For the love of language

Linguistics expert Dr. Paul Frommer, who created the Na'vi language for the hit film "Avatar," talks about crafting a language from scratch.



(page 1 of 2)

On Oct. 7, Dr. Paul Frommer will visit Philbrook Museum of Art as the featured speaker for the 2010 “Oklahoma Conversation in the Humanities.” A professor of clinical management communication at the University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business, Frommer also developed the Na’vi language for the hit film “Avatar.” The noted linguistics expert recently talked with TulsaPeople by phone about creating a language from scratch, the film’s passionate fans and working with director James Cameron. For more information about Frommer’s presentation, “Avatar and the Culture of Language,” which is free and open to the public, visit www.okhumanitiescouncil.org.

TulsaPeople: Have you been doing lots of speaking engagements about this particular topic, or is this a rare occurrence?

Paul Frommer: As a matter of fact, I have been doing some speaking and I’m about to begin quite a little series of talks. I actually leave Sept. 1 for Europe, and I’m speaking in Stockholm at the Bonnier Convention. … And then in October there’s going to be something in the area of San Francisco and then Tulsa and Rochester for my 45th college reunion, class of 1965, and the alumni association has asked me to speak. And then later in October I may be speaking at a little school in Rockport, Mass., and then in November we’re going to Australia and New Zealand and I’m speaking at three places in Australia. I have been teaching at USC in the Marshall School of Business. I just became emeritus and I’m going to see what the life of a retired gentleman is like.

You don’t sound very retired.

I’m definitely not relegating myself to a rocking chair. I had spoken to a group of foreign language teachers. It’s been extremely interesting. I’ve been kind of overwhelmed by the interest in the language — it’s been wonderful — and the fact that that there is now a really viable language community that is really using the language as a medium of communication.

Tell me more about that.

Dr. Paul FrommerAs you know, “Avatar” came out Dec. 18, and soon after that people began asking about the language, about the structure of the language and so on and so forth. And a group of fans totally on their own formed a website that’s still very viable, www.learnnavi.org. The last time I checked, they were pushing 300,000 posts to their various fora. And since then, a community of enthusiasts has developed who are helping me expand the language. This is quite apart from anything that was in the film, and by the end of the film, we probably had about 500 words and certain rules of grammar. … At this point the vocabulary is doubled, it’s getting close to tripled, and the grammar has become more detailed and refined. But the most amazing thing is, I’m receiving long e-mails written entirely in the language. People are using it as a genuine means of communications. There are people in this community who correspond with each other entirely in Na’vi.

When you get those e-mails, is there anything unfamiliar to you? Do you have to take a minute to translate even though you created it (the language)?

I take more than a minute. And to be quite candid, at this point, their facility far exceeds mine, and that’s an interesting development. But what’s really quite wonderful is that it is now a real community and there is tremendous input, which helps me, from these people who are … using the language. I am still the decider, the arbiter, but I am getting lots and lots of suggestions run by me. There are a few leaders of the community who have emerged. Some of these people are extraordinarily sophisticated, and that’s quite wonderful. … They’re helping me see where the vocabulary needs to be expanded. … I have started a blog, www.naviteri.org, about Na’vi, and you can also get to it by www.naviforall.org.

What do you think it is about this language that struck such a nerve with people? What draws them to it?

That’s a question I’ve been asking myself actually. I think it’s a number of things. … People have been amazingly moved by “Avatar.” People want to live on Pandora. It’s an exciting, beautiful, idyllic place, and they want to maintain a connection to it. I’ve spoken to people who have seen the movie, and this is even prior to the DVD coming out, they’ve seen the movie two dozen times. … Even though we can’t go to Pandora, we can’t live in that culture, one thing we can do it speak the language, which is a connection to the planet and a connection to the culture, the people. So that’s something that has intrigued a lot of people. There’s also just the intellectual pleasure of speaking a language that no one else has spoken — it has the flexibility to express a lot of the thoughts in your head. It’s sort of the joy of using a code that few outsiders will understand.

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Archive »You Might Like

A musical celebration of random holidays

A look at what’s happening in the local music scene.

Out & About: October 2010

Ding-dong the witch is dead

Where to see art in Tulsa this month.
Edit Module

Add your comment:

 

Get the best in arts, entertainment and more straight to your inbox.

Join our email list

Edit ModuleShow Tags

August 2019

Featuring more than seventy works by French and European masters such as Degas, Manet, Monet, Rousseau and Van Gogh, this exhibition celebrates Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon’s extraordinary gift...

