Looking back, looking forward

Kaltxì nìmun, ma eylan,

Tse, EuroAvatar 2013 is well behind us. And what a great meet-up it was! John and I were so happy to be able to get to know and spend time with members of the European Avatar community and lì’fyaolo’. The language classes, the radio play, the singing, the food, the wonderful birthday party for John, the great organization (irayo nìtxan, ma Passi!)—everything was fantastic.

And as icing on the cake, the Berlin meet-up was followed just over a week later by an unexpected but delightful mini-meet-up with French fans in Paris!

I’ve posted some pictures below, but first, here are a few vocabulary items plus a point of grammatical clarification that were prompted by the Berlin meet-up:

okup (n., O.kup) ‘milk’

Sa’nok prrnenur yomtìng fa okup sneyä.Tìng mikyun
‘A mother feeds an infant with her milk.’

loi (n., LO.i) ‘egg’

Rolun ayoel tsrulmì hì’ia pxeloit ateyr.Tìng mikyun
‘We found three little white eggs in the nest.’

tsyeym (n.) ‘treasure; something rare and of great value’

Käteng oe hu eylan Perlinmì a mrrtrr lu tsyeym a ke tsun tswiva’ kawkrr.Tìng mikyun
‘The (5-day) week I spent with my friends in Berlin is a treasure that I’ll never forget.’

The “double-dative” construction

As you know, to say ‘I sent my brother a message,’ you put the direct object of ‘send,’ i.e. the thing you sent (in this case, a message) in the objective or accusative case (the “t-case”), and the indirect object, i.e. the person to whom the message was sent,  in the dative case (the “ru-case”). And of course you use the agentive case for ‘I’:

Oel ’upxaret tsmukanur oeyä fpole’.Tìng mikyun
‘I sent my brother a message.’

But what if it’s ‘I wrote my brother a message’?

‘Write,’ as you know, is a si-construction, which has a different syntax: ‘I’ is in the subjective case, which is used with intransitive subjects, and the direct object in English becomes a dative in Na’vi. (I like to think of it as: ‘I do writing to a message.’ That’s terrible English but good Na’vi.) But what about ‘my brother’? Is that in the dative case too? Yes, it is:

Oe ’upxareru tsmukanur oeyä pamrel soli.Tìng mikyun
‘I wrote my brother a message.’

We call this a “double-dative” construction for the obvious reason.

The question that immediately comes up is this: given the two datives, one representing the direct object of ‘write’ and one the indirect object, will there ever be confusion as to which is which? Fortunately, this doesn’t happen. One of the datives is in the class of things that can be written (messages, notes, blog posts, books, etc.) and the other in the class of things that can be written to—basically, people. The two classes don’t overlap, so there’s no ambiguity.

Of course, writing was only introduced on Pandora with the advent of the Sawtute, so you might think that this construction was introduced at that time as well. But in fact it was already in place in the language. Consider law si, for example, which means ‘to make clear’:

Ralur law soli fo oeru.Tìng mikyun
‘They made the meaning clear to me.’

As with pamrel si, there’s no danger of ambiguity here. The other possible interpretation, ‘They made me clear to the meaning,’ makes no sense.

You may also recall Jake’s line from Avatar, which also has two datives:

Ma Eytukan, lu oeru aylì’u frapor.Tìng mikyun
‘Eytukan, I have something to say (to everyone).’

In this case, the word order allows you to interpret the sentence correctly. (‘Everyone has something to say to me’ would be Lu frapor aylì’u oeru.)

And now for the promised pictures.

Berlin welcoming committee at the train station:

Welcome party 1

Welcome party 3

Welcome party 2

At camp, we were welcomed by a genuine brass band!

Brass band

The birthday boy at his party:


What a beautiful cake!


We had some wonderful singers and musicians in our group:


Formal group portrait:


The Paris contingent!



Looking ahead:

Excitement is building for the U.S. Avatar Meet-up in the Washington, DC area (more precisely, at Shenandoah National Park in Virginia).


I’ll be teaching a Na’vi 102 class and an informal 101 refresher as well. John will be there too. We’re really looking forward to reconnecting with old friends and meeting new ones. Txo tsivun, rutxe ziva’u!

By the way, as I’m putting together the 102 class, if you have any ideas about content—anything in particular you’d like to hear about or practice that would suitable for a 102-level class, please let me know, either here or privately.

Vospìayvay, ma smuk.

Posted in General | 11 Comments

Zun . . . Zel: Counterfactual Conditionals

Kaltxì, ma eylan—

Fìpostì mektsengur teya si. This post fills a gap in our understanding of Na’vi syntax: counterfactual conditionals. The counterfactual structure is a bit complicated, so we’ll go slow, and if necessary, we’ll have further clarifications in subsequent posts.

First, some terminology. What is a conditional sentence? Simply one in “if … then” form. For example, “If you build it, they will come.” In such sentences, the “if” part specifying the condition is called the hypothesis (or if you want to be very fancy, the protasis); the “then” part is the consequence (or apodosis). But there’s no reason for us not to stick to the simple terms “if-part” and “then-part.”

You’re very familiar with the most frequent words for ‘if-then,’ txo and tsakrr. Txo ngal tsat txivula, (tsakrr) fo zaya’u. (Tsakrr is often omitted.) But there’s another pair of words for if-then: zun and zel respectively. They’re used for counterfactual conditionals—that is, for if-then sentences where you’re talking about something that didn’t happen or isn’t the case.

For example, compare these two sentences:

(1) Txo zivup tompa, (tsakrr) ke tsun oe kivä.Tìng mikyun
       ‘If it’s raining, (then) I can’t go.’

(2) Zun zivup tompa, zel ke tsivun oe kivä.Tìng mikyun
       ‘If it were raining, (then) I couldn’t go.’

In (1), I don’t know whether it’s raining or not—maybe it is, maybe it isn’t. (I haven’t looked out the window.) If it is raining, then I can’t go. (Usual implication: If it’s not raining, I can go.) In (2), however, it is not currently raining. If it were raining, then I couldn’t go. But it’s not. (Usual implication: Therefore, I can go.) So (2) is talking about a hypothetical situation that we know to be untrue—that is, a counterfactual situation.

To understand the counterfactual system, note two things: first, you always use zun and zel for ‘if-then’ (unlike tsakrr, zel cannot be omitted); second, the verb forms are in the subjunctive—that is, they take the various infixes that contain v. There are 5 such infixes, each built on the pattern -i_v-:

-i_v- + ∅          –>        –iv

-i_v- + r           –>        –irv

-i_v- + m         –>        –imv

-i_v- + l            –>        –ilv

-i_v- + y           –>       *-iyv–      –>     –iyev– OR –ìyev

So those are the tools we have to work with. Now let’s look at both sentence parts in turn:

The ‘if’ part

A. Something that is not presently the case:

Zun livu oe Olo’eyktan . . .
‘If I were Clan Leader . . .’ (but I’m not)

Zun nga yawne livu oer . . .
‘If I loved you . . .’ (but I don’t)

Zun oe pxiset tirvaron . . .
‘If I were hunting right now . . .’ (but I’m not)

For these situations, we use either the simplest form of the subjunctive infix, –iv-, or the –irv– form to indicate ongoing action.

