Do You Speak Na'vi? Learn the Basics For Speaking the AVATAR Language

Look2 Na’vi, the AVATAR movie language, is a conlang, a constructed language that gives depth to the movie and a deeper sense of reality. The language has struck a chord with thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands, of people who loved the movie, the Na’vi people, and now want to learn the language. Here is some basic information about the AVATAR movie language.

Guest post by Rebecca Scudder

Na'vi, the language of the movie AVATAR, was designed to seem exotic, but still be learnable by humans. That means, you should have every expectation of being able to learn Na'vi. This article covers the basic information on the language, and gives you a few words and phrases with phonetic pronunciation, to get you started on learning Na'vi. If you are interested in learning more Na'vi than is in this article, check out the site Learn Na'vi. It was started by volunteers who were intrigued by the language, and the people there are happy to help you learn Na'vi too.

The Na'vi Language Basics

The Na'vi alphabet has a number of vowels not found in the English language, although all of the sounds are found in one Earth language or another around the world.

The vowels are: a, ä, e, i, ì, o, u; aw, ay, ew, ey; ll, rr; each of the vowels should be considered a single unit, even if it contains two letters.

There are 20 consonants in the Na'vi alphabet, and there are also a few Earth consonants that are never used in Na'vi. There are no words that use b, d, j or q in the Na'vi language.

The consonants are f, h, k, kx, l, m, n, ng, p, px, r, s, t, ts, tx, v, w, y, z, and ‘; each of the two letter consonants are also considered a single unit with a unique sound.

The Sounds of Na'vi

One feature of the Na'vi language which James Cameron really likes is the ejectives- they were the deciding factor for the type of language and sounds he wanted in the Na'vi language. The ejectives in the language are the px, tx and kx sounds. This means the way they are normally pronounced is accentuated. P, which has a sound caused by opening the closed mouth, has the sound emphasized when a word is spelled with px. As an ejective, the letter px should pop out of the mouth.

Kaltxì means hello, or greetings. It is said [ kalt'I ] or [kalT i], with the t' or T representing a t which almost explodes from the mouth, before the last syllable i.

There are a number of complex rules in Na'vi as to which letters can precede or follow each other, which you can learn about at Learn Na'vi. As a word changes tense or person, and the spelling shows the changed word, some of the letters in the word will also shift, so a px might become p.

Similarities to German

In a sense Na’vi has some similarities to German, where a new word is created by combining other words. However, Na’vi does not just mash the words together like adding cars to a train. There are some very specific rules to combine words together into a new word with a combination of the meanings of the two parts.

An example of this, from a Na’vi – English dictionary on the site is :

sìlronsem: [sIl"RonsEm] PF adj. clever, smart (thing)

(c.w. from sìltsan good and ronsem mind)

It is straightforward enough to understand that the combination of good and mind creates the word for the concept clever or smart. But the rules which cause sìltsan + ronsem to become the word sìlronsem are not something that is intuitive at a glance.

You will have to read the documentation, and perhaps download the PDFs available with grammar rules and the Na’vi –English dictionary on the language before you learn how to form new words or change a tense in Na’vi.

Common Phrases in Na'vi

Some words and phrases you might like to learn here follow.

Avatar's film crew evidently was particularly fond of this Na'vi term; skxawng! - moron! It has the plosive k in the beginning, and the diphthong aw for a vowel.

When you are in a foreign land - or planet - there are phrases and sentences that are handy to know.

Kaltxì - greetings, or hello (brief friendly hello)

Oel ngati kameie - I see you (a friendly hello) *

     This greeting also recognizes you as a known or special individual.

Fyape fko syaw ngar? (Who are you? / What is your name?)

     Lit. In what way does one call to you? *

Oeru syaw (fko) ___

     Lit. One calls to me (as) ___ *

So, Oeru syaw fko Rebecca or Oeru syaw Rebecca are both correct. (One calls me Rebecca / I am Rebecca) is the translation for either.


     Lit. (I will) see (you again) soon - Good bye * (Be seeing you)

And in a caring or spiritual way, the Na'vi say when leaving:

Eywa ngahu

     Lit. Eywa with you * (Go with Eywa/ Fare you well with Eywa / Go with Eywa's blessing )

(*) Examples taken from the site Learn Na'vi

Sponsored by Panasonic VIERA. Return to the world of AVATAR in stunning full HD with the Panasonic VIERA HD TV.

Eywa ngahu. What would you like to learn to say in Na'vi?


The comments to this entry are closed.