Múvea Sänúmvi

This is the Second Lesson (Múvea sänúmvi) in the experimental course of teaching and learning Na’vi in the way of a coursebook. The previous sänúmvi wasn’t really a lesson, but this one gets our feet wet. A preliminary dialogue between two Na’vi, Ateyo and Marali, will show how you can greet someone, ask their name, apologize and say goodbye.

Tìpängkxótsyìp

Marali: Kaltxî!
Ateyo: Kaltxî!
Marali: Srake, nga Mukata lu?
Ateyo: Kéhe. Óe Ateyo lu. Óe táronyu lu. Nga tut? Fyápe syaw fko ngar?
Marali: Oéru syaw fko Marali.
Ateyo: Smon nìpŕŕte’, ma Marali. Óe táron. Nga táronyu lu srak?
Marali: Sran. Óe nìténg táronyu lu.
Ateyo: ‘o’! Oéng táronyu leiú! Zá’u oéhu rutxé!
Marali: Iráyo, slä óe ‘ìn. Hìtxóa.
Ateyo: Tse, hayálovay.
Marali: Éywa ngáhu, ma Ateyo.


Marali: Hi!
Ateyo: Hi!
Marali: Are you Mukata?
Ateyo: No. I am Ateyo. I am a hunter. And you? How are you called?
Marali: I am called Marali.
Ateyo: Nice to meet you, Marali. I am hunting. Are you a hunter?
Marali: Yes. I am also a hunter.
Ateyo: Wow! We both are hunters! 🙂 Come with me please!
Marali: Thanks, but I am busy. Sorry.
Ateyo: Well, till next time.
Marali: Eywa be with you, Ateyo.

Vocabulary

Pronouns

  • óe: I
    • oér, oéru: to me
  • nga: you
    • ngar, ngáru: to you
  • oéng: you-and-me, we both
  • fko: someone, people

In this sänúmvi, we learn the two most important pronouns, I and you. These can combine to make the dual inclusive “we”, referring to me, and the one person I am referring to.

Note how the stress shifts in óe when it takes endings and becomes oér, oéru. In those cases, the o is pronounced like w in speech and has an effect like “weru”.

Fko is an unspecified agent, and is used for general statements, or to form a passive.

Nouns

  • táronyu: hunter

Only one noun learned here. Note how it is derived from the verb táron. The ending -yu has more or less the function of English “-er”.

Na’vi has no articles like English “a” or “the”. Táronyu can mean either “a hunter” or “the hunter”.

While Na’vi nouns have different forms in plural numbers, the word doesn’t change for the phrase “we both are hunters“; Na’vi is economical in its syntax, so since the pronoun oéng establishes the number of the hunters, there is no need to change the word, and it remains in its basic (singular) form!

Verbs

  • syaw: to call
  • zá’u: to come
  • ‘ìn: to be busy
  • smon: to be known
  • táron: to hunt
  • lu: to be
    • leiú: to be 🙂

Such verbs in Na’vi, can be used in their simplest form by just combining them with a name, or pronoun: óe zá’u “I come”, fko zá’u “people come”, Marali zá’u “Marali comes” and so on.

Infixes

  • ⟨ei⟩: 🙂

Another exotic aspect of Na’vi is that verbs grammatically display the positive or negative affect of the sentence by putting the infix ⟨ei⟩ inside the verb (it is established to represent infixes within ⟨⟩ brackets in dictionaries). When you hear Ateyo saying Oéng táronyu l⟨ei⟩ú you can guess he was quite happy to learn that Marali was his colleague: “We are both hunters” :). I tend to represent this in English with an emoticon.

Where exactly in the verb the infix goes, is a matter of morphology: typically, Na’vi verbs have either one (monosyllabic) or two (bisyllabic) vowels.

  • In the case of monosyllabic verbs, like l.u, sy.aw, ‘.ìn ( is a consonant) the ⟨ei⟩ goes before the single vowel: hence l⟨ei⟩ú, sy⟨ei⟩áw, ‘⟨eiy⟩ȉn (you can expect the -y- to pop up between i and ì to make the result pronouncable; *‘eiìn would be unacceptable).
  • As for the bisyllabic verbs, the position is before the second vowel. Therefore tár.on and zá’.u become tár⟨ei⟩on and zá’⟨ei⟩u.

The ⟨ei⟩ doesn’t take a stress; the stress of the original verb is unchanged, or persists to the original single vowel: lu -> leiú (not *léiu).

Have in mind that ⟨ei⟩ does not form an obligatory rule; Na’vi is economical in its syntax and you dont’t need the marker when it is clear that you are happy about something. To state that you are glad, you can just say óe pŕŕte’ lu; l⟨ei⟩ú would be a redundant. However it is ok to say Ateyo pŕŕte’ l⟨ei⟩ú, stating that Ateyo is glad, and that the speaker is content. To say that you are glad to hunt you can say either óe táron nìpŕŕte’ or just oe táreion.

Adjectives and adverbs

  • ‘o’: exciting
    • nì’ó’: enjoyably
  • pŕŕte’: glad
    • nìpŕŕte’: gladly
  • teng: equal
    • nìténg: also, similarly

Note how the adverbs we learned are formed by the prefix nì- and an adjectie.

