Author Topic: 20 Questions for James Cameron  (Read 4331 times)

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Offline Keylstxatsmen

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20 Questions for James Cameron
« on: March 02, 2010, 11:48:11 pm »
Dear passionate members of this community, Oel ayngati kameie ulte oe sìlpey tsnì ayngaru lu fpom!

I’m writing here to announce what I believe is an exciting opportunity for all of you to have a chance to make a big difference in the evolution of the Na’vi language.

Paul Frommer has agreed as a function of this vocabulary expansion project to further build out the vocabulary of Na’vi to also try to take a controlled list of questions directly to Lightstorm and James Cameron. This list of questions will help inform us as much as possible about what it might be like to be Na’vi, living as a member of a clan on Pandora. Of course, while we can all imagine and hypothesize to our hearts' content, only Cameron truly has the authority to answer these, because he will continue to reveal his unique vision in his upcoming sequels to Avatar.tsun silpivey fko...

Rules of Engagement

There can only be a maximum of 20 Master Questions.

Normally in an American game of 20 questions the objective is to guess one thing correctly that is a secret until it is guessed. This is exactly the opposite direction conceptually of what we want to do. The questions should not narrow down the conversation towards one 'correct' answer, but rather encourage Cameron to share anything and everything that he will (on his OWN TERMS, of course) about the Na’vi, their culture, world view, relationship to Pandora, and absolutely every detail that he will give about Pandora.

To clarify the meanings of the 20, we can allow up to 3 daughter questions/examples. They should not complicate matters for him but rather help direct him towards giving answers that will be helpful and revealing for the MAIN GOAL/TOPIC of that master question.

What is the Main Goal?

To help us complete the Na’vi language. While it would be fascinating to know how many fingers Jake and Neytiri’s children might have or what the next movies have in store for the main characters, that won’t help us improve the Na’vi language. Here are some example kinds of questions to stimulate your thinking. (Note: These are only examples and “as is” may even be too specific.) These things must encourage Cameron to speak in BROAD TERMS. Remember. Just 20 simple questions to ideally reveal ALL THAT ONE MIGHT WANT TO KNOW ABOUT PANDORA AND THE NA’VI, no pressure!

1) What is it like to be growing up as a Na’vi child?
  • Please imagine both a Na’vi boy and girl. Please compare and contrast how male and female children might spend the majority of their days.
  • What physical objects, games, pets, societal relationships are important to them?
  • What are the primary stages of their lives and what do each of those mean to them?

2) We have seen the unspeakably beautiful surface of Pandora and many of its creatures of the land and air. What are Pandora’s lakes, rivers, oceans like?
  • How is aquatic life there chemically/biologically/physically different from Earth?
  • Is the boundary relationship between the land/air vs. water there similar to our world or can the Na’vi take to the seas tsaheylu’d to the aquatic equivalent of an ikran as easily as they take to the air?
  • In physically describing the sea fauna, do they follow rough morphological parallels to ours with some rough equivalent of a fish having a rough equivalent of scales? Soft bodies? Shells?

3) What are the natures of communication via energy on Pandora via tsaheylu (wired) and non-tsaheylu (wireless) methodologies?
  • How did Eywa send all of the creatures of the forest and air to the rescue?
  • Is there an organized pre-death “download” ritual for the Na’vi? Were Eytukan and Tsu’tey denied “last rights” by the tragic natures of their deaths and does that mean that the whole of their life experience is NOT with Eywa?
  • Do creatures other than the Na’vi have other types of sensory/communication organs that tap into the energies of Pandora differently that the Na’vi can?

No one participating in this need be a linguistic genius or even speak Na’vi that well, but it will be very helpful if you’ve done your homework thoroughly to memorize as much of the vocabulary as possible. This effort is again, sorry to be so repetitive, designed to inform the creation of the REST of the Na’vi language that doesn’t exist yet.

How will it actually do that?

