-yu is strictly for persons

Started by Pamìrìk, May 10, 2021, 10:28:21 AM

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Quote from: PamìrìkKaltxì ngaru ma Karyu Pawl!

An interesting question was brought up today in a discussion about describing earth objects in Na'vi. When trying to describe a sponge, an idea mentioned was fmongyu payä - "water thief", or "stealer of water". In response, it was mentioned how with many inventions, they are named after the job of the person they are replacing or aiding. For example, a "washer" is an appliance that can replace or simplify the job of a washer- one who washes. To inherit this "-er" suffix that is sometimes associated with "one who <verb>s" from a person is not called into question. But would the Na'vi necessarily view their -yu suffix as behaving the same way?

Ultimately the question is: how intrinsically linked to person-ness is the -yu suffix? Would the Na'vi think to call a rambunctious ikran a stiwisiyu for example? What about non-living things? Hufwe tul, but is hufwe ever a tulyu? Could an arrow be a tspangyu? Do the Na'vi personify inanimate objects in this way? The same questions surround -tu (which I have much appreciated the recent insights surrounding it shared on Na'viteri! Studying the etymology and patterns within Na'vi has not only been of tremendous aid when learning, but also time and time again piqued my curiosity and deepened my appreciation for the language!)

aysäfpìl ngey ley nìtxan ayoer nìfrakrr

ta Pamìrìk

P.S. Other ideas brought up for "sponge" were paysena aväng, zamungeyu payä, or the transliteration spontsyì.

Quote from: Karyu PawlKaltxì ma Pamìrìk!

Excellent questions. I'm delighted to know people are having such stimulating and illuminating discussions.

Unlike English -er, which according to my dictionary denotes "a person, animal, or thing that performs a specified action or activity," -yu in Na'vi is strictly for persons. (If you discover any exceptions to this rule, please let me know!) So tspangyu, for example, could only be a person who kills, not an arrow. (The arrow would be tsa'u/tsaw a tspang.) That contrasts with po/poan/poe, which can be used for animals, depending on your relationship with them. (For example, Na'vis would refer to their ikran as po rather than tsaw.)

I love the idea of associating a sponge with stealing water! It's creative and sounds like it could very well be how the Na'vi refer to it. I'd anticipate the word to be a compound, either fmongpay or payfmong. (I'm pretty sure we've had examples of both orderings in noun-verb compounds.) Which do you prefer? 😊

I'm very happy you're finding the discussions of etymology, evolution, and patterns rewarding. I feel strongly that such attention to detail adds richness and credibility to a conlang.



Good to know :)

Thanks for sharing!