Author Topic: Passive in Na'vi  (Read 2997 times)

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Offline Tìtstewan

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Passive in Na'vi
« on: June 13, 2014, 06:10:24 pm »
(Any further discussion about passive and modals should result in a split with all that stuff in its own thread to prevent further derailment of this thread about the "yawnyewla a" and/or "lam fwa" constructions)
I created this topic because it's interesting. :)

As far as passive voice goes, this is really subtle. TA's description makes quite a bit of sense. Now, just to catch myself doing in the future. I guess the most important thing here is there are two verbs, the second would be that there is only an object. The only other common construction that one regularly sees two verbs would be a modal construction, and those are usually 'giveaways' in that there is a limited set of modal verbs, and the <iv> infix in the controlled verb.

Right. The easiest way to spot Passive in English is almost surely one of these:

Transitive verbs:

Object is verbed
Object is being verbed
Object was verbed
Object was being verbed

Intransitive verbs:

It is verbed
It is being verbed
It was verbed
It was being verbed

with any past-tense verb in place of verbed. And Object is any noun which could be a direct object of the verb. Notice how it's the object first and treated as if it's a subject. The point is to emphasize the action and object and remove the real subject who did the verb from the equation altogether.

Modals are most easily spotted whenever verbs like can, cannot, must, want, try, etc. are used and directly tied to a second verb.

passive voice would be more like this calque example:

*tsa'u lolu rawnun (that thing was found)

The passive voce in English is the verb BE and then the past tense of whatever verb. This is done for the sake of leaving out the subject, but including any objects.
Hmm, that example is like
    X was <adj.>   instead   X was <verbed>
But this sounds really germanic.

So, the germanic way transformed in Na'vi would be like - transitive verbs:
Active:

Ngal taron yerikit.
You hunt the hexapede.

Passive:

*Yerik t<??>aron <preposition> nga.
The hexapede is hunted by you.

Active:

Palulukanìl yamom ngat.
The thanator ate you.

Passive:

*Nga y<??>om <preposition> palulukan.
You were eaten by the thanator.


Intransitive verbs:
Active:

Oeyä 'eylan pamrel sami 'upxarer.
My friend wrote a message.

Passive

*'Upxare pamrel s<??>i <preposition> oeyä 'eylan.
A message was written by my friend.


As you see, passive in Na'vi is full of problems. Theoretically, we would need an infix for passive verb, a quasi <awn+tense> infix. And there is missing a preposition like by, but with the meaning of the cause.

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Offline Plumps

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Re: Passive in Na'vi
« Reply #1 on: June 13, 2014, 06:48:55 pm »
See the mail from Feb 17, 2010

Quote from: Frommer
Correct—I haven’t included a passive because I thought that any function it would serve was already satisfied by other mechanisms in the language.

For the equivalent of an agentless passive, you’re right—just use fko.

For passives with agents, the flexible word order of Na’vi should obviate the need for a passive, or so it would seem. There’s no semantic distinction between

    (1) Shakespeare wrote Hamlet.
    (2) Hamlet was written by Shakespeare.

but the two are not equivalent in discourse, where focus is a consideration. In Na’vi, however, the equivalent of (3) is fully grammatical and not at all strange:

    (3) Hamlet Shakespeare wrote.

which should fulfill the functions of (2).

But maybe not entirely. Conjoining might cause a problem. “Hamlet was written by Shakespeare and is the most famous play in the world.” If that comes from “H was written by S” and “H is X,” could you drop the second occurrence of H in the Na’vi sentence? Probably not, since the two occurrences of H (assuming the first occurrence is in the form of (3) above) are in different cases. Maybe Na’vi just doesn’t allow that kind of conjoining. Doesn’t seem unreasonable. But I’ll think more about it.

But the function of how Na’vi word order of (3) serves the English (2) is interesting.

That would mean that:

’upxarer ’eylan oeyä pamrel soli would take care of “a message was written by my friend”, and

yerikit ngal t(er)aron for “the hexaped is hunted by you” etc.

Offline Tìtstewan

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Re: Passive in Na'vi
« Reply #2 on: June 13, 2014, 07:21:11 pm »
So, if I understood this message of Pawl (which I completely forgot...) correctly,

’upxarer ’eylan oeyä pamrel soli
could mean:
My friend wrote a message.
OR
A message was written by my friend.