Languages are typically organized around core concepts that become “roots”. The Na’vi root (word) is a good example. It’s in lì’u (word, lit. word-thing), lì’fya (way of speaking/language). Fya (way) is another. (Fya’o (way), fìfya (this way/like this), tengfya (like/as), kefya srak? (...right? n’est-ce pas ?). These roots can be put together (sometimes very creatively) to form all kinds of words. A good, long example in English (for which the roots come from Latin) is “anti.dis.establish.ment.arian.ism” A good, shorter example in Na’vi is sìl.pey (to “wait for good” so therefore “to hope”). In the case of “anti.dis.establish.ment.arian.ism” a bunch of folks with a specific agenda took the equivalent of “roots” from Latin long long after the fall of the Roman Empire and made up a word that everybody who was willing to talk about it could understand. Even though Pandora is light years away and not actually real (Eywar tsapa’lute si oe fte tsun oeru txoa livu.), we can with the guidance and blessing of K. Pawl assist our Karyu in coming up the roots (based on the Na’vi’s life experience on Pandora) that are needed to describe things there, but also figure out how they reference back here on Earth for words that we need for OUR lives, so that we can become fluent (if not ever *native*) speakers of Na’vi.  

Here’s an example. If the question on energy above were to reveal that the WIRED version of Pandoran energy is similar to our electricity, then it would probably have a Na’vi root (this root in Chinese and Japanese is 気 qi/ki). Let’s assume for the sake of argument that "Eywanian energy" would be tsweyl and that’s a noun. Our word for “lamp” on earth might then be tsweylatan. If tsweyl is a verb that means something like “emitting a flow of energy” then “lamp” might become atan letìtsweyl or atan lesätsweyl, other uses and derivations following from this example. The final decision will always be made on a case by case basis by Dr. Frommer about whether it’s a noun or a verb, but this will HOPEFULLY be clarified or at least hinted at by the WAY Cameron answers these questions. So, they could be super important.

Finally. There is no guarantee that Cameron will agree to look at this collection of questions or answer all (or even some) of them. So be prepared for some disappointment. But, I have a suggestion to hopefully bump him in one direction versus the other. I think the slides should be bilingual with HOLES in them.

Example from the “childhood” question above:

  • What physical objects, games, pets, societal relationships are important to them?
  • Foru tsranten a sa’[object] [physical], ayuvan, [pets], [relationships] lehapxìtu olo’ä lu peu srak?

This will show him (if he’ll take a look) that there is already a lot there, but still a lot missing too. It’s for a good cause. Please help.

The deadline is 14 March, 12:00 noon, California time (PST).

The day to day organizers for this effort will be Prrton, Skyinou, and myself.

Aylrrtok ayngar!

ta Keyl
« Last Edit: March 03, 2010, 12:12:30 am by Prrton »
Oeru lì'fya leNa'vi prrte’ leiu nìtxan! 

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Offline Skxawng

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Re: 20 Questions for James Cameron
« Reply #1 on: March 02, 2010, 11:51:04 pm »
... is this something Frommer asked/suggested? Or do you have a connection to Cameron?


"prrkxentrrkrr is a skill best saved for only the most cunning linguist"

Offline Keylstxatsmen

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Re: 20 Questions for James Cameron
« Reply #2 on: March 02, 2010, 11:54:06 pm »
... is this something Frommer asked/suggested? Or do you have a connection to Cameron?

Yes.  Prrton has asked that Skyinou and I head this up.  Dr. Frommer will be trying to talk to Cameron after the Oscars and such, and wants something put together by the community.

-Keyl
Oeru lì'fya leNa'vi prrte’ leiu nìtxan! 

Txo nga new leskxawnga tawtutehu nìNa'vi pivängkxo, oeru 'upxaret fpe' ulte ngaru srungit tayìng oel.  Faylì'ut alor nume 'awsiteng ko!

