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On October 1st through the 3rd of 2010, Paul Frommer and about 15 members of met at one member's private residence in CA to discuss the Na'vi language. The simplest summary of the meeting was "teach the teachers." In addition to the more formal sessions, some smaller details of the language came out in informal discussion during meals, etc.


Posts to the forum with a summary of this information, with discussion:

  1. Updates from the Language Workshop
  2. The Rest of the Top 7
  3. Proverbs, What we asked for and some vocabulary
  4. Sìltsan, Ke, Nang
  5. Txo/tsakrr, Sä- Pe-
  6. Tuté, Alo, Slu, Kan
  7. Multiple attributive adjectives; Gerunds; Nations
  8. Participles, Causatives and Reflexives, oh my!
  9. (Nì)tengfya, Genders, modals and infixes
  10. Transitivity and Verbs of Speaking

The Meeting


Some time early during Saturday's discussion, Paul said that there will be no new infixes.

Top Seven Outstanding Questions

The top request, for the full kinship system, has to wait for Cameron's input. Another top request, having to do with time, wanders solidly into the same territory. Various ideas were floated for sensible comparable words. In particular, Pawl mentioned that if Humans are going to name months, it makes sense to borrow those. They're widely used all over the planet.

Transitivity and Infix Positions

Paul produced a list of all the known verbs with transitivity and infix positions marked.

While he likes the dot notation to indicate infix location, it's a nuisance for him to type in the program he uses to keep track of vocabulary. So, he came up with a different notation using two digits. The first digit identifies the syllable (counting from the beginning) which the first position infixes go into, and the second the syllable of the second position infixes. Some examples:

’efu 12: first position infixes in the first syllable, second position in the second syllable — a normal root verb
emza'u 23: first position infixes in the second syllable (za), second in the third syllable (’u)

"Self" and "Own"

The reflexive pronoun is sno (gen. sneyä).

Pol 'olem peyä wutsot "He prepared his (i.e., someone else's) meal."
Pol 'olem sneyä wutsot "He prepared his own meal."

Remaining open questions:

  1. Whether 1st and 2nd person pronouns can be antecedents for sno (for now, probably best avoided).
  2. Lexical derivations from the root sno.

Asking and Giving Permission

As in English (and plenty of other languages), tsun will work for both "can" and "may."

The syntax of tung "allow" will be detailed later.

Phonological Questions

  1. Unreleased stop + a vowel: in an intonation unit (that is, not before punctuation or a pause), final stops are released as you'd expect. Ex: oe kop omum — the /p/ of kop will be released for the following vowel.
  2. Unstable vowel sequences: and äa are fine. When an enclitic adposition begins with the same vowel as a word ends in, write a hyphen between: zekwä-äo. Though Na'vi does not officially have long vowels, they are a natural result of certain situations like this. (On Sunday, the same practice was given for indefinite -o, so fya'o-o.)


  • na and pxel are identical in meaning
  • nìn will usually have a direct object, tìng nari less often; also, nìn has more the sense of "turn your attention to that right now" rather than "watch"
  • way has an "ancient" sense, where tìrol is just song in general (vocal, not instrumental music); so, the singing of traditional songs may be indicated with way si
  • hawnu and tìhawnu si have the same meaning (but of course different grammar)

Kin must take a direct object (not modal). The dative with lu tìkin is more often used for "need to":

Awngaru lu tìkin a nume nì'ul "We need to learn more."

You can also use it impersonally, lu tìkin a... for something like "there is a need that I finish cooking by 5pm."


Nothing decided firmly, though we had a nice discussion of things to consider (brevity, cultural assumptions, how much we can rely on the ASG).

Afternoon Session

More things from the Outstanding Questions document were gone over, especially ones he could answer quickly. There were then a few random questions from attendees.


The word sìltsan means "good of its kind, meeting its purpose" as well as morally good. Lefpom is more "pleasant, nice".


With si construction verbs, ke goes before the si (just as the prohibitive rä’ä does), pamrel ke si. However, with fteke ('< fte + ke) the ke stays with the fteke compound.

Did he confirm explicitly ke goes with adverbs? I think I was writing and not paying attention — Wm


Rather than create a new contrafactual infix, Paul is considering using a separate if... then..., parallel to txo... (tsakrr), just for those. He still needs to work out the details of tense and aspect for that.


Is definitely not productive, and Paul doesn't expect that he'll be using it terribly often in creating vocabulary, either.


Nang is used to comment on "something already extreme." Txan is the most common such extreme word.

Again, I was scribbling. Did he explicitly say there might be other words that this could go with?


The question affix -pe+ may be used freely with nouns. When used as a prefix with plurals pe+ + ay+ > pay+. From Sunday, the accenting from the ASG 'upe is a mistake. 'upe is correct.


For this word only, accent can be marked with an acute (to distinguish tute "person" from tute "woman").


Accented on the first syllable.

Word Order with Slu

When there is ambiguity (especially likely when two nouns are involved, rather than a pronoun subject), the predicate of slu may be indicated with ne:

Taronyu slu ne tsamsiyu "The hunter becomes a warrior."

ìmìy and modal kan

Not how he would do this now, this combination is the only one. The pattern cannot be extended.

