Author Topic: Common mistakes for new Na'vi learners to avoid  (Read 13141 times)

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Offline omängum fra'uti

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Common mistakes for new Na'vi learners to avoid
« on: January 03, 2010, 01:41:42 am »
Let me preface this by repeating that these are COMMON mistakes.  Don't feel like a skxawng just because you've done them.  A foreign language, constructed or not, is just that, foreign.  Sometimes getting out of your way of thinking can be difficult.

Also, the examples are just examples of the mistake, not attempts to show grammar.  I may have made some mistakes, so take them as what they are rather than gospel of how it should be done.

Mistake #1: Noun cases.
Oe-yä-ri ikran tse'a nga (Attempted meaning: My ikran sees you.  Real meaning: Nonsensical, really.)
If you find yourself wanting to stack up more than one noun case, then you need to rethink what the noun cases mean.  In this example sentence, there are two things wrong.
  • The suffixes on oe.  Either -ri (About me; Ikran sees you) or -yä (My ikran sees you) would work in this case, but not both.
  • The lack of suffixes on the nouns.  Na'vi has free word order, that means it can be SVO (Subject verb object) like English, SOV (Subject object verb) like (I'm told) Japenese, or anything you feel like better expresses your meaning, like VOS, VSO, etc.  That means in that sentence, you have no idea who is seeing what.  For a transitive verb like "see", you need the ergative (subject) marker and accusitive (object) marker, "-l" and "-t" respectively.

Correct: Oe-yä ikran-ìl tse'a nga-ti

Nga-l t<ay>erkup (Attempted meaning: You will die.)
The ergative and accusative only work for transitive verbs.  "Die" is, however, intransitive.  Na'vi is a tripartate language.  In laymans terms, that means the subject and object of a transitive verb are indicated differently than the subject of an intransitive verb.

Correct: Nga t<ay>erkup

Footnote: Just because you only use one noun in a sentence does not automatically make the verb intransitive.  If you want to say "I see" (As in, look over there, see the Ikran?  Yes, I see.) you would still make it Oe-l tsa'e.

Mistake #2: Literal English translations.
Oe lu h<ìy>um ye'rìn (Attempted meaning: I am leaving soon)
English is an odd language in many ways.  One way is that where most languages would modify the verb or nouns for things such as tense, aspect, and such...  English throws in helper words.  The various forms of "be" such as "am", "are" and such are good examples.  In other languages, those words are unneeded, and would render a sentence grammatically incorrect if put in.

Correct: Oe h<ìy>um ye'rìn

There is another word in the English version of this sentence that, while grammatically correct to use in Na'vi, could be considered superfluous.  That word is soon.  The reason for this is that Na'vi has more than just the basic concept of past, present and future tenses.  It also has the concept of "proximate" tenses for past and future.  That's just saying that it is something that either just happened (Past proximate) or is about to happen (Future proximate).  Since the future proximate is already used in this sentence (<ìy>), then it is already stated that it will be happening soon, and so repeating it is redundant in this case.

Alternatively: Oe h<ìy>um

Mistake #3: Translation of idioms.
Sìltsan txon (Attempted meaning: Good night)

Marriem-Webster defines idiom thusly:
1 a : the language peculiar to a people or to a district, community, or class : dialect b : the syntactical, grammatical, or structural form peculiar to a language
2 : an expression in the usage of a language that is peculiar to itself either grammatically (as no, it wasn't me) or in having a meaning that cannot be derived from the conjoined meanings of its elements (as Monday week for “the Monday a week after next Monday”)
Sometimes it is hard to know an idiom when you only speak one language, or are only fluent in one language.  We use them every day without even thinking about it, because we all know what they mean.  Try to think about what you are actually saying when translating something.  Think about the words, do they mean what they are actually saying?  Forget what you expect them to mean and just try to figure out what it's saying.  For the native English speaker I'll illustrate with an German idiom, "Hals über Kopf" - literally translated "neck over head".  Someone in Germany just learning English might be tempted to translate it that way, and other German would know what they meant.  But if they said that to someone who wasn't German, nobody would know that what they meant was that they are in a mad hurry.

That's a bit long winded of an explanation, but this is one that comes up repeatedly, because it's the hardest to recognize as being wrong for many people.  However back to our example, "good night"  Literally, that is saying the night is good.  But you're not really talking about the night at all, you're saying goodbye to someone.

Because idioms exist to shorten common phrases, or to carry meanings that would be otherwise long winded, often the answer to an idiom is another idiom.  There are of course several ways to say goodbye, the most common being "kìyevame".  However you could also wish someone a good night with "txon lefpom livu ngar" (Lit. may you have a peaceful night) which is then idiomatically shortened to "txon lefpom" in the same way that "have a good night" becomes just "goodnight".

Correct: Txon lefpom (livu ngar)
Alternative: Kìyevame

Mistake #4: Aspect vs tense.
Unfortunately this is a topic that is not an easy answer to the native English speaker, as English does not really differentiate aspect vs tense.  A sentence that uses past tense may translate exactly the same as one that uses perfective aspect, but their meanings are not the same.