Offline Skxawng

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Re: 20 Questions for James Cameron
« Reply #3 on: March 02, 2010, 11:58:31 pm »
Awesome!


"prrkxentrrkrr is a skill best saved for only the most cunning linguist"

Offline Toruk Makto

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Re: 20 Questions for James Cameron
« Reply #4 on: March 03, 2010, 12:03:57 am »
This day has been so full of win that my brain is about to explode.  :D

Lì’fyari leNa’vi ’Rrtamì, vay set ’almong a fra’u zera’u ta ngrrpongu
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Offline Kayrìlien

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Re: 20 Questions for James Cameron
« Reply #5 on: March 03, 2010, 12:07:25 am »
This day has been so full of win that my brain is about to explode.  :D

There's no other way to say this. Between Frommer inviting us to help with the construction of the language, to getting in-depth information directly from Cameron and his team, it's...what's the word...OUTSTANDING!

Kayrìlien

Offline Prrton

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Re: 20 Questions for James Cameron
« Reply #6 on: March 03, 2010, 12:15:10 am »
This day has been so full of win that my brain is about to explode.  :D

There's no other way to say this. Between Frommer inviting us to help with the construction of the language, to getting in-depth information directly from Cameron and his team, it's...what's the word...OUTSTANDING!

Kayrìlien

There is NO GUARANTEE that Cameron will respond, but the better the quality of the effort, the more likely I think the possibility is.

Offline Kayrìlien

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Re: 20 Questions for James Cameron
« Reply #7 on: March 03, 2010, 12:26:57 am »
This day has been so full of win that my brain is about to explode.  :D

There's no other way to say this. Between Frommer inviting us to help with the construction of the language, to getting in-depth information directly from Cameron and his team, it's...what's the word...OUTSTANDING!

Kayrìlien

There is NO GUARANTEE that Cameron will respond, but the better the quality of the effort, the more likely I think the possibility is.

I have complete faith in the community and their efforts. With a potential prize as big as this, I think that the community will work together like it never has before to make sure that we present not only Karyu Pawl but Cameron and his team with a more comprehensive and passionate response than they would ever suspect.

I know I'm willing to help out, even if there's no guarantee that Cameron will respond. We already know Pawl wants to help us out, and that's motivation enough for me. After all, our motto is 'Ivong Na'vi, right? 

Kayrìlien

Offline Tsway'eion

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Re: 20 Questions for James Cameron
« Reply #8 on: March 03, 2010, 12:27:32 am »
This day has been so full of win that my brain is about to explode.  :D

There's no other way to say this. Between Frommer inviting us to help with the construction of the language, to getting in-depth information directly from Cameron and his team, it's...what's the word...OUTSTANDING!

Kayrìlien

OUTSTANDING!!!... TEWTI!!!

I agree entirely, today has been awesome.

Here is my attempt at a question, feel free to use it or parts of it.

In regards to Na'vi culture, what is the daily life of a "normal" Na'vi like?

- Does every na'vi have a "title" like "Taronyu" or are only a few raised to be hunters?
- What activities do they do on a normal basis, what are some not so normal activities?
- What kind of values do they share in consideration to art such as music, painting, or other forms of art..

Offline ~Ayngahu

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Re: 20 Questions for James Cameron
« Reply #9 on: March 03, 2010, 06:08:33 am »
Any input from awngeyä karyu anawm nìtxan Pawl ulte Kxameron nawma ngopyu Eywa'evengä sì Uniltìrantokxä will be great. Ofcourse, to get more than less, this effort is well placed. :)

I find myself thinking, however, that although the Na'vi language has many rootwords from which many words can be created, I hope that the outcome of this project will not turn the canon vocabulary into something too trivial - in a sense of having this one word for ocean, for example, that will be used in utterly everything that has to do with the ocean in specific terms - and so forth. It might not be that bad in the end (once we do have it), but something about the thought alerts me.

