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Lesson 12
“Wh” Questions


Vocabulary

aba

to be fragrant

bebáa

interrogative pronoun

bo

mountain

dan

language

dim

container

dizh

kettle

du–

Prefix (verb): try to VERB

léli

to be yellow

mahina

flower

othel

to be blessed

“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 pronounced

Peace is good.

Báa thal shon? listen to this pronounced

Is peace good?

Báa thal bebáa? listen to this pronounced

Who/what is good?

Thal bebáa? listen to this pronounced

Who’s/what’s good?


Bíi néde om with wáa. listen to this pronounced

Báa néde om with? listen to this pronounced

Does the person want to teach?

Báa néde om bebáa? listen to this pronounced

Who/what wants to teach?

Néde om bebáa? listen to this pronounced

Who/what wants to teach?


Bíi meháya withizh wa. listen to this pronounced

The women are beautiful.

Báa meháya withizh? listen to this pronounced

Are the women beautiful?

Báa meháya bebáazh? listen to this pronounced

Who/what (few/several) are beautiful?

Meháya bebáazh? listen to this pronounced

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

Báa meháya bebáan? listen to this pronounced

Who/what (many) are beautiful?

Meháya bebáan? listen to this pronounced

Who’re/what’re (many) beautiful?


Bíi eril u ra áath wi. listen to this pronounced

The door clearly was not open.

Báa eril u ra áath? listen to this pronounced

Wasn’t the door open?

Báa eril u ra bebáa? listen to this pronounced

What/who wasn’t open?

Eril u ra bebáa? listen to this pronounced

Who/what wasn’t open?

Exercises

Translate the following into English

1

Báa ril othel bebáa? listen to this pronounced

2

Báa aril mehamedara bebáan? listen to this pronounced

3

Báa eríli dudoth ra bebáa? listen to this pronounced

4

Báa eril medi i menahada bebáazh? listen to this pronounced

5

Báa rilrili nime míi bebáa? listen to this pronounced

6

Báa aril medush mehal bebáan? listen to this pronounced

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

7

Bíi aril dathim shoná wo. listen to this pronounced

8

Bé eril balin déelahá wa. listen to this pronounced

9

Bíi ril merahíya ra dim wáa. listen to this pronounced

10

Bíi híya i shane edemid wi. listen to this pronounced

11

Bíi eril héeya lawida amedarahá wáa. listen to this pronounced

12

Bé aril methad melalom belidá wa. listen to this pronounced

Did the word “amedarahá” in #11 give you any trouble? From “amedara” (to dance) and –á (doer/maker), it means “dancer.” One note: “” is an allowed vowel combination in Láadan within a word or word-part; in fact, we’ve seen it in the Evidence word “waá.” However, in this case, the “a” comes from “amedara” (dance) and the “á” from –á (DOER)—separate words/word-parts—so we do have to separate them with an “h.”

It’s perfectly understandable if the word “belidá” in #12 was difficult; it’s not the most transparent formation. “Belidá” comes from “belid” (house) and –á (doer/maker); a “maker of houses” is a “carpenter.”

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

13

What may be extremely hot?

kettle

14

What (few/several) are beautiful(place)?

mountain

15

What (many) isn’t alien?

language

16

What is yellow and fragrant?

flower

17

Who intended to be good?

grandparent

18

Who (few/several) promised to remember?

peace-scientist

In #18, we see a verb, “dom” (to remember), that we’ve only ever seen as the first element of a Verb Complex (what in English we’ve been taught to call a “helping verb”) used as the second verb (as the main verb in the sentence). It’s important to remember that all verbs—even those we’re used to seeing as “helping verbs”—can be used in this way.

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Answers

1

Who/what is blessed?

2

Who (many) will dance?

3

Who, long ago, didn’t try to follow?

4

Who (few/several) spoke and began to laugh?

5

Who might be willing to be amazed?

6

Who (many) will have to work?


7

I suppose the peacemaker will needlework.

Báa aril dathim shoná? listen to this pronounced

Will the peacemaker needlework?

8

Upon my oath, the gardener was old.

Báa eril balin déelahá? listen to this pronounced

Was the gardener old?

9

I understand the containers are not large.

Báa ril merahíya ra dim? listen to this pronounced

Aren’t the containers large?

10

A mouse is small and furry, of course.

Báa híya i shane bebáa? listen to this pronounced

What is small and furry?

11

The dancer was afraid to be pregnant, I understand.

Báa eril héeya lawida amedarahá? listen to this pronounced

Was the dancer afraid to be pregnant?

12

I promise the carpenters will be able to sing.

Báa aril methad melalom belidá? listen to this pronounced

Will the carpenters be able to sing?<


13

Báa rilrili owahul bebáa? listen to this pronounced

Bíi rilrili owahul dizh wo. listen to this pronounced

I suppose the kettle may be extremely hot.

14

Báa ril mehóya bebáazh? listen to this pronounced

Bíi ril mehóya bo wa. listen to this pronounced

The mountains are beautiful(place).

15

Báa ril menée ra bebáan? listen to this pronounced

Bíi ril menée ra dan wáa. listen to this pronounced

I understand the languages are not alien.

16

Báa aril léli i aba bebáa? listen to this pronounced

Bíi aril léli i aba mahina wi. listen to this pronounced

A flower is yellow and fragrant, clearly.

17

Báa eril nédeshub thal bebáa? listen to this pronounced

Bíi eril nédeshub thal hothul wáa. listen to this pronounced

I undersand the grandparent intended to be good.

18

Báa eril dibé dom bebáa? listen to this pronounced

Bíi eril dibé dom eshoná wa. listen to this pronounced

The peace-scientist promised to remember.

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