Difference between revisions of "Canon"

From Learn Na'vi Wiki
Jump to navigation Jump to search
(→‎List of Canonical Sources: It's not a shooting script...)
Line 17: Line 17:
* The form letter Frommer emailed to his many correspondents in late 2009 and early 2010
* The form letter Frommer emailed to his many correspondents in late 2009 and early 2010
* The out-of-office auto-reply message Frommer set up during the semester break in December 2009
* The out-of-office auto-reply message Frommer set up during the semester break in December 2009
* A partial page of Na'vi dialog from the ''Avatar'' shooting script used by Sam Worthington ("Jake Sully"), as seen in close-up during a behind-the-scenes video released by Fox
* A partial page of Na'vi dialog from ''Avatar'' used by Sam Worthington ("Jake Sully"), as seen in close-up during a behind-the-scenes video released by Fox
* "A Message From Paul" - his message to the Na'vi language community on January 21, 2010
* "A Message From Paul" - his message to the Na'vi language community on January 21, 2010

Revision as of 23:43, 29 January 2010

The Na'vi language canon is the complete collection of information about the Na'vi language provided by authoritative sources, namely Paul Frommer and the creators of Avatar (James Cameron and Twentieth Century Fox).

The canon comprises two things:

  • words and phrases spoken or written in Na'vi
  • descriptions of the linguistic elements of Na'vi such as orthography, morphology, syntax, and grammar

The Na'vi words and phrases from canonical sources are presented or linked to on the Corpus page (where copyright allows). Documentation, explanation, and analysis of Na'vi linguistics are presented on other Learn Na'vi wiki pages (Phonology, Morphology, Grammar, etc.). This page serves to document the canonical sources themselves.

List of Canonical Sources

The canonical material we have available to date includes:

  • The film Avatar
  • The Activist Survival Guide
  • Paul Frommer's post to Language Log and his later reply to comments there
  • The media interviews Frommer has given (mostly around the release of the movie)
  • Private correspondence between Frommer and people interested in his language
  • The form letter Frommer emailed to his many correspondents in late 2009 and early 2010
  • The out-of-office auto-reply message Frommer set up during the semester break in December 2009
  • A partial page of Na'vi dialog from Avatar used by Sam Worthington ("Jake Sully"), as seen in close-up during a behind-the-scenes video released by Fox
  • "A Message From Paul" - his message to the Na'vi language community on January 21, 2010

Commercial Sources

The film Avatar (IMDB link) contains numerous examples of both human and Na'vi characters speaking in Na'vi. Some of the Na'vi dialog is subtitled in English (or in the local language where Avatar has been released in non-English-speaking countries).

Avatar: A Confidential Report on the Biological and Social History of Pandora aka "The Activist Survival Guide" or "ASG" (Amazon link, Browsable link from publisher) is an official companion book to the movie. It includes a Na'vi-English word list and two Na'vi songs with English translations. It also includes an account of animal and plant life containing some "Na'vi" words that violate what we know of Na'vi phonetics.

Avatar transcript

Part of Jake's Na'vi dialog is visible 3 min. into Avatar The Movie Behind The Scenes Making The Movie 2. Here's a still.

Posted by Roger.

Oel ngati kameie, ma Tsmukan, ulte ngaru seiyi ireiyo.
Ngari hu Eywa saleu tirea, tokx 'i'awn slu Na'viyä hapxì.
I see you Brother, and thank you. Your spirit goes with Eywa, your body stays behind to become part of the People.
Sìfmetokit emzola'u ohel. Ätxäle si tsnì livu oheru Uniltaron.
I have passed the tests. I respectfully request the Dream Hunt.

Note: syllabification of sìfmetokit and emzola'u apparently incorrect.

Ma Eytukan, lu oeru ay'u frapor. Ay'u na ayskxé mì te'lan.
Eytukan, I have something to say, to everyone. The words are like stones in my heart.
Εo ayoeng lu txana tìkawng. Sawtute zera'u fte fol Kelutralti skiva'a. Pìhem fìtseng ye'rin.
A great evil is upon us. The Sky People are coming to destroy Hometree. They will be here soon.

Note: syllabification of Kelutralti suggests morphology is preserved.