B. Something that was not the case in the past:

Zun limvu oe Olo’eyktan . . .
‘If I had been Clan Leader . . .’ (but I wasn’t)

Zun nga yawne limvu oer . . .
‘If I had loved you . . .’ (but I didn’t)

Zun nga fìtìkangkemvir hasey silvi . . .
‘If you had completed this project . . .’ (but you didn’t)

For these situations, we use either –imv– (if the past nature of the action is the most important thing) or –ilv– (if the emphasis is on the completion of the action). Often the choice between the two is arbitrary. Note that in counterfactuals there’s no special form for ongoing action in the past; you just have to tell it from the context. So Zun oe timvaron means either ‘If I had hunted’ or ‘If I had been hunting.’

C. Something that will not be the case in the future:

This one is relatively rare, but still possible:

Zun tompa ziyevup trray . . .
‘If it rained tomorrow . . .’ (although we know that of course it won’t)

Here too there’s no special form for ongoing action.

The ‘then’ part

A’. Something that is not presently the case:

. . . zel oe ngaru srung sivi set.
‘. . . then I would help you now.’ (but in fact I’m not helping you)

. . . zel oe ’ivefu nitram.
‘. . . then I would be happy.’ (but I’m not)

. . . zel oe rirvol pxiset.
‘. . . then I would be singing right now.’ (but I’m not)

B’. Something that was not the case in the past:

. . . zel oe ngaru srung silvi.
‘. . . then I would have helped you.’ (but I didn’t)

. . . zel oe ’imvefu nitram.
‘. . . then I would have been happy.’ (but I wasn’t)

. . . zel oe rimvol pxiset.
‘. . . then I would have sung/would have been singing.’ (but I didn’t/wasn’t)

C’. Something that will not be the case in the future

. . . zel fo sriyevew.
‘. . . then they would do a dance.’ (but they won’t)

The if- and then-parts can combine in different ways. Some examples:

A with A’:
Zun oe yawne livu ngar, zel ’ivefu oe nitram nì’aw.Tìng mikyun
‘If you loved me, I would be so happy.’
(but you don’t, and I’m not)

B with B’:
Zun oe yawne limvu ngar, zel ’imvefu oe nitram nì’aw.Tìng mikyun
‘If you had loved me, I would have been so happy.’
(but you didn’t, and I wasn’t)

C with C’:
Zun tompa zìyevup trray, zel fo srìyevew.Tìng mikyun
‘If it rained tomorrow, they’d do a dance.’
(but it won’t, and they won’t)

B with A’:
Zun ngal tsafnesyuvet timvìng oer, zel livu oe txur fìtrr.Tìng mikyun
‘If you had given me that kind of food, I would be strong today.’
(but you didn’t, and I’m not)

A with B’:
Zun ayoe livu tsamsiyu, zel tsakem ke simvi.Tìng mikyun
‘If we were warriors, we wouldn’t have done that.’
(but we’re not, and we did)

B with C’:
Zun nga srung silvi oer, zel ke kìyevä oe ne Wasyìngton kintrray.Tìng mikyun
‘If you had helped me, I wouldn’t be going to Washington next week.’
(but you didn’t, and I am)

One more wrinkle:

In the first three examples above—A with A’, B with B’, C with C’—the forms of the verb in both parts of the sentence are the same: livu/’ivefu, limvu/’imvefu, zìyevup/srìyevew. In such cases—and only in such cases—the verb in the zel-part of the sentence may optionally go into the root form, losing the subjunctive infixes. This simplification occurs very often in colloquial speech and frequently in more formal speech as well. Repeating the three sentences above in this simplified form:

Zun oe yawne livu ngar, zel ’efu oe nitram nì’aw.Tìng mikyun
‘If you loved me, I would be so happy.’

Zun oe yawne limvu ngar, zel ’efu oe nitram nì’aw.Tìng mikyun
‘If you had loved me, I would have been so happy.’

Zun tompa zìyevup trray, zel fo srew.Tìng mikyun
‘If it rained tomorrow, they’d do a dance.’

I think that’s plenty for one post. :-)

Don’t worry if you don’t assimilate these structures immediately—it may take some time to get used to them. But you will.

Hayalovay, ma smuk.

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Sìn Asok, Sìn Zusawkrrä—Recent and Upcoming Activities

Ma smuk,

I thought you might like to hear about some of the Na’vi-related things I’ve been doing and am planning to do soon.

First, there’s this very nice segment in the PBS web series “The Secret Life of Scientists & Engineers” which has been online for a while now. The taping was done here in Burbank, California last fall. If you scroll down, there’s a little Na’vi word puzzle I constructed that the aysulfätu lì’fyayä will find very easy (but try to fill in all the blanks without using the dictionary!) but that others might find challenging.

And keep checking the site for the appearance of Prrton’s contest-winning Na’vi haiku! It’s coming.

A week ago I was down in San Diego for this event at UCSD—the University of California San Diego—put on by the linguistics department.

It was quite a success. The audience was the biggest I’ve ever had—700 people! I guess that’s what happens when you put Star Trek, Avatar, and Game of Thrones together. :-) You can read about it here.

In the video on that page, my self-introduction in Na’vi could have been better—the “f” in fko (Oeru syaw fko . . . ) didn’t come out clearly. But it was there in my mind!

Oh, and here’s a picture of the three of us. The fellow in the middle is David Peterson, creator of the Dothraki language for “Game of Thrones” and the languages for the new TV series “Defiance.” And of course the guy on the right is Marc Okrand, the father of Klingon.

San Diego 4-19-13

Photo by Grant Goodall

As for the future, I’m very excited about our upcoming trip to Europe, the highlight of which will be the EuroAvatar meet-up in Berlin. John and I will arrive on May 12. I hope we’ll get to meet some of you there!

And in July I’m very much looking forward to attending the U.S. AvatarMeet in Washington, DC, where I hope to connect with old friends and meet new ones.

Hayalovay . . . Eywa ayngahu nìwotx.

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“Where’s the bathroom?” and other useful things

Kaltxì, ma frapo.

