This dialogue introduces you to speaking about third persons, and the difference between inclusive and exclusive “we”, and the subjunctive mood. By the way, this Peyral girl, must be quite shy; she never addresses the other guy directly.
Omati: Kaltxî, ma tsmúke. Oél ngáti kámeie.
Marali: Káme ngat ma tsmúkan.
Omati: Mengáru lu fpom srak?
Marali: Lu fpom. Ngári frawzó srak?
Omati: Sran. Nìvíngkap, oél ke tsole’á pot. Fyápe póru syaw?
Marali: Póru syaw Peyral. Po ‘éylan oéyä lu.
Omati: Téwti! Ngéyä ‘éylan sevín nìtxán lu nang! Sráke mengá táron?
Marali: Sran, moél mákto mefá’lit moéyä últe múnge meskóti fte fwivéw mehéntenit.
Omati: Só’ha! Oél mefót tsole’ängá mì ná’rìng.
Peyral: Ma Marali, oengál kängín tstálit.
Marali: Moél kin tstálit, ma Omati. Sráke héna nga?
Ateyo: Mengáru fì’ú, ma mesáronyu.
Marali: Srúngìri ngéyä seiyí iráyo nìngáy.
Omati: Nìpŕŕte’. Tse, oéru txóa livú. Óe zénänge kivâ. Mesmárìri mengéyä étrìpa syáyvi!
Peyral: Téwti! Ngéyä tsmúkan lor nìtxán lu nang!
Omati: Hello, sister. “I see you”. 🙂
Marali: “See you”
Omati: Are you 2 well?
Marali: Good. All is well with you?
Omati: Yes. By the way, I haven’t seen her. How is she called?
Marali: She is called Peyral. She is my friend.
Omati: Wow! How pretty is your friend! Are you 2 hunting?
Marali: Yes, we 2 ride our 2 direhorse and bring our 2 bows in order to search for the 2 fan lizards.
Omati: Hey! I have seen them 2 in the forest. 😦
Peyral: Marali, we 2 need a knife. 😦
Marali: We 2 need a knife, Omati. Do you carry?
Omati: Here you are, oh 2 hunters.
Marali: Thanks for your help, really. 🙂
Omati: My pleasure. Well, I am sorry. I must go. 😦 Good luck with your 2 preys!
Marali: “See you later”.
Peyral: Wow! How handsome is your brother!
- óe: I
- oél: I (erg)
- oét(i): me
- oéyä: my
- oér(u): to me
- oéri: about me
- nga: you
- ngal: you (erg)
- ngat(i): you (obj)
- ngéyä: your
- ngar(u): to you
- ngári: about you
- po: he/she/it
- pol: he etc. (erg)
- pot(i): him/her etc.
- péyä: his/her etc.
- por(u): to him etc.
- póri: about him etc.
- fko: one, someone, people
- fkol etc. (follow po)
In this lesson we are introduced both to two more cases, genitive (-yä) and topical (-ri), and the third person po.
This form of the third person is genderless and refers to someone regardless of sex and is translated “he” or “she” accordin to context.
The genitive is generally used to mark possession as in the possessive pronouns my, your etc. Here we must point out that -yä is a little irregular with pronouns; while we might expect *ngáyä, *póyä, it rather results to ngéyä and péyä. Supposably, this happens in analogy with oéyä.
- oéng: we (I-you)
- oengéyä etc
- móe: we (two-I’s)
- mengá: you two (two-you’s)
- mefó: they two (two-he’s)
The dual might require quite some discussion, and is an opportunity to address the matter of inclusivity and exclusivity.
While English has only singular and plural (he vs. they), Na’vi, like some other languages, prefers to be more analytical and disambiguous in how many “they” are: two, three, or more. Duality (pairs of us, you, or them) is generally marked with the prefix me+.
…which brings the matter of how tricky “we” can be: you have already seen oéng as a way to address both to you and the addressee; the word itself is composed of, and means “I-you” (oe+nga). For example, when you are a hunter and meet another hunter, the statement oéng táronyu lu might be translated simply as “we are hunters”, but it actually means “I and you are both hunters”. It includes the addressee in the pair, therefore this form is called inclusive.
But now we were introduced to another form, móe, which is also translated as “we” but has a different meaning. Instead of “I-you”, it means “two-I’s”: me and someone else, but not you. You are a hunter and meet a potter; in order to refer to yourself and a colleague of yours, you must say móe táronyu lu. While it is also translated as “we are hunters”, it actually means “I, and that other person (and not you), are hunters”. This form exludes the addressee from the pair, and is called exclusive.
Remember that the very etymology of the words, meaning “I-you” and “two-I’s”, make their meaning and intended usage quite obvious.