Yerikit ngal t(er)aron.
A) You hunt the hexapede.
B) The hexapede is hunted by you.

???

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Offline Tirea Aean

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Re: Passive in Na'vi
« Reply #3 on: June 13, 2014, 09:34:17 pm »
Na'vi has no passive voice by design. The known solution to translating an English sentence that has passive voice is to use fko in Na'vi.

Fkol pole'un fì'ut. This is decided.

EDIT: Interesting. I didn't remember about that little bit about word order. But something tells me there that he was still considering that and never really said outright that it is definitely the case that word order where the object comes first would work as passive voice.
« Last Edit: June 13, 2014, 09:39:00 pm by Tirea Aean »

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Offline Kame Ayyo’koti

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Re: Passive in Na'vi
« Reply #4 on: June 13, 2014, 09:56:18 pm »
Horen §7.1.5 mentions this, although he doesn't say where Frommer said it:
Quote
Na’vi does not have a passive voice, but Frommer has suggested the word order OSV as one way to communicate the same effect (but see also fko, §6.3.3.2).
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Offline Tirea Aean

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Re: Passive in Na'vi
« Reply #5 on: June 13, 2014, 10:02:18 pm »
Horen §7.1.5 mentions this, although he doesn't say where Frommer said it:
Quote
Na’vi does not have a passive voice, but Frommer has suggested the word order OSV as one way to communicate the same effect (but see also fko, §6.3.3.2).

He gets it from the letter that Plumps pasted above:

See the mail from Feb 17, 2010

Quote from: Frommer
Correct—I haven’t included a passive because I thought that any function it would serve was already satisfied by other mechanisms in the language.

For the equivalent of an agentless passive, you’re right—just use fko.

For passives with agents, the flexible word order of Na’vi should obviate the need for a passive, or so it would seem. There’s no semantic distinction between

    (1) Shakespeare wrote Hamlet.
    (2) Hamlet was written by Shakespeare.

but the two are not equivalent in discourse, where focus is a consideration. In Na’vi, however, the equivalent of (3) is fully grammatical and not at all strange:

    (3) Hamlet Shakespeare wrote.

which should fulfill the functions of (2).


But maybe not entirely. Conjoining might cause a problem. “Hamlet was written by Shakespeare and is the most famous play in the world.” If that comes from “H was written by S” and “H is X,” could you drop the second occurrence of H in the Na’vi sentence? Probably not, since the two occurrences of H (assuming the first occurrence is in the form of (3) above) are in different cases. Maybe Na’vi just doesn’t allow that kind of conjoining. Doesn’t seem unreasonable. But I’ll think more about it.

Red for emphasis to relevant parts. But also notice that he second guesses himself in the last paragraph, saying he'll think more about it.

EDIT: ANd also notice, that he says for passives WITH AGENTS. (which means stuff like X is verbed by Y, not just X is verbed.)
« Last Edit: June 13, 2014, 10:06:03 pm by Tirea Aean »

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Offline `Eylan Ayfalulukanä

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Re: Passive in Na'vi
« Reply #6 on: June 14, 2014, 01:48:37 am »
This all makes my head hurt ::)

First, something unrelated:

’upxarer ’eylan oeyä pamrel soli - “a message was written by my friend”

This makes sense on the grounds it fits what K. Pawl was talking about in being OSV. What is weird here is the dative case on ʼupxare makes this sentence utterly confusing, and must be there only because the verb is intransitive. To me, this says 'To message my friend wrote'. I mst be missing something pretty important here.

Fkol pole'un fì'ut - ;This is decided'. This reads to me something totally different: 'One decided this' or 'It decided this'. But apparently, a more direct *fìʼu lu poleʼun won't work because it represents passive voice (And it has the two verbs together that I was mentioning in the other thread.) And although this statement matches the definition very closely (at least to me), itis ungrammatical by the rules of Naʼvi.

In Tìtstewan's original post, he gives three passive example sentences, that include what I now understand to be the passive voice construction. These, trranslated are is hunted by, were  eaten by and was written by. This makes sense. It is also a dreadfully common English construction!

The part to be remembered, I think is that passive voice can be represented by 'X is verbed by Y', or simply 'x is verbed'. The latter construction is also very common in English. This seems too broad. But the OSV construction works for the former case with a subject, and somehow fko is supposed to work in a case without a subject.