Ofcourse, I hope for the best :)
A big thankyou to DrBinder for creating my forum avatar :)

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Re: 20 Questions for James Cameron
« Reply #10 on: March 03, 2010, 08:01:16 am »
Txantsana fmawn awngar a karyu awngeyä tolìng trram! Great news! I am surely excited to be a part of the release of the language that I have come to know and love. Keyl I like this idea of yours. I will see what I can come up with. I know we all have wondered about the Na'vi culture.

(Ulte ma Ayngahu, sìltsana 'eylan oeyä, sìlpey oe ngahu pìyevänkxo.)

Offline pbhead

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Re: 20 Questions for James Cameron
« Reply #11 on: March 03, 2010, 08:09:35 am »
wow, a chance to ask Cameron all my questions... my mind is blown... so much so that i have completly forgotten all i wanted to ask.


now that i think about it, though my questions had to do with his camera system, and the deleted scenes, and the sequel... and not thinks like... is everything in the clan shared in a communistic way... (no money system?) or something like that.


Edit: very important question... (not really at all)... will the DVD have navi subtitles?  (or, can you make it so?... give frommer a job till work on avatar 2 starts... hehe)
« Last Edit: March 03, 2010, 09:17:37 am by pbhead »

Offline Nyx

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Re: 20 Questions for James Cameron
« Reply #12 on: March 03, 2010, 08:54:48 am »
Someone might want to rephrase this (and tell me if I've been stupid and overlooked something) since I've had no sleep and am pumped on caffeine atm, but here are my suggestions.


The Na'vi have poisons but no word for doctor, how is poisoning and illness handled?

  • In what ways can they get sick and how do they treat this?
  • How are poisons, antidotes and other forms of curing substances produced? (if they have those)
  • "Drug" is a pretty wide term, so apart from any medicinal plants they might have, are there any with intoxicating and/or addictive ones that might be used for other reasons?

How much do the Na'vi tribes collaborate?
  • Do they exchange knowledge and resources?
  • If so, how do they value those things? Is there some kind of economical system? (not necessarily with money, and this may have been asked before)
  • How are conflicts resolved?

Offline Ftiafpi

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Re: 20 Questions for James Cameron
« Reply #13 on: March 03, 2010, 09:50:29 am »
The biggest question in my mind:

How do the Na'vi culture(s) view the concept of ownership, value, wealth, and money?
  • Clearly they understand that a land can be owned ("This is our land!") but yet see no value in digging up "dead rocks". Do the Na'vi (both individually and as other larger groups of individuals) claim ownership to other things? This is my family bow, this is my ikran, this is my pottery, etc.
  • Do the Na'vi buy/sell/trade items/land/etc? If so do they barter or do they have monetary systems? Do they even understand the concept of a monetary system?
  • How would the Na'vi express these in their language? Would they say "I want to buy/trade for this"? Would they ask to borrow something for a set period of time? Does their belief of circular life cycles pertain also to their concepts of ownership? (when one dies their property returns to the people/Eywa)

Offline Keylstxatsmen

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Re: 20 Questions for James Cameron
« Reply #14 on: March 03, 2010, 11:27:42 am »
The biggest question in my mind:

How do the Na'vi culture(s) view the concept of ownership, value, wealth, and money?
  • Clearly they understand that a land can be owned ("This is our land!") but yet see no value in digging up "dead rocks". Do the Na'vi (both individually and as other larger groups of individuals) claim ownership to other things? This is my family bow, this is my ikran, this is my pottery, etc.
  • Do the Na'vi buy/sell/trade items/land/etc? If so do they barter or do they have monetary systems? Do they even understand the concept of a monetary system?
  • How would the Na'vi express these in their language? Would they say "I want to buy/trade for this"? Would they ask to borrow something for a set period of time? Does their belief of circular life cycles pertain also to their concepts of ownership? (when one dies their property returns to the people/Eywa)

Awesome stuff, feel free to make new threads to flesh out ideas as well.  I made one and prefaced the tile with "20 questions:" so we wouldn't get confused about which project it goes with.

