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Lesson 33: Vocabulary Interlude 6

Vocabulary

áabe

book

áala

thanks; “Thank you”

benem

to stay

–da

Suffix (Type-of-Sentence Word): said in jest; telling a joke

dáan

word

dun

meadow; pasture

ezha

snake

hosherídan

great-niece

lali

rain

loth

information

lothel

to know

loyo

to be black

obeth

neighbor [o (around) + beth (home)]

ódon

cheese

nedaba

which (see Suzette Haden Elgin’s discussion of “nedaba” below)

sho

to be heavy

ulanin

to study

wem

to lose

yob

coffee

zha

name


[In response to Elfquest Chaoist’s question, “It seems that question words don’t have any way to indicate whether they’re asking about a person or an object or a location, although some questions will be obvious,” Suzette Haden Elgin wrote:]

EC is correct; the third person pronoun is ambiguous in questions, so that “Báa eril yod bebáa thilith?listen to this pronounced could be either “Who ate the fish?” or “What ate the fish?” and “Báa eril sháad ne bebáade?listen to this pronounced could be either “Where did you come from?” or “What did you come from?” This sort of ambiguity is typical of human languages—the classic example for English is sentences like “Visiting relatives can be difficult”—but is a problem only for isolated examples. In actual discourse, spoken or written, ambiguity is very rare, and the language has plenty of resources for fixing it if it happens.

Nevertheless, EC’s question makes it clear that it would be useful for Láadan to have a “which” question word. Let’s add one—“nedaba,” roughly “Only + Q”—and set it up like this.


1  

Báa

Question

eril

Past

yod

Eat

bebáa

It + Queston + Subject

thilith?listen to this pronounced

Fish + Object

Who/what ate the fish?

To disambiguate:

Báa

Question

eril

Past

yod

Eat

bebáa

It + Queston + Subject

thilith?

Fish + Object

(Báalisten to this pronounced)

(Question)

with

Person

nedaba?listen to this pronounced

Which

Who ate the fish?

or

Báa

Question

eril

Past

yod

Eat

bebáa

It + Queston + Subject

thilith?

Fish + Object

(Báalisten to this pronounced)

(Question)

mid

Creature

nedaba?listen to this pronounced

Which

What ate the fish?


NOTE: The parentheses around the “Báa” before “nedaba” means that it’s optional; it can be used or left out, as the speaker/writer wishes. And you could of course specify “wild animal” or “domestic animal” instead of the generic “creature” if the context required it.


2  

Báa

Question

eril

Past

sháad

Go/Come

ne

You

bebáade?listen to this pronounced

It + Question + Source

Where/What did you come from?


To disambiguate, follow the sentence with either “(Báalisten to this pronounced) hoth nedaba?listen to this pronounced (which place) or “(Báalisten to this pronounced) dal nedaba?listen to this pronounced (which thing).

NOTE: This doesn’t mean that the Láadan word “which” should be used the way the English one is; “nedaba” is intended only as a question word. You wouldn’t use it to translate “I know which child ate the fish.” How that would be done is a separate issue, and this is enough for now.

Examples

Bíi wéedan le áabe háawitheda nedebe wa.listen to this pronounced

I read the book for the several children.

Bóo benem ne betheha.listen to this pronounced

Prithee stay at home.

Báa dáan hi bebáa?listen to this pronounced

What is this word?

Báa sháad ezha bebáanal?listen to this pronounced

How does the snake go?

Exercises

Translate the following into English

1  

Bíi eril mime obeth letho ledi wa, “Báa meloyo ezha?”listen to this pronounced

2  

“Ra,” eril di le bedi, “meleyan bezh wa.”listen to this pronounced

3  

“I meliri babí bebáanal?”listen to this pronounced

4  

“Bíi lothel ra le wa.”listen to this pronounced

5  

Báa hi losh bebáatho?listen to this pronounced

6  

Báa shub ro bebáa?listen to this pronounced

7  

Bíi ham lali, izh ham ra yul wa.listen to this pronounced

8  

Bíi eril eb Therísha ódon lan nethoda wa.listen to this pronounced

9  

Bó mebenem nezh núuha!listen to this pronounced

10  

Bíi aril mesho dim áabethu menedebe wa.listen to this pronounced

Note the lack of “Báa” at the beginning of #3. This will occur in speech and is perfectly acceptable because there will be no confusion; the “bebáa” form conveys the fact that this is a question as well as what information is being requested. Of course, if the sentence requires a Speech Act Suffix (to express its emotional tone), we’ll need to have a Type-of-Sentence Word to “hang” it on.

Also in #3, we see the idiom for asking “what color” something is. Literally, we are asking “How (in what manner) is it colored?”

Note, in #6, the idiom for asking what the weather is like. Literally, the question means, “What does the weather do?”

Translate the following into Láadan

11  

The ten plants bloomed suddenly.

12  

I can’t sleep because I drank coffee.

13  

The teacher got information during autumn at the farm.

14  

The pigs will eat all the grain in the winter (offered as a warning, but with no evidence as to its validity).

15  

Does the child have beautiful clothing?

16  

Yes, someone made many garments for her out of good cloth.

17  

Everything is very hot through the summer.

18  

Either the food is soft or of course the baby will be sick (a warning).

19  

If your house be not clean then I will clean it (a promise).

20  

They (few) learn many words when they study Láadan.

Were you able to dissect the word “wohodenan” in the answer to #16? “Wo”; is the relativizer that connects it to “wothal;” “h” separates the vowels; “od,” the core of the word, means “cloth;” “e” separates the consonants; “nan” is the Instrument case ending. All together, it means “using cloth” (and the cloth is connected by the relativizer to the verb “thal” meaning “good”). Were you misled by the English to try to use “–thu” (of) in forming this word? Remember, you have to look “behind” the English to the meaning.

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Answers

1  

My neighbor asked me, “Are the snakes black?”

2  

“No,” I said, “they’re brown.”

3  

“And what color are the birds?”

4  

“I don’t know.”

5  

Whose money is this?

6  

What’s the weather like?

7  

It’s raining, but it’s not windy (there’s no wind).

8  

Teresa bought cheese for your friend.

9  

Stay there! (said as to several small children)

10  

The containers of many books will be heavy. OR The many containers of books will be heavy.

 

11  

Bíi eril memahina dala thab bishibenal wa.listen to this pronounced

12  

Bíi ril thad áana ra le bróo eril rilin le yob wa.listen to this pronounced

13  

Bíi eril thel omá loth ábedeha wemoneya obée wáa.listen to this pronounced

14  

Bée aril meyod muda edeth woho wemaneya wóo.listen to this pronounced

15  

Báa thi háawith woháya wobud?listen to this pronounced

16  

Em, eril el beye oweth menedebe beda wothal wohodenan wáa.listen to this pronounced

17  

Bíi owahul abesh wumaneya obe wa.listen to this pronounced

18  

Bée e dazh ana e aril éeya áwith wi.listen to this pronounced

19  

Bé aril bre éthe ra belid netho ébre dóhéthe le beth wa.listen to this pronounced

20  

Bíi mebedi bezh dáan menedebe widahath mehulanin bezh Láadan wa.listen to this pronounced

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