- tsmuk: sibling
- tsmúkan: brother
- tsmúke: sister
- ‘éylan: friend
- fpom: wellness, peace, happiness
- ‘u: thing, object
- fì’ú: this
- tstal: knife
- txóa: forgiveness
- srung: help
- smar: prey
- táronyu: hunter
- mesáronyu: 2 hunters
- pá’li: direhorse
- mefá’li: 2 direhorses
- tsko: bow
- meskó: 2 bows
- kénten: fan lizard
- mehénten: 2 fan lizards
- káme: “see” (spiritual) (tr)
- tse’á: see (tr)
- tsole‘ängá: I have seen
- mákto: ride (tr)
- iráyo si: thank
- kä: go
- kivä: to go
- lu: be
- livu: to be, may it be
- kin: need (tr)
- kängín: need 😦
- só’ha: be enthusiastic about (tr)
- héna: carry (tr)
- fwew: search (tr)
- fwivéw: to search
- zéne: must
- zénänge: must 😦
Since we covered the concept of verb transitivity and intransitivity in the previous lesson, from now on, all transitive verbs (which require a -l -t formula) will be indicated with a (tr). Note how idiomatic is the transitive verb só’ha in a way that can’t be translated directly in English: oél só’ha ngat (I am enthusiastic about you)
- lor: beautiful
- sevín: pretty (mainly for females)
- ngay: true
- nìngáy: truly, really
- txan: much, long time
- nìtxán: much, very
- oél ngáti kámeie: I “see” you
- káme ngat: “see” you (more informal)
- ngári frawzó srak?: all well about you?
- ngáru lu fpom srak?: are you well? (Is wellness with you?)
- lu fpom: I am well (there is wellness)
- nìvíngkap…: by the way…
- téwti: wow!
- oéru txóa livú: forgive me (forgiveness be to me)
- hìtxóa: sorry (more informal)
- étrìpa syáyvi!: good luck!
- kìyeváme: talk later (may will “see” again)
- …nìtxán nang!: how…! (exclamation marker; used to form expressions of surprise or admiration)
- ke: not (short version of kehe “no”)
- sráke…: introduces a yes/no question. Like srak, but goes always at the beginning of the sentence instead. It is just the same expression and whether to use it at the beginning or the end is a matter of choice. The expression is formed from srane + kehe.
- últe: (joins two clauses, such as “I walk and I talk”)
- fte: in order to
- mì: in
- ⟨äng⟩: (negative attitude marker)
- ⟨iv⟩: subjunctive marker
The infix ⟨äng⟩ is just the opposite of ⟨ei⟩ and indicates negative attitude, expressing disappointment, dislike or sadness. It takes the same position as ⟨ei⟩ (that is, before the second vowel or before the sole vowel) and the two cannot both exist in the same verb, as they are mutually exclusive: kám⟨ei⟩e vs. kám⟨äng⟩e; l⟨ei⟩ú vs. l⟨äng⟩ú.
The infix ⟨iv⟩ puts the verb in subjunctive mood and takes the same place as ⟨ol⟩ we’ve seen before (that is, before the first or sole vowel, but always before ⟨ei⟩/⟨äng⟩). The subjunctive in theory marks uncertainty; in practice it is used to express wish, fear, purpose or supposition; since Na’vi verbs have no infinitive form, subjunctive often serves that function; it is obligatory for modal verbs such as “must” or “want”.
- nga k⟨iv⟩â: may you go! (wish)
- fte k⟨iv⟩â: in order to go (purpose)
- óe zéne/new k⟨iv⟩â: I must/want to go (modal verb)
- -(y)ä: of (genitive marker)
- -(ì)ri: about, concerning, as of (topical marker)
We learn the remaining 2 noun cases. The ending -(y)ä has been seen in the previous lesson and is mainly used to indicate possession. Like other endings, it is simplified to -ä in some cases, eg. when the word ends in a consonant.
The topical case is uncommon in many languages; it is used to introduce the topic of the sentence, and usually the topical word is found at the beginning of the sentence. It is usually used in expressions seen in the dialogue, like thanking for something, inquiring about something, or commenting something.
- me+: dual marker
We have already made clear that Na’vi grammar describes things also as pairs, whereas English has only plural. You can say “two hunters” in one word: mesáronyu. As you certainly have noticed, the formation seems tricky; whereas you’d expect *metáronyu and *mekénten, we have instead mesáronyu and mehénten. This is because some adpositions and some prefixes, like me- cause a sound change on the first consonant of the next word. This phenomenon is called…
The word means softening and involves the “softening” of an initial consonant to a “softer” counterpart. The whole story might seem daunting at first, because one must know which adpositions trigger lenition (not all), which initial consonants undergo lenition (not all), and what these consonants become to.
