if vs whether - 'ftxey...fuke'

Started by Will Txankamuse, March 24, 2010, 08:22:27 PM

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Will Txankamuse

Triggered by discussion here about 'if'...

Quote from: me
My question is whether 'if' can be used as a replacement for 'whether', as in English.

Consider the sentence:

'Tell me if you want to live'

This could be interpreted as:

'Tell me whether you want to live (or not)'


'Tell me! ...and if you don't, you won't live'

So my question is - can txo be used in this same way, or is there another word for 'whether' in Na'vi that we just don't know yet?

Quote from: frommer
You ask a good question. "Whether" is an important word. And your analysis of "Tell me if you want to live"--that is, that it has two distinct meanings--is right on the money.

You're right--you can't use "txo" for all instances of English "whether."

Here are some examples:

(1) He asked whether Sally left.

That's an indirect question. The direct version, of course, is:

(2) He asked, "Did Sally leave?"

[BTW, as you probably know, some speakers of non-standard English use similar structures for direct and indirect questions. Those speakers would say, instead of (1),

(3) He asked did Sally leave.]

Anyway, in Na'vi we only use the direct form. So the sentence becomes:

(4) Polawm po san srake Säli holum sìk.

And no "whether" is required.

As for "Tell me whether you want to live (or not)," there's a different structure:

We use "ftxey . . . fuke," as in:

Piveng oer ftxey nga new rivey fuke. (Fuke is stressed on the 2nd syllable: fu.KE)

"Ftxey," which is also the verb "choose," is here a conjunction corresponding to "whether." And "fuke" clearly means "or not," which you can't omit in Na'vi.

"Ftxey . . . fuke" can also be used in direct questions. For "Are you coming?" we usually say:

(5) Srake nga za'u?

But there's another version, which corresponds more closely to "Are you coming or not?"

(6) Ftxey nga za'u fuke?

Hope that's all clear!

Deconstructed sentences because I find them useful...

Polawm po san srake Säli holum sìk
P<ol>awm po san srake Säli h<ol>um sìk
ask[PERF] 3 quote yes/no Sally leave[PERF] unquote
He asked "has Sally left?"

Piveng oer ftxey nga new rivey fuke
P<iv>eng oe-r ftxey nga new r<iv>ey fuke
Tell[SUBJ] 1-DAT choose 2 want live[SUBJ] or not
Tell me, you choose want to live or not.

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!

Please help on the Movie Lines in Na'vi wiki page



Wondering about "Are you coming or not?"  It can be answered with a yes/no, so shouldn't there be a srak there? 

Also, it could just be an error, but shouldn't we have <er> for both of those questions?
Rìk oe lu hufwemì, nìn fya'ot a oe tswayon!


"Srake" is contracted "yes-no?". "Fuke" is contracted "or-not?" So I could see them emerging in parallel.


Really cool. What I wonder is how would you say:

Tell me whether you are going to stay or are going to the mall.

I assume just ftxey...fu. But I'm not sure.

Also, NeotrekkerZ, I'm not sure that it would take <er>. Note that English does, but it's actually future tense.


QuoteTell me whether you are going to stay or are going to the mall.

I assume just ftxey...fu. But I'm not sure.

I think you would have to use ftxey...fuke twice and translate it literally as "Tell me whether or not your going to stay and/or whether or not you're going to the mall.  But that is a little cumbersome. 

It is actually future tense.  My English blinded me there.  A better question would then be why no infixes there.
Rìk oe lu hufwemì, nìn fya'ot a oe tswayon!


I would assume that ftxey kä fuke is short for ftxey kä fu ke kä. If so, we'd expect a more general construction of ftxey ... fu ... as in ftxey kä fu za'u "are you coming or going?" and oe ke tslam futa ftxey kä fu za'u "I don't know if I'm coming or going".