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Lesson 8
Yes/No Questions



Type-of-Sentence Word: interrogative


to be old (of persons or animals; rarely of inanimates to mean “antique”)


he/she/it (third person pronoun, not gender-marked, singular)


to be new (of inanimates; occasionally of persons who are “new” to a role or position)


plant, any growing thing


to be black


to jump


to be downy; to be furry


Evidence Morpheme: believed to be false because the speaker mistrusts the source


to be sour (flavor)

As we discussed in the previous lesson, once the Type-of-Sentence Word is established, it need not be repeated in connected sentences. Another factor enters the situation now that we have more than one type of Type-of-Sentence Word. When the Type-of-Sentence Word changes (“statement” to “question” or vice-versa), the new one must be given. Where the Type-of-Sentence Word does not change from sentence to connected sentence, it may be omitted after the first sentence.

With the addition of “báa,” we also gain a new verb: “dibáa” (to ask). “Dibáa” asks a question; to “ask for” something would involve a different Type-of-Sentence word. Of course, “dibáa” can be used as a noun, in which case it would mean “a/the question.”

Note that the third person pronoun is not gender-marked. This means that it does not carry the meaning of “he” (marked as male) or “she” (marked as female); neither is it the neuter “it,” (marked as neither male nor female). Just as in the case of “with” (person), you can specify that a given pronoun refers to a female or a male by use of the suffixes –izh (female) or –id (male); thus “behizh” and “behid” (remember the “h” to separate the vowels) would mean “she” (explicitly female) and “he” (explicitly male), respectively. Because Láadan’s native gender-neutrality can be difficult to render in English, we sometimes resort to “X” to translate the problematic “be;” more often, we supply a gender based on context.

And, as may by this time go without saying, along with “be” (X, singular) come “bezh” (X, few-to-several: 2 to 5) and “ben” (X, many: more than 5). The gender suffix, if used, would be attached to the already-formed plural: bezhizh, bezhid, benizh, benid. No “h” need be inserted in these forms, as the plural forms already end in consonants.

Yes/No Questions

[Verb (Neg) CP–S]

You’ll notice that the sentence word-order is exactly the same for asking a question as for making a statement. There are two main differences. Th first is that instead of starting the sentence with “Bíi,” we begin with “Báa,” the interrogative Type-of-Sentence Word. The second is that we’re asking for information rather than providing information for which we would provide evidence. Therefore, we wouldn’t use an Evidence Word at the end of a question.


Bíi thal withizh wa.

The woman is good.

Báa thal withizh?

Is the woman good?


Bíi tháa ne wáa. listen to this pronounced

You thrive, I hear.

Báa tháa ne? listen to this pronounced

Do you thrive? Are you well?

Báa tháa ne?” is also the standard question “How are you?

Bíi laya bal waá. listen to this pronounced

The bread is red (I hear, but I don’t believe it).

Báa laya bal? listen to this pronounced

Is the bread red?

One further note about questions in Láadan: in English we employ a rising tone at the end of a question. This raised tone is not employed in Láadan; in fact, it might very well confuse the meaning of the word at the end of the question since some Láadan words only vary by the tone on the last syllable.


Translate the following into English


Báa shane mid? listen to this pronounced


Báa mehóoha thulid?


Báa hal be? listen to this pronounced


Báa thal bal? listen to this pronounced


Báa medóon bezh? listen to this pronounced


Báa née dala? listen to this pronounced

Transform the following into questions; translate into English before and after.


Bíi oób henahizh wa.


Bíi wíi hesh wáa. listen to this pronounced


Bíi medathim benid wáa. listen to this pronounced


Bíi héeya thili wi. listen to this pronounced


Bíi medi Shuzhéth i Thíben wáa.


Bíi memíi nen wa. listen to this pronounced

Translate the following into Láadan


Is the stone beautiful?


Do the pigs follow?


Is the grain red?


Is the pillow old?


Are you thriving?


Are the doors open?

In #16, you might be tempted to use the verb “balin” (old, of animates). The pillow in #16 doesn’t qualify (unless it’s an antique—a state not declared for it in this sentence). Instead, we need to use “rabun” (old, of inanimates) [ra– (NON) + bun (new, of inanimate)]. This means “old”—but a very different “old” than “balin.” “Balin” refers to people or animals that have lived a long time. “Rabun” refers instead to objects or things that are no longer new—with the implication that they may be worn out or outmoded. English uses the same word “old” for both concepts. The words we use tend to channel the things we think; so, having only the one word, it becomes more difficult to distinguish the two concepts. This leads to much suffering by our elders as well as much squandering of the skills and wisdom they have accrued over their long lives—which might otherwise benefit us all.

English does much better with “young” versus “new” (“rabalin” versus “bun”). There is no conflation here to muddle our thinking—which also gives us the entree to disambiguating the various meanings of “old.”




Is the creature furry?


Are the fathers weary?


Does X work (Is X working)?


Is the bread good?


Are they (few) correct?


Is the plant alien?



The sister jumps.

Báa oób henahizh?

Is the sister jumping?


The grass is alive.

Báa wíi hesh? listen to this pronounced

Is the grass alive?


They (many, male) needlework.

Báa medathim benid? listen to this pronounced

Do they (many, male) needlework?


The fish is afraid.

Báa héeya thili? listen to this pronounced

Is the fish afraid?


Suzette and Steven speak.

Báa medi Shuzhéth i Thíben?

Do Suzette and Steven speak?


You (many) are amazed.

Báa memíi nen? listen to this pronounced

Are you (many) amazed?



Báa áya ud? listen to this pronounced


Báa medoth muda? listen to this pronounced


Báa laya ede? listen to this pronounced


Báa rabun thom? listen to this pronounced


Báa tháa ne? listen to this pronounced


Báa mehu áath? listen to this pronounced