A Look at A First Dictionary and Grammar of Láadan, Second Edition

Rachel Wil Sha Singh

You can still find copies of A First Dictionary and Grammar of Láadan on Amazon used, but it runs about $40 currently. It’s not horrible, but it can be a bit pricey, so if you’re on the fence about picking up a copy, I’d like to share some of what the book contains.

I was pleasantly surprised when I received it, because it is such a lovely book. It has a thick, textured cream paper with brown text (which I’ve read in the past is the easiest color combination to read), and it has a lot of illustrations as well, which adds to this odd, somewhat rustic and old-fashioned feeling of the book. It’s not just a cold, unwelcoming grammar lesson book – it feels warm, somewhat mysterious, and even a bit mischievous (as there are illustrations of women doing things from practicing violin to kicking a gentleman’s butt).


The book has three main sections to it: The grammar lessons, the dictionary, and kind of a “miscellaneous” section of more grammar notes, sample translations, and lessons from a previous publication.

Láadan Grammar Book lesson

Unfortunately, the copy I received has a little bit of highlighting in it, but only on a few pages. (Still! Agh! I only ever mark things in pencil. *shakes fist*)

So far the lessons have been pretty straightforward and nicely formatted, but I have not gone through all of them yet. In conjunction with the Amberwind lessons (currently down, see the Lesson page on Lolehoth for backups), beginner lessons on the LaadanLanguage.org website, and the Wikipedia article, I think you can get a pretty solid understanding of the Láadan language. (I haven’t yet, but I am not done studying yet!)

Láadan Grammar Book dictionary
Láadan Grammar Book dictionary

The book also features an English -> Láadan, Láadan -> English dictionary, which I haven’t gone through in depth since I usually reference the dictionary list from LaadanLanguages.org. This makes up about 60 pages of the 160 page book.

Láadan Grammar Book translations
Láadan Grammar Book translations

After the dictionary is more grammar notes (“Rules of Grammar” and “Miscellaneous Additional Information”), as well as translations and break-downs of some songs and psalms into Láadan, which may come in really handy.

Láadan Grammar Book mini-lessons
Láadan Grammar Book mini-lessons

And then there are three mini-lessons that were published in something called Hot Wire. These also have break-downs and translations of short stories, with some in-depth translation notes.

This book is basically my age, as it was published March 1, 1988. (That’s 21 days before I was born. ;P), but I’m glad you can still find some used copies around.

At the moment, I have not been able to find a copy of the accompanying audio tape to purchase. The back of the book lists the same PO Box that I can find online, but I do not know whether someone has taken over the responsibility of copying and sending out the tapes, since Suzette has since passed. I am actually going to send a postcard to the address and see if I get a response regarding this. Will see! (If you want to sell me an audio tape, I’d love to buy it. I’d like to make a digital copy as well for preservation! :)

You can hear a sample reading from the audio tape at Lingweenie.org.

Rachel’s Láadan Vlog #1 – If you build it, will they come?

Rachel Wil Sha Singh


Seems like the worst possible time to learn Láadan, considering Suzette passed away a few months ago, and one of the two language course sites is down. The only one with Láadan sound-clips! Ho, ve!

But, I’m starting to study it. I’ve retrieved the Amberwind webpage via the Wayback Machine and I have links to the Wayback archive, as well as an archive hosted on my site (sorry, couldn’t salvage the sound-clips). I’m also trying to build a grammar reference (more for me than anything) and tools (like a quick-lookup dictionary) to make the experience easier.

Why learn Ido? – Vicente Thiên Nguyễn

Rachel Wil Sha Singh

I started learning Ido because of these reasons:

  1. Simply because I am interested in conlangs.

  2. Ido is relatively easy. I’m not sure if it’s easier than Esperanto or not; but it wouldn’t cause much trouble even for monolinguals.

  3. In order to be able to discuss about Ido, I started learning it. I myself saw posts and comments of Esperantists with negative attitude towards Ido. I know this is not a general attitude of Esperantists, but I was upset then, honestly.

  4. The proposals and improvements actually work beautifully. I’m not judging whether Ido or Esperanto is better, though.

  5. Ido speakers are very nice, in my opinion.

  6. I like the flag of Ido. I think the flag of Esperanto is beautiful too; but here’s my personal story: Many of my friends hate Esperanto “at first glance” because of the flag. However, they have a very neutral attitude towards the flag of Ido. (they are not interested in conlangs, by the way.) Those are very personal reasons for learning Ido. But I would like to add one last reason:

  7. Learning Ido has brought me joy and excitement. It’s definitely worth my time and effort. I hope anyone will have the same experience! Warmest greetings to all those who are interested in learning Ido!