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Re: Passive in Na'vi
« Reply #7 on: June 14, 2014, 02:16:45 am »
This all makes my head hurt ::)

:D

Quote
First, something unrelated:

’upxarer ’eylan oeyä pamrel soli - “a message was written by my friend”

This makes sense on the grounds it fits what K. Pawl was talking about in being OSV. What is weird here is the dative case on ʼupxare makes this sentence utterly confusing, and must be there only because the verb is intransitive. To me, this says 'To message my friend wrote'. I mst be missing something pretty important here.

The idea is, since pamrel si must only be intransitive (because it technically means do writing), its objects are in dative. But, as an added twist, since one can write something to a recipient, the classic definition of dative also comes into play. There are two datives. Since this is writing, there is only one logical meaning to this; writing a person to a message is absurd. With that in mind, this sentence can only mean my friend wrote a message. And in real-time, this sentence comes across more as a message my friend wrote. It has more of a feel like a message was written by my friend. I guess that's how it works. Anyways, it seems you understand this all well enough even if it's confusing.

Quote
Fkol pole'un fì'ut - ;This is decided'. This reads to me something totally different: 'One decided this' or 'It decided this'.

That's because most people here have it so hard wired in their brains that fko means one, fko means one, fko means one. But they forget that it is the solution for translating passive voice properly to Na'vi: Use a generic agent. For cases where there is a subject later on as in "...by X", I'd totally just go with using the normal active voice: X verbs Y instead of Y is verbed by X.

Quote
But apparently, a more direct *fìʼu lu poleʼun won't work because it represents passive voice (And it has the two verbs together that I was mentioning in the other thread.) And although this statement matches the definition very closely (at least to me), itis ungrammatical by the rules of Naʼvi.

Correct. It's just plain ungrammatical. It might make sense if you translate it word for word into English, but that's no real way to go about it. It goes without saying that the grammars of Na'vi and English are by no means 1:1 equivalent. When you see stuff like Fkol pole'un fì'ut, think of it as BOTH: One has decided this AND This has been decided. When you see fko, try to see how it could also be translated into English as passive voice. For example, think about how Fko ke tsun yivom tsat can also mean That cannot be eaten. Remember, the entire basis of the tsuk- and ketsuk- prefixes is exactly this. ketsukyom means unedible, i.e. it cannot be eaten.

Quote
In Tìtstewan's original post, he gives three passive example sentences, that include what I now understand to be the passive voice construction. These, translated are is hunted by, were  eaten by and was written by.

And we can say all of these. Assuming the solution is that OSV word order will suffice. There of course is no 1:1 translation of these; this is an area where the grammar of English and Na'vi clash and disagree.

Quote
This makes sense. It is also a dreadfully common English construction!

It really is. More than people know.

Quote
The part to be remembered, I think is that passive voice can be represented by 'X is verbed by Y', or simply 'x is verbed'. The latter construction is also very common in English. This seems too broad. But the OSV construction works for the former case with a subject, and somehow fko is supposed to work in a case without a subject.

Agreed. If you think about it, really, the entire difference between normal/active and passive voice is the emphasis/focus. When the subject of a sentence is included, it's logically equivalent to say, for example, "I eat the fish" and "the fish is eaten by me". They literally mean the exact same thing. The only difference is the passive puts focus on the fish and puts me to the side and only adds it in for the sake of being specific. I suppose the evidence in Paul's writings would support the notion that word order changes such as SVO or SOV to OSV would work to make this distinction. He has said before that there may be much more freedom in word order, but that doesn't necessarily mean that every order is going be felt or perceived in the same exact way even if they are semantically equivalent. For example, it's been said the sentential emphasis often falls on the last word of a sentence in Na'vi. (The last word is the punch)
« Last Edit: June 14, 2014, 02:21:09 am by Tirea Aean »

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Offline `Eylan Ayfalulukanä

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Re: Passive in Na'vi
« Reply #8 on: June 14, 2014, 04:26:36 am »
Ma Tirea Aean, this is all very helpful. Now, if I can only remember it when I need to ;)
I think though, that this shines a bright light on how a person with no real linguistic background (i.e. speaks only one native language) can start to think more like a 'blueskin', and capture what makes the Naʼvi language the Naʼvi language.

