In’venting Na’vi

You’re making a movie about “people” from some fantastical, far-off land, you have a $300 million budget, and you want your made-up characters to be convincing. These blue creatures who star in the movie Avatar are computer-generated, so there’s not much of a need for acting classes. Instead, why don’t you pay a linguistics professor to invent a language?

That’s what director James Cameron did.

“He wanted a complete language, with a totally consistent sound system, morphology, syntax,” Frommer says. And “he wanted it to sound good — he wanted it to be pleasant, he wanted it to be appealing to the audience.”

So now, the Na’vi language exists. And if this movie is as successful as it promises to be, we should soon see the proof that Na’vi has transitioned from fictional word gimmick to legitimate language: a Hamlet of its own.

7 thoughts on “In’venting Na’vi

  1. Jon Austin says:

    This has been done before, most successfully with Klingon, which I’ve actually heard spoken in public (OK, yes, it was at a Star Trek convention). Interesting to see if this one takes off to the same degree.


    PS – For those so inclined, you will find me at the Southdale theater tonight at Midnight for the 12:01 3D IMAX screening (if I can get a ticket).

    1. Yes, it has. Thus my “Hamlet” reference (there’s an edition of Hamlet written in the Klingon language). And I’m pretty sure Tolkien invented a language for his elves in Lord of the Rings.

      Perhaps I’m putting too much stock in this new instance, but I get the impression this is a bigger, more thoroughly developed language. But maybe not. Either way, it’s a fascinating idea.

    1. Dennis Lang says:

      Damn! That is the Vonage logo. Pretty cheesy in a 300M extravaganza. The accountants over-turning every rock to guarantee recovery of the investment? I wonder if Cameron has his own money in this.

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