We haven’t had much new vocabulary in a while, so here are some aylì’u amip to fill a mektseng or two (see below) that I hope you’ll find useful. Some of these were requests from the Euro-Avatar folks relating to the upcoming May Meet-up in Berlin; some were suggestions from the LEP; one was a request from a journalist who wanted to know how to say “Where’s the bathroom?” in Na’vi.  :-)

txurtel (n., TXUR.tel) ‘rope’

The etymology does not involve the verb tel ‘receive’ but rather the noun telem ‘cord,’ which has been shortened in the compound: txur + telem > txurtelem > txurtel, ‘strong cord = rope.’

ropx (n.) ‘hole (going clear through an object)’

tsongropx (n., TSONG.ropx) ‘hole, cavity, excavation with a bottom (visible or presumed)’

Here the derivation is tsong ‘valley’ + ropx.

If a tree trunk has a hole in it that goes clear through from one side to another, so that you can look into the hole and see daylight out the other end, it’s a ropx. But if the hole only goes partially through the tree trunk, it’s a tsongropx.

Fìfneyayol tsrulit txula mì songropx utralä fte aylinit hivawnu wä sarnioang. Fìtìkanìri ropx ke ha’.Tìng mikyun
‘This kind of bird builds its nest in a tree cavity so as to protect its young from predators. For this purpose, a hole going right through the tree trunk isn’t suitable.’

tsrul (n.) ‘nest; protected area serving as the home of Pandoran fauna’

(If you need to make clear that it’s a bird’s nest, the word, as you might suspect, is yayotsrul (n., YA.yo.tsrul).

lini (n., LI.ni) ‘young of an animal, bird, fish, insect’

tarnioang (n., TAR.ni.o.ang) ‘predator animal’ (from taron + ioang)

rong (n.) ‘tunnel’

swek (n.) ‘bar, rod, pole’

mektseng (n., MEK.tseng) ‘gap, breach’

Tsenga ’awstengyäpem fìmekemyo lu mektseng a tsun fpxiväkìm hì’ang tsawìlä.Tìng mikyun
‘Where these two walls come together there’s a gap through which insects can get in.’

tsenga (conj., TSE.nga) ‘where, place where’

fta (n.) ‘knot’

fta si (vin.) ‘knot, make or tie a knot’

fwi (vin.) ‘slip, slide’

Nari si! Klltesìn lu pay atxan. Fwi rä’ä!Tìng mikyun
‘Be careful! There’s a lot of water on the ground. Don’t slip!’

Txurtelmì fo fta soli fteke ka tsyokx fwivi.Tìng mikyun
‘They tied a knot in the rope so it wouldn’t slip through their hands.’

Poti fweykoli ayoel ìlä rong.Tìng mikyun
‘We let him slide through the tunnel.’

A note on pronunciation: When an ejective at the end of a syllable is followed by another consonant, as in ka tsyokx fwivi above, pìwopxlok, kxitxmaw, etc., the ejective can be quite difficult to pronounce. In these cases, it’s natural for the ejective to be pronounced as if it were a regular stop. For example, pìwopxlok is pronounced as if it were spelled pìwoplok, even though the actual spelling doesn’t change. (Interestingly, this doesn’t happen with words like atxkxe ‘land’ and ekxtxu ‘rough.’Tìng mikyun There the two ejectives coming together are quite pronounceable!)

oìsss si (vin., o.ÌSSS) ‘hiss’

To hiss as someone is oìsss si fkoru:

Nga lumpe oìsss soli por?Tìng mikyun
‘Why did you hiss at him?’

il (vin.) ‘bend’

This verb is used for something straight that bends or hinges at a joint. In fact, the word for joint, til, which you already know, developed from *tìil.

Txo vul ivil nìhawng kxìyevakx.Tìng mikyun
‘If a branch bends too much, it might break.’

kxakx (vin.) ‘break, snap in two’

The causative form of il, eykil, which means ‘bend’ in the transitive sense—i.e., ‘bend something’—can sometimes be used to express the idea of pulling two things together:

Metewit fìswekä eykivil.Tìng mikyun
‘Pull the two ends of this bar together.’

ftumfa (adp-, FTUM.fa) ‘out of, from inside’

This word comes from ftu + mìfa, just as nemfa comes from ne + mìfa.

Riti tswolayon ftumfa slär.Tìng mikyun
The stingbat flew out of the cave.

Reypay skxirftumfa herum.Tìng mikyun
‘Blood is coming out of (literally: exiting from the inside of) the wound.’

sä’eoio (n., sä.’E.o.i.o) ‘ceremony, ritual, rite’

sä’eoio si (vin.) ‘take part in a ceremony, perform a ritual’

Fwa tsyìl Ayramit Alusìng lu sä’eoio a zene frapo sivi fte slivu taronyu.Tìng mikyun
Climbing Iknimaya is a ritual that everyone has to perform to become a hunter.’

kur (vin.) ‘hang’

Fkxile pewnta tutéyä kur.Tìng mikyun
‘The bib necklace hangs from the woman’s neck.’

The transitive ‘hang,’ i.e. to hang something on something, is simply keykur:

’Ali’ät vulsìn keykur za’u fìtseng.Tìng mikyun
Hang the choker on the branch and come here.’

Note: If you compare kur ‘hang’ with zup ‘fall,’ you’ll notice we have the word tungzup for ‘drop’—i.e., ‘let fall.’ Do we also have the causative form of zup, that is, zeykup? Yes we do. So what’s the difference?

Although there’s some overlap, tungzup is generally used for an accidental or inadvertent action, while zeykup generally implies a deliberate act.

Hìtxoa. Oel tsngalit tìmungzup.Tìng mikyun
‘Sorry. I just dropped the cup (accidentally).’

(We’ll have more about the syntax of tung and tung compounds another time. For now, just observe that tungzup is transitive.)

Ngeyä tskoti zeykup! Set!Tìng mikyun
‘Drop your bow! Now!’

Since it’s unusual to hang something on an object accidentally, a word parallel to tungzup, *tungkur, never developed. In general, however, if you need to specify that an action was either deliberate or accidental and you don’t have pairs like zeykup and tungzup to fall back on, you can use the following adverbs:

nìtkan (adv., nìt.KAN) ‘purposefully, deliberately’

nìtkanluke (adv., nìt.KAN.lu.ke) ‘accidentally, unintentionally’

nui (vin., NU.i) ‘fail, falter, go astray, not obtain expected or desired result’

This word is the opposite of flä ‘succeed.’

Oe fmoli nuängi.Tìng mikyun
‘I tried, but unfortunately I failed.’

Rumit a nolui rä’ä fewi.Tìng mikyun
‘Don’t chase after a foul ball.’

Nui is also used in the sense of ‘mess up’ or ‘do wrong,’ similarly to tìkxey si but stronger. With special emphasis, it’s the usual expression for placing blame:

Nolui NGA!Tìng mikyun
‘YOU failed! It’s YOUR fault! YOU’RE the one who messed up!’

