Mipa aylì’u, mipa sìoeyktìng New words, new explanations

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Mipa aylì'u, mipa sìoeyktìng   New words, new explanations
Posted on April 30, 2021 by Pawl

Kaltxì, ma frapo!

Just a few new words today, but I hope they'll fill in some important gaps. And I'll mention a few other things I think you'll find useful as well.


kian (vtr., ki.AN, inf. 1, 2) 'blame'

   Oeti kian rä'ä! Ke nolui oe!
   Don't blame me! It wasn't my fault!

kiantu (n., ki.AN.tu) 'blameworthy person'

   Fìtìsnaytxìri lu ngeyä tsmukan kiantu.
   'Your brother is to blame for this loss.'

A word about kiantu: It may seem unusual, in that the -tu suffix is more frequently attached to an adjective or noun. (Examples: fnawe'tu 'coward' from fnawe' 'cowardly'; koaktu 'old person' from koak 'old, aged'; kxutu 'enemy' from kxu'harm'; pamtseotu 'musician' from pamtseo 'music'; etc.) But in fact, -tu can attach to almost anything—typically an adjective or noun, but also a verb, and sometimes even an adposition (wätu 'opponent'). Some examples of -tu with verbs:

   snaytu 'loser' from snaytx 'lose'
   yora'tu 'winner' from yora' 'win'
   spe'etu 'captive' from spe'e 'capture'
   frrtu 'guest' from frrfen 'visit'

So what's the difference between -tu and -yu?

Yu is exclusively a verbal suffix–VERB + yu–that always means 'the one performing the action of the verb,' i.e., the agent. And it's productive, in the same way that -er in English is.

Unlike –yu, however, -tu is not productive, so -tu words need to be listed in the dictionary. The meaning is not always predictable. The best we can say is: a -tu word refers to a person who is in some way associated with the base to which -tu is attached. In the case of snaytu and yora'tu, it's the one performing the verb, i.e. the agent. In the case of spe'etuand kiantu, it's the one receiving the action of the verb.

zin (adj.) 'tangled'

   Längu fayhìng zin nìwotx; ke tsun sat sivar.
   'Unfortunately, these threads are all tangled up; they can't be used.'

tìzin (n., tì.ZIN) 'a tangle(ment); mass of something twisted together'

tìzin si (vin.) 'tangle, tangle up'

   Nari si fteke ayturtelur tìzin sivi!
   'Be careful not to tangle the ropes!'

kezin (adj., KE.zin) 'untangled'

tìkezin (n., tì.KE.zin) 'something in an untangled state, "untanglement," solution'

   Tsatìngäzìkìri tìkezin lu fyin.
   'The solution to that problem is simple.'

tìkezin si (vin.) 'untangle; solve'

This si-verb can be used either literally, as in untangling twisted threads, or metaphorically, as in solving (= untangling) a problem.

   Srake tsun nga fìingyentsimur tìkezin sivi?
   'Can you solve this riddle?'

tunu (adj., TU.nu) 'romantic'

   Ngari 'efu oe tunu.
   'I feel romantic towards you; I have romantic feelings for you.'

(NOTE: In colloquial conversation, the three consecutive vowels u-o-e cause the oe in 'efu oe to be pronounced in one syllable, as in oeti, oeri, oeru, oeta, etc.: It sounds like 'efu we.)

Tunu refers to romantic feelings only, whereas yawne is more general. You can say Nga yawne lu oer to your spouse or romantic partner but also to your parents, siblings, children, beloved Platonic friends, pets, etc. But Ngari 'efu oe tunu is only used for romantic love and attraction.

   Po yawne lu oer, slä pori ke 'efu oe tunu.
   'I love him, but I don't have romantic feelings for him.'

tìtunu (n., tì.TU.nu) 'romance'

   Awnga zenke tivung futa fìtìtunu vivar.
   'We must not allow this romance to continue.'

tunutu (n., TU.nu.tu) 'object of desire, "crush"'

Tunutu is different from yawntu / yawnetu. Your yawntu is your beloved, the person for whom you feel serious, mature, deep love. Your tunutu is your "crush," someone you're romantically attracted to. For example, your tunutu could be a movie star, while your yawntu would be your mate or spouse.


A note about a word we've already seen, pìmtxan, which means 'how much.' It's the noncountable equivalent of the word used for countables, polpxay 'how many.' Like polpxay, pìmtxan can be used as an adjective: polpxaya zìsìt 'how many years'; pìmtxana pay 'how much water.' This means that alongside certain specific interrogative words like somwewpe 'how hot,' we also have structures like pìmtxana tìsom 'how hot (= how much heat).' The two versions are interchangeable.


In all languages, certain things can happen in casual, colloquial speech that wouldn't be appropriate in more careful, formal styles. Na'vi is no exception. Note these examples of common omissions that occur in casual conversation. (You're probably already familiar with them, but I wanted to gather them together in one place.)

(1) LU
More formal:             Nga lu pesu?               'Who are you?'
More colloquial:         Nga pesu?                   'Who are you?'

(2) TOK
More formal:             Pol tok pesenget?      'Where is he?'
More colloquial:         Pol pesenget?             'Where is he?
(Note that even when tok is omitted, the -l and -t case markings remain obligatory.)

(3) PUM
More formal:             Fìtsko lu pum oeyä.    'This bow is mine.'
More colloquial:         Fìtsko lu oeyä.             'This bow is mine.'

IMPORTANT: The shortened versions with the omitted words are not obligatory in casual conversation! They may occur, but they don't have to occur.

That's it for now. Hayalovay, ma eylan. Ulte . . .

'Awvea Trr Vospxìmrrä Lefpom!


Quick follow-up to the last post
Posted on May 4, 2021 by Pawl

A bit more on -tu:

As we discussed, when -tu is attached to a verb, it sometimes indicates the person who is the object of the verb (like spe'etu and kiantu) and sometimes the subject (like snaytu and yora'tu). It may seem strange and unnatural that the same suffix can have two different and opposite functions. But in fact this kind of thing occurs in Earth languages as well—for example, in English!

Think of the words for people that end in stressed –ee. (There are a lot more of them than I would have thought! This paper lists 520 such forms, most of which were entirely new to me.) Here are some examples:

   They employed her. She is an employee.
   They appointed him. He is an appointee.
   I tutor her. She is my tutee.
   We nominated him. He is our nominee.

And many more.

Notice that these –ee words all refer to the object of the relevant verb.

But now take a look at these words:

   He returned to his homeland. He is a returnee.
   She stood at the concert. She was a standee.
   He escaped from prison. He is an escapee.
   She retired from work last year. She is a retiree.

These refer to the subject of the verb!

Eltxur tìtxen si, kefyak?