User:Erimeyz/Beginners' Guide: Na'vi Now

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Note: This beginner's guide is a work in progress. There is still a lot to be done before it gets released. Feedback from everyone is welcome, including from beginners and experienced Na'vi learners. Please add your comments on the Beginners' Guide talk page, or post to one of the Beginners' Guide threads on the Learn Na'vi forum (such as the Letters and Sounds thread), or send a forum PM to Erimeyz.

Na'vi Now is a brief overview of the Na'vi language spoken by the natives of Pandora in James Cameron's Avatar. Reading through this overview will give you a passing familiarity with the key concepts of the language. It's not intended to teach you the language, although if you have a linguistics background or are good at learning new languages it may be enough to get you started. Rather, it's here to give you some context for the rest of your Na'vi studies. Having a clear view of the Big Picture will help you fill in the details as you go.

This overview is just one part of the Learn Na'vi Beginners' Guide. If you are starting to learn Na'vi you should read the rest of the guide as well and not just this overview. Start with the Introduction and Welcome page; it will set you on your way towards learning this fascinating language. Even if you've been learning Na'vi for a while you should at least give the Beginners' Guide a look - you may find something you've missed.

If you have suggestions for improving Na'vi Now, we'd love to hear from you! You can leave your comments on the discussion page, or on the Learn Na'vi forum, or by sending a forum private message to Erizmeyz.

Irayo, ulte ngaru lu prrte'!
Thanks, and enjoy!

Letters and Sounds

The Na'vi alphabet consists of seven vowels: a, ä, e, i, ì, o, and u; and twenty-two consonants: p, t, k, f, s, h, v, z, m, n, w, r, rr, l, ll, y, ts, ng, px, tx, kx, and '. The letters rr, ll, ts, ng, px, tx, and kx are written using two latin characters but represent a single Na'vi letter and sound. The apostrophe (') is a glottal stop. The letters px, tx, and kx are ejectives and are distinct from p, t, and k. The letters rr and ll are psuedovowels and are distinct from r and l. Na'vi also has four diphthongs: ay, ey, aw, and ew.

Na'vi is phonetic; each letter always has the same sound.

The vowels and diphthongs have the following sounds:

a - baa (as in "Baa baa black sheep")
ä - bat
e - bet
i - marine
ì - bit
o - boat
u - flute or put (can be pronounced either way)
ay - kayak
ey - obey
aw - cow
ew - No equivalent in English; glide from Na'vi e to w

Most consonants have the same sounds as they commonly do in English. Exceptions are noted here.

p, t, and k are unaspirated, as they are in Spanish. At the end of words, they are unreleased.

ts and ng are pronounced as in English cats and singer, but unlike in English they can often be found at the start of a word.

r is pronounced with an alveolar flap or tap, as in the Spanish word pero or the middle of the English word batter. rr is an alveolar trill, aka a "rolled r". Na'vi rr is heavily trilled.

The pseudovowels rr and ll act as a vowel in a syllable. For example, the Na'vi word krr is a k followed by a trilled r, with no vowel sound in between. ll is pronounced like the end of the English word crackle; for example, the Na'vi word kllkulat begins with a k followed by l with no vowel sound in between. Na'vi ll is always "light" as in timely and lip, never "dark" as in fall and fault; in other words, the tongue is against the ridge behind the teeth and the body of the tongue is not raised up toward the roof of the mouth.

The glottal stop ' is pronounced like the catch in your throat in the middle of the English word uh-oh.

The ejectives px, tx, and kx are pronounced as follows: hold your breath, then make a P, T, or K sound as loud as you can without breathing. Ejectives use air from your glottis, not your lungs, i.e. they are "ejected" using the air in your mouth while holding your breath. If there is a vowel after the ejective, release your glottis and use air from your lungs to pronounce the vowel; do this as soon as possible after pronouncing the ejective, so that the sound flows smoothly from ejective to vowel.

Coming Soon

This overview is being written concurrently with the work on the rest of the Beginners' Guide. So check back later for more!

Go on to Lesson One - Letters and Sounds

[To do: pretty much everything]