Na’vi is one of the most famous fictional languages of all time, alongside Elvish (“Lord of the Rings”) and Dothraki, High Valyrian (“Game of Thrones”) and Klingon (“Star Trek”), among others. . Although it doesn’t consist of as many words as the others (Dothraki has 4,000 words!), Na’vi is constantly expanding, and with a second movie on the way, there’s more to come.
It is difficult to create a language, but more difficult to create a grammatically sound one. According to filmmaker James Cameron, Dr. Paul Frommer, then head of USC’s linguistics department, created the film’s language. Frommer didn’t build the language entirely from scratch; he did translations for dialogue required by the script (via NPR).
“Well, that’s where the linguist, Dr. Paul Frommer, came in. And he was the head of the linguistics department at USC at the time, and he did more than help. He actually created the language. Or more accurately, he created the translations of the lines that we needed for the script. I don’t think he didn’t create, like, a complete language with a vocabulary of 20 000 words, but I think we now have a vocabulary of around 1,200 or 1,300 words.”