User:Wm.annis/Sìpawm a horenteri

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This is a public collection of questions I currently have about Na'vi grammar. Some of these have come unbidden into my mind on their own, others develop from posts on the forum.


Is fra- usable with numbers? Sent to Pawl in July —

Some barely coherent thoughts that have been running around my brain recently —

The Na'vi in your first blog post gave me enough examples of prenoun use that I have shoved a tentative prefix order into the grammar I'm working on:

{fì-, tsa-, pe+} + number marking + fne- + N + -pe

where the suffix -pe prevents fì- or tsa-.

The big remaining puzzle is — where does {fra-} fit into this? It seems to naturally fall with the number marking, but might reasonably coexist with that. In my grammar document, I put {fra-} between the deictic markers and number marking, with a big asterisk. But it raises semantic questions.

In your own use of Na'vi plurals, especially plural pronouns, you seem to use nìwotx often, which suggests to me a fairly strong distinction between collective and distributive plurals (a common enough situation in Human languages). It's easy to see fra- leaning either collective or distributive, but allowing fra- to coexist with plural marking might be one way to distinguish them:

Fratute pähem "Each/every person is arriving."
Fraysute pähem "All (the) people are arriving."
(fra- + ay+ >fray+?)
Sute pähem nìwotx "The people all arrived."

This gets even stranger (for me, at least) when you don't use the plural, but the dual.

Framesute pähem "All two people are arriving."
Mesute pähem nìwotx "The people both arrived."

This starts to make "all" look like a marker for topics that are discourse-old, at least some of the time.

I may be being misled by English, but it seems necessary that fra- and the plural marks exist as separate columns, and both be available, because once you add deixis, "this every person, this all person" doesn't make much sense:

Fìfratute ??
Fìfrapxesute "all three of these people" ??
Fìfrapxefnetute "all three of these kinds of people" ??

Thinking about all of this has made me realize I haven't paid enough attention to just how odd determiners can be. I hope the questions, at least, will be of value in the future, if not my solutions.


Where is the cut-off between po and tsaw? Is a hexapede po? A fish? A bug?


Added Dec 18, 2010

There are some peculiar questions that come up with these verbs, by virtue of their being intransitive. They take a dative "object" although calling it an object is a bit of a stretch.


During the October 2010 Workshop, the possibility of a form such as tute asrung-sawni a helped person was discussed. The problem with this is that if si-verbs are truly intransitive, it makes no sense to create passives from them. The only way to save that is by allowing ‹awn› to refer not only to direct objects but indirect objects of verbs. That, in turn, makes for some interesting — or scary — ambiguities with ditransitive verbs such as tìng or plltxe.

Attributive Phrases

The referential hierarchy in Na'vi, so far, has admitted only subjects and direct objects as permissible unresumed heads of relative clauses (More extracts from various emails, Feb 18),

NP deletion only extends as far as DOs. So for datives, you need to pronominalize.

This means a phrase like, "words I have written" would need to be aylì'u a oe tsaru pamrel soli.


The only thing close so far is kxangangang which is, strictly speaking, onomatopoeia. If we get them, though, they might make very interesting si-verbs. To the degree one can currently speak of a typology of ideophones, using a "do, make" verb is quite common for this (as are speaking verbs).

Topical Position

In most topic-prominent languages, the topic occurs at the left edge of the clause, sometimes even in a separate intonation unit. Apart from a single verse example, Frommer consistently puts topics at the left edge (but not left of conjunctions). However, some in the lì'fyaolo' do not. A clear ruling on this might be useful.


(Feb 10, 2011)

How do we decline tskxo swizaw?

(March 26, 2011): similar issues were addressed on the forum ([1, 2] ) but this particular issue wasn't addressed, as far as I can see.

Correlative Confusion

(March 26, 2011)

A few matters need to be clarified.

  1. Firm decision with examples on the non-singular of things like fì'u, etc.
  2. Clear examples of sentences with subordinate questions ("I don't when he'll arrive") vs. relative adverbs ("I'll talk to him when he arrives"). We have some of these, but plenty of gaps.