Additionally, nui gives us the important adverb nìnu, which is difficult to translate into English. It indicates an action that didn’t achieve its expected or desired result, that “misfired” in some way.

nìnu (adv., nì.NU) ‘failingly, falteringly, in vain, fruitlessly, not achieving the desired or expected end’

Oeru txoa livu. Poltxänge nìnu.Tìng mikyun
‘Forgive me. I misspoke.’

Kllte lu ekxtxu. Nari si txokefyaw tìran nìnu.Tìng mikyun
‘The ground is rough. Be careful or you’ll trip.’

Note that plltxe nìnu can mean either ‘misspeak’ (i.e., make an error in speaking) or ‘speak in vain’ (i.e., speak correctly but not get the result you were hoping for). Context will usually decide which meaning applies.

Derived forms:

tìnui (n., tì.NU.i) ‘failure (abstract concept)’

Fìtxeleri tìnui ke lu tìftxey.Tìng mikyun
‘In this matter, failure is not an option.’

sänui  (n., sä.NU.i) ‘failure (particular instance of failure)’

Oeyk tsatìsnaytxä lu apxa sänui tìeyktanä.Tìng mikyun
‘That loss was caused by a great failure of leadership.’

Fìsänuit zene nga tswiva’, ma ’itan. Ke tsranten kaw’it. Am’aluke nì’i’a nga flayä.Tìng mikyun
‘You must forget about this failure, my son. It means nothing. There’s no question that you’ll succeed in the end.’

And finally:

fngä’ (vin.) ‘relieve oneself; (on Earth:) use the restroom, go to the bathroom’

Fko tsun fngivä’ peseng?Tìng mikyun
‘Where is the bathroom?’ (Literally: ‘Where can one relieve oneself?’)


Edit: In sänui example, zene ngal –> zene nga. Irayo, ma Tirea Aean!

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Whoever, Whatever, Whenever . . .

Kaltxì ayngaru, ma eylan—

We’re all familiar with the verb tsranten, which means ‘matter, be important,’ as in:

Yola krr, txana krr, ke tsranten.Tìng nari
‘It doesn’t matter how long it takes.’

The negative phrase ke tsranten yields the important word ketsran—not a verb but an adjective and conjunction—that’s used where English uses “compound relative pronouns” like whoever, whatever, whenever, etc. to show that the particular identity of someone or something doesn’t matter.

ketsran (adj./conj., ke.TSRAN) ‘no matter, no matter what, whatever’

Here’s an example:

Ketsrana tute a nivew hivum tsun tsakem sivi.Tìng nari
‘Whoever wants (or: may want) to leave can do so.’

Here ketsran is an adjective. The subject of the sentence is ketsrana tute, which is translated as ‘whoever,’ although it could just as well be ‘whatever person.’ Note that Na’vi doesn’t use pe- in such cases: you can’t say *ketsrana peu. (But see below.)

Sometimes, though, ketsran acts as a conjunction, linking a subordinate clause to the main clause. In such cases, of course, it doesn’t take the adjective -a-.

Ketsran tute nivew hivum, poru plltxe san rutxe ’ivì’awn.Tìng nari
‘No matter who wants (or: may want) to leave, tell them to please stay.’

In sentences like this one, it may be helpful to think of ketsran as occupying the same slot as other conjunctions, for example txo. (Txo tuteo nivew hivum, poru plltxe . . . )

Let’s have a few more examples:

Ketsran tsengne nga kivä, kä oe tsatseng nìteng.Tìng nari
‘Wherever you go, I’ll go there too.’

’U aketsran tsun tivam.Tìng nari
‘Anything at all will be fine.’

Ketsran fya’o sivunu ngar, kem si.Tìng nari
‘Do it however you’d like.’

Ketsran tutel ’ivem, tsafnetsngan lu ftxìvä’.Tìng nari
‘That kind of meat is gross no matter who cooks it.’

Pukit aketsran ivinan.Tìng nari
‘Read any book at all.’

This last example prompts a caution: be careful not to confuse the two similar-sounding adjectives ketsran and kesran. The distinction is easier in reading/writing than in speaking/listening, so in conversation you’ll have to pay close attention to the difference.

Pukit aketsran ivinan.Tìng nari
‘Read any book at all.’

Pukit akesran ivinan.Tìng nari
‘Read a mediocre book.’

(I wonder if there’s a pithy Na’vi proverb that plays on the similarity between ketsran and kesran. :-)  )

Note also that in colloquial speech, ketsran by itself can be a response to a question:

Nga new yivom ’upet fìtxon?Tìng nari
‘What do you want to eat tonight?’
Ketsran. Oeru ke’u.Tìng nari
‘Whatever. (Or: Anything at all.) I don’t care.’

And note that in the colloquial expression Oeru (ngaru, poru, etc.) ke’u, the stress in ke’u shifts to the second syllable: ke.U.

Oe tìkangkem si trrtxon nìwotx, ngaru ke’u!Tìng nari
‘I work all day and all night, and you don’t give a damn!’

Finally, there’s an alternate way to express some of these ideas that doesn’t use ketsran but instead the full form ke tsranten and, in fact, interrogative pe-:

Teynga pesu nivew hivum ke tsranten, poru plltxe san rutxe ’ivì’awn.Tìng nari
‘No matter who wants (or: may want) to leave, tell them to please stay.’
[Literally: The answer (to the question) who wants to leave doesn’t matter, tell them to please stay.]

This is wordier than the ketsran version, however.

Lì’u alu ketsran tsranten nìtxan nìlaw!


Edit 02 April: *ketsrana pe’u –> *ketsrana peu. Irayo, ma Kemaweyan!

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Tsan’erul, Fe’erul—Getting Better, Getting Worse

Here are some useful expressions for improvement and its opposite.

tsan’ul (vin., TSAN.’ul—inf. 2, 2) ‘improve, get better’

fe’ul (vin., FE.’ul—inf. 2, 2) ‘worsen, get worse’

These are compounds built on ’ul, ‘increase,’ along with the adjectives for good and bad. (Sìltsan here has shortened to tsan.) So “improve” increases the good, “worsen” increases the bad.

Notice that these verbs are intransitive—that is, something is improving or worsening. We’ll get to the transitive versions (to improve something or make something worse) in just a moment.


Lì’fyari leNa’vi nga tsan’ereiul fratrr.Tìng mikyun
‘I’m delighted that your Na’vi is improving every day.’

Sawtuteri tìfkeytok ke tsan’olul kaw’it.Tìng mikyun
‘The situation with the Skypeople hasn’t improved one bit.’

