Counting in Na’vi
Invented by Paul Frommer for the fictional indigenous race in James Cameron’s movie Avatar, Na’vi language has no written form but is transcripted in latin alphabet where two diacritics (ä, ì), three ejective consonants (px, tx, kx), and the apostrophe (’) used as a glottal stop are added.
Na’vi numbers list
- 18 – ’aw
- 28 – mune
- 38 – pxey
- 48 – tsìng
- 58 – mrr
- 68 – pukap
- 78 – kinä
- 108 – vol
- 118 – volaw
- 128 – vomun
- 138 – vopey
- 148 – vosìng
- 158 – vomrr
- 168 – vofu
- 178 – vohin
- 208 – mevol
- 308 – pxevol
- 408 – tsìvol
- 508 – mrrvol
- 608 – puvol
- 708 – kivol
- 1008 – zam
- 1,0008 – vozam
- 10,0008 – zazam
The octal numeral system
Na’vi numbers have been finally unveiled. Their numeral system is octal, or in the base-8, which can be explained by the fact Na’vi have four fingers. To better understand the octal numeral system, let’s start with a more familiar one: the decimal system. In the decimal system (or base-10), we have ten digits, from zero to nine. When we add 1 (one) to 9 (nine), we get 10 (ten), or the unit 1 (one) followed by 0 (zero). This system is positional (the digits represent the units, and their rank the matching power of ten). Thus, 132 decomposes in 100 + 30 + 2 = 1*102 + 3 *101 + 2 *100. This system is also known as a positional decimal numeral system.
Base-8 uses digits from 0 to 7. Its first ten is eight in decimal (810 = 108), the base is noted in subscript. The decomposition of an octal number (in a positional system) is the same as the one of a decimal number, only the base changes: (132)8 = 1*82 + 3 *81 + 2 *80. If we carry it out, we get the matching decimal number, here 90.
Na’vi numbering rules
Now that you’ve had a gist of the most useful numbers, let’s move to the writing rules for the tens, the compound numbers, and why not the hundreds, the thousands and beyond (if possible).
- The digits from one to seven are: ’aw , mune , pxey , tsìng , mrr , pukap , and kinä .
- The tens are formed by setting the root of the multiplier digit before the number eight (which is ten in base eight), except for eight itself: vol [108/810], mevol [208/1610], pxevol [308/2410], tsìvol [408/3210], mrrvol [508/4010], puvol [608/4810], and kivol [708/5610].
- Compound numbers are formed by suffixing the ten with the second root of the unit digit (yes, Na’vi digits have two roots: one for compound units, and one for multiplier unit). The ten word loses its final -l before a consonant, showing an apocope. The roots for compound digits are: -aw , -mun , -pey , -sìng , -mrr , -fu , and -hin . The compound numbers from 118 to 188 are: volaw [118/910], vomun [128/1010], vopey [138/1110], vosìng [148/1210], vomrr [158/1310], vofu [168/1410], and vohin [178/1510]. We can now make any number up to 778 (or 6310): pxevosìng [348/2810], mrrvofu [568/4610], kivomun [728/5810]…
- The hundreds are formed the same way as the tens, i.e. by prefixing the word for hundred (zam) with the multiplying root of the multiplier digit, except for one hundred itself: zam [1008/6410], mezam [2008/12810], pxezam [3008/19210], tsìzam [4008/25610], mrrzam [5008/32010], puzam [6008/38410], and kizam [7008/44810].
- The word for the octal thousand is vozam, and the word for the octal ten thousand is zazam. Thousands and tens of thousands are built regularly as tens and hundreds (e.g.: vozam [1,0008/51210], mrrvozam [5,0008/2,56010], zazam [10,0008/4,09610], puzazam [60,0008/24,57610])
- Lacking data on how are made compound numbers greater than one hundred, we can assume they are said as in English, with no conjunction between them (e.g.: pxevol mrrvosìng [3548/23610], mevozam kizam vofu [2,7158/1,48510]).
The Ultimate Fan’s Guide to Avatar, James Cameron’s epic movie (Unauthorized)
by Kevin Patrick Mahoney, editors Punked Books (2010)
[ , ]
The Art of Avatar: James Cameron’s Epic Adventure
by Lisa Fitzpatrick, editors Abrams (2009)
Avatar: A Confidential Report on the Biological and Social History of Pandora
by Maria Wilhelm, Dirk Mathison, editors It Books (2009)
Avatar : Rapport confidentiel sur l’histoire biologique et sociale de la planète Pandora
editors Michel Lafon (2009)
by Liza Fitzpatrick, editors L’Archipel (2009)
Other artistic languages
Aczu Śavnecze, Atlantean, Atrian, Ayeri, Azazilúŝ, Barsoomian, Belter Creole, Dai, Dovahzul, D’ni, Elder Speech, Engála, Giak, Grayis, Hiuʦɑθ, Hylian, Illitan, Ithkuil, Itláni, Kēlen, Kiitra, KiLiKi, Láadan, Na’vi, Nìmpyèshiu, Shiväisith, Siinyamda, Tpaalha, Trigedasleng, Tüchte, Va Ehenív, Verdurian, and Wardwesân.
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