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Offline Tìtstewan

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Re: Passive in Na'vi
« Reply #9 on: June 14, 2014, 04:51:33 am »
Na'vi has no passive voice by design. The known solution to translating an English sentence that has passive voice is to use fko in Na'vi.

Fkol pole'un fì'ut. This is decided.
I bet, that if we wouldn't talk about passive voice, 90% of smuk would read that as "One decided this". No one would translate it immediadely into passive. This is decided <-> One decided this.

In Tìtstewan's original post, he gives three passive example sentences, that include what I now understand to be the passive voice construction. These, translated are is hunted by, were  eaten by and was written by.

And we can say all of these. Assuming the solution is that OSV word order will suffice. There of course is no 1:1 translation of these; this is an area where the grammar of English and Na'vi clash and disagree.
As it was mentioned, Na'vi does not have a passive voice in its design, and those example are more or less copy of the germanic way of passive. But the interesting thing is, if the word order is OSV, one should could translate it as passive? The funny thing is, that 90% of smuk here would not translate a Na'vi sentence (in all cases) as passive in English.
Interesting would be:
Passive English text -> translate to Na'vi -> translate it back, without looking at the original text -> would be funny ;D

And I agree with TA. :)

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Re: Passive in Na'vi
« Reply #10 on: June 14, 2014, 08:07:00 am »
The funny thing is, that 90% of smuk here would not translate a Na'vi sentence (in all cases) as passive in English.
Interesting would be:
Passive English text -> translate to Na'vi -> translate it back, without looking at the original text -> would be funny ;D

And I agree with TA. :)

This is so true! Hardly anyone I know would ever get the original passive voice sentence back.

The arrow could not be found. -> Swizawit fko ke tsolun rivun. -> One could not find the arrow.

Am I the only one who would immediately see both of those English translations at the same time for that Na'vi sentence?
EDIT: In fact, in this case, I'd actually lean towards officially translating it as the passive version because it sounds better.

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Re: Passive in Na'vi
« Reply #11 on: June 14, 2014, 11:16:40 am »
And I would translate that as *swizawit ke tsolun rivun, which would be wrong. I would totally miss the need for fko in this sentence, and I would have missed the original sentence was passive voice.

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Offline Plumps

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Re: Passive in Na'vi
« Reply #12 on: June 14, 2014, 11:21:21 am »
And I would translate that as *swizawit ke tsolun rivun, which would be wrong.

Not necessarily. ;)
Depends on the context. That’s where pronoun drop comes into play again. If it were part of a story and you had the agent of that story in the sentence/paragraph before, you would probably understand it as being that person/agent who couldn’t find the arrow ;) Context is our friend :D

Offline Tìtstewan

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Re: Passive in Na'vi
« Reply #13 on: June 14, 2014, 11:31:39 am »
And I would translate that as *swizawit ke tsolun rivun, which would be wrong.

Not necessarily. ;)
This. If I look at this example, I think one could translate it without fko:

Ke tsolun rivun swizawit.
Could not find the arrow.

Which would be a shortened statisment/answer :).


EDIT:
Hmm, that shortened version cause my brain to translate it into an English passive, somehow. Eltur tìtxen si!

« Last Edit: June 14, 2014, 11:38:45 am by Tìtstewan »

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Offline Tirea Aean

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Re: Passive in Na'vi
« Reply #14 on: June 14, 2014, 01:23:23 pm »
I agree with Plumps and Tìtstewan. :)

Hmm, that shortened version cause my brain to translate it into an English passive, somehow. Eltur tìtxen si!

It makes sense; You can't, while being grammatically correct, get any closer to the English passive voice structure.

1. Missing subject
2. some kind of "past tense"
3. two verbs, one of which having an objcet which is included in the sentence

the only thing that's not the same is that this is a modal structure with a modal verb, instead of having some form of be and the past of the other verb.