Ke tsun oe tslivam teyngta tìrusol peyä lumpe fe’ul krra oe tìng mikyun.Tìng mikyun
‘I can’t understand why her singing gets worse when I listen.’


tìtsan’ul (n., tì.TSAN.’ul) ‘improvement (in the general or abstract sense)’

tìfe’ul (n., tì.FE.’ul) ‘worsening (in the general or abstract sense)’

Tskxekengluke ke lu kea tìtsan’ul.Tìng mikyun
‘Without practice there is no improvement.’

Tìtsan’ulìri lu ngaru aysämok srak?Tìng mikyun
‘Do you have any suggestions for improvement?’

sätsan’ul (n., sä.TSAN.’ul) ‘improvement (specific instance)’

säfe’ul (n., sä.FE.’ul) ‘worsening (specific instance)’

Set plltxe nga nìltsan nìngay. Fìsätsan’ulìri ngeyä lu oeru sko haryu nrra.Tìng mikyun
‘You speak really well now. As your teacher, I’m proud of your improvement.’

Peyä sängä’änìri lu säfe’ul leyewla nìtxan.Tìng mikyun
‘The worsening of his depression is very disappointing.’

The transitive versions of improve and worsen simply use the causative infix : tsan’eykul, fe’eykul. (Stress, of course, remains on the first syllable in each case.) To improve something is to cause it to get better, etc.

Rutxe fìtìoeyktìngit tsan’eykivul. Ke lu law kaw’it.Tìng mikyun
‘Please improve this explanation. It’s not at all clear.’

Ngeyä tsaylì’ul tìfkeytokit fe’eykolul nì’aw.Tìng mikyun
‘Those words of yours have only made the situation worse.’

Sìlpey oe, ayngari fra’u a mì sìrey vivar tsan’ivul frafya, ma eylan. :)

frafya (adv., FRA.fya) ‘in every way’

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Tsamsiyu a mì Saw ’Rrtayä! Warrior in Our Sky!

Fì’uti nivìn, ma smuk: Tsamsiyu

Not just an ikran in the skies of Earth, but one that’s called Tsamsiyu!

Am’aluke ’erong Na’vi mì seng a eltur tìtxen si! :-)

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Vospxì Ayol, Postì Apup—Short Post for a Short Month

Ma eylan,

Just a relatively short post before the month ends . . . slä nìsìlpey pum a nga’ aylì’fyavit lesar. :-)

flrr (adj.) ‘gentle, mild, tender’

This word can be used for both people and things.

Keng tsamsiyu zene flrr livu ayevenghu.Tìng mikyun
‘Even a warrior must be gentle with children.’

Flrra tompa zerup.Tìng mikyun
‘A gentle rain is falling.’


nìflrr (adv., nì.FLRR) ‘gently, tenderly’

Zene fko ’ivampi prrnenit nìflrr frakrr.Tìng mikyun
‘One must always touch a baby gently.’

tìflrr (n., tì.FLRR) ‘gentleness, tenderness’

Hufwa mefo leru muntxatu txankrr, mi lu munsnar hona tìflrr a na pum meyawnetuä amip nìwotx.Tìng mikyun
‘Although the two of them have been mates a long time, they still have all the adorable tenderness of new sweethearts.’

ngä’än (vin., ngä.’ÄN—inf. 1, 2) ‘suffer mentally or emotionally, be miserable’

Note that ngä’än refers to an emotional state of being; it may or may not be accompanied by physical pain.

Srane, skxir tìsraw si nìtxan, slä ke ngerä’än oe kaw’it.Tìng mikyun
‘Yes, the wound is very painful, but I’m not in the least suffering emotionally (i.e., my mental state is fine).’

Tìsraw letokx sì tìngusä’än pxìm täpare fìtsap.Tìng mikyun
‘Physical pain and mental suffering are often interrelated.’

Snafpìlfyari leNa’vi krra smarit fkol tspang, tsranten nìtxan fwa po ke ngä’än nìkelkin.Tìng mikyun
‘It’s important in Na’vi philosophy that the prey not suffer unnecessarily when it’s killed.’

kelkin (adj., kel.KIN) ‘unnecessary’

nìkelkin (adv., nì.kel.KIN) ‘unnecessarily’


sängä’än (n., sä.ngä.’ÄN) ‘bout of suffering; episode of depression’

Ngeyä tsasängä’äntsyìpìri set frawzo srak?Tìng mikyun
‘Have you recovered from being down for a while?’


When –nay is added to a noun, it creates a new noun that is related to the original by being a step down in some relevant hierarchy—size, rank, accomplishment, etc. This isn’t as complicated as it sounds. Take a look at these examples (and note that when –nay is added to a noun ending in n, one of the n’s drops, as expected):

ikran ‘mountain banshee’
ikranay ‘forest banshee, lesser banshee’ (smaller cousin to the mountain banshee)

’eylan ‘friend’
’eylanay ‘acquaintance (with the potential of becoming a friend)’

eyktan ‘leader’
eyktanay ‘deputy, general, one step down in rank from leader’

tsulfätu ‘master’
tsulfätunay ‘near-master’

karyu ‘teacher’
karyunay ‘apprentice teacher’

This suffix is not productive, and the exact meaning of –nay nouns is not always predictable. So such words and their meanings must be learned individually.

Note also that unlike most other suffixes, -nay receives the main stress: ikraNAY, ’eylaNAY, eyktaNAY, tsulfätuNAY, karyuNAY.


In English we sometimes hear things like, “She’s a beautiful, beautiful woman” as a way of saying “She’s an extremely beautiful woman.” Something similar occurs in Na’vi, where the structure is more common than in English:

Lu po lora tuté alor.Tìng mikyun
‘She’s an extremely beautiful woman.’

In speech, the second occurrence of the adjective is stressed more than the first: lora tuté ALOR.

In the above example, we’re using this double-adjective structure in a noun phrase: lora tuté alor, ‘an extremely beautiful woman.’ Can we also use it for sentences like, “That woman is extremely beautiful”? Yes, but it’s awkward:

Tsatuté lu lora pum alor.Tìng mikyun
‘That woman is an extremely beautiful one.’

That’s not a problem, however, since we already have a number of ways to intensify a predicate adjective: lor nìtxan, lor nìtxan nang, lor nì’aw, etc. So using the double-adjective structure for sentences like this last example isn’t necessary.

Finally, some nice proverbial expressions from the LEP:

Fwa kan ke tam; zene swizawit livonu.Tìng mikyun
Literally: ‘To aim is not enough; one must release the arrow.’
Meaning: ‘Intent is not enough; it’s action that counts.’

Txìm a’aw ke tsun hiveyn mì tal mefa’liyä.Tìng mikyun
Literally: ‘One butt can’t sit on the backs of two direhorses.’
Meaning: ‘You can’t take both positions or sit on the fence; you need to decide.’