— Vicente Thiên Nguyễn

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Why learn Ido? – João Xavier Santos

Rachel Wil Sha Singh

I’ve started learning Ido after discovering the Wikipedia in Ido language – https://io.wikipedia.org – and also the Wiktionary in Ido – https://io.wiktionary.org . The reasons were a sum of three factors:

– First, I’ve seen that the language has a simple grammar; it’s vocabulary is not too much difficult to understand (many people who speak or know English, Spanish and/or French recognizes the meaning of many of its words); it is written with no special diacriticals (Esperanto, for example, uses the circumflex signal ^ over certain letters, such as c and j to represent other sounds, but keyboards in general do not permit writing a circumflex over consonants). So, a language easy to learn, read, and write.

– Second, I’m an amateur programmer, who developed simple programs which allowed me to write simple tables of contents in order to place them in Wikipedian articles. And I’ve developed “macros” in Word and OpenOffice Basic which can find and replace words or expressions wrongly written by the correct forms, rapidly and automatically (of course the “macro” functions if the mispell is the same each time the word appears in the text, or in many texts). So, I could develop skills on programming and learn Ido language altogether.

– Third, I also like Human Sciences, specially History (including some biographies) and Geography, and I like to translate materials between the languages that I know: Portuguese (my native language), English, Spanish, and… Ido. I like to read, for example, about the geographical features of a country and then translate those informations to another language (of course, if the original text is reasonably good). So, I practice Ido language and, at the same time, I study geography and exercise the abillities of gathering the ideas in order to write a text that must be clearly comprehensible.

Three factors altogether.

And why not trying to learn other constructed languages at the same time? Because there would be a risk for me to mix the grammars and vocabularies and miswrite the texts. To avoid this I prefer to learn and use languages one at a time.

— João Xavier Santos

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Why learn Ido? – Ciencisto

Rachel Wil Sha Singh

I am a native French speaker. I started learning English at the age of 10, Spanish about three years later and some Swedish a few years ago. I am now 17.

I like learning languages and using them with people of other cultures and nationalities. In fact, I originally wanted to learn Esperanto as a hobby and also as a support for Zamenhof’s dream of a global second language. Therefore, I read a few Esperanto samples and listened to others on YouTube. However, I ended up really, really disliking the use of -j and -n everywhere; it felt very unnatural and ugly to me, and that affected my perception of the whole language. I also found out that Esperanto was spoiled with flaws reminiscent of Zamenhof’s cultural and historical background, such as default masculine, diacritics and the suspicious use of the mal- root.

Consequently, I dug a little deeper in the information about constructed languages, and I found out that Esperanto was not the only popular project. I compared texts written in Esperanto, Ido, Interlingua, Novial, et al., and that is when I fell in love with Ido. Not only did it seem simple and elegant, but it also seemed to me like the ideal Italian stereotype I had — and have — in mind. I always wanted to learn Italian, so for me it was a compelling — albeit obviously wrong — detail.

Yet as I actually learned the language and met the online community, Ido grew on me. It is certainly not perfect, but I can feel that it is well made and the contemporary community is really nice. It may not have thousands of speakers — and may not be Italian — but meeting one single interesting person and having constructive and captivating discussions with that one single person is enough for me. It would have taken me years of experience to have such discussions in Italian. After less than a year of learning, you can have one in Ido.


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Why learn Ido? – Marcus Trawick

Rachel Wil Sha Singh

I learn Ido because I love it’s precision compared to Esperanto. I also love it’s euphony. I first learned Esperanto when I was young in the 70’s. I became fluent in it several years ago and became familiar with certain aspects of Esperanto that seem to be either less of a problem or non-existent in Ido I believe that Esperanto and Ido both will surge in popularity one day as more people around the globe develop a sense of lingual fairness and get away from the notion that the world’s lingua franca must be a national language. Ido rides on the coat-tails of Esperanto’s successs. Ido will always be there as a more refined, more precise and ( according to taste) more euphonious alternative.

Marcus Trawick

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Why learn Ido? – ComradeBecca

Rachel Wil Sha Singh

I think I started learning it when I was mad about an argument I had gotten in or maybe just read with some homophobes in Esperanto. I have realized since then that conflicts are part of life, and Esperanto continues to be way more of a passion for me than Ido, but I continue learning Ido because if I have a skill, however useless, it’s worth retaining it.

— ComradeBecca

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