already know the word nìyeyfya, which indicates actual movement straight ahead or in a straight line. Nìyey, on the other hand, is metaphorical: it describes an action performed in a direct manner, without hesitation or distraction. So the Na’vi version of the famous Nike slogan is:

Kem si nìyey!
‘Just do it!’

You may be thinking, why not say Kem si nì’aw? That’s possible, but there’s a subtle difference in meaning between the two forms.

Ni’aw is ‘just’ in the sense of ‘only.’ It’s used, for example, in a situation where there’s a choice of A, B, or C, and you’re telling people to ignore A and B and only go with C. Pxirit fu swoat näk rä’ä; niväk payit nì’aw. ‘Don’t drink beer or spirits; just drink water.’ So Kem si nì’aw means something along the lines of, ‘If you have several options, one of which is acting, disregard the other options and just act.’

Nìyey is ‘just’ in the sense of ‘directly.’ So Kem si nìyey implies, ‘Don’t hesitate, don’t overthink it, don’t get distracted, just forge ahead and act.’

’al (vtr.) ‘waste’

Rä’ä ’ival syuvet!
‘Don’t waste food!’


tì’al (n., tì.’AL) ‘wastefulness’

Tì’al lu zoplo a tsari ke tsun txoa livu nìftue.
‘Wastlefulness is an offense that cannot easily be forgiven.’

(adj., le.’AL) ‘wasteful (not for people)’

Fwa sar payit fìtxan lu le’al.
‘Using this much water is wasteful.’

(adv., nì.’AL) ‘wastefully’

srey (n.) ‘version’

Fìsrey pukä alu Horen Lì’fyayä leNa’vi lu swey nìlaw.
This version of the book A Reference Grammar of Na’vi is clearly the best.

(n., LUP.ra) ‘style’

Plltxe frapo san fìfkxile lor lu nìngay sìk, slä oeri ke sunu oer lupra kaw’it.
‘Everybody says this necklace is really beautiful, but me, I don’t like the style one bit.’

(In the above example, note the double use of oeri/oer for emphasis and change of focus: Everybody is X, but as for me, I’m Y.)

The lup part of lupra shows up in compounds:

fyolup (adj., FYO.lup) ‘exquisite, sublime in style’

fe’lup (adj., FE’.lup) ‘tacky, in poor taste’

snolup (n., SNO.lup) ‘personal style or aesthetic, presence’

Por lu snolup a new frapo rì’ìr sivi.
‘He/She has a personal style that everyone wants to emulate.’

(vtr., ’O.ngop—infixes 2,2) ‘design’

Although on first glance it might look as if this verb is related to ’ong ‘unfold, blossom,’ it’s not. It actually comes from the noun ’on ‘shape, form’ + the verb ngop ‘create.’

Fìtskoti afyolup ’ongolop oeyä sempulìl.
‘This exquisite bow was designed by my father.’


’ongopyu (n., ’O.ngop.yu) ‘designer’

One more thing for now: Earlier this year I was invited to be part of the California Cognitive Science Conference at the University of California, Berkeley. This year’s theme was creativity. The talks are now online. Here’s mine:

This talk was a little different from the others I’ve given; you might find parts of the beginning and end interesting.

Hayalovay, ma smuk.

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Teri tsalì’u alu nìfkeytongay—About “nìfkeytongay”

I’ve been reminded that I haven’t yet officially introduced this useful word, although I had promised to in a comment in a previous post. So here it is:

nìfkeytongay (adv., nì ‘actually, as a matter of fact’

The word is most often used to contradict something already said or implied—to “set the record straight,” so to speak. For example:


(NUMEYU: Tok pesenget pamrelìl? Tsat ngal tswolänga’ nìlam.

PAWL: Nìfkeytongay ke tswola’ kaw’it. 🙂  )

Our Neytiri nailed the derivation of this word:

nì-[tìfkeytok+angay]—that is, “true situation-ly.” The historical stages along the way might have been:

*nìtìfkeytokangay > nìtfkeytokngay (unstressed vowels dropped) > nìfkeytongay (consonants at the end of syllables dropped, making the pronunciation easier and more flowing)

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