That’s it for now. Vospxìayvay!  😉

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Lì’fyari po peyì? How good is her Na’vi?

This post introduces the important noun and its use in talking about different levels of things, including attainment in language.

(n.) ‘shelf, ledge, level, step, rung’

The basic meaning of is that of a small, flat area on which one can stand or place an object, such as a foot.

Tsayerik kllkxem sìn yì akxayl. Tìng mikyun
‘That yerik is standing on a high ledge.’

Ngey tskoti yem tsayìsìn tsakrr za’u fìtseng! Tìng mikyun
‘Put your bow on that ledge and come here!’

(Ngey rather than ngeyä, as you know, is very familiar and colloquial, and sometimes a bit rude.)

When Mo’at first appears in Uniltìrantokx to examine Jake, she descends a series of levels rather like a staircase.

snayì (n., sna.YÌ) ‘staircase, series of step-like levels’

Kllzola’u Mo’at fa snayì tengkrr perlltxe san Aynga neto rivikx! Tìng mikyun
Mo’at came down the (natural) stairway saying, “Get back, all of you!”

A can also be a cutout, shelf, or hole—any cavity with a flat bottom surface—in a tree, cliff, or mountain, on which you can place your foot as you climb.

Ke tsun oe fì’awkxit tsyivìl. Ke lu tsaru kea yì. Tìng mikyun
‘I can’t scale this cliff. It doesn’t have any footholds.’

The importance of lies in the fact that it can be used metaphorically to refer to the level of anything scalable—anything that can have levels or degrees, highs and lows: water level, temperature, talent, anger, etc. For example:

Taluna vospxìo amrr ke zolup tompa, längu yì kilvanä tìm nìtxan. Tìng mikyun
Because it hasn’t rained for five months, the river level is very low.

Nari si, ma Tsyeyk! Neytiriri lu yì tìstiyä kxayl nìngay. Tìng mikyun
Be careful, Jake! Neytiri is really angry.

There are two different grammatical structures that go with questions, and you’re generally free to choose whichever one you like.

The first uses tok: you occupy a certain level. That structure, of course, is transitive:

Lì’fyari pol tok peyìt? Tìng mikyun
‘How good is her Na’vi?’

Literally, the sentence above is saying, “As for language, what level does she occupy?”

That, by the way, is how it’s said on Pandora, since there, “language” means “the Na’vi language.” Mì ’Rrta, however, that could be confusing, since there are many languages we could be asking about. So it’s often best to say, “Lì’fyari leNa’vi pol tok peyìt?”

The second structure is intransitive: you stand on a certain level:

Lì’fyari po kllkxem sìn peyì? Tìng mikyun
‘How good is her Na’vi?’

Kllkxem sìn is the general expression for standing on anything—a ledge, rock, hill, etc. Note that the common phrase sìn peyì is pronounced as if it were spelled sìm peyì, although the n doesn’t change in writing.

The previous example is somewhat formal; in speech, there are two informal variants. First, kllkxem may be dropped:

Lì’fyari po sìn peyì? Tìng mikyun
‘How good is her Na’vi?’

And in even less formal situations, sìn may be dropped as well:

Lì’fyari po peyì? Tìng mikyun
‘How good is her Na’vi?’

In all of these, however, kllkxem sìn is understood.

I’ll leave you with some examples of questions and answers using .

First note the following compounds:

kxaylyì (n., KXAYL.yì) ‘high level’

kxamyì (n., KXAM.yì) ‘intermediate level’

tìmyì (n., TÌM.yì) ‘low level’

Lì’fyari tsatawtute peyì? Tìng mikyun
‘How is that Sky Person’s Na’vi?’

Kxaylyì. Ke tsun oe spivaw. Slolu po tsulfätu lì’fyayä awngeyä. Tìng mikyun
‘It’s excellent. I can’t believe it. He’s become a master of our language.’

Kxamyì. Plltxe nìksran, slä tsun fko peyä aylì’ut tslivam. Tìng mikyun
‘It’s intermediate. His speech is mediocre, but you can understand him.’

Tìmyì. Pol ke tslam stum ke’ut, omum lì’ut avol nì’aw. Tìng mikyun
‘Pretty bad. He understands almost nothing and only knows eight words.’

Furia täftxu ngal tok yìpet? Tìng mikyun
‘How’s your weaving?’

Tok yìt akesran. Tìng mikyun
‘I’m so-so.’

Fol fnan futa ’em teylut a fì’u sìn peyì? Tìng mikyun
‘How good are they at cooking teylu?’

The above example is important to understand. The question is, what’s the a fì’u doing there? (With the other way of saying it, Fwa fol fnan futa ’em teylut sìn peyì? the question is similar: Why do we need the fwa (= fì’u a)?) The answer is that with peyì, the metaphorical idea of standing on a particular level is still very strong. If kllkxem or both kllkxem and sìn are omitted, which they may be, they nevertheless remain as “understood,” and it must be possible to put them back into the sentence. Something has to be standing on the level, and that something is fì’u, modified appropriately with a and a clause. A literal translation into horrible English that makes this explicit would be: ‘The they’re-good-at-cooking-teylu thing stands on what level?’ The moral of the story is, don’t be tempted to omit fwa/a fì’u in peyì questions. You can’t say *Po plltxe peyì? ‘How well does he speak?’ It’s either Fwa po plltxe peyì? or Po plltxe a fì’u peyì?

Sìn yì sngä’iyuä, slä tsyerìl (haya yìne) nì’ul’ul. Tìng mikyun
‘They’re at a beginner’s level, but they’re getting better and better.’
(Literally: climbing more and more (to the next level).)

Fwa ngeyä tsmukan tul nìwin sìn peyì? Tìng mikyun
‘How fast does your brother run?’

Sìn yì a ke tsun kawtu spivaw, nìwin frato. Tìng mikyun
‘He runs at an incredible level, faster than anyone else.’

Edit: vospxì amrr –> vospxìo amrr  Irayo, ma Blue Elf! Irayo, ma Plumps!

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’Awvea Postì Zìsìtä Amip—First Post of the New Year

Kaltxì nìmun, ma smuk. Sìlpey oe, ayngari nìwotx sngilvä’i zìsìt amip nìltsan nìtxan nì’aw.

I hope 2013 has gotten off to a fine start for all of you.

Here are a few new vocabulary items and some grammatical discussion as well. Thanks as always to the LEP for the competent and creative suggestions.

rengop (vtr., RE.ngop—inf. 2, 2) ‘design’

This verb is derived from renu ‘pattern’ + ngop ‘create.’