Ayngari zene hivum, tx[o?...] ... [rest of line covered by his hand]
You must leave, or [you will die]
Ma Tsu'tey te Ro...
Na'viru ...

Interviews with Paul Frommer

Shortly before and after Avatar's release, Paul Frommer gave interviews to several media outlets in which he discussed the Na'vi language and its use in the film. He provided some examples of the language (written in print interviews, spoken in audio and video interviews). He also explained some of its unusual features and talked generally about how the language was developed and the work he did for the film. As the interviews and media stories were intended for general audiences, they provide little detailed information about Na'vi linguistics.

A complete list of Frommer's media appearances is on the Resources page (Print; Audio and Video).

Paul Frommer's Language Log Post

On December 19, 2009 (the day after Avatar's release) Paul Frommer made a guest post on the linguistics blog Language Log titled "Some highlights of Na’vi". In that post, he provided an extensive but by no means complete description of the Na'vi language covering phonetics and phonology, word classes and morphology, and syntax. The blog post attracted many comments, and on December 21 Frommer posted a reply addressing many of them, providing clarifications and some additional information about the language.

To date, Frommer's post remains the largest single direct source of information about Na'vi linguistics. A great deal of additional information has been learned by analyzing the Corpus, and Frommer has provided additional information in smaller amounts as described elsewhere on this page, but the Language Log post provided the foundation upon which our understanding of Na'vi has been built.

Public Email From Paul Frommer

In late December 2009 and early January 2010, Paul Frommer began replying to his many email correspondents with a form letter, reproduced here from this post on the Learn Na'vi forum:

Kaltxì, and thanks for your interest in Na’vi.

The enthusiastic response to the language has been very gratifying. I wish I could answer all your e-mails personally, but the volume has been staggering, so I hope you’ll forgive this generic message.

Irayo to everyone who thanked me for the effort and wished me well. It’s been a privilege to be involved in something as extraordinary as “Avatar,” and I couldn’t be happier that people feel my contribution added to the film.

For those who have expressed interest in learning the language, thank you! The way Na’vi will live and grow is for enthusiasts like yourselves to take it up and expand it beyond its present boundaries. I hope that not too long from now there will be learning tools available to make that possible. Film consultants like me, however, don’t own the rights to the products or services we provide, so I can’t put out any such materials on my own—they’ll have to be in cooperation with the people who brought you “Avatar.” We’ve already begun thinking about that, and I hope that some official form of “Learn Na’vi!” will soon be available to the public.

In the meantime, a number of people have put up unofficial web sites talking about various aspects of Na’vi. Some of those are quite good, others are only speculative, and still others are highly inaccurate. The Wikipedia article on Na’vi, although not a complete description of the language, is well done and reliable.

Kìyevame ulte Eywa ngahu. See you again, and may Eywa be with you.

Paul Frommer

Around the same time period, during semester break at the University of Southern California where he teaches, correspondents emailing Frommer received an out-of-office auto-reply message which included the following sign-off:

Ayftozä lefpom ayngaru nìwotx! Happy Holidays to You All!

A Message From Paul

On January 20, Paul Frommer sent a message to the Na'vi language community expressing his appreciation for the community's interest in the language. The message was sent as Na'vi text, English text, and audio of Frommer speaking the message in Na'vi. Frommer also provided a version of the text marked for stress.

To date, this message is the largest single authoritative example of written and spoken Na'vi (other than the film dialog, for which there are no canonical Na'vi transcriptions). Consisting of fourteen sentences, many of them lengthy and complex, the message contained previously unseen grammatical constructs and added many new words to the Na'vi lexicon. Frommer signed the message "Your friend and teacher, Paul."

The message can be read and heard in its entirety at the site masempul.org. The stress-marked version is on the Corpus page at A Message From Paul.

Private Correspondence With Paul Frommer

Many people interested in learning more about Na'vi have sent questions to Paul Frommer. Frommer is not always able to reply, but he has on several occasions given answers which have provided greater insight into the language. Some of those answers have been shared with the Na'vi language community; those answers are documented here.

Note: communication between Dr. Frommer and his correspondents is inherently private. How much of that communication to share, and whether to share anything at all, is a personal decision. No one should ever feel obligated to share anything, and no one should ever expect or demand that others do so.