Cost: $15

Where:
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Drive
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Telephone: (405) 236-3100
Website »

More information

Oh, Tulsa is a Living Arts biennial that celebrates visual, performance, literary, sound, video, and installation art for the Tulsa community. Eligible work includes: Tulsa residents, artists who...

Cost: Free

Where:
Living Arts of Tulsa
307 East M. B. Brady St.
Tulsa, OK  74120
View map »


Telephone: 918-585-1234
Website »

More information

KOSU Radio hosts a screening of Ken Burns new documentary “Country Music” at Circle Cinema Sun, Aug. 25 at 2 p.m., ahead of its premiere on PBS stations. This screening will provide an...

Cost: Free

Where:
Circle Cinema
10 S. Lewis Ave.
Tulsa, OK  74104
View map »


Telephone: 918-551-6768
Contact Name: Chuck Foxen
Website »

More information

Help DVIS and the Tulsa Drillers knock out violence! We are in our 16th year of raising funds for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. Join us by pledging per home run or making a...

Cost: $1+

Where:
Tulsa, OK


Sponsor: DVIS
Telephone: 918-508-2709
Contact Name: Jenée Day
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Featuring more than seventy works by French and European masters such as Degas, Manet, Monet, Rousseau and Van Gogh, this exhibition celebrates Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon’s extraordinary gift...

Cost: $15

Where:
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Drive
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Telephone: (405) 236-3100
Website »

More information

Oh, Tulsa is a Living Arts biennial that celebrates visual, performance, literary, sound, video, and installation art for the Tulsa community. Eligible work includes: Tulsa residents, artists who...

Cost: Free

Where:
Living Arts of Tulsa
307 East M. B. Brady St.
Tulsa, OK  74120
View map »


Telephone: 918-585-1234
Website »

More information

Help DVIS and the Tulsa Drillers knock out violence! We are in our 16th year of raising funds for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. Join us by pledging per home run or making a...

Cost: $1+

Where:
Tulsa, OK


Sponsor: DVIS
Telephone: 918-508-2709
Contact Name: Jenée Day
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Talk one-on-one with reps from non-profit agencies looking for volunteers, like you! TCC faculty will be there to answer questions about Service Learning. Free and open to the public. Info:...

Cost: free & open to the public

Where:
McKeon Center for Creativity
910 S. Boston Ave.
TCC Metro Campus
Tulsa, OK  74119
View map »


Sponsor: Tulsa Community College
Telephone: 918-595-7339
Contact Name: Cindy Armstrong

More information

Featuring more than seventy works by French and European masters such as Degas, Manet, Monet, Rousseau and Van Gogh, this exhibition celebrates Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon’s extraordinary gift...

Cost: $15

Where:
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Drive
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Telephone: (405) 236-3100
Website »

More information

Oh, Tulsa is a Living Arts biennial that celebrates visual, performance, literary, sound, video, and installation art for the Tulsa community. Eligible work includes: Tulsa residents, artists who...

Cost: Free

Where:
Living Arts of Tulsa
307 East M. B. Brady St.
Tulsa, OK  74120
View map »


Telephone: 918-585-1234
Website »

More information

Who wants to CHALK 🎨 some 🎃Pumpkins🎃?! Join us on Tuesday August 27, 2019 at Zios (81st and Lewis)! Click the link below to register 👇...

Cost: $35.00

Where:
Zios
8112 S Lewis Ave
Tulsa, OK  74137
View map »


Sponsor: Chalked Squared
Telephone: 918-284-6492
Contact Name: Elizabeth Hardy
Website »

More information

Weary of that old workout routine? Bored with basketball? Soccer getting stale? How about the sport of kings? Try FENCING! Give us 2 hours and we'll give you an active, physically and mentally...

Cost: Free

Where:
Southminster Presbyterian Church Community Center
3500 S Peoria
Tulsa, OK  74106
View map »


Sponsor: Tulsa Fencing Club
Telephone: 918-92-2663
Website »

More information

Help DVIS and the Tulsa Drillers knock out violence! We are in our 16th year of raising funds for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. Join us by pledging per home run or making a...

Cost: $1+

Where:
Tulsa, OK


Sponsor: DVIS
Telephone: 918-508-2709
Contact Name: Jenée Day
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Featuring more than seventy works by French and European masters such as Degas, Manet, Monet, Rousseau and Van Gogh, this exhibition celebrates Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon’s extraordinary gift...

Cost: $15

Where:
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Drive
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Telephone: (405) 236-3100
Website »

More information

Oh, Tulsa is a Living Arts biennial that celebrates visual, performance, literary, sound, video, and installation art for the Tulsa community. Eligible work includes: Tulsa residents, artists who...

