Klingon, the full-fledged language developed for the fictional warrior race in the Star Trek universe, explains Frommer, is currently the gold standard by which all constructed alien languages are compared. There's a Klingon dictionary and even Hamlet has been translated into Klingonese.
But while Klingon is rough-sounding, Frommer intended his language, which is spoken by the Na'vi, the humanoid race who live on Pandora, where the action of Avatar takes place, to be "musical and mellifluous."
Frommer began working with Cameron on the language in the summer of 2005, after representatives from Cameron's production company Lightstorm Entertainment, emailed USC's linguistics department, where Frommer received his Ph.D., about developing an alien language.
Linguistics professor Edward Finegan, with whom Frommer wrote Looking at Languages: A Workbook in Elementary Linguistics, passed the request on to Frommer, who ended up meeting with Cameron and landing the job. "It's probably the most exciting thing that's ever happened to me," Frommer said.
"From an acting standpoint, the hard part was speaking English with a Na'vi accent," says Cameron, "Zoe Saldana had the most lines, so we let her create the accent, and then everybody had to match her."
Well, I give Zoe major props, because Na'vi is not exactly an easy language to learn. But if you're interested, like I am, you definatley want to go to Learnnavi.org. There's all sorts of great downloads there that can help you. For kicks, I'm going to show a few sample phrases I got from the Na'vi pocketguide.
Kaltxi ngaru lu fpom srak?
(Greetings. You be well.being)
I apologize for this moron.
Fi-skxawng-iri tsapxalute s
(this moron. apology. make I)
My nose is full of his alien smell!
Oe-ri ta peya fahew a-kewong ontu teya l
(Me. from his smell. alien nose. full be.)
And here are some great pick up lines in Na'vi:
Oel ngati kameie. (I see you.)
Nga yawne lu oer. (I love you.)
Ke lu kawtu a nulnivew oe pohu tireapivängkxo äo Vitrautral.
(There's nobody I'd rather commune with under the Tree of Souls.)
If you want a swear word, though, you could say "Pxasìk." It means, "Screw it! No way!"
Nga za'u fìtseng pxìm srak? (Do you come here often?)
Well, OK, that's a little lame.
Better, maybe: Oeyä ikran slivu nga, tsakrr oeng 'awsiteng mivakto.
(Be my ikran and let's ride together.)
[Ed. note: Only if it's the third date. Ikran are giant beasts the Na'vi like to, um, ride.]
more after the Jump....
Here's a neat link from the Learn Na'vi Wiki that has pretty much all of the Na'vi lines from the movie translated (even the ones that weren't subtitled) and explained. Sure answered a lot of questions for me!