Ngeyä tsafkxilet tupel rengolop? Tì’efumì oeyä lor lu nìtxan. Tìng mikyun
Who designed that necklace of yours? I think it’s very beautiful.


tìrengop (n., tì.RE.ngop) ‘design (the act or art of designing)

Tìrengopìri ioiyä lu sempul peyä tsulfätu. Tìng mikyun
Her father is a master designer of ceremonial adornments.

särengop (n, sä.RE.ngop) ‘design (a particular instance of designing)’

Faysärengopit avä’ oeru rä’ä wìntxu nìmun, rutxe. Ke sunu oer keng nì’it. Tìng mikyun
‘Please don’t show me these ugly designs again. I don’t like them one bit.’

ingyen (n., ING.yen) ‘feeling of mystery or noncomprehension’

Lu oer ingyen a Ìstaw nim lu fìtxan kuma pxìm wäpan. Tìng mikyun
‘It’s a mystery to me why (or: I’m puzzled that) Ìstaw is so shy that he frequently hides.’

Note: The syntax here—that is, lu oer(u) ingyen a . . . —is comparable to lu oer sngum a ‘I’m worried that . . .’ and lu oer yayayr a ‘I’m confused that . . .’ All three nouns—sngum, yayayr, and ingyen—represent internal subjective states, that is, things you feel.

If, however, you want to talk about the things in the world that bring about these states, you use different forms of the words:

sngumtsim (n., SNGUM.tsim) ‘worrisome matter, source of worry’

yayayrtsim (n., ya.YAYR.tsim) ‘something confusing, source of confusion’

ingyentsim (n., ING.yen.tsim) ‘mystery, riddle, enigma, conundrum’

These N + tsim compounds, where the general meaning is ‘source of N,’ cannot be created freely—they have to be learned separately and entered in the dictionary. But if you encounter a tsim-compound you haven’t seen before, you should be able to guess its meaning pretty accurately.

With these forms, we have a second syntactic structure to express ideas like worry, confusion, and mystery:

A. Lu oer sngum a po ke zola’u. Tìng mikyun
B. Lu oer sngumtsim fwa po ke zola’u. Tìng mikyun
(OR: Fwa po ke zola’u lu oer sngumtsim.Tìng mikyun

These mean essentially the same thing. A literal translation of A into clumsy English would be, “I have a feeling of worry that he didn’t come.” B would be: “It’s a source of worry to me that he didn’t come.”

One advantage of the –tsim forms is that they allow you to make general statements without specifying the experiencer:

Fwa po ke zola’u lu ingyentsim. Tìng mikyun
‘It’s a mystery that he didn’t come.’


ingyentsyìp (n., ING.yen.tsyìp) ‘trick, sleight of hand, clever/special methodology’

This word should properly be ingyentsimtsyìp, but it evolved naturally to the shorter form and is always used that way.

Loakìl pänutolìng futa kar oeru fya’ot a ’ìp fko nemfa ewll. Tìng mikyun
Poltxe po san lu ingyentsyìp azey. Tìng mikyun
‘Loak promised he’d teach me how to vanish into the bushes.
He said there’s a special trick to it.’

ningyen (adv., NING.yen) ‘mysteriously, in a puzzling fashion’

This adverb is obviously a contraction of + ingyen.

Oeyä tskalep ’olìp ningyen. Ke omum teyngta pesengit terok. Tìng mikyun
My crossbow has mysteriously disappeared. I don’t know where it is.’

ingyenga’ (adj., ING.ye.nga’) ‘mysterious, puzzling, enigmatic’

This word evolved from ingyentsim + nga’ , i.e. ‘containing a source of mystery.’ As in ingyentsyìp, however, the tsim part dropped over time, and then ingyen + nga’ became simply ingyenga’.

Peyä aylì’u aingyenga’ lolu sngumtsim ayoeru nìwotx. Tìng mikyun
‘His mysterious words worried us all.’

Parallel to ingyenga’ we also have:

sngunga’ (adj., SNGU.nga’) ‘worrisome, troubling’

yayayrnga’ (adj., ya.YAYR.nga’) ‘confusing’

Note: This word is often pronounced colloquially as yayaynga’, although in writing the r is retained.

Tsatìoeyktìng ayayayrnga’ srung ke soli oer fte tslivam teyngta kempe zene sivi. Tìng mikyun
‘That confusing explanation didn’t help me understand what I have to do.’

yrr (adj.) ‘wild, natural’

Yrr refers to something in its original, unmodified, untampered-with natural state. As such, it has various translations, depending on the context.

Ikranìri krra hu tute tsaheyl si, ftang livu yrr. Tìng mikyun
‘When an ikran bonds with a person, it ceases to be wild.’

Lu tsafnepayoang ftxìlor frato krra lu yrr. Tìng mikyun
‘That kind of fish is most tasty when eaten as sashimi.’

Txepìri, yrra rìnti rä’ä sar, ma skxawng. Tìng mikyun
‘Don’t use that green wood for a fire, you fool.’


nìyrr (adv., nì.YRR) ‘naturally, without tampering with or changing the nature’

Fkxenti pxìm yom fkol nìyrr. Tìng mikyun
‘Vegetables are often eaten raw.’

The opposite of yrr is:

zäfi (adj., ZÄ.fi) ‘modified, interfered with, no longer in a natural state’

Zäfi does not specify how the natural state of something has been interfered with, only that it’s no longer in its original state. The nature of the modification depends on context.

Oel yom tsnganit azäfi nì’aw. Tìng mikyun
‘I only eat cooked meat.’

Here, talking about food, the usual interpretation of “no longer in its natural state” is “cooked.” If you wanted to be more specific, you could of course say tsnganit a’awnem.

Tsaikranìri taluna new ngati tspivang, law lu fwa mi ke lu zäfi. Tìng mikyun
‘Since that ikran wants to kill you, it’s clear it’s still not tame.’

syor (vin.) ‘relax, chill out’

Syor, ma ’eylan, syor. Ke lu kea sngumtsim. Tìng mikyun
‘Relax, friend, relax. There’s nothing to worry about.’

New oe rivun asim tìfnunga’a tsengit a tsaro tsun syivor tsivurokx fte späpiveng. Tìng mikyun
‘I want to find a quiet place nearby where I can chill out and rest to get my head back on straight.’


tìfnunga’ (adj., tì.FNU.nga’) ‘quiet (nfp)’

Also, notice in the above example how speng ‘restore’ has been used metaphorically: späpeng = ‘restore oneself,’ that is, ‘get one’s head back on straight.’

Fìuvanìl oeti syeykor nìtxan. Tìng mikyun
‘I find this game very relaxing.’

tìsyor (n., tì.SYOR) ‘relaxation’

Krra fko taron ke lu kea skxom tìsyorä. Tìng mikyun
‘When one hunts there’s no opportunity for relaxation.’

