Avatar, a quick guide to the Na'vi language to prepare for watching the film

Avatar, a quick guide to the Na'vi language to prepare for watching the film


It may seem strange, but perhaps not so unlikely, but there are people in the world who speak Na'vi, the language of the alien population of Avatar. After all, the film saga of James Cameron , inaugurated in 2009 and of which the second chapter is now in cinemas Avatar: La via dell'acqua , not only broke all box office records by becoming the film that earned the most in history, but has had a profound cultural impact because of the world it has managed to create: the lush planet of Pandora conveys a message of reconnection with nature and renews an environmental message against the devastating brutality of man. In addition, it leaves the audience the opportunity to imagine another kind of life, thanks to the incarnation in the very tall blue-skinned avatars.

“ It was the first time I genuinely remember how a film transported me to a totally new reality, "said Seth Wright , a fan of the first hour interviewed by Rolling Stone Usa . Wright, now 28, is also the co-founder of Kelutral, an organization that brings together the community of Avatar enthusiasts and above all of the language spoken by the Na'vi.It is no coincidence that Kelutral, founded in 2020 precisely with the mission of spreading knowledge of this language, is a word meaning “tree-house.” Wright had teamed up in 2010 with Learn Na'vi, a site that seeks to code all of the language, and collaborated with Paul Frommer, its creator, to expand its vocabulary and grammar. the site, which boasts over 3 thousand members, offers glossaries, grammar rules, phonetic tables, expressions and numbers for anyone who wants to try their hand at learning.

Content This content can also be viewed on the site it originates from.

Everything starts precisely from Dr. Paul Frommer, professor of linguistics at the University of Southern California, to whom Cameron himself had commissioned the creation of a language suitable for his science fiction world: "He wanted a complete language, with lots of of phonetic system, morphology, syntax ”, says the scholar: “ He also wanted it to sound good, to be pleasant to listen to and to be liked by the public ”. The stakes were many and not indifferent, in fact: where in fact it seems like an alien language, but familiar enough to be easily learned by the actors and not entirely extraneous even to the public. Frommer therefore developed Na'vi starting from some Polynesian languages, grafting on them a dozen words conceived by Cameron himself.

The initial result consisted of a vocabulary of a thousand words regulated by a grammar that was in principle understandable only to Frommer himself. Over time he himself expanded the lexicon to over 2600 terms and published the grammar, making Na'vi a full-fledged language, which can also be studied. To date, the language has very well-formed and complex rules: there are various rules of pronunciation of the six vowels and twenty consonants (but being an oral language there are neither capital letters nor punctuation), while the words can be arranged in any order within of a sentence, and again nouns almost never have gender, but in addition to the singular and plural they have dual forms (to indicate groups of two elements, also existing in languages ​​such as ancient Greek) and trialal (for groups of three) , while verbs are conjugated for tense and mood but not for person (they have the same form for me, you, he, etc.) and so on.

20th Century Studios Fascinating for those studying linguistics, the Na' language vi also has an interesting social aspect: communities like Learn Na'vi and Kelutral also serve to create very close-knit and selected communities, whose members take care of each other. This is particularly significant given that the so-called post-Avatar depression has been talked about several times, an undiagnosed condition that seems to have struck many fans of the film who were crushed by the impossibility of living in an idyllic world like Pandora's: “It was like a fantastic dream and then I had to wake up, go back to sad reality,” one of them told Variety. The communities that study and speak Na'vi also serve to allow these people with wild imaginations and acute sensitivity to continue to prolong that dream for a little while longer.

A brief glossary

And if you too are curious to learn more about this suggestive language, here are some terms taken from Learn Na'vi:

kaltxì “Hello”

oel ngati kameie “I see you” (the fundamental phrase of empathy and understanding at the basis of the first film)

ngaru lu fpom srak? "Are you OK?" (literally: “Do you have peace with you?”

fyape syaw fko ngar? “What is your name?” (literally: “What is your name?”)

oeru syaw… “I I call…” (literally: “They call me…”)

irayo “Thank you”

rutxe “You're welcome”

smon nìprrte' “Nice to meet you”

zola'u nìprrte' “Welcome”

ngari solalew zìsìt apolpxay? “How old are you?” (literally: “How many years have it been for you?”)

oeri solalew zìsìt a … “I'm … years old”

nga za'u ftu peseng? “Where are you from?”

za'u oe ftu… “I'm from…”

nga yawne lu oer “I love you”

eywa ngahu "(May) eywa (be) with you" (referring to the divinity-spirit of the planet Pandora)

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