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.