Expressions

  • kaltxî: hello
  • fyápe syaw fko ngar?: how people call you?
  • oer syaw fko…: people call me…
  • smon nìpŕŕte’: nice to meet
  • hayálovay: till next time (parting greeting)
  • sráne, sran: yes
  • kéhe: no
  • sráke…?: marker of yes/no questions, put in the beginning of the phrase. It contains the words sráne+kéhe.
  • …srak?: same as the above, put in the end of the phrase; similar to English “isn’t it?”, “aren’t you?”
  • ma…: particle used when addressing someone: ma Marali “oh, Marali”
  • rutxé: please
  • iráyo: thanks
  • hìtxóa: sorry
  • tut: idiomatic continuation marker. Nga tut? “And you?” Ngaru tut? “And to you? How about you?”
  • fyápe?: how?
  • ‘o’: exciting
  • slä…: but…
  • tse…: well…

sráke and srak is the same word, with the full form used in the beginning, and the abbreviated form in the ending; there is not semantic difference about which to use, it’s only a matter of preference.

Affixes and Adpositions

  • -ru, -r: for…, to… (dative marker)
  • hu, -hu: with
    • oéhu: with me
    • ngáhu: with you
  • vay, -vay: until

Dative is the first case we learn. Dative doesn’t occur in English in the extent it does in Na’vi and other languages, so it might seem that it’s used idiomatically: in Na’vi for example, you don’t ask “what is your name”, but “how people call to you?”. It just has to be learned that way. The matter of when to use -ru or -r is a matter of esthetics; sometimes ngar sounds better than ngaru.

Hu is an adposition meaning “with”, but can be used also as an ending: hu nga is the same as ngahu. Same applies to vay.

Don’t let the double usage of hu confuse you; the ending -ru is not an adposition and is not used as an independed word; you can’t say *ru nga only ngaru

Trivia

While translating between English and Na’vi, the absence of an article might seem awkward. However there are languages, like Latin or Turkish, that do well without any article.

Fko is an indefinite pronoun, more or less similar to French on: on parle “people speaks”.

Infixes are uncommon in the grammar of the western languages however they occur in Austronesian languages, such as Indonesian.

There are several languages that treat yes/no questions (in linguistics polar questions) in a special way. In English and French for example, the word order is reversed: it is good vs. is it good? Other languages use a special interrogative particle or enclitic, like Na’vi; Latin usually uses the negative element ne: estne bonum? Turkish uses the negative element mi: o iyi mi? Quechua uses the negative suffix chu: pay allinchu? Swahili uses the particle je in the beginning of the phrase: je, ni nzuri? like srake.

Exercises

Exercise 0

Determine which of the questions below are polar (yes/no) questions, and complete them with srak(e) where needed; that is, srake in the beginning or srak in the ending, whichever you prefer. Leave blank if it’s not a yes/no question. Don’t worry about unknown words; rely on the translation.

  1. Are you well?
    ___ ngáru lu fpom ___?
  2. How are you called?
    ___ fyápe syaw fko ngar ___?
  3. Are you an idiot?
    ___ skxáwng nga lu ___?
  4. How old are you?
    ___ ngári solaléw zîsit apolpxáy ___?
  5. Where do you come from?
    ___ nga zá’u ftu peséng ___?
  6. When will you return?
    ___ kŕŕpe nga tätxáw ___?
  7. Are you hungry?
    ___ nga ‘éfu ohákx ___?
  8. Do you like vegetables?
    ___ súnu ngáru fkxen ___?
  9. Why did you come?
    ___ pelún nga zolá’u ___?

Exercise 1

Note how the verb táron “hunt” forms the occupation táronyu “hunter”. Use the following verbs and the ending -yu to describe people’s occupations. Use po for he and she.

  1. (táron) I hunt. I am a hunter -> Óe táron. Óe táronyu lu
  2. (kar) You teach. You are a teacher -> ______________________
  3. (kxìm) You command. You are a commander -> ______________________
  4. (’em) Marali cooks. She is a cook -> ______________________
  5. (slele) You swim. You are a swimmer -> ______________________
  6. (tsam si, tsamsi-) Tsu’tey fights. He is a warrior -> ______________________
  7. (srung si, srungsi-) Me and you help. We are helpers -> ______________________
  8. (pamrel si, pamrelsi-) I write. I am a writer -> ______________________

Exercise 2

Take the verbs of the vocabulary and the verbs of the previous exercise and put them into positive mood. In the case of si-verbs like tsam si, the verb root is considered the si part, and it takes the infix. And remember to insert a -y- where necessary.

Exercise 3

Translate the following sentences into Na’vi

  1. I am with you, oh Ateyo
  2. You also come with a hunter
  3. No, the hunter comes with me 🙂
  4. Well, we two are also busy
  5. Are you familiar to me?
  6. Oh Marali, how people hunt? How do you hunt?
  7. Wow! The hunter calls to us
  8. You are glad. 🙂 I am excited. 🙂
  9. Well, people are busy. And you?
  10. Your name is Marali
  11. How is the hunter called? (How people call to the hunter?)
  12. Is the hunter called Mukata? (Do people call to the hunter Mukata?)
  13. No, the hunter is called Ateyo (People call the hunter Ateyo)
  14. Yes, I gladly come with you
  15. Yes, I come with you 🙂
  16. Ateyo gladly comes with you 🙂

Exercise 4

Reply to the following dialogue:

  1. Kaltxî! -> (hello)
  2. Fyápe syaw fko ngar? -> (my name is…, and yours?)
  3. Oéru syaw fko Marali. -> (nice to meet you, Marali)
  4. Nga Ateyo lu srak? -> (no, sorry)
  5. Eywa ngahu -> (thanks, till next time)

Exercise 5

Upload somewhere a record with yourself speaking the dialogue and send us a link. 🙂

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3 thoughts on “Múvea Sänúmvi

  1. Really excellent! I love these lessons; they’re really clear and making sense to me. One small request; with exercises that have right or wrong answers, would it be possible to get the answers when the next lesson is posted? That way we can tell if we’re on the right track?

    Like

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