- Lenition is triggered by some adpositions. There is no rule about which adpositions are supposed to do so, and they have to be learned or looked up in a dictionary: these, like me+ and mì+ are marked in the dictionaries with a +, so that you will always know when you are supposed to follow the lenition process, until you memorize them by usage. Most adpositions, like hu, don’t trigger lenition.
- These adpositions cause lenition on some initial consonants. As a rule of thumb, the lenitable consonants in Na’vi are plosives, or stops; these are the consonants that can’t be held long in the mouth. Such plosive consonants are k, p and t. Try yourself to see that you can’t hold the sounds kkkkkkk, pppppp or tttttttt in your mouth. You don’t have to worry with words that begin with non-plosive consonants such as m or n etc (you can pronounce mmmmm and nnnnnnn). While mì+ triggers lenition, nothing happens in the phrase mì ná’rìng, as ná’rìng is not a lenitable word.
- The final question is, what the consonants become when lenited. The rule of thumb is that they become their softer counterparts according to the Na’vi phonology. The soft counterpart of k is h, of p is f, and of t (and ts) is s. Indeed, if you try to hold these sounds long, you will end up with something like khhhhhh…, pffffff… and tsssssss…
As we have said, adpositions can either precede or follow a word: ne tsray or tsráyne (to the village). You can “escape” lenition usually by using an adposition as a suffix it to the word: to say “in the village” you can say either mì sray, or rather tsráymì.
The dual number was common in several ancient languages like Ancient Greek, Sanskrit and Egyptian. Gradually it fell out of use and by their classical stage (Classical Greek or Middle Egyptian) was reserved mostly for natural pairs, such as eyes or body parts.
The topical case is usually used with the following expresions: iráyo si (thank [for]), tsap’álute si (apologise [for]), pey (wait [for]), kllfró’ (be responsible [for]), and tìkángkem si (work [on]). Try to understand the following phrases:
- Tìkínìri péyä oéng tìkángkem si.
Me and you work on his need.
- Peyralìri pey móe.
- Txóari ngéyä iráyo si óe.
- Póri kllfró’ mengá.
- Tstálìri po tsap’álute si.
Remember that nouns in topical usually go to the beginning of the sentence. Now say that you (as óe):
- …waited for his brother (and you didn’t like it).
- …apologized for the idiot (and you felt bad about it).
- …thank for Peyral’s wellness.
- …are responsible for your direhorse.
- …worked on the bow (and you are happy about it).
The aliens (aysawtúte) are attacking Pandora! The olo’éyktan (clan leader) tasks you to gather pairs of these animals (ayióang) to save the species from the disaster. Put these names to the dual number by adding me+, with lenition wherever required.
- fwȃkì (mantis)
- fkío (tetrapteron)
- íkran (banshee)
- kénten (fan lizard)
- nántang (viperwolf)
- pá’li (direhorse)
- palulúkan (thanator)
- ríti (stingbat)
- syaksyúk (prolemuris)
- tálioang (sturmbeest)
- tóruk (great leonopteryx)
- yérik (hexapede)
Palulúkanìri étrìpa syáyvi.
Try the same with these professions (perhaps you remember them from an exercise back in the second lesson):
srúngsiyu (helper), pamrélsiyu (writer), tsámsiyu (warrior), sléleyu (swimmer), káryu (teacher), táronyu (hunter)
Omati and Marali are siblings. Omati and Peyral are friends. Marali and Peyral are hunters. The two have suffered from amnesia and Omati has to remind them of their relationships. Complete the following statements with the proper inclusive or exclusive, pronouns.
- Syaw ___ Marali. ___ tsmukan ___ lu, ___ tsmuke ___ lu, ___ tsmuk lu.
(You are called Marali. I am your brother, you are my sister, we are siblings)
- Syaw ___ Peyral. ___ ‘eylan ___ lu, ___ ‘eylan ___ lu, ___ ‘eylan lu.
(You are called Peyral. I am your friend, you are my friend, we are friends)
- Ma Marali, syaw ___ Peyral. ___ ‘eylan ___ lu, ___ ‘eylan ___ lu, ___ ‘eylan lu.
(Marali, her name is Peyral. I am her friend, she is my friend, me and her are friends)
- Ma Peyral, syaw ___ Marali. ___ tsmukan ___ lu, ___ tsmuke ___ lu, ___ tsmuk lu.
(Peyral, her name is Marali. I am her brother, she is my sister, me and her are siblings)
- ___ taronyu lu. Fi’u tsko ___.
(You are hunters. This is your bow)
- Ma Ateyo, ___ tswolänga’!!
(Oh Ateyo, they have forgotten! 😦 )
(Remember that the nouns don’t agree in number with the pronouns, and appear in the singular, according to the Na’vi language’s economy.)