’anla (vtr., ’AN.la—inf. 1,2) ‘yearn for’

Tìng nari! Tsayeriktsyìpìl li ’anla sa’nokit a fkol tspìmang. Keftxo! Tìng mikyun
‘Look! That little hexapede is already yearning for its mother that’s just been killed. How sad!’

sä’anla (n., sä.’AN.la) ‘yearning’

Oeru tìng mikyun, ma Ralu. Fìsä’anlal Neweyä ngati sleykayu lekye’ung! Poti tswiva’! Tìng mikyun
‘Listen to me, Ralu. This yearning for Newey is going to drive you crazy. Forget her!’

lie (n., LI.e) ‘experience’

Kop oeru lolängu lie a hapxìtu soaiä terkup. Tìng mikyun
‘Sadly, I too have had the experience of a family member dying.’

You’ve already seen lie as part of the important adverb ’awlie, which we’ve glossed as ‘once (experiential).’ When used in yes-no questions, ’awlie is best translated as ‘ever.’

Srake kolä nga ’awlie ne Nu Yorkì? Tìng mikyun
‘Have you ever been to New York?’

Kehe, slä kolä ’awlie ne Wasyìngton. Tìng mikyun
‘No, but I have been to Washington.’

We now have two ways of talking about having the experience of doing something:

A. Oel yolom ’awlie teylut. Tìng mikyun
B. Lu oeru lie a yom teylut. Tìng mikyun

These both mean, ‘I once ate teylu.’ B, however, is somewhat more formal than A.

By the way, don’t confuse ’awlie and ’awlo. Although they both mean ‘once,’ ’awlie refers simply to having an experience, while ’awlo emphasizes that the experience occurred once and once only, not twice (melo) or thrice (pxelo).

Oel yolom teylut ’awlo nì’aw. Tìng mikyun
‘I’ve only eaten teylu once.’

And now for some expressions involving ‘hope’:

tsìlpey (n., tsìl.PEY) ‘hope (abstract idea)’

This derived from original *tìsìlpey.

Tsìlpeyìl tok txe’lanit. Tìng mikyun
‘Hope lives within the heart.’

Tsìlpeyluke ke tsun kawtu rivey. Tìng mikyun
‘No one can live without hope.’

säsìlpey (n., sä.sìl.PEY) ‘hope (particular instance)’

Krra wätut tse’a, peyä säsìlpey a yora’ ’olìp. Tìng mikyun
‘When he saw his opponent, his hope of winning vanished.’

One derivative of sìlpey that you already know is nìsìlpey, ‘hopefully.’ This word requires some explanation, since we also have the word nìrangal, glossed as ‘I wish; oh that.’ What’s the difference between nìrangal and nìsìlpey?

Both words are used with the subjunctive, but there’s a semantic distinction. Nìsìlpey simply expresses a hope that something is true. The speaker doesn’t know what the truth is, but hopes that something is, was, or will be the case.

Poel nìsìlpey tivok fìtsengit. Tìng mikyun
‘I hope she’s here.’

Poe nìsìlpey zìyeva’u trray. Tìng mikyun
‘I hope she’ll come tomorrow.’

Poe nìsìlpey zimva’u (or: zilva’u) trram. Tìng mikyun
‘I hope she came yesterday.’

With nìrangal, though, the speaker knows that something is not the case but wishes it were. (For those who like fancy grammatical terminology, nìrangal is used for counterfactuals.)

Poel nìrangal tirvok fìtsengit. Tìng mikyun
‘I wish she were here.’ (But I know she’s not.)

Poe nìrangal zìyeva’u trray. Tìng mikyun
‘I wish she were coming tomorrow.’ (But I know she isn’t.)

Poe nìrangal zimva’u (or: zilva’u) trram. Tìng mikyun
‘I wish she had come yesterday.’ (But she didn’t.)

(If you find any of this confusing, I have to admit I once confused the two words myself. In my post of July 24, 2011, I wrote nìrangal zìsìtay when I meant nìsìlpey zìsìtay, ‘hopefully next year.’ I’ve since corrected the error.)

One more thing: nìsìlpey (but not nìrangal) can function as a manner adverbial as well as a sentence adverbial—that is, it can mean ‘in a hopeful way.’ (Roughly speaking, manner adverbials tell you how things are done; sentence adverbials allow the speaker to comment about what she or he is saying. If I say, “Obviously Carlson stole the money,” I’m saying that it’s obvious—to me or anyone else—that Carlson was the thief. That’s using “obviously” as a sentence adverbial. But if I say, “Carlson stole the money obviously,” I’m saying that he did it in an obvious way—he didn’t hide the theft. For some reason he wanted people to see him doing it. That’s using “obviously” as a manner adverbial.)

Tsyeyk ätxäle soli nìsìlpey tsnì livu por Uniltaron. Tìng mikyun
‘Jake hopefully requested the Dream Hunt.’


As you know, Na’vi has four diphthongs: aw, ay, ew, ey. If a noun ends in a diphthong, there are a few things to keep in mind with some of the case endings.

The t-case for objects (also known as the patientive case):

With nouns ending in ey, the -it ending becomes simply t. Example: keyeyt ‘errors’ (not *keyeyit). With nouns ending in ay, the –it ending may become t: wayt  or wayit ‘song’—both forms are possible. For the other two diphthongs, the –it ending does not change: fahewit ‘smell,’ ’etnawit ‘shoulder.’

For all four diphthongs, the ti- form is also possible: keyeyti, wayti, fahewti, ’etnawti.

The r-case for indirect objects (also known as the dative case):

With nouns ending in ew, the -ur ending becomes simply r. Example: fahewr ‘to/for a smell’ (not *fahewur). With nouns ending in aw, the –ur ending may become r: ’etnawr or ’etnawur ‘to/for a shoulder’—both forms are possible. For the other two diphthongs, the –ur ending does not change: keyeyur ‘to/for errors,’ wayur ‘to/for a song.’

For all four diphthongs, the ru- form is also possible: keyeyru, wayru, fahewru, ’etnawru.

*          *          *

In closing, I want to say that I’m really looking forward to attending the Euroavatar meet-up in Berlin! For the last two years I was there via Skype, but this year John and I will be there in person. It should be wonderful! The dates are May 11 through May 17. Nìsìlpey tsìyevun oe ultxa sivi hu pxaya hapxìtu lì’fyaolo’ä awngeyä tsatsengmì!

Hayalovay, ma eylan.

Edit: ke srung soli –> srung ke soli. Irayo, ma Kemaweyan!
Edit: Fìsä’anla –> Fìsä’anlal. Irayo, ma Neytiri!
Edit: zìlva’u –> zilva’u (2X), zìmva’u –> zimva’u (2X). Irayo, ma Plumps!
Edit: tivok –> tirvok (with nìrangal). Irayo nìmun, ma Kemaweyan!

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