Instead I direct you to this fine information from wm.annis.

Mistake #5: Adding/removing glottal stops.
E'al-a eko-ri fra-krr lu (Attempted meaning: Worst attack ever!)

Many words start with a glottal stop (The ' at the beginning).  At first this may seem odd and like it doesn't really do anything at the start of a word, so you might be tempted to drop it.  However, that would be as correct as dropping the "K" in "Kìyevame" for example.  The glottal stop is treated as a consonant sound, and follows the word through everything but lenition.  There really is a pronunciation difference with it there.

Other reasons it's important to keep it: adding prefixes and words before it make it more than just a mostly silent consonant.  If you took the glottal stop out of "uh oh" it would sound more like "ow", and the same thing can happen in Na'vi.  Also it spreads incorrect spellings around if others see it and try modifying your sentence without looking up the words.

Related is adding extra glottal stops.  Again, they aren't just decoration, you can't go peppering them around words as you see fit.  Even if you shove two words together, there will be no glottal stop in between.

Correct: 'E'al-a 'eko-ri fra-krr lu

Mistake #6: Question words.
Krrpe nga l<ol>u alaksi, tsun oeng h<iv>um. (When you are ready, we can leave!)

In English the question words like "who", "what", "when", "where", "why" and "how" serve as both interrogative words, as well as relative pronouns.  In layman's terms, you use the word when you are asking a question such as "Where did he go?" as well as relating a phrase to something else such as "That place is where I was learned to ride."  The former is asking a question and in most cases expects an answer.  The latter is merely making a statement, and no native English speaker would ever mistake it for being a question.  So the distinction seems clear.

In Na'vi for the question words we of course use pe+ or -pe, such as "pesu", "peu", "pehrr", "pelun", and "pefya".  However, these words are ALWAYS interrogative.  They ALWAYS pose a question.  (It is of course possible to ask a question and not expect an answer, but it is still an interrogative form in that case.)  For statements, you would use something else.  However, the root of a word used relationally is the same as the root of the word used as a question, but there is a little extra grammar.  In this case, it would be "krr" instead of "krrpe".  The extra grammar is an "a" between the word and the phrase it is relating.  So before the phrase it would be "krr a <phrase>" and after it would be "<phrase> a krr".  Both could be used and mean the same.

Correct: Krr a nga l<ol>u alaksi, tsun oeng h<iv>um.
Correct (Alternate): Nga l<ol>u alaksi a krr, tsun oeng h<iv>um.

Mistake #7: Negative phrases.
Oel rä'ä omum pot. (I do not know him!)

In English, it would be very odd to say "I not know him", rather we have a helper verb in there to make it work, "I do not know him".  This is then the verb which expresses tense, as in "did not", "do not" and "will not".  But like most helper verbs in English, it is not used in many other languages, including Na'vi.  We do have this awful tempting looking "rä'ä" which means "do not".  It is not a verb, so it isn't being used as a helper.  But it is still wrong.  This word is used as a negative imperative in Na'vi.  That is, when you are telling someone to not do something.  If you are just stating something that is not, the simple negative "ke" is what you want to use.

As a basic rule of thumb, if you can replace the "do not" in your sentence with "did not" or "will not" and it still makes sense with mostly the same meaning, you probably want "ke" instead of "rä'ä".

Correct: Oel ke omum pot.
« Last Edit: June 19, 2010, 02:36:32 pm by omängum fra'uti »
Ftxey lu nga tokx ftxey lu nga tirea? Lu oe tìkeftxo.
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Offline Tìng Eywatikìte'e

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Re: Common mistakes for new Na'vi learners to avoid
« Reply #1 on: January 03, 2010, 02:03:42 am »
Irayo ma karyu. You always have the most helpful articles, I don't know where I'd be with out you!
Oeri lu Eywayä 'eveng


Offline Mawey Seze

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Re: Common mistakes for new Na'vi learners to avoid
« Reply #2 on: January 03, 2010, 02:07:13 am »
Thanks so much for this, it's extremely helpful!

Irayo!

Offline Srereu Aynantanghu

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Re: Common mistakes for new Na'vi learners to avoid
« Reply #3 on: January 03, 2010, 02:12:58 am »
thank you for this, especially the aspect vs tense. I expect many many people have trouble with that

Offline Taronyu

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Re: Common mistakes for new Na'vi learners to avoid
« Reply #4 on: January 03, 2010, 02:40:28 am »
Perhaps this should be a document, instead of a sticky?

Either way, looks good. Should stop a few repetitive posts.

Offline omängum fra'uti

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Re: Common mistakes for new Na'vi learners to avoid
« Reply #5 on: January 03, 2010, 02:46:12 am »
Perhaps this should be a document, instead of a sticky?

Either way, looks good. Should stop a few repetitive posts.
The concepts certainly should, if not the exact idea of this post, but right now I'm not focusing on writing documents.

Right now I'm just posting here form my experience as a grammar nazi what I find myself correcting the most often.
Ftxey lu nga tokx ftxey lu nga tirea? Lu oe tìkeftxo.
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Offline Tanhì'itan

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Re: Common mistakes for new Na'vi learners to avoid
« Reply #6 on: January 03, 2010, 02:47:04 am »
Good, very good. Thank you for imparting your knowledge on us oeyä karyu.



