Expressions and Idioms

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Some things have a common way to say them in a language that may not be the most obvious. In some cases it is even in the territory of idiomatic, such that you have to actually learn what to say in certain situations. Here are several such common expressions and idioms, all provided to us directly by Paul Frommer (see this forum thread for more information).

What is your name? / What are you called?

Of course when you first meet someone, you would like to know who you are talking to. You could literally ask what someone's name is, however like many languages, Na'vi has an idiom which expresses the concept of being named something as what you are called.

Fyape fko syaw ngar?
Lit. In what way does one call to you?

My name is ___ / I am called ___

You can say the former in Na'vi using the word for name (Tstxo oeyä lu ___), however sticking with the idiom of being called by a name, as in the "I am called ___" example above, the common way to say this in Na'vi is:

Oeru syaw (fko) ___
Lit. One calls to me (as) ___

When responding to someone asking what you are called, the fko can be left off, as it is contextually understood.

Hello / Greetings

When you see someone of course it is polite to say hello, and of course the Na'vi are no different. They have a word for hello like most languages, and it serves well for most situations. There is also another more idiomatic expression "I see you". There is some disagreement on exactly when this is appropriate, but to the Na'vi it seems to imply some level of familiarity, though not necessarily intimacy. Outside the fictional world of Pandora it seems to be thrown around a little more casually than that, often standing in as a more formal "hello".

Lit. Hello (Casual)
Oel ngati kameie
Lit. I see you (Familiar)
Kame ngat
Lit. See you (Familiar/casual)

Note: Oel ngati kameie is typically accompanied by a gesture from the forehead. In a casual response sometimes the gesture can be used without anything voiced. This of course would not work when not speaking in person.

Good bye / See you again soon

It's always good to express a good wish on the way out, and the Na'vi express this with the spiritual sense of seeing kame, so the idiom here is fairly close to the English (and many other languages') idiomatic expressions for well wishing. The full expression would probably be Oel ngati kìyevame ye'rìn, where kame takes the future proximate subjunctive infix, expressing a wish that you will be seeing them soon. However, this is usually shortened to just one word.

Lit. (I will) see (you again) soon

Of course the Na'vi are very spiritual people, seeing as how they have a real tangible entity they can commune with, which they call the great mother (nawma sa'nok) or Eywa. So you can also use something like "Eywa be with you". In full this would be "Eywa ngahu livu" however the "livu" is dropped. This is closer in meaning to "Goodbye" which is a contraction of "God be with ye".

Eywa ngahu
Lit. Eywa with you

There are so may ways to wish people well on parting. You could also bid them have a good night. In English we often shorten this to just "good night", but the full phrase would be "Have a good night". You could do similar in Na'vi with Txon lefpom livu ngar.

Txon lefpom
Lit. Peaceful night

How are you / Are you well?

It is also of course polite or friendly to ask someone how they are doing. The Na'vi do this by asking if you have well being.

Ngaru lu fpom srak?
Lit. Do you have well-being/is well being to you?

Response: Since this is a yes/no question (as indicated by srak) a simple srane or kehe will do, or you could respond with the same form of Oeru lu fpom.

And you?

(After responding to "What is your name?", "Are you well?" or any other question asking about you in the dative (ngaru)) Often when exchanging pleasantries, rather than repeating what was just asked of you, you just ask "And you?" Na'vi does this by using the continuation particle tut.

Ngaru tut?
Lit. And to you?

I love you

Of course everyone wants to express affection, no matter what language. So in Na'vi you can do it by expressing that someone is beloved to you.

Nga yawne lu oer.
Lit. You are beloved to me.

I have ____

Na'vi has no verb "to have". Instead it uses a construction common to many languages of combining the dative case "-ru" and the verb "to be", creating a similar concept. This works both for physical possession of objects, as well as possession of states of being (Well being, sickness, etc) and abstract concepts (Words, news, message, friends, etc). Typically the verb comes first in such situations.

Lu oeru ____
Lit. To me is ____ (I have ____)

Forgive me

Asking for forgiveness in Na'vi is done by asking to recieve it...

Oeru txoa livu
Lit. May forgiveness be to me

How do you say ____ in Na'vi? / How do you say ____ in English?

In learning a language, of course vocabulary is always a limiting factor for discourse, so it's always handy to be able to ask how to say something. In Na'vi there is a concise way to ask what a word would be.

____ nìNa'vi slu 'upe?
Lit. ____ in Na'vi becomes what? (How do you say ____ in Na'vi?)
____ nì'ìnglìsì slu 'upe?
Lit. ____ in English becomes what? (How do you say ____ in English?)

Sample conversation using some of the above idioms

Kaltxì, oel ke tsole'a ngati srekrr... Fyape fko syaw ngar?
Hello, I have not seen you before... What are you called?
Kaltxì, oeru syaw Jake Sully. Ngaru tut?
Hello, I am Jake Sully. And you?
Oeru syaw Neytiri.
I am Neytiri.
Ngaru lu fpom srak ma Neytiri?
Are you well, Neytiri?
Oeru lu fpom, slä oel tspìyang ngati fa swizaw oeyä! Ngaru tut?
I am well, but I am about to kill you with my arrow. And you?
Kehe, lam fwa oe tìyerkup... Tìng nari! Atokirina'!
No, it seems that I am about to die... Oh look! A seed of the great tree!
Oeru txoa livu, lam fwa nga rey. Kìyevame!
Forgive me, it seems you live. See you again soon!
Eywa ngahu ma Neytiri.
Eywa be with you Neytiri!