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Lesson 4
Plural

Vocabulary

dathim

to needlework

di

to say; to talk; to speak

–id

Suffix: male

–izh

Suffix: female

le

I (first person pronoun, singular)

lezh

we (first person pronoun, several: 2 to 5)

len

we (first person pronoun, many: more than 5)

liyen

to be green

me–

Prefix (on verb): plural

míi

to be amazed

wáa

Evidence Morpheme: assumed true by speaker because speaker trusts source

The verb “di” (to say; to talk; to speak) is a very general word. It becomes much more specific when a Type-of-Sentence word is attached to it. So, adding the declarative Type-of-Sentence word, “bíi”, we arrive at “dibíi” (to state; to declare). When used as a noun, it would mean “statement; declaration”.

Pronouns, as in English, fill the position of nouns and are treated, grammatically, like nouns—except that Láadan pronouns, unlike Láadan nouns, have plural forms. Unlike English pronouns that have only a singular and a plural form, each Láadan pronoun has three forms: a single form, a few-to-several (defined as 2 to 5) form, and a many (defined as more than 5) form. They’re all perfectly regular, so for pronouns introduced in future lessons, we’ll be given the single form and the plurals will be easy to work out.

In connected sentences uttered by the same speaker where the Evidence Word would not change—“wa” (my perception) vs “wáa” (trusted report)—from sentence to sentence, it may be omitted after the first sentence.

The male suffix, “–id,” defines the noun or pronoun to which it is applied as male. Similarly, the female suffix, “–izh,” defines the noun or pronoun to which it is applied as female. Without either of these suffixes, the noun or pronoun is gender-neutral. So, to specify “man” we would use “with” (person) and apply the male suffix, giving “withid.” And, to specify “woman” we would apply the female suffix, giving “withizh.”

Originally, in the mid-1980s when Suzette Haden Elgin began creating Láadan, she felt the need, as a reaction to a profoundly male-dominated language and culture, for Láadan to be female-default. That is, all nouns and pronouns for which gender was a consideration were deemed to be female unless the male suffix, “–id,” was applied (or context made it obvious that a male was being discussed). So, “with” could as easily be translated “woman” as “person,” and “man” would have to be “withid.” Since Suzette has died and a second generation is continuing the development of Láadan, we’ve added “–izh” (female suffix) and now consider nouns and pronouns non-gendered by default. The result is a more gender-balanced language.

Plural

[Verb CP–S]

In this and subsequent Pattern models, we will assume that the Type-of-Sentence Word is present at the beginning of the model sentence and that the Evidence Word is at the end. With that assumption (and allowing for abbreviations) you will notice that this model is exactly the same as that in Lesson 2.

To make a sentence plural in Láadan, only the verb is affected. To make a verb plural, put the prefix “me–” at the beginning of the word. Notice that the shape of the noun phrase doesn’t change in the plural.

Láadan insists that consonant sounds and vowel sounds occur in strict alternation. No two consonant sounds may occur together, and no two vowels may occur together (except for this special case: if, within the same indivisible word unit—for example, in the word áath—a vowel is doubled and one or the other of them is high-toned, that is acceptable). To accomplish this alternation, Láadan inserts an “h” to separate two vowels or an “e” to separate two consonants. So, if the verb being made plural begins with a vowel, we must insert an “h” between the final “e” of “me–” and the verb’s initial vowel.

There used to be a variant plural form which is now obsolete, though you may encounter it in older texts. When the verb being made plural began with a “d,” it could be pluralized using the variant plural prefix “n–”. This “n–” was known as a “syllabic n;&rdquo it was a syllable unto itself—like the last syllable of the English word “button.” As a syllable unto itself, no inserted “e” was necessary to separate it from the following “d.” Nevertheless, that gave rise to a “n-grade” plural prefix “ne–” that was sometimes used on verbs beginning with “d.” This caused a lot of confusion, and was finally deemed counterproductive in what was intended to be a global language. We mention these variant plural forms here only so you won’t be confused if you see them; we will be using “me–” exclusively in these lessons.

Examples

Bíi hal le wa. hear to this sentence pronounced

I work.

Bíi mehal lezh wa. hear to this sentence pronounced

We (few) work.

Bíi mehal len wa. hear to this sentence pronounced

We (many) work.

