Na'vi language from Avatar: Lessons for language learners
Those of you who have seen James Cameron’s 2009 film Avatar will know that Na’vi is the constructed language spoken by the fictional indigenous race (the Na’vi) on Pandora. Slates calls Na’vi the new Klingon. Aspiring Pandorans are flocking to learn Na’vi in droves.
The Na’vi language was created by Paul Frommer, a professor at USC with a doctorate in linguistics. Frommer has now launched a website to
share the Na’vi language with everyone.
Frommer spent years working on the Na’vi language, eventually teaching it to
all of the principal actors who have to speak it, and making recordings for them to listen to on their iPods.
Later, he worked on the set during shooting, coaching actors on pronunciation between takes, and even writing the occasional extra line when Cameron decided a scene needed tweaking.
Frommer recalls a moment during the filming of Avatar: “Jim Cameron and Sam Worthington came up to me and said, ‘We’ve decided that the character Jake is going to be recounting an incident he had where
he was bitten in his big blue butt — so how do you say ‘big blue butt?’ … I had ‘big’ and I had ‘blue,’ but I didn’t have ‘butt.’ ”
At last count, there were 165,000 posts by 4,400 people on Frommer’s Learn Na’vi site —passionate Pandorans who spend time translating and discussing Na’vi words, encouraging novices who have never even studied a foreign language.
Whilst we do not wish to discourage the many aspiring Pandorans; instead of spending hours learning the invented language spoken on a fictional alien planet, why not sign up for some Spanish classes at your local language school? It’s a lot easier to get to Chile than to Pandora.
Classes in French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, Chinese (Mandarin), Japanese and Korean start 26 April. Fasttrack intensive courses start after Easter. Euroasia is taking enrolments now for courses in Auckland and Christchurch.