Elvish, Klingon and Na'vi: Constructed languages gain foothold in film
Monday, December 28, 2009
The release of the movie James Cameron, has generated increased interest in the field of , also known as conlang. Cameron asked American professor to develop a language spoken by the extraterrestrial people in the film known as the ., written and directed by
Authordeveloped for his literary series . The Elvish language was featured in scenes of , directed by .
The(tlhIngan Hol) was developed by linguist , initially for use in the 1984 film . Okrand drew inspiration from Klingon lines spoken by actor in the film ; Doohan portrayed character in the Star Trek series. A dictionary for Klingon developed by Okrand, sold over 300,000 copies.
|You know your alien language has taken off when a German guy translates rap songs into it.|
Klingon became quite popular and has developed a usage among Star Trek fans. The Klingon Terran Research Ensemble in the German Trekkie who goes by the moniker Klenginem posted videos to YouTube where he raps songs he translated into Klingon by musician . Klenginem has been cited recently in pieces on constructed language in , , and . "You know your alien language has taken off when a German guy translates rap songs into it," said National Public Radio of Klenginem.created an in Klingon. The play by was translated into Klingon. A
Linguistics professor Frommer received hisdegree from the (USC), and subsequently shifted his focus into the business arena. He returned to USC to teach at the . Cameron tasked Frommer with creating an entire language for the Na'vi people.
In an interview with Geoff Boucher of the, Frommer voiced hope that the language would continue to be used separate from the movie, as Klingon has. "I'm still working and I hope that the language will have a life of its own," said Frommer. The created by Frommer contains over 1,000 words, as well as a structural system and rules format for usage. Frommer told that the language was fairly developed, commenting, "It’s got a perfectly consistent sound system, and grammar, orthography, syntax".
|I hope that the language will have a life of its own.|
Frommer explained the direction given to him before creating the language, "Cameron wanted something melodious and musical, something that would sound strange and alien but smooth and appealing." The Avatar writer-director provided Frommer with approximately three dozen words of the Na'vi language he used in hisfor the film. "That was the starting point. Probably the most exotic thing I added were ejectives, which are these sorts of popping sounds that are found in different languages from around the world. It's found in Native American languages and in parts of Africa and in Central Asia, the Caucasus," explained Frommer. Cameron and Frommer worked together for four years developing the language.
The linguistics professor relied on inspiration provided by Cameron, and avoided drawing upon influences from Elvish, Klingon, and the. Sample words in the Na'vi language include "Uniltìrantokx" (oo-neel-tih-RAHN-tokx), meaning "Avatar", and "tireaioang" (tee-REH-ah-ee-o-ahng), which means "spirit animal". reported that fans of Avatar were anxious for more instructive material from professor Frommer about the language in order to learn how to speak it with others that appreciated the film. "The response has been quite remarkable and totally unexpected. I never thought there’d be this level of interest. But I really don’t think of Na’vi as a competitor to Klingon. If it does develop a following, that would be quite wonderful," said Frommer of the response to the language from Avatar fans.
|We wanted to 'out-Klingon' Klingon.|
The Na'vi language is itself a minor plot point in the film Avatar. The character Jake Sully portrayed byendeavors to learn the language while living on Pandora. A portrayed by actress instructs a scientist played by actor on how to become conversational in the language.
, the actress behind warrior princess Neytiri in Avatar, picked up the Na'vi language faster than her fellow cast members. "Zoe owned the language and everyone had to match her, even her accent," said Cameron. Saldaña remarked that the most difficult part about acting in the film was speaking in English with the accent of the Na'vi people. Cameron touted the rich nature of the Na'vi language in publicity for his film. "We wanted to 'out-Klingon' Klingon. The best sci-fi movies immerse the audience in that world until it doesn't seem alien to them," said Cameron to .
- "Scientists find key human language gene" — Wikinews, November 12, 2009
- "Parlez-vous français? Qapla’! More Grade 11 boys proficient in Klingon than French: local survey" — Wikinews, July 6, 2006
- "Google translates Gmail to 12 languages, asks for volunteers to target 144 more" — Wikinews, April 23, 2005
- Richard Metzger. "Geek Speak: Learn Na'vi, the alien language of 'Avatar'" — , December 22, 2009
- Kevin Williamson. "Alien dialect has merit" — , December 21, 2009
- Colby Cosh. "“We’re going to out-Klingon Klingon!”" — , December 21, 2009
- Guy Dixon. "Hoping to out-Klingon Klingon" — , December 18, 2009
- "The Language of 'Avatar'" — , December 17, 2009
- Karin Zeitvogel. "Na'Vi: brand new language brought by "Avatar"" — , December 17, 2009
- "Do You Speak Na'vi? Giving Voice To 'Avatar' Aliens" — , December 15, 2009
- Scott Bowles. "James Cameron pushes every boundary for his 'Avatar' vision" — , December 13, 2009
- Chris Ayres. "Na'vi talk down Klingon as the last word in alien-speak" — , December 12, 2009
- Peter Bowles. "The language of Avatar revealed" — , December 11, 2009
- Ben Zimmer. "On Language: Skxawng!" — , December 4, 2009
- Julian Sancton. "Brushing up on Na'vi, the Language of Avatar" — , December 1, 2009
- Geoff Boucher. "USC professor creates an entire alien language for 'Avatar'" — , November 20, 2009
- Klenginem. "Klenginem - SuvwI'pu' qan tu'lu'be" — , October 15, 2009