Translation and Interpreting in 150+ Languages
Na’vi is for Geeks
January 22, 2010 - By: - In: In the News / Awards - 12 comments

Geeks who care. Geeks like you. Is that fair to say? Na’vi is a recreational language, which is a recent linguistic wrinkle, conceptualized on corporate demand, then passed on Google-like to guys and gals like you and me, who  do the dirty work of content-building all over the Web. In the world of Web 2.0, fans do the work, and the aggregators make the profit. But the fans have all the fun. The language was designed to reflect the thoughts, the deep thoughts of a race of profound spiritual authority. Does speaking Na’vi make you think higher thoughts? That invites a new kind of play than the Spartan antics of Klingon speakers.

Watching a new language emerge so rapidly  is the same kind of thrill as the volcanologist gets when a volcano rises from the sea to jump start a new landmass. Is this idea going to survive above the surging tides of pop popularity? I think its a keeper, so I’m going to keep an eye on it. (Disclosure: I have still not seen the film. Maybe this weekend.)

But I’m not going to learn the language. Remember, I’m the Translation Guy. Learning languages is bad for business. So I guess I’m going to have to find a Na’vi interpreter. Maybe 1-800-Translate should have an interpreting contest. I’m sure that would be great for business (not). Anybody out there ready to claim interpreting skills in a brand-new language? More than fluency is required to be an interpreter you know….

Anyway, some notes on recent developments for Na’vi fans.

Dirk Mathison, author or “Pandora, an Activists Survival Guide” in the Huffington Post today in “Avatar” Movie Spawns Geeky Guide Book describes his work:

Our challenge was to supply prose to the film’s poetry. Amateur astrophysicist Jim Tanenbaum worked closely with Cameron to define the science of the Alpha Centauri System and the strange geology of Pandora. Wanda Bryant, an ethnomusicologist at Cal Arts, created a remarkably detailed musical universe for the Na’vi. Randall Frakes gave form to the animals. Richard Taylor, an effects wizard at Weta Workshop in New Zealand, described RDA weapons and also came up with some very cool stories about Na’vi artifacts. Stephen Ballantyne, a business writer in New Zealand, gave incredible richness to the corporate culture of the RDA. Prof. Jodie Holt, chair of the botany department at UC Riverside, imagined plants that could gobble up xenon and others that could make you fall in love. And linguist Paul Frommer created a language for the Na’vi rivaled only by Klingon. (An abridged Na’vi-English dictionary is included in the book.)

This is pure movie tie-in stuff. It will be interesting to see how/if the language takes a life of it’s own, independent of movie marketing push. I’ll continue to post as I identify more resources. Interested readers are invited to do the same.

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