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Shahaylu vs. Zahelu? Tsahaylu!

David Denby's recent review of AVATAR in The New Yorker use the term zahelu to describe what is achieved when "the Na’vi plug their braids into similar neural cords that hang from the heads of crested, horselike animals and giant birds."

For quite a while in December, Denby's spelling was the only form of the word to appear in Google. From there, the word propagated to message boards, blogs, news articles, other reviews.

I was surprised that nobody had claimed the domain name ZAHELU.COM. And then on January 1st, 2010, someone did. And presto, there is a new site, an AVATAR fan blog or something, called "Zahelu: Make the Bond".

Well, well, well. Today, Fox released a free PDF of James Cameron's AVATAR script. You can download it here.

Of course, I went and downloaded it right away. And the first thing I searched for was "zahelu" and guess what -- no mention of it. So I searched for "horse" hoping that I might find the scene where Neytiri explains how one takes the neural tentacles at the end of their long braids and connects them with the six-legged horse creatures' tenatacles, to achieve . . . shahaylu!

From the script itself (p. 54-55):

Did a quick WHOIS on SHAHAYLU.COM. Not taken. (That was ten minutes ago. It's taken now.)

But according to this fan site (geez, it doesn't take long, does it), the spelling is tsahaylu. As of January 5, 2010, TSAHAYLU.COM is taken. Gotta act fast these days!

So which one is right? Pandorapedia is useless; doesn't mention any of the three. Shall we let Google decide? As of this writing, Google's search result counts for the three terms are:

zahelu: 456
shahaylu: 4
tsahaylu: 3960

I still say Cameron's script has it right. SHAHAYLU is how he wrote it. But who's going to argue with Google?

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