The sounds you'll need....

a as in calm
e as in bell
i as in bit
o as in home
u as in dune

th as in think
zh as in pleasure
b, s, sh, m, n, l, r, w, y, h, d (as in English)

lh --a sound that doesn't exist in English, made by pressing your tongue against the roof of your mouth, drawing back the corners of your mouth as you would for a smile, and then saying "sh."

Tone: An accent mark over a vowel means that it has high tone. For English speakers, this means that you should give it slightly higher pitch and more emphasis, the way you would a stressed syllable. (With computer software that doesn't support accent marks, we use a capital letter -- so "LAadan" is equivalent to "Láadan.")

Some grammar facts you'll need....

1. Adjectives and verbs are the same in Láadan.

2. Láadan has no words for "a, the, an."

3. When you make a Láadan verb plural, only the verb changes.

4. The basic order in Láadan is verb or adjective, then subject, then object; sentences begin with a Speech Act word and end with an Evidence word.The negative follows the verb or adjective.

Using the language....

Choose a Speech Act word:

Bíi (statement); Báa (question); Bóo (request)

Choose a time word:

ril (present); eril (past); aril (future); wil (hypothetical, as in "let there be....")

Choose a verb:

di (say, speak); hal (work); áya (beautiful); óoha (weary); néde (want); sháad (go, come)

Choose a Subject phrase:

le (I); ne (you); be (she, he, it); rul (cat); with (woman); omid (horse); mahina (flower); ana (food); withid (man)

Choose an Evidence word:

wa (true because perceived directly); wáa (true because from a trusted source)

Now, make a sentence....

Bíi eril hal with wa. (The woman worked.)
Bíi eril óoha with wáa. (The woman was weary.)

Or make a question...

Báa eril hal with? (Did the woman work?)

Use the negative (ra)...

Bíi eril hal ra with wa. (The woman didn't work.)

Choose an Object phrase and add the Object ending (TH after vowels, ETH after consonants)

Bíi ril néde rul anath wáa. (The cat wants food.)
Bóo ril di ne Láadaneth. (Please speak Láadan.)

To make a plural, add "me-"...

Báa ril meháya mahina? (Are the flowers beautiful?)

Excerpts from A First Dictionary and Grammar of Láadan: Second Edition

On pages 3-5...
The Construction of Láadan

In the fall of 1981, I was involved in several seemingly unrelated activites. I had been asked to write a scholarly review of the book Women and Men Speaking, by Cheris Kramarae; I was working on a speech for the Wiscon science fiction convention scheduled for March 1982, where I was to be Guest of Honor; and I was reading -- and re-reading -- Douglas Hofstadter's Goedel, Escher, Bach. I had also been reading a series of papers by Cecil Brown and his associates on the subject of lexicalization -- that is, the giving of names (words, in most cases, or parts of words) to units of meaning in human languages. Out of this serendipitous mix came a number of things.

(1) I became aware, through Kramarae's book, of the feminist hypothesis that existing languages are inadequate to express the perceptions of women. This intrigued me because it had a built-in paradox: if it is true, the only mechanism available to women for discussing the problem is the very same language(s) alleged to be inadequate for the purpose.

(2) There occurred to me an interesting possibility within the framework of the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis (briefly, that language structures perceptions): if women had a language adequate to express their perceptions, it might reflect a quite different reality than that perceived by men. ...

(3) I read in Goedel, Escher, Bach a reformulation of Goedel's Theorem, in which Hofstadter proposed that for every record player there were records it could not play because they would lead to its indirect self-destruction. And it struck me that if you squared this you would get a hypothesis that for every language there were perceptions it could not express because they would lead to its indirect self-destruction. Furthermore, if you cubed it, you would get a hypothesis that for every culture there are languages it could not use because they would lead to its indirect self-destruction. This made me wonder: what would happen to American culture if women did have and did use a language that expressed their perceptions? ...

Somewhere along the way, this all fell together for me, and I found myself with a cognitive brew much too fascinating to ignore. ... I therefore chose as medium the writing of a science fiction novel about a future America in which the woman-language had been constructed and was in use.That book, called Native Tongue, was published by DAW Books in August 1984. ...

In order to write the book, I felt obligated to at least try to construct the language. I'm not an engineer, and when I write about engines I make no attempt to pretend that I know how engines are put together or how they function. But I am a linguist, and knowing how languages work is supposed to be my home territory. I didn't feel that I could ethically just fake the woman-language, or just insert a handful of hypothetical words and phrases to represent it. I needed at least the basic grammar and a modest vocabulary, and I needed to experience what such a project would be like. I therefore began, on June 28, 1982, the construction of the language that became Láadan....

My original goal was to reach a vocabulary of 1,000 words -- enough, if well chosen, for ordinary conversation and informal writing. I passed that goal early on, and in the fall of 1982 the journal Women and Language News published the first writing in the language, a Nativity story written from Mary's point of view.

[Note: A First Dictionary and Grammar of Láadan: Second Edition was edited by Diane Martin and published by the Society for the Furtherance and Study of Fantasy and Science Fiction, Inc. (SF3) in 1988. Native Tongue will be coming out again in Fall 2000, from Feminist Press.]

From page 105...

Láadan -- English

lalal -- mother's milk
lalen -- guitar
lalewida -- to be pregnant joyfully
lali -- to rain
lam -- health
lámála -- to caress, stroke
lan -- friend
lanemid -- dog
lash -- indifference
lawida -- to be pregnant
lawith -- saint
laya -- to be red
layun -- to be orange
leb -- enemy
lehina -- lilac (the flower, bush)
lel -- seaweed
lewidan -- to be pregnant for the first time
leyan -- to be brown
leyi -- to be blue
lha -- sin
lheb -- enemy
lhed -- discord in the home
lhezub -- noxious insect
lhoho -- shame
lhu -- poison
lili -- to be wet

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