Cost: Free

Where:
Living Arts of Tulsa
307 East M. B. Brady St.
Tulsa, OK  74120
View map »


Telephone: 918-585-1234
Website »

More information

Why walk through grief alone when you can participate in GriefShare’s highly acclaimed 13-week video-based support group with others experiencing the same? This group offers a comfortable...

Cost: $15

Where:
Asbury United Methodist Church
6767 S Mingo Rd
Tulsa, OK  74133
View map »


Sponsor: Asbury LifeCare Ministry
Telephone: 918-392-1146
Contact Name: Ruth Winn
Website »

More information

Help DVIS and the Tulsa Drillers knock out violence! We are in our 16th year of raising funds for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. Join us by pledging per home run or making a...

Cost: $1+

Where:
Tulsa, OK


Sponsor: DVIS
Telephone: 918-508-2709
Contact Name: Jenée Day
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Have you been dreaming of owning one of the world's best charcoal grill? Been waiting for the right time to buy a new Hasty-Bake Charcoal Grill or add another one to your collection? Well, this...

Cost: FREE

Where:
Hasty-Bake Charcoal Grills Retail Showroom
1313 South Lewis Avenue
Tulsa, OK  74104
View map »


Sponsor: Hasty-Bake Charcoal Grills
Telephone: 918-665-8220
Contact Name: Jennifer Caudle
Website »

More information

Have you been dreaming of owning one of the world's best charcoal grill? Been waiting for the right time to buy a new Hasty-Bake Charcoal Grill or add another one to your collection? Well, this...

Cost: FREE

Where:
Hasty-Bake Charcoal Grills Retail Showroom
1313 South Lewis Avenue
Tulsa, OK  74104
View map »


Sponsor: Hasty-Bake Charcoal Grills
Telephone: 918-665-8220
Contact Name: Jennifer Caudle
Website »

More information

Featuring more than seventy works by French and European masters such as Degas, Manet, Monet, Rousseau and Van Gogh, this exhibition celebrates Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon’s extraordinary gift...

Cost: $15

Where:
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Drive
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Telephone: (405) 236-3100
Website »

More information

Oh, Tulsa is a Living Arts biennial that celebrates visual, performance, literary, sound, video, and installation art for the Tulsa community. Eligible work includes: Tulsa residents, artists who...

Cost: Free

Where:
Living Arts of Tulsa
307 East M. B. Brady St.
Tulsa, OK  74120
View map »


Telephone: 918-585-1234
Website »

More information

See The Dinosaurs and Unicorn Come Alive At The Circus   The 2019 edition of CIRCUS SAURUS will feature artists from around the world.  Immerse yourself into a mythological quest...

Cost: Advance Tickets $14- Adult $6 child

Where:
West of Plaza Santa Cecilia
2160 S. Garnett Rd.
Tulsa, OK  74129
View map »


Sponsor: Carson & Barnes Circus
Telephone: 580-743-7292
Contact Name: Circus Saurus
Website »

More information

Help DVIS and the Tulsa Drillers knock out violence! We are in our 16th year of raising funds for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. Join us by pledging per home run or making a...

Cost: $1+

Where:
Tulsa, OK


Sponsor: DVIS
Telephone: 918-508-2709
Contact Name: Jenée Day
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

The Lazy V 105’ Pasture Festival is an annual action-packed, four-day phenomenon of live events at Riverbend Arena at Owens Ranch in Inola, Oklahoma that includes: team roping, calf roping,...

Cost: $15 - $40

Where:
Riverbend Arena at Owens' Ranch
12900 E. 600 Rd.
Inola, OK  74036
View map »


Sponsor: Riverbend Arena at Owens' Ranch
Telephone: 405-417-6191
Contact Name: Eric Owens
Website »

More information

Have you been dreaming of owning one of the world's best charcoal grill? Been waiting for the right time to buy a new Hasty-Bake Charcoal Grill or add another one to your collection? Well, this...

Cost: FREE

Where:
Hasty-Bake Charcoal Grills Retail Showroom
1313 South Lewis Avenue
Tulsa, OK  74104
View map »


Sponsor: Hasty-Bake Charcoal Grills
Telephone: 918-665-8220
Contact Name: Hasty-Bake Retail Showroom
Website »

More information

Featuring more than seventy works by French and European masters such as Degas, Manet, Monet, Rousseau and Van Gogh, this exhibition celebrates Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon’s extraordinary gift...

