Author Topic: 20 Questions: Exiles?  (Read 1410 times)

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Offline Kì'eyawn

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Re: 20 Questions: Exiles?
« Reply #20 on: March 07, 2010, 08:55:39 am »
While I agree with pretty much everything Keyl, tigermind, and Alìm have said, I still see no reason why the Na’vi couldn't have lived without the word "lie." You don't have to presuppose a moral or biological incapacity; maybe they didn't need it often enough. After all, Grace didn't claim to have taught them the concept, just the word.

In a community so small, so closed, and so proximate as a Na’vi tribe, it's difficult to lie and not get caught, and the prospect of permanently losing face with the people you have to share the rest of your life with is something that will make anyone think twice about telling a lie. In a communal society such as theirs, lying doesn't make much sense even without a potential punishment, but when the long-term risks of becoming stigmatized, cast out, or even queue-cut so far outweigh the momentary benefits, lying becomes plain pointless. Thus, I'm not hesitant to accept that the Na’vi are exposed to much fewer lies in their lives than humans. Under these circumstances, a Na’vi would probably only lie in order to cover up an even more severe misdeed (e.g. murder), so the actual punishment may be meted out for that, and not for the dishonesty per se – once again rendering a dedicated term unnecessary.

Finally, who's to say that they didn't call a lie pänu akawng, the act peng lì’ut atsleng, and the perpetrator tìkawngsiyu or tìtslengpengyu when the need arose, even before Grace taught them lay? English didn't always have a word for Schadenfreude, but that doesn't mean people couldn't feel or talk about it.

This is VERY WELL written and the whole discussion is fascinating.

I personally believe that "lying is universal" but that some do it more and better than others. Our modern western society is OBSESSED with lying. We've taken it to the highest art. Read the Post Truth Era. Fascinating. I believe that no one wants to read this book because it's so revealing about how we ALL LIE (virtually all the time), and how it's on the rise. We have more euphemisms for lying than all the adjectives in Na'vi! But, I think that at the opposite end of the spectrum, the Na'vi might have only as our wise tsmuk has proposed, just a vague sense of puslltxe nìtsleng. That could easily be kxanì by general horen that all Na'vi learn as young children... like our shiny new "Golden Rule", without being codified LAW. Laws are distinctly tied to formalized fear constructs as societal control mechanisms enforced by institutions (that make them) and can really only function in literate societies in which "books can be thrown." The complexity in the "art of lying" that we now *enjoy* has evolved along with the complexity (and pragmatics) of our laws.

I say that "lying is universal" due to the fact that apes/chimpanzees who are taught communication paradigms that they can share with humans do it, and even my intelligent cat does it (after a fashion).

I have two cats. They are brothers from the same litter. One is the sweetest cat in the word (BAR NONE), but he's not very smart. His brother is VERY intelligent and he knows how to LIE. They are given a special food twice a day that helps clean plaque off their teeth. They LOVE it and know that they only get this food at 9:00 AM and 12:00. Their internal kitty clocks are in more or less perfect sync with this pattern of being fed this food. 95% of the time, I give them this food. Occasionally (rarely), my husband does it and more often than not, in that scenario, the smart one then comes and tells me again, shortly after he's just eaten, "it's time." He does not understand that my husband and I can communicate to each other about this. So, he asks for MORE (presumably hoping that I won't know he's just eaten). He doesn't understand that this is a "lie" (apparently like children don't understand the concept of lying until taught). I admonish him to "not tell 'stories'".

Ma Prrton, i think your story illustrates exactly what i'm trying to say, that deception is almost ubiquitous in intelligent creatures.

Ma tsrräfkxätu, if i understand you correctly, i agree with you.  I think the Na'vi would be shocked by the humans', let's say, comfort with dishonesty.  I think the thought of lying as much or as well as we do would be just too shameful to contemplate.  And, now that you mention it, i suppose it might make sense that while they can express the concept of lying, they don't have a dedicated word for it, as the need has not arisen.  So they refer to it only in a quasi-euphemistic sense--like the examples you gave.

Fun side thought/rhetorical question:  Would the N'avi "get" the concept of a "white lie"?
eo Eywa oe 'ia

Fra'uri tìyawnur oe täpivìng nìwotx...


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