Note also: Dr. Frommer is a party in these communications, and his privacy must be respected as well. If you have received something from Dr. Frommer and are considering sharing it with the community, do not do so until you are confident that he has no objections.

If you have new information from Dr. Frommer about the Na'vi language that has not been published elsewhere, and you are comfortable sharing it, and you are certain that he does not mind you doing so, then (and only then) please consider making it available to the Na'vi community so that it can become part of the canon and improve everyone's knowledge.

If you do publish your correspondence, please only publish the parts that are directly related to the Na'vi language, such as new words and phrases or new grammatical rules. Post excerpts only. Leave out anything that might be a personal matter for either you or Dr. Frommer. When possible, post direct quotations from Dr. Frommer so that we can all see what his exact words and intentions are. When you are not comfortable giving direct quotes, a summary or paraphrase is still valuable and welcome, but take care to not present your own interpretation as his words.

Modal Subjuntives (Want, Can, Must)

Quoted by roger, January 21, 2010 (source)

That's how I've been handling want, can, and must: via a simple, shorter structure, where the subject in the main clause is considered intransitive, and there's no overt subject in the subordinate clause if they're identical:
Oe new kivä. 'I want to go.'
Oe tsun kivä. 'I can go.'
Oe zene kivä. 'I must go.'
(Different word orders are possible in all of these, of course: Zene oe kivä, etc.)
So in these cases, the -iv- form of the verb functions somewhat like an infinitive. (But never like a gerund!)
You can also use the longer form:
Oel new futa (oe) kivä.
But that's less common.

Tìyawn (Love)

Summarized by Prrton (source): "YAWN is NOT A VERB that can be conjugated with infixes."

Pronunciation of a

Quoted by Taronyu, January 25, 2010 (source).

In your Language Log, you show in the trapezium that [a] is the low back vowel, in contrast to [æ]. Did you mean to say [ɑ]? I am aware that you use an old American system.
I meant [a], a low central vowel; essentially the corresponding vowel in Spanish and Italian, or in the standard American pronunciation of 'hot.' So you're right: phonetically it's not really back.


Quoted by Taronyu, January 25, 2010 (source).

Is transitivity lexically marked: you've shown that 'promise' is ditransitive in the guide, but what about the other words? Will you be showing us how to do this soon?

Well, I've been pretty much leaving it up to the semantics to determine what's transitive and what's not, when it's clear. "Sleep" is clearly intransitive, for example; "kill" is clearly transitive. So I don't need to annotate those in the lexicon. For verbs like 'begin,' however, you have to be told which one you're talking about. So for those, I've indicated the type in the complete glossary. Until that's published, let me know what's not obvious and I'll get back to you.

Monosyllabic Stress

Quoted by Taronyu, January 25, 2010 (source).

I've noticed in a shot of a script that you stress monosyllabic words when they have an inflection (and therefore are polysyllabic), but not otherwise. Should all monosyllabic words be stressed normally?
Yes indeed. I underlined the stressed syllables in polysyllabic words for the actors, so they could pronounce their lines correctly. I've done that in the glossary too for all polysyllabic words.
The rule for inflected verbs is that whatever vowel is stressed in the root keeps its stress in the inflected form. So for example, the root for hunt, as you know, is taron, stress on the first syllable. So all the inflected forms retain stress on the original a of the root: tivaron, tolaron, tayarängon, etc. Cf. pängkxo "chat, converse," where the stress on the ultima. The stress stays there in the inflected forms: pivängkxo, polängkxo, payängkxängo.

sä- Prefix

Quoted by Taronyu, January 25, 2010 (source).

Is sänume indicative of a - nomilinalizer to show the instrument of the verb?
The - prefix is a bit of a loose end. So far I only have one example of it in the lexicon: nume "learn" vs. sänume "teaching, instruction." You're right: I was thinking of it as something like an instrumental affix: instruction is the thing BY MEANS OF WHICH you learn. On that basis, since mun'i is the verb "cut," sämun'i could be a word for a general cutting instrument. I'll need to think more about that, however, since I'm not sure these two cases are comparable. In the second case, you have a concrete instrument, which must be present in order to implement the verb. With nume, though, you can learn by other means than teaching: from experience, from trial and error, etc. So should sänume refer to any means whatsoever of learning something? I'm not sure yet. Thanks for the question!

