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Lesson 9
“Wh” Questions


Vocabulary

–á

Suffix (any): one who does or makes; doer of; maker of

bebáa

interrogative pronoun

bo

mountain

dan

language

dim

container

e–

Prefix (any): science of

hothul

grandparent [hoĖ (one generation removed) + thul (parent)]

lawida

to be pregnant

om

to teach

shon

peace

We are introducing two new affixes. “Affix” is a generic term for prefixes (added to the beginning of words) and suffixes (added to the end of words). The term “affix” also includes infixes (added into the middle of words), which English doesn’t use but Láadan does somehwat.

The prefix “e–” means “science of” and is similar in meaning to the English suffix –ology.” The suffix “–á” means “doer” or “one who...” and is rather like the English suffixes “–er” and “–ist.” You can form many useful words with the suffix “–á” and the prefix “e–.” For example, you can begin with “shon,” the word meaning “peace;” “shoná” means “peacemaker,” “eshon” means “peace science,” and “eshoná” would then be “peace scientist.” Similarly, from “om,” “to teach,” we have “omá,” “teacher” and “ehom,” “education” and “ehomá;” the last refers to a specialist in education who is not herself necessarily a teacher.

“Wh”-Questions

[Verb (Neg) CP–S]

The subject of the lesson is Wh-questions (a very English term that owes its form to the fact that most English question words start with “wh”), questions that cannot be answered with “yes” or “no.” They are very simply formed in Láadan, but look so different from their English counterparts that they are likely to be awkward for English speakers at first.

 

Formally, all questions begin with “Báa.” Less formally, since we have a form of the word “báa” embedded in the interrogative pronoun, “bebáa,” there can be no confusion that it’s a question being posed; therefore, in casual speech and writing we can omit the initial “Báa.”

In the interrogative pronoun, the interrogative “báa” is attached to the pronoun “be.” Since “bebáa” (who/what) is a pronoun, it also has plural forms “bebáazh” (who/what, few/several) and “bebŠan” (who/what, many). These plural forms will be used less often than the singular—only when the questioner has reason to expect that more than one thing will satisfy her query. Plurality in an interrogative pronoun may seem foreign to English speakers, but it does provide additional opportunities to mark the plural—such opportunities being relatively rare in Láadan.

Additionally, if the speaker wishes to limit her query to persons or animals of only one gender, it is perfectly feasible to incorporate one of the gender suffixes: bebáahizh (who/what, single, female); bebáahid (who/what, single, male); bebáazhizh (who/what, few/several, all female); bebŠazhid (who/what, few/several, all male); bebáanizh (who/what, many, all female); bebáanid (who/what, many, all male). Of course, the plural gendered forms are limiting the entire group that would answer the question to the gender specified; if the speaker wished to include both genders, she would not use a gender suffix to limit her question.

Examples

Bíi thal shon wa. listen to this sentence pronounced

Peace is good.

Báa thal shon? listen to this sentence pronounced

Is peace good?

Báa thal bebáa? listen to this sentence pronounced

Who/what is good?

Thal bebáa?

Who’s/what’s good?

 

Bíi om with wáa. listen to this sentence pronounced

The person teaches.

Báa om with? listen to this sentence pronounced

Does the person teach?

Báa om bebáa? listen to this sentence pronounced

Who/what teaches?

Om bebáa?

Who/what teaches?

 

Bíi meháya withizh wa.

The women are beautiful.

Báa meháya withizh?

Are the women beautiful?

Báa meháya bebáazh?

Who/what (few/several) are beautiful?

Báa meháya bebáan?

Who/what (many) are beautiful?

Meháya bebáazh?

Who’re/what’re (few/several) beautiful?

Meháya bebáan?

Who’re/what’re (many) beautiful?

 

Bíi laya ra dim wi. listen to this sentence pronounced

The container clearly is not red.

Báa laya ra dim? listen to this sentence pronounced

Isn’t the container red?

Báa laya ra bebáa? listen to this sentence pronounced

What/who isn’t red?

Laya ra bebáa?

What/who isn’t red?

Exercises

Translate the following into English

1

Báa laya bebáa? listen to this sentence pronounced

2

Báa medi bebáazh?

3

Báa míi bebáa? listen to this sentence pronounced

4

Báa om bebáa? listen to this sentence pronounced

5

Báa mehal bebáan?

6

Báa lawida bebáa? listen to this sentence pronounced

Transform the following into “Wh”-questions. Translate into English before and after the transformation.

7

Bíi balin with wa. listen to this sentence pronounced

8

Bíi thal shon wi. listen to this sentence pronounced

9

Bíi mehóoha hothul wa. listen to this sentence pronounced

10

Bíi medibáa len wa.

11

Bíi héeya omá wáa. listen to this sentence pronounced

12

Bíi áya bo wa. listen to this sentence pronounced

Translate the following question into Láadan. Then answer the question in Láadan with the supplied word and translate your answer into English.

13

What (few/several) thrive?

plant

14

What is alien?

language

15

What is furry?

clothing

16

Who follows?

Teresa

17

Who (many) needlework?

sibling

18

What is open?

container

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Answers

1

What is red?

2

Who (several) speak?

3

Who is amazed?

4

Who teaches?

5

Who (many) work?

6

Who is pregnant?

 

7

The woman is old.

Báa balin bebáa? listen to this sentence pronounced

Who is old?

8

Peace is good (obviously).

Báa thal bebáa? listen to this sentence pronounced

What/who is good?

9

The grandparents are weary.

Báa mehóoha bebáazh?

Who/what are weary?

10

We (many) question.

Báa medibáa bebáan?

Who (many) are questioning?

11

The teacher is afraid.

Báa héeya bebáa? listen to this sentence pronounced

Who is afraid?

12

The mountain is beautiful.

Báa áya bebáa? listen to this sentence pronounced

What/who is beautiful?

 

13

Báa metháa bebáazh?

Bíi metháa dala wa. listen to this sentence pronounced

The plants thrive.

14

Báa née bebáa? listen to this sentence pronounced

Bíi née dan wi. listen to this sentence pronounced

The language is alien.

15

Báa shane bebáa? listen to this sentence pronounced

Bíi shane bud wi. listen to this sentence pronounced

The clothes are furry.

16

Báa doth bebáa? listen to this sentence pronounced

Bíi doth Therísha wa. listen to this sentence pronounced

Teresa follows.

17

Báa medathim bebáan?

Bíi medathim hena wa. listen to this sentence pronounced

The sisters needlework.

18

Báa u bebáa? listen to this sentence pronounced

Bíi u dim wa. listen to this sentence pronounced

The container is open.

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