It is kind of interesting though. But then again I can see why. Everyone immediately thinks of Fko as One and the subject of the sentence instead of throwing it out and parsing the sentence as a passive. Having no fko or subject listed makes it much easier for the imagination to create a passive English translation. Because half of the battle is already done by leaving out a subject entirely. :)

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Re: Passive in Na'vi
« Reply #15 on: June 14, 2014, 02:19:47 pm »
’upxarer ’eylan oeyä pamrel soli - “a message was written by my friend”

This makes sense on the grounds it fits what K. Pawl was talking about in being OSV. What is weird here is the dative case on ʼupxare makes this sentence utterly confusing, and must be there only because the verb is intransitive. To me, this says 'To message my friend wrote'. I must be missing something pretty important here.
What you missed is this: http://wiki.learnnavi.org/Canon/2013#Double_Dative_and_more
I was one of numulxatu of that discussion and Paul said, that there's no space for confusion. Pamrel si is intransitive, so object (what you are writing) must be in dative. But recipient of the message also goes into dative. From every day life you know, that you write message  (and not the recipient of the message), so it is clear what you want to say.
Oe pamrel si 'eylanur -> clearly I write something to the friend (I do not write friend, but to the friend)
Oe pamrel si 'upxarer -> I write message, not to the message
Oe pamrel si 'upxarer 'eylanur - I write message to the friend, not friend to the message.
Although there's no context, there's logic (or experience), so confusion can't occur.
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Re: Passive in Na'vi
« Reply #16 on: June 14, 2014, 05:19:47 pm »
What you missed is this: http://wiki.learnnavi.org/Canon/2013#Double_Dative_and_more
I was one of numulxatu of that discussion and Paul said, that there's no space for confusion. Pamrel si is intransitive, so object (what you are writing) must be in dative. But recipient of the message also goes into dative. From every day life you know, that you write message  (and not the recipient of the message), so it is clear what you want to say.
1. Oe pamrel si 'eylanur -> clearly I write something to the friend (I do not write friend, but to the friend)
2. Oe pamrel si 'upxarer -> I write message, not to the message
3. Oe pamrel si 'upxarer 'eylanur - I write message to the friend, not friend to the message.
Although there's no context, there's logic (or experience), so confusion can't occur.

I'll have to read that double dative post.
In any case, 1 and 3 make perfect sense. 2 does not, because you write 'to message'. The only reason I don't get completely caught on this is because of the well-established 'dative with intransitive verbs' rule. This rule can usually, but not always, be used to create fully sensible sentences.

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Re: Passive in Na'vi
« Reply #17 on: June 14, 2014, 06:00:50 pm »
2 does not, because you write 'to message'.

That’s what it grammatically says, true. But semantically it’s “write a message” as opposed to ’upxareri oe pamrel si “I write the message”.

Offline Yawne Zize’ite

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Re: Passive in Na'vi
« Reply #18 on: November 20, 2014, 07:43:13 pm »
Quote from: Frommer
For passives with agents, the flexible word order of Na’vi should obviate the need for a passive, or so it would seem. There’s no semantic distinction between

    (1) Shakespeare wrote Hamlet.
    (2) Hamlet was written by Shakespeare.

but the two are not equivalent in discourse, where focus is a consideration. In Na’vi, however, the equivalent of (3) is fully grammatical and not at all strange:

    (3) Hamlet Shakespeare wrote.

which should fulfill the functions of (2).

But maybe not entirely. Conjoining might cause a problem. “Hamlet was written by Shakespeare and is the most famous play in the world.” If that comes from “H was written by S” and “H is X,” could you drop the second occurrence of H in the Na’vi sentence? Probably not, since the two occurrences of H (assuming the first occurrence is in the form of (3) above) are in different cases. Maybe Na’vi just doesn’t allow that kind of conjoining. Doesn’t seem unreasonable. But I’ll think more about it.

I guess my background in Japanese is acting up, because I would immediately conjoin those two sentences by putting "Hamlet" in the topical. Something like "Hamlet-ri wrote Shakespeare-ìl and is the most famous play in the world". Why doesn't this work?

Offline Vawmataw

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Re: Passive in Na'vi
« Reply #19 on: November 20, 2014, 08:02:13 pm »
Quote
Something like "Hamlet-ri wrote Shakespeare-ìl and is the most famous play in the world". Why doesn't this work?
pamrel si is an intransitive verb. ìl should disappear, because the agentive is for the subject of the transitive verbs only.
After that, I don't think that the topical makes sense. Or at least, it's not useful. You can add the dative to the object: Hamletur or vurur alu Hamlet.

This would make something like:
Hamletur pamrel soli Shakespeare.
Shakespeare pamrel soli Hamletur.
« Last Edit: November 20, 2014, 08:37:57 pm by Vawmataw »
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