Learn Na'vi > Prefixes, Infixes and Suffixes

Tense/aspect usage nìNa’vi

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Kame Ayyo’koti:
Right now I'm studying Na’vi's use of verb tense/aspect. I'm putting this post in this section because the tense/aspects are infixes, although it's not about the infixes themselves, necessarily.

Something I have noticed is that Pawl seems to use the general perfective <ol> as the "past tense" for Na’vi, although it is not actually past tense (which is <am>). For example:

Fori mawkrra fa renten ioi säpoli holum.

The English translation of this is:
After they put on their goggles, they left.

According to Na’vi in a Nutshell, <ol> actually means (nì’Ìnglìsì): have verbed. According to this, the more accurate translation would be:

After they have put on their goggles, they have left.

That sounds odd, and that isn't something we would say in English.


I understand that Na’vi is NOT English, and it does not work like English. I just want to confirm that my understanding is correct:

Where we would usually use past tense ("they left"), should we use <ol> nìNa’vi? The grammarbook says this about Na’vi and verb tense/aspect:

--- Quote ---§6.7.3. Aspect. In general, Na’vi marks aspect more than it marks tense.
--- End quote ---
If this is true, than I can understand that they would use <ol> instead of <am>.

This also has me wondering about what tenses/aspects should be used in what contexts. For the above example, would I use <ol> if I were speaking to someone? («Tok fol pesengit, ma Kameyo?», «Fori mawkrra fa renten säpoli holum.»)

How about if I wrote this in a story? Would I still use <ol>, or would <am> be better? (Or even <alm>, since that is <ol> + <am>?) Would <ol> be used for casual speech about things that have happened, and <am> for storytelling? For that matter, what tense/aspect would Na’vi use for pamrel/ayfuk/storytelling? In English we use basic past tense ("He opened the door and went inside."), but Na’vi could use something else, even present/general tense/aspect. ("He had opened the door and had gone inside." or "He opens the door and goes inside.")

What tenses/aspects would be preferred for casual speech, and for things like writing and stories?

Tìtstewan:
As far as I understood it, <ol> marks an action which was done in the past, without to specify excactly the time.
Fori mawkrra fa renten ioi säpoli holum. After they put on their goggles, they left.
The statisment is, just that they put their goggles and they left, but you don't know if that happend two minites ago, yesterday, or twenty years ago.


--- Quote from: Kame Ayyo'koti on June 06, 2014, 03:33:37 pm ---This also has me wondering about what tenses/aspects should be used in what contexts. For the above example, would I use <ol> if I were speaking to someone? («Tok fol pesengit, ma Kameyo?», «Fori mawkrra fa renten säpoli holum.»)
--- End quote ---
I would expect this:
Tok fol pesengit, ma Kameyo?
 - Fori mawkrra fa renten säpìlmi holum.
...because, usually this happend a moment ago. But of course, one could write there <alm> or just <am>, depending when this action happend The <ol> in holum would be just <ol>, becaue the context makes it clear, that the whole action happend a moment ago (or other time) - it not necessary to repeat it.
The same also in stories. One would write in the first verb <am>/<alm> and the other following verbs have just <ol>, if the contect is in the past.

Maybe this thread is helpful Na'vi Linguistics: Tense and Aspect .

Blue Elf:
Explain difference between aspect and tense is a little difficult. In general, <ol> is used when you put more emphasis to fact, that action is already completed, no matter if week, month, year or few second before. It's simply finished and we do not care when.
<am> is used when there's more emphasis on the fact that something happened in the past.
And <alm> is used when you want express something what was finished in the past.
IMO <ol> is used more often than <am>.

In Slavic languages is something quite difficult find difference between perfective aspect and past tense, as they often have the same form.

Ezy Ryder:
Remember that actions can also be completed in the future, like "Trray yerikit talyaron."
So, the <ol> doesn't have anything to do with the time when the action took place. It's kinda interesting, because that would kinda mean, that Na'vi doesn't have a present tense conjugation... If I understand it correctly.

Kame Ayyo’koti:

--- Quote from: Blue Elf on June 06, 2014, 04:02:40 pm ---Explain difference between aspect and tense is a little difficult. In general, <ol> is used when you put more emphasis to fact, that action is already completed, no matter if week, month, year or few second before. It's simply finished and we do not care when.
<am> is used when there's more emphasis on the fact that something happened in the past.
And <alm> is used when you want express something what was finished in the past.
IMO <ol> is used more often than <am>.

--- End quote ---
Yeah, I think it's hard for me to understand because like Annis said, "In English we have no way to separate aspect from tense."

So I suppose <ol> is like an "indefinite past tense," useful for when we want to say something happened, but we don't know or care when. If we care to say it was recent or long ago, we use <ìm> and <am>.

I think <ìlm> and <alm> would be saved for if we were explaining what happened. For example , if I were describing events that happened a long time ago: «Taronyu halmahaw, ulte ’ameko palulukanìl poti.»  Although, I guess with what Tìtstewan says, it might be: «Taronyu halmahaw, ulte ’oleko palulukanìl poti.», since we already know we're talking about the past.

I dunno, I'll have to think about all this some more.


--- Quote from: Ezy Ryder on June 06, 2014, 04:20:23 pm ---Remember that actions can also be completed in the future, like "Trray yerikit talyaron."
So, the <ol> doesn't have anything to do with the time when the action took place. It's kinda interesting, because that would kinda mean, that Na'vi doesn't have a present tense conjugation... If I understand it correctly.

--- End quote ---
"Tomorrow I will have hunted a yerik."

What do you mean by present tense conjugation? Of <ol>? What would that even be in English?

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