Pop culture and constructed language learning: Na’vi
The immensely popular blockbuster Avatar has garnered both rave and scathing reviews, but what it has produced, besides a lot of money at cinemas, is a large group of language devotees, dedicated to learning the constructed language of ‘the people’, Na’vi.
The language was created especially for the film by Paul Frommer, a professor at USC in California. There are already over three thousand members posting on the forums on the Learn Na’vi site, and that’s just one fan site. As with other popular created languages (Klingon, from Star Trek, and Elvish, from J. R. R. Tolkien’s books), Na’vi has bloomed within the sci-fi fan community and there is talk of conventions, Na’vi karaoke, and even tattoos in Na’vi.
So with this much enthusiasm, and fans clamouring for more vocabulary and further explanations of language points, why can’t this excitement be replicated by your average language learner? Of course, this language at present only has about 500 words, and the average learner of Na’vi is probably a little bit more obsessive about their areas of interest than most people. Still, Na’vi enthusiasts are arranging meetings, and learning the language so they can communicate with each other and express their appreciation of the language and culture on the fictional planet of Pandora.
In this vein, why don’t you see if you can find a local or online interest group for the language you are learning? If everyone could be as dedicated as a Na’vi-learning film geek, we might all be progressing that little bit faster.