Na'vi/Pronouns

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Na’vi pronouns include personal pronouns, used for persons and other animate nouns, and demonstrative pronouns, used for inanimate nouns and to distinguish "this" from "that".

Personal pronouns[edit]

Na’vi personal pronouns encode clusivity. That is, there are different words for "we" depending on whether the speaker is including the person spoken to or not. There are also special forms for "the two of us" (oeng "you & me", moe "s/he & me"), "the three of us", etc. Pronouns do not inflect for gender; although it's possible to distinguish "he" from "she", the distinction is optional.

Pronouns sing. dual trial plural (4+) generic
Exclusive óe móe pxóe ayóe fko
Inclusive oéng pxóeng ayoéng, awngá
2nd person ngá mengá pxengá ayngá
3rd person
animate
mefó pxefó ayfó, fó
3rd person
inanimate
(use demonstratives)

Fo is the "short plural" form of po; ayfo is the explicit plural. Ayoeng (pronounced aywéng) and awnga are both contractions of the historical plural *ay-oe-nga.

"One" as a pronoun is fko:

Zéne fko n‹iv›úme nì-txán
must one learn‹sjv adv-much
"There is much to learn" (lit. "One must learn much")

Po can mean he, she, or it, but only if animate; for inanimate and abstract nouns, a demonstrative pronoun such as tsa (or tsa’u, tsaw) "that" must be used. "He" and "she" can optionally be differentiated as poan and poe; this may be done to distinguish two referents in the same context, as normally both are translated simply as po. It is not known if the other pronouns can also do this.

The formal forms of "I" and "you" are óhe and ngengá, which likewise take the me- and ay- prefixes. The inclusive forms are derived from these with "and":

Formal sing. dual trial plural
Exclusive óhe móhe pxóhe ayóhe
Inclusive óhe ngengásì móhe ngengásì,
óhe mengengásì
(various[note 1]
combinations)
2nd person ngengá mengengá pxengengá ayngengá

Generally when formal pronouns are used, the verb is inflected for formality as well.

Demonstrative pronouns[edit]

For demonstrative pronouns and their compounds, such as fì’u "this", tsa’u ~ tsaw "that", and sa’u ~ saw "those", see the chapter on questions. Of the simple pronouns, *tsa can be used as an independent pronoun "that, it (inanimate)", but it does not occur in the intransitive case, and may be restricted in the grammatical roles it plays. Note that when demonstrative pronouns modify a noun, they may do so directly as "pre-nouns", in which case they indicate relative location: tsatute "that person", fìtute "this person".

Case[edit]

Pronouns inflect for case as nouns do:

Oél ngáti kámeie
Oe-ìl nga-ti kam‹ei›e
I-erg you-acc See‹approb
"I (am glad to) See you" (a greeting)[note 2]

There are some changes in pronouns when case endings are added. The final vowel becomes e before the genitive -yä : oéyä "my", ayoéyä "our", ngéyä "thy", ayngéyä "your", péyä "her/his", féyä "their", awngeyä "our" (inclusive plural), ohengeyä "our" (formal inclusive dual; note that the is lost with inflection), etc.

The exclusive pronouns based on oe are generally contracted to /ˈwɛ/ when inflected for case, though they may remain /ˈo.ɛ/ with careful enunciation. The inclusive pronouns based on oeng revert to their historical form *oe-nga when inflected, so that the ergative is oéngal, not xoengìl.

Although not all forms are attested, it appears that otherwise the inflections are the same as those on nouns.

intr erg short acc long acc gen short dat long dat top
Exclusive oe oel  ? oeti oeyä oer oeru oeri
Inclusive oeng oengal oengat oengati oengeyä?[note 3] awngar awngaru  ?
2nd person nga ngal ngat ngati ngeyä ngar ngaru ngari
3rd animate po pol pot  ? peyä por poru fì’uri
3rd inanimate tsaw[note 4] tsal tsat tsati tseyä tsar tsaru tsari

Of the two forms of the inclusive plural, ayoeng and awnga, the latter is shorter when inflected: ergative ayoengal /ai̯.ˈwɛ.ŋal/ vs. awngal /au̯.ˈŋal/.

Pronouns also take adpositions, as in oehu, ngahu, pohu "with me, you, him/her", tsane "to it". Tsaw has the irregular form sat after the (non-leniting) preposition ftu: ftu sat "(away) from that".


Notes[edit]

  1. These aren't actually dual, trial, and plural pronouns, but rather combinations of two pronouns, ohe and ngenga, either of which may be in any of the four numbers, for sixteen possible permutations from ohe ngengasì for just two people to ayohe ayngengasì for at least eight (the 4+ of us and the 4+ of you).
  2. The "See" is capitalized in the script, as kame means to see into & understand a person, not simply "to see", which is tse’a.
    "How to Speak Na'vi", UGO Movie Blog, 2009 Dec 14
  3. Assumed from the formal plural form ayohengeyä. The alternate informal plural is awngeyä.
  4. Tsa'u inflects as a regular noun. Its shortened form tsaw, however, drops the w when inflected.


Nouns · Adpositions

Nouns · Na'vi · Adpositions