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The Na'vi language canon is the complete collection of information about Na'vi 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 on December 23, 2009
  • The out-of-office auto-reply message Frommer set up during the semester break in December 2009
  • "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.

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 (Resources#Media_Stories_About_the_Na.27vi_Language_-_Print, Resources#Media_Stories_About_the_Na.27vi_Language_-_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.

Correspondence With Paul Frommer