Cost: $15

Where:
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Drive
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Telephone: (405) 236-3100
Website »

More information

See The Dinosaurs and Unicorn Come Alive At The Circus   The 2019 edition of CIRCUS SAURUS will feature artists from around the world.  Immerse yourself into a mythological quest...

Cost: Advance Tickets $14- Adult $6 child

Where:
West of Plaza Santa Cecilia
2160 S. Garnett Rd.
Tulsa, OK  74129
View map »


Sponsor: Carson & Barnes Circus
Telephone: 580-743-7292
Contact Name: Circus Saurus
Website »

More information

Help DVIS and the Tulsa Drillers knock out violence! We are in our 16th year of raising funds for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. Join us by pledging per home run or making a...

Cost: $1+

Where:
Tulsa, OK


Sponsor: DVIS
Telephone: 918-508-2709
Contact Name: Jenée Day
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Have you been dreaming of owning one of the world's best charcoal grill? Been waiting for the right time to buy a new Hasty-Bake Charcoal Grill or add another one to your collection? Well, this...

Cost: FREE

Where:
Hasty-Bake Charcoal Grills Retail Showroom
1313 South Lewis Avenue
Tulsa, OK  74104
View map »


Sponsor: Hasty-Bake Charcoal Grills
Telephone: 918-665-8220
Contact Name: Hasty-Bake Retail Showroom
Website »

More information

The Lazy V 105’ Pasture Festival is an annual action-packed, four-day phenomenon of live events at Riverbend Arena at Owens Ranch in Inola, Oklahoma that includes: team roping, calf roping,...

Cost: $15 - $40

Where:
Riverbend Arena at Owens' Ranch
12900 E. 600 Rd.
Inola, OK  74036
View map »


Sponsor: Riverbend Arena at Owens' Ranch
Telephone: 405-417-6191
Contact Name: Eric Owens
Website »

More information

Featuring more than seventy works by French and European masters such as Degas, Manet, Monet, Rousseau and Van Gogh, this exhibition celebrates Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon’s extraordinary gift...

Cost: $15

Where:
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Drive
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Telephone: (405) 236-3100
Website »

More information

See The Dinosaurs and Unicorn Come Alive At The Circus   The 2019 edition of CIRCUS SAURUS will feature artists from around the world.  Immerse yourself into a mythological quest...

Cost: Advance Tickets $14- Adult $6 child

Where:
West of Plaza Santa Cecilia
2160 S. Garnett Rd.
Tulsa, OK  74129
View map »


Sponsor: Carson & Barnes Circus
Telephone: 580-743-7292
Contact Name: Circus Saurus
Website »

More information

Enjoy smooth jazz, end-of-summer breezes, chilled wine and high-end concessions.  Book a room and/or tickets now. This year’s event is more of a ‘boutique’ event with a portion of all...

Cost: $20-$179

Where:
POSTOAK Lodge and Retreat
5323 W. 31st St. N.
Tulsa, OK  74127
View map »


Telephone: 918-425-2112
Website »

More information

America’s LARGEST interactive comedy murder mystery dinner show is now playing at the Hilton Garden Inn Tulsa Broken Arrow! At The Dinner Detective, you’ll tackle a challenging crime while you...

Cost: 59.95

Where:
Hilton Garden Inn Tulsa- Broken Arrow
420 W Albany St.
Broken Arrow, OK  74012
View map »


Telephone: 866-496-0535
Contact Name: The Dinner Detective
Website »

More information

Help DVIS and the Tulsa Drillers knock out violence! We are in our 16th year of raising funds for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. Join us by pledging per home run or making a...

Cost: $1+

Where:
Tulsa, OK


Sponsor: DVIS
Telephone: 918-508-2709
Contact Name: Jenée Day
Website »

More information

Where:
ONEOK Field
201 N Elgin Ave
Tulsa, OK
View map »


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...
Edit ModuleEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

What's New


RIPPLE

Approximately 600 people attended the event celebrating the 10-year anniversary of Project Hope Worldwide.

Comments

‘Hamilton’ makes history

This month’s ‘Hamilton’ breaks box office records in Tulsa. The tour will be in Tulsa from Aug. 20-Sept. 8.

Comments

CREATE Gala

ahha Tulsa in the Tulsa Arts District was the setting for the fourth annual CREATE Gala on May 11.

Comments

From the editor: Always learning

The old adage “You learn something new every day” isn’t lost on me.

Comments

85 years of Tulsa Town Hall

TTH has been sold out or near capacity for the past five years. Tickets for the upcoming season are available by subscription now.

Comments