The LA Times brings us a report about one of the more honored aspects of any sci-fi universe – the fake languages of its alien races!
Apparently, James Cameron has been so meticulous in his creation of the Na’vi culture in Avatar that he even reached out to a renowned linguist to create a 1,000 word vocabulary for the “Blue Cat-Smurfs.” Here’s what USC Professor Paul R. Frommer had to say about taking Cameron’s initial dozen-word vocab and expanding it into a legitimate language:
“I’m still working and I hope that the language will have a life of its own…For one thing, I’m hoping there will be prequels and sequels to the film, which means more language will be needed…The constraint, of course, is that the language I created had to be spoken by humans…I could have let my imagination run wild and come up with all sorts of weird sounds, but I was limited by what a human actor could actually do.”
“I was surprised [the actors] all did very well, and it gave me hope, too, that other people will try to learn it and speak it…I’m excited because there is going be a Pandora-pedia online and a lot of material for people to learn more about the planet. There’s this incredible devotion to detail. It’s been fascinating to me. It’s almost academic in its approach.”
Photo courtesy of the LA Times
Of course, teaching the language to the actors was an equally daunting job – so Cameron and Co. reached out to dialect coach Carla Meyer, who has worked on such films as Pirates of the Caribbean, Erin Brockovich and Angels & Demons. If Frommer’s praise is to be taken at face value, Meyer did her job well.
Check out the full article HERE to see what Frommer thinks about speaking Na’vi vs. speaking Klingon, and what it’s like to be the only guy to understand a faux language.