Reported speech, reported questions

From Navi
Jump to: navigation, search
Reported speech, reported questions
Release date August 31, 2011
Source Naviteri
Link: 1

Kaltxì, ma frapo—

Here's some information about reported speech that I hope you'll find useful.

Reported speech[edit]

As you know, the main speech verb is plltxe, which can be both transitive and intransitive. When you're reporting what someone said, the most idiomatic way to express that in Na'vi is to use plltxe intransitively, with san and sìk. You also know that Na'vi likes direct speech, where you're quoting someone's words exactly, rather than indirect speech. So:

1 Navi:Reported speech, reported questions/1 Help:Reported speech, reported questions/1 1

Poltxe po san oe new kivä sìk. ‘He said, “I want to go.”' OR ‘He said he wanted to go.'

As you see, there are two ways to do it in English but only one in Na'vi. In this structure, it might help to think of plltxe as “speak” and san as “say”: ‘He spoke, saying “I want to go.”'

Now how do you translate simple things like “What did she say?” and “She didn't say that”?

For these, we use plltxe as a transitive verb. But what do you use for “what” and “that” in those sentences? The obvious candidates are peut and tsat respectively:

Poltxe pol peut? ‘What did she say?'

Ke poltxe pol tsat. ‘She didn't say that.'

[For the record, I've used VSO order here, but of course other word orders are just as possible: Pol poltxe peut? Peut poltxe pol? And so on . . . ]

The two sentences above are acceptable Na'vi, but they're not the best style. The reason is that they're using forms of the catch-all word 'u, ‘thing'—you're talking about saying a thing. Na'vi prefers to be more specific: what you say is words. So more idiomatic versions of these sentences are:

Poltxe pol paylì'ut? ‘What did she say?' [= What words did she say?]

Ke poltxe pol tsaylì'ut. ‘She didn't say that.' [=She didn't say those words.]

(If you're talking about a single word, it's tsalì'ut.)

Transitive plltxe can also be used for reported speech:

Poltxe pol faylì'ut a oe new kivä. ‘She said, “I want to go.”' OR ‘She said she wanted to go.'

Just as fì'ut a usually contracts in colloquial conversation to the single word futa, faylì'ut a contracts to fayluta:

Poltxe pol fayluta oe new kivä. ‘She said, “I want to go.”' OR ‘She said she wanted to go.'

Note that whether you use the plltxe san . . . sìk or the plltxe fayluta structure, you still use direct speech, reporting the exact words the person said. But keep in mind that plltxe san . . . sìk is the more idiomatic choice in Na'vi and the one you should prefer for reported speech.

For ‘hear' and ‘tell' in this context, Na'vi again prefers a more specific object than 'u. What you hear is news or a report—i.e. fmawn. Fmawnit a contracts conversationally to fmawnta:

Stolawm oel fmawnta fo new hivum. ‘I heard they want to leave.'

Ngal poleng oer fmawnta po tolerkup. ‘You told me that he died.'

Reported and indirect questions[edit]

How do you say, “He asked where Neytiri was going”?

With pawm as with plltxe, there are both transitive and intransitive structures. The intransitive forms are by far the more common:

Polawm po san Neytiri kä pesengne (sìk). ‘He asked where Neytiri was going.' (Literally: He asked, saying, “Where is Neytiri going?”)

One wrinkle: With pawm but not with plltxe, the san is optional. So this is also possible, and in fact quite common:

Polawm po, Neytiri kä pesengne?

The transitive use of pawm is possible but infrequent, since there's another transitive verb that's much more common in this structure:

  • vin (vtr.) ‘ask for, request'

This has wider applications than just asking a question—it can be used in place of ätxäle si:

Ätxäle si tsnì livu oheru Uniltaron. Or: Vuyin ohel Uniltaronit. ‘I respectfully request the Dreamhunt.'

Pol volin mipa tskalepit. ‘He asked for a new crossbow.'

To use vin with indirect questions, what's the appropriate object? Well, what you're asking for is a certain answer—a certain tì'eyng. So:

Volin pol tì'eyngit a Neytiri kä pesengne. ‘He asked where Neytiri was going.' (Literally: He requested the where-is-Neytiri-going answer.)

Some conversational contractions of tì'eyng are:

tì'eyng + a > teynga

tì'eyngìl + a > teyngla

tì'eyngit + a > teyngta


Volin oel teyngta Neytiri kä pesengne. ‘I asked where Neytiri was going.'

Ke omum oel teyngta fo kä pesengne. ‘I don't know where they're going.'

Teynga lumpe fo holum ke lu law. ‘It's not clear why they left.'

Ulte sìlpey oe, faysìoeyktìng livu law nìwotx!