The linguistics expert from the University of Southern California is the brains behind the language used by James Cameron's 10-foot-tall alien tribe in the much-anticipated science fiction epic, Avatar.

"Jim Cameron's production department at Lightstorm Entertainment was looking for a linguist that would be able to help him develop an alien language," explains Professor Frommer.

"At that time, it wasn't even called Avatar - it was project 880 - but the e-mail was forwarded to me and I saw it and jumped on it. I was very excited about it. A week or two later I was called in for a talk."

The language enthusiast managed to persuade Cameron that he was the man to create a functioning language for a story the director had dreamt up a decade earlier.

"I spent a wonderful 90-minutes with Jim and at the end of it he shook my hand and said 'welcome aboard,'" says Professor Frommer.


南加州大学的语言学教授Paul Frommer就是那个创造纳美语的人。据称,当时他收到了卡梅隆Lightstorm工作室的邮件,称一个名叫“Project 880”的电影计划正在寻找语言学家帮助开发一种外星人语言。前去应征的他和导演本人畅谈了90分钟后,卡梅隆与他握手说到:“欢迎加入。”

The pair worked together for four years to develop the Na'vi language.

The director had already come up with about thirty words, for the characters' names and body parts. But he was looking to the professor to give the language an authentic but exotic feel.

Crucially, it had to be a language that could be articulated.

"This is an alien language but obviously it has to be spoken by human actors," explains Professor Frommer.

"It has to be sounds that human beings are comfortable producing."

It is a unique language, with its own syntactic and grammatical rules.

Its creator says some of Cameron's original words had "a vaguely Polynesian feel". Others have suggested that it sounds like German or Japanese.


As well as creating the language, Professor Frommer taught the actors how to speak it.

"I met with each of the seven principal actors who use the language beforehand. I helped them with the pronunciation, we broke things down.

"I also created some sound files, MP3 files. I guess some of them downloaded them onto their iPods so they could listen to them at the gym."


The language currently runs to about a thousand words. It does not have a huge vocabulary, but Professor Frommer is still working at it. He is also still trying to master his own language.

"I wish I could speak it fluently," he says.

"As for who at this point understands the grammar and such, I think probably I'm the only one. I wish that eventually that might not be the case."

In fact, one day, Professor Frommer hopes Na'vi will match Klingon, as the "gold standard" alien language.

"There's a translation of Hamlet into Klingon," says Professor Frommer.

"There are Klingon clubs that meet all over the world. There are a very dedicated group of people who meet and try to speak it.

"If anything happened like this with Na'vi I'd be delighted."

截至目前,纳美语共有大约1000个单词,全球能够掌握其语法的人只有Frommer一人,而且就算他本人也仍然在学习如何更流畅的说纳美语。不过,他并不打算就此结束,而是要继续钻研下去,争取借电影上映的东风让这种语言发扬光大,目标是比拼“克林贡语”(《星际迷航》中的外星语言,也是除了世界语之外 最完善的人造语言,甚至Google搜索都有克林贡语版本。)