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Offline Kip Pizayu

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Re: Common mistakes for new Na'vi learners to avoid
« Reply #7 on: January 03, 2010, 03:33:05 am »
Wow! Irayo
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Offline Eywayä mokri

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Re: Common mistakes for new Na'vi learners to avoid
« Reply #8 on: January 03, 2010, 03:34:48 am »
I think what is really important for the beginners is to really pay attention to speculation. :) If you don't know something, and it seems that you are not able to find out how to do something, ask...

P.S. I think you should add common spelling mistakes...such as Na'Vi instead of Na'vi...  ::)
« Last Edit: January 03, 2010, 03:55:49 am by Eywayä mokri »
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Offline Tìsyaw Nantangä

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Re: Common mistakes for new Na'vi learners to avoid
« Reply #9 on: January 03, 2010, 04:09:00 am »
Brilliant post. Txan ayirayo.
Mì saw, kawtul tsun stivawm ngayä ayzawngit.

Offline Motxokxen

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Re: Common mistakes for new Na'vi learners to avoid
« Reply #10 on: January 03, 2010, 01:32:30 pm »
Irayo ma Tìsyaw Nantangä
great article, refined some ideas about the language, +karma!

Offline Kaltxì Palulukan!

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Re: Common mistakes for new Na'vi learners to avoid
« Reply #11 on: January 03, 2010, 02:09:17 pm »
I am just replying so that I can keep in the loop on this important thread.

Irayo.
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Offline Srereu Aynantanghu

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Re: Common mistakes for new Na'vi learners to avoid
« Reply #12 on: January 03, 2010, 04:43:08 pm »
one mistake I see a lot is people using ay when they mean ey, because that is how 'ay' is pronounced in english

Offline Ftiafpi

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Re: Common mistakes for new Na'vi learners to avoid
« Reply #13 on: January 03, 2010, 08:26:32 pm »
Ayoeng(ì)ri fì'ul sr<er>ung Na'vi<ti> tsl<us>am, irayo.
2-PL-TOP this-ERG help-IPFV na'vi-ACC understand-PTCP, thanks
This will help us understand Na'vi, thanks.

Offline txum tukru

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Re: Common mistakes for new Na'vi learners to avoid
« Reply #14 on: January 03, 2010, 10:31:07 pm »
i have posted this topic up here: http://learnnavi.edfake.x10hosting.com/Users/omangum%20fra_uti/

one in DOC and one in TXT for those who don't have Microsoft word!
pesu nga?          "who are you?"
Oe lu toktor.       "the Doctor!"
pesu?                "who?"
nì’aw, toktor.       "just, the Doctor!"

Offline Tanhì Tireafya'o

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Re: Common mistakes for new Na'vi learners to avoid
« Reply #15 on: January 07, 2010, 04:38:34 pm »
This actually helped me with some problems. Irayo.

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Offline Ikranä mokri

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Re: Common mistakes for new Na'vi learners to avoid
« Reply #16 on: January 09, 2010, 12:53:47 pm »
irayo tsmúkan





Tirea Tskoyä has a new look see it[url=http://forum.learnnavi.org/fiction-

Offline Erimeyz

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Re: Common mistakes for new Na'vi learners to avoid
« Reply #17 on: January 10, 2010, 07:51:35 pm »
I've created a Common Mistakes page on the Learn Na'vi wiki based on omängum fra'uti's post at the top of this thread.

http://wiki.learnnavi.org/Common_Mistakes

  - Eri

Offline Kxanì Swirä

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Re: Common mistakes for new Na'vi learners to avoid
« Reply #18 on: January 18, 2010, 12:12:33 pm »
Awesome smlieys! ;D

And thanks for the tips
"Everything is backwards now, like out there is the true world and in here is the dream" Jake Sully

Offline Will Txankamuse

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Re: Common mistakes for new Na'vi learners to avoid
« Reply #19 on: January 18, 2010, 05:58:21 pm »
Ayoeng(ì)ri fì'ul sr<er>ung Na'vi<ti> tsl<us>am, irayo.
2-PL-TOP this-ERG help-IPFV na'vi-ACC understand-PTCP, thanks
This will help us understand Na'vi, thanks.

sorry to pollute this excellent thread with more discussion, but I was decoding what was said here and wondered

1.  Shouldn't help (srung) be transformed from a noun into a verb before its use, using the 'si'? (be help) thus the imperfective aspect infix should be within si instead? (s<er>i)
2.  I'm still unsure on the imperfective aspect, but does it translate as 'will help'? - surely it more translates as 'helping' or the continual existence of help (given the noun to verb conversion)?

Ayoeng(ì)ri fì'ul srung s<er>i Na'vi<ti> tsl<us>am, irayo

Excuse my mistakes but I'm still trying to work out all these infixes :)

Will
Txo ayngal tse'a keyeyit, oeyä txoa livu.  I am learning Na'vi too!
If you see a mistake in my post please correct me!

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