Note that there is only one plural form of the verb, used with both the “few/several” form and the “many” form of a pronoun.

Bíi di withid wáa. hear to this sentence pronounced

The man speaks (I’m reliably informed).

Bíi medi withid wáa. hear to this sentence pronounced

The men speak (I’m told).

 

Bíi áya withizh wa.

The woman is beautiful (my perception).

Bíi meháya withizh wa.

The women are beautiful (my perception).

Note the “h” that has been inserted to separate the final “e” in “me–” from the initial “á” in “áya.” Also note that it wasn’t necessary when pluralizing “hal,” or “di,” which begin with consonant sounds, “h” and “d,” respectively.

Bíi meháya thom i hesh wa. hear to this sentence pronounced

The pillow and the grass are beautiful.

Bíi mezháadin Ána i Bétheni wáa. hear to this sentence pronounced

Ann and Bethany are menopausing (I’m told).

Of course, with a compound Subject, the verb must be plural.

Bíi áya i thal with wa. hear to this sentence pronounced

The woman is beautiful and good (my perception).

Bíi meháya i methal with wa. hear to this sentence pronounced

The women are beautiful and good (my perception).

Notice the compound verbs in the examples in the set above. When the sentence is plural, of course, both verbs have to be plural. Compound case phrases are just as easy to form, as you’ll see below.

Exercises

Make the following sentences singular; translate into English before and after.

1  

Bíi memíi thul wáa. hear to this sentence pronounced

2  

Bíi mezháadin with wáa. hear to this sentence pronounced

3  

Bíi meháya thili wa. hear to this sentence pronounced

4  

Bíi methal thom wa. hear to this sentence pronounced

5  

Bíi meháana lezhizh wa.

6  

Bíi medoth hena wa. hear to this sentence pronounced

In #2, the Subject, “with” is not marked as female, so it would be formally translated “person/people;” however, it’s women who menopause, so this would be correctly translated “woman/women.”

In #5, “lezh” is marked as female. We don’t have an easy way to render this is English; we’ll have to make do with “we few women.”

Make the following sentences plural; translate into English before and after.

7  

Bíi héeya mid wa. hear to this sentence pronounced

8  

Bíi wíi mudahizh wáa.

9  

Bíi hal withid wa. hear to this sentence pronounced

10  

Bíi thal rana wáa. hear to this sentence pronounced

11  

Bíi di le wa. hear to this sentence pronounced

12  

Bíi u áath wa.

Translate these into Láadan (all according to your own perception).

13  

The boars are tired.

14  

The songs are good.

15  

Carol and Matthew needlework.

16  

We (many) speak.

17  

The stones are beautiful.

18  

The mothers are menopausing.

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Answers

1

The parents are amazed.

Bíi míi thul wáa. hear to this sentence pronounced

The parent is amazed.

2

The women are menopausing.

Bíi zháadin with wáa. hear to this sentence pronounced

The woman is menopausing.

3

The fish are beautiful.

Bíi áya thili wa. hear to this sentence pronounced

The fish is beautiful.

4

The pillows are green.

Bíi liyen thom wa.

The pillow is green.

5

We (few women) sleep.

Bíi áana lehizh wa.

I (female) sleep.

6

The siblings follow.

Bíi doth hena wa. hear to this sentence pronounced

The sibling follows.

 

7

The animal is afraid.

Bíi mehéeya mid wa. hear to this sentence pronounced

The animals are afraid.

8

The sow (female pig) is alive.

Bíi mewíi mudahizh wáa.

The sows are alive.

9

The man works.

Bíi mehal withid wa. hear to this sentence pronounced

The men work.

10

The drink is good.

Bíi methal rana wáa. hear to this sentence pronounced

The drinks are good.

11

I speak.

Bíi medi len hear to this sentence pronounced (lezhhear to this sentence pronounced) wa.

We (many/few) speak.

12

The door is open.

Bíi mehu áath wa.

The doors are open.

 

13

Bíi mehóoha mudahid wa.

14

Bíi methal lom wa. hear to this sentence pronounced

15

Bíi medathim Hérel i Máthu wa. hear to this sentence pronounced

16

Bíi medi len wa. hear to this sentence pronounced

17

Bíi meháya ud wa. hear to this sentence pronounced

18

Bíi mezháadin thulizh wa.

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