"Receptive Ability" and Hesitation

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"Receptive Ability" and Hesitation
Release date March 22, 2011
Source Naviteri
Link: 1

“Receptive Ability”[edit]

What's the Na'vi equivalent of English -able/-ible? That is, how do say that something is capable of “receiving” the action of a verb? For example, given yom ‘eat,' how would you say, “This animal is edible”—i.e., can be eaten?

One obvious way is:

1. Tsun fko yivom fìioangit. ‘One can eat this animal.'

But there's another way:

2. Fìioang lu tsukyom. ‘This animal is edible / can be eaten.'

Here the prefix tsuk- (a development of tsun + fko; no connection with tsuksìm) is attached to the ROOT of the verb to form an adjective. So, for example, you can say things like:

3. Tsukyoma ioang lu lesar. ‘An edible animal is useful.'

Note that the stress is on the root, not the prefix: tsuk-YOM.

For the negative, ke- attaches before tsuk-: ketsuktswa' ‘unforgettable.'

Tsuk- is widely productive, considerably more so than English -able/-ible. For one thing, you can attach it to virtually any transitive verb: tsukrun ‘findable,' tsuktxula ‘constructible,' tsukfrrfen ‘able to be visited (visitable?)', tsuktaron ‘able to be hunted, (huntable?),' etc.

Additionally, you can often attach tsuk- to intransitive verbs as well:

4. Fìtseng lu tsuktsurokx. ‘One can rest here. / It's possible to rest here. / This place is “restable.”'

5. Lu na'rìng tsukhahaw. ‘One can sleep in the forest. / It's possible to sleep in the forest. / The forest is “sleepable.”'


To my knowledge, all spoken languages mì 'Rrta have words or sounds that indicate the speaker is hesitating, pausing, thinking, buying time, etc. In English, we have “um,” “uh,” “er,” and for some people “like” and “y'know.” Na'vi is no exception.

The Na'vi “hesitation marker” in speech is ìì. Unusually, it's written with a doubled vowel. (Since it's not a word any more than “er” is in English, it can flout the phonotactic constraints of the language, just as conversational expressions like oìsss and saa do.) It's pronounced like a prolonged ì.

6. Lu oeru . . . ìì . . . tìngäzìk ahì'i. ‘I have . . . um . . . a slight problem.'