Verb Phrases as Objects

Quoted by Taronyu, January 25, 2010 (source).

If a verb is understood to be transitive (depending on your answer above), when the direct object is replaced by a verb phrase, is the subject still marked as ergative? Essentially, which is more correct: Oe new pivlltxe or Oel new pivlltxe?

Good question.
First note that for "can" and "must," the subject is considered intransitive:
Oe tsun kivä. 'I can go.' (NOT *Oel tsun kivä.)
Oe zene kivä. 'I must go.' (NOT *Oel zene kivä.)
"Want" MAY follow the same pattern:
Oe new kivä. (That is, it patterns like a modal.)
But since want, unlike can and must, is a transitive verb, there's an alternate pattern:
Oel new futa (= fì'ut a) kivä.
And you also have sentences like:
Oel new futa Taronyu kivä. "I want Taronyu to go."
So in the sentences you asked about, Oe new pivlltxe is fine. In one with oel, though, insert futa.

Later in the same message:

BTW, let's take a look at your sentence again:
(1) Oel new pivlltxe nìNa'vi mì oeyä letrra tìrey, (2) slä oel tsun pivey (3) trrit a ngat taying (oe new tìying!) ayoe nì'ul aylì'u!
(1) and (2) are virtually perfect: just change oel to oe in both cases. I like letrr for daily! I'll add that to the glossary, with RL in the Source column. :-)
(3), though, needs a little help. Are you awaiting "the day that you will give us more words?" If so, the verb for "give" is tìng, so it should be:
trrit a nga tayìng (or, hopefully, tìyìng) ayoer(u) aylì'ut nì'ul.
But if I've misinterpreted you, please let me know.
Hope that helps!

In a follow-up message:

At the end of my previous e-mail:
Let's make that--
trrit a NGAL tayìng (or, hopefully, tìyìng) ayoer(u) aylì'ut nì'ul.
Kxeyeyri tsap'alute sengi oe. [kxeyey = mistake, error]

Auxilary verb SI

Quoted by omängum fra'uti, January 28, 2010

Can "si" be a verb on its own, or is it always paired with something else?
Your intuitions are right. Si is only an auxiliary verb--it needs to be paired with something else. If you ant the main verb 'make,' for example, you need a different lexical item, like txula (stress on 1st) 'build, construct' or ngop 'create.'
About the only time si stands alone is when the non-verbal element has already been mentioned and is understood from the discourse:
--Nga tsap'alute soli srak?
(Or: Srane, soli.)

Dative + copula possessive

Quoted by omängum fra'uti, January 28, 2010

We have seen examples of the dative and copula used for possession of abstract concepts and states, can it be used for physical possession too?
This can definitely indicate physical possession. In fact, that's the only way to express the concept of "having" in Na'vi--there's no verb 'have.'
But contrary to the general principle of flexible word order, "have" constructions usually begin with the verb. So "I have an ikran" is: Lu oeru ikran. Here, lu has the force of 'there is.'
BTW, the inspiration for this was Hebrew, which does something similar: Yesh li sefer (there-is to-me book), i.e. I have a book. The difference is that Hebrew has no copula in the present tense, so it needs a special word for there-is/are. Na'vi just uses the ordinary copula for this construction.

Krr: noun vs adverb

Quoted by omängum fra'uti, January 28, 2010

The uses of "krr" we have seen seem to use it as a temporal adjunct more than a noun, is this a correct analysis?
Right again. Krr is a noun, but it can also be used adverbially. So tsakrr isn't just 'that time'; it's also (and more commonly) 'AT that time' or 'then.' Likewise kawkrr 'never' and frakrr 'always' are commonly used as time adverbials.
If you add a modifying clause to adverbial krr, linked of course with a, you get a "when" clause:
Ngeyä Tireaioang zola'u a krr, law layu ngaru. 'When your Spirit Animal comes, you will know.'
(Lit.: At the time that your Spirit Animal has come, it will be clear to you.)


Quoted by omängum fra'uti, January 28, 2010

How do you express causality?
Longish story, which I'll tell another time. (There's a causative infix . . . )

Work and Aim

Quoted by roger, January 29, 2010 (source)

'Work' needs some explanation, which I'll provide when I have a bit more time. Hint: kan is the verb meaning 'aim.'