Learn Na'vi > Advanced Grammar

Passive in Na'vi

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Tirea Aean:

--- Quote from: Kame Ayyo'koti 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).
--- End quote ---

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He gets it from the letter that Plumps pasted above:


--- Quote from: Plumps 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.
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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.)

`Eylan Ayfalulukanä:
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.

Tirea Aean:

--- Quote from: `Eylan Ayfalulukanä on June 14, 2014, 01:48:37 am ---This all makes my head hurt ::)
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: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.
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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'.
--- End quote ---

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.
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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.
--- End quote ---

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!
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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.
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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)

`Eylan Ayfalulukanä:
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.

Tìtstewan:

--- Quote from: Tirea Aean 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.
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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.


--- Quote from: Tirea Aean on June 14, 2014, 02:16:45 am ---
--- Quote from: `Eylan Ayfalulukanä on June 14, 2014, 01:48:37 am ---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.
--- End quote ---

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.
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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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