In the discussion it was decided kan "aim" can be used as a modal to indicate intention. The syntax is like new, that is, either kan + V‹iv› or kan futa V‹iv›.

Multiple Attributives

For two adjectives, ADJ-a N a-ADJ is available. For more than two adjectives, or if you want to place both adjectives on the same side, they must be pulled out into an attributive clause with lu:

yayo a lu lor sì hì'i "a pretty, small bird"

Transitivity with Speaking Verbs

When a verb of speaking, such as plltxe or pawm, takes a san... sìk clause, the verb counts as intransitive.

When the speaking verb has a direct object (she said this, he asked that), then the verb is counted as transitive, with the expected case structure.

The person addressed is always in the dative, regardless of the transitivity of the verb of speaking.


Optionally, when the negative affect infix ‹äng› occurs before the vowel i, the vowel of the infix may be raised, giving ‹eng›. Thus the early example, fìskxawngìri tsap'alute sengi oe. (Wm asked this over a beer).


This was somewhat less formal. The focus was on simple conversation practice — someone said what had happened the day before, and someone else translated, with Paul commenting on things, usually small, but a few longer discussions took place, too.

(I was only present for part of this, so I most need help with other people's notes here.)


Gerunds vs. Fwa

After much discussion about whether or not a gerund can take an object, it was decided that using fwa was best in that situation.

Fwa yom teylut 'o' lu "Eating teylu is fun."
Tìyusom 'o' lu "eating is fun."

Most attention was spent on the possibility of using a genitive object of the gerund (tìyusom), but certain ambiguities, as well as "Na'viness," came up as objections. He might change his mind on this later, but for now stick with fwa clauses.


Wrrpa is both a noun and an adverb.


Ewropa was considered, but adding an extra syllable for a recognizable written form, Europa, ultimately won out. For other country names, the native name should be preferred to Na'vifying the English word.


Pxorpam is the noun for "ejective consonant."

Ke with fra-

This came up as a comment from Paul on someone's statement:

Ke frapo ke tslolam "Not everyone understood" (a correction of just ke frapo tslolam)

Any noun or pronoun with the prenoun fra- can be individually negated with ke, with the rule that the verb must also still be negated (just as with negative adverbs, adjectives and pronouns).


Paul definitely prefers tok + place in the accusative to (lu) mì + place when people are the subject of the clause.

For example, not sute a mì Europa but sute a tok Europat.


(Provided by Omängum Fra'uti.)

Participles are first position, not pre-first. So, they cannot take tense or aspect marking, but you can have reflexive or causative participles.

Si verb participles are hyphenated in writing (note the location of the attributive a):

srung-susia tute
tute asrung-susi

Both meaning "(a) helping person."

Causative Reflexive

(Provided by Omängum Fra'uti.)

The infix chain ‹äp›‹eyk› is the causative reflexive, "cause oneself to...":

po täpeykìyeverkeiup nìnäk "I am jazzed that he is apparently about to drink himself to death."

(This remarkable verb form was a group effort.)

Causative for ambitransitive verbs

(Provided by Omängum Fra'uti.)

When a transitive verb is used in a general manner intransitively (Po taron, vs pol yerikit taron) and it takes the causative, it is still treated like it were a transitive verb, there is no distinction made.

oel poru teykaron "I made him hunt"


(Most of this currently comes via Ftiafpi.)

Tengfya vs. Nìtengfya

These are different:

Sunu oeru teylu tengfya sunu por fkxen "Just as I like teylu, he likes fkxen."

But nìtengfya concentrates on some action being performed in the same way:

Po sì oe tìkangkem soli nìtengfya "she and I did it in the same way."

Genders and Plurals

The sexed forms of popoan and poe — may not be pluralized.

Olo'eyktan is not a male leader.

The sex suffixes are not productive.

Modals and Infixes

27. Default infixes go into the modal, the subordinate verb can only have the pre-first causative, reflexive or both.

(And the subjunctive, of course.)

He made me want to make you eat teylu

Pol oeru teyluti yeykolom.
He made me eat teylu


Pol oeru neykew futa oel yivom teyluti.
He made me want to eat teylu.


Pol oeru neykew futa oel ngaru yeykivom teyluti.

  Not possible without using futa.

Refinements of si-construction verbs

Reported by omängum fra'uti:

I DID however remember another couple related comments though, that there are no si- gerunds. Where you would use the gerund form normally, just drop the si and use the base word. So the "gerund" of srung si is just srung.
Second, like with kem, and apologies that you have to rely on my faulty memory for this one as I asked this during a break so as far as I know I'm the only witness (Hopefully I'm not misremembering), you can use modifiers on si verbs where it makes sense. So for example...
Wina uvan si
Play a quick game

Update 6.12.2013; Reported by Blue Elf:

The general answer is: You can modify the noun component of si-construction verbs in most cases when it makes sense. But you wouldn't modify nari in nari si or kelku in kelku si; those are more idiomatic and "frozen," where modifying the noun component wouldn't be plausible.
The more the "si" part can be interpreted as "doing" something to or with the noun part, the more modifiable the noun part is. So with kem si and srung si, I'm doing an action and doing help respectively. With nari si and kelku si, however, I'm not really "doing" eye or "doing" home.