“By the way, what are you reading?”

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“By the way, what are you reading?”
Release date September 4, 2011
Source Naviteri
Link: 1

After this post, you'll be able to ask and answer that question.

By the way[edit]

Na'vi has two adverbs that function like English “by the way” but are used in different situations.

  • mìftxele (adv., mì.FTXE.le) ‘by the way, in this regard, related to this matter'

The derivation of this adverb—mì + fì- + txele ‘in this matter'—makes the meaning clear: the speaker comes in with a statement or question related to something that has just been discussed. Example:

—Lam oer fwa tsazìma'uyul ke fnan tìtusaronit.

  ‘It seems to me that that newcomer isn't any good at hunting.'

—Oeru nìteng. Mìftxele pori lu oer letsrantena fmawn a new piveng ngar.

  ‘(It seems that way) to me as well. By the way, I have some important news I want to

….tell you about him.'

  • zìma'uyu (n., zì.MA.'u.yu) ‘newcomer, someone who has just arrived on the scene'

Sometimes, however, we use “by the way” to change the subject and introduce something new into the conversation, something we've just remembered that's just popped into our minds. That's a different word:

  • nìvingkap (adv., nì.VING.kap) ‘by the way, incidentally'

Pronunciation: Note that it's ving, not vìng.


—Slä tsalsungay, txo tìtslam for, lu txayo na'rìngto sìltsan.

  ‘But even so, if they're smart they'll take open terrain over bush.'

—Mllte oe. Nìvingkap ngeyä tsmukanur alu Ralu lu fpom srak? …Txankrr ngal ke lawk pot kaw'it.

   ‘I agree. Oh by the way, how's your brother Ralu? You haven't mentioned a thing

….about him in a long time.'

  • txankrr (adv., txan.KRR) ‘for a long time'

Nìvingkap comes from the transitive verb vingkap:

  • vingkap (vtr., VING.kap – inf. 1,2) ‘occur to one, strike one, pop into one's mind'

Vìmingkap oeti fula poe ke li ke poltxe san oe zasya'u. ‘It just occurred to me that she hasn't yet said she's coming.'


As you know, Na'vi was not a written language until the Sky People arrived on Pandora. So there's no native Na'vi word that exclusively means “read written material.” Instead, the word for “gain knowledge from sensory input” was adopted to fill this need.

  • inan (vtr.: i.NAN – inf. 1,2) ‘read (e.g. the forest), gain knowledge from sensory input'

Note: Like omum, inan has an irregular stress pattern. When used without affixes, the stress is final: inan. But when prefixes or infixes are added, the stress shifts: erinan, ivinan, olinan, tinan.

Tìomummì oeyä, pol na'rìngit inan nìltsan. ‘As far as I know, he reads the forest well.'

  • tìomum (n., tì.O.mum) ‘knowledge'

tìomummì oeyä ‘to my knowledge, as far as I know'


  • tinan (n., TI.nan) ‘reading'
  • ninan (adv., NI.nan) ‘by reading'


Tsmìmìri wätx fol tinanit nìngay. ‘They're really bad at reading animal tracks.'

Nari si! Äo fìutral lu tsmìm 'angtsìkä! ‘Watch out! There's a hammerhead track under this tree!'

Tìtusaronìri fte flivä, zene fko sivutx smarit ninan nìno. ‘To succeed at hunting, you have to track your prey by reading (the forest) with attention to detail.'

(Ninan nìno—NInan nìNO—is fun to say! Thanks to the LEP Committee for the example.)

The following bit of dialog shows you how to use inan for the sense of reading written material:

—Kempe si sempul?

  ‘What is father doing?'

— (Pol) pamrelit erinan.

   ‘He's reading,' [Literally: He's reading writing.]


  ‘What is he reading?' [Literally: What kind of writing?]

—Inan pukot a teri aysam a 'Rrtamì.

  ‘He's reading a book about the wars on Earth.'

As you see, when you use inan in this sense, you need to supply an object–something that can be read. If it's a general statement or question about reading with no particular written material in mind, the object is simply pamrel 'writing.'

Ulte sìlpey oe, fì'upxaret inan a fì'u silvunu ayngaru nìwotx!