-Keyl
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Offline Coyote

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Re: 20 Questions for James Cameron
« Reply #15 on: March 03, 2010, 11:34:01 am »
Here's a few to toss out there:

Are there different races of Na'vi? Do they have different languages, or accents? Are there different, localized versions of the "Iknimaya climb" for a rite-of-passage?

Is Tsaheylu ever done among friends or family for rituals of bonding or expressions of comradeship, or is it solely for mating and... riding animals?

How active a role does Eywa take in maintaining the Na'ci culture at it's neolithic level... and if she actively keeps them there, why?

In Libertarianism, there is no Government, so the Bosses are free to exploit the Workers.
In Communism, there is no Government, so the Workers are free to exploit the Bosses.
So in Libertarianism, man exploits man, but in Communism, its the other way around!


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Offline Prrton

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Re: 20 Questions for James Cameron
« Reply #16 on: March 03, 2010, 11:54:03 am »


The Na'vi have poisons but no word for doctor, how is poisoning and illness handled?

  • In what ways can they get sick and how do they treat this?
  • How are poisons, antidotes and other forms of curing substances produced? (if they have those)
  • "Drug" is a pretty wide term, so apart from any medicinal plants they might have, are there any with intoxicating and/or addictive ones that might be used for other reasons?

This is precisely the kind of archetype approach that needs to be taken, but try to make it as BROAD as possible. How could you ask it in a way that Cameron might also be inspired to talk about the following:

  • Does Tsahìk get involved in "curing"
  • When Mo'at "examines" Jake, is that blood sample just for "show" or can she taste his chemical signature and actually interpret it (something like the way ants communicate or the way dogs can be trained to smell cancer)? Is there an entire pathology department and USD 4 billion worth of equipment in her mouth? Or is she a really good actress?
  • Are the Na'vi (in relation to Pandora) more or less immune to parasites and infectious diseases than humans (in relation to 'Rrta) and how does this affect their life expectancy.

It would be wonderful if we could ASK ALL of these, but when the roll-up process into ONLY 20 QUESTIONS begins happening, a lot of this granularity will dissipate, so try to get the HEART of as much as possible into the MASTER QUESTION and also keep the follow-up points OPEN. Encourage him to WANT TO TALK A LOT.

Great work!  ;D

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Re: 20 Questions for James Cameron
« Reply #17 on: March 03, 2010, 02:59:11 pm »
I started a history thread.  It seems like much could come up on that subject alone.
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Re: 20 Questions for James Cameron
« Reply #18 on: March 03, 2010, 04:41:39 pm »
What is the Pandoran day/night cycle and sky like?
  • What's it's duration?
  • Are there Eclipses (Polyphemus blocking Tsawke)?
  • What's the influence of the other stars in Alfa Centauri on Pandora?
  • Have the Na'vi developed constellation system?

Offline Nyx

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Re: 20 Questions for James Cameron
« Reply #19 on: March 03, 2010, 04:44:41 pm »
Haha, Prrton, you just gave me a mental image of Mo'at with a chem lab in her mouth! ;D

I was trying to avoid yes/no questions (and failed on the last one) because they don't encourage any elaboration. But there's also a danger with too broad questions, he could just choose to answer one part of it (still better than nothing). My #2 and #3 can be merged into something like "How are poisons, antidotes and other forms of drugs (and curing substances produced)?" and the rest of them are pretty related too (e.g. your #3 and my #1) but maybe all this should be left for later when more ideas have surfaced.

As for the Mo'at thing, if she can do that, the rest of them should too. I doubt that becoming Tsahìk would suddenly give her new receptors on her tongue. But it seems a bit too much for everyone to have that ability, and if they do, what makes her special in this case?

Hmm.. long thing.. should I start a new topic?

 

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