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Lesson 16
Verb Complexes


Vocabulary

dom

to remember; remembering

dush

to have to; to be obligated; must

néde

to want

nédeshub

intent; to intend

nime

to will; to be willing; willingness

thad

to be able; ability

them

to need; need

ul

to hope; hope

Additional Vocabulary

Type-of-Sentence Word: Promise

sherídan

niece/nephew

Along with the Type-of-Sentence word, “” (said as a promise), we also get a verb, “dibé” (to promise). Of course “dibé” is also a perfectly fine noun, meaning “a/the promise.”

When Suzette Haden Elgin created Láadan, she created a word “bédi” (promise); the second generation developing Láadan, as part of a systematic approach to Type-of-Sentence communication verbs, considers that word as obsolete, replaced with “dibé.” This allows the application of the Mood Suffixes to the Type-of-Sentence part of the speech verb. We won’t be using “bédi” in these lessons, but you may want to recognize it when you see it.

Verb Complexes

[(Aux) Verb Complex (Neg) CP–S]

The sequence “to want + to VERB” in Láadan forms a single unit called a Verb Complex, which is used just like an ordinary verb. The auxiliary goes before it, the negative follows it, and nothing can go between its two parts. Since two verbs are used, both must be marked plural if either is.

Linguistic note: The underlying form here is that of an embedded sentence whose subject is the same as the subject of the sentence as a whole. An example of this would be the sentence “I want to help you.” Its underlying structure is the sentence “I want [I help you],” with “I help you” as the embedded sentence. It is common practice in such cases among human languages to drop the duplicate subject of the embedded sentence. In English we usually substitute “to” in that place; in Láadan we treat the two verbs as a Verb Complex. We will address other types of embedded sentences in Láadan in other lessons.

There are many verbs in addition to “néde” (to want) that can become the first element in a Verb Complex; some of these form the bulk of our vocabulary for this lesson.

Examples

Bíi dush le wa.

I have to.

Bíi di le wa. listen to this sentence pronounced

I speak.

Bíi dush di le wa.

I want to speak.

Bíi aril methad lezh wa. listen to this sentence pronounced

We will be able.

Bíi aril mehen lezh wa. listen to this sentence pronounced

We will understand.

Bíi aril methad mehen lezh wa. listen to this sentence pronounced

We will be able to understand.

Notice that the auxiliary marking time applies equally to both verbs in the Verb Complex. If we need to put different times on the two verbs, a different type of embedding would be required. We will study the other types of embedding in future lessons.

Bíi rilrili dibé ne wa.

You might promise.

Bíi rilrili dibé ra ne wa.

You might not promise.

Bíi rilrili yod ne wa. listen to this sentence pronounced

You might eat.

Bíi rilirili yod ra ne wa. listen to this sentence pronounced

You might not eat.

Bíi rilrili dibé yod ne wa.

You might promise to eat.

Bíi rilrili dibé yod ra ne wa. listen to this sentence pronounced

You might not promise to eat.
You might promise not to eat.
You might not promise not to eat.

Notice that the Verb Complex structure in the negative does not allow the speaker to disambiguate whether the negative applies to the first or second verb. There are other types of embedding that will; we will study them in subsequent lessons.

Bíi eril om le wa. listen to this sentence pronounced

I taught.

Bíi eril néde om le wa. listen to this sentence pronounced

I wanted to teach.

Bíi eril nahom le wa. listen to this sentence pronounced

I began to teach.

Exercises

Translate the following into English.

1

Báa eril néde lalom Therísha?

2

Bíi aril mehul medi mewoshóod wowithizh wáa.

3

Báa aríli medom mehal sherídan Thíben betha?

4

Bíi ril them áana henahid lezhetha wa.

5

Bíi héeya yod wobalin wodená wáa.

6

Bíi nédeshub amedara womíi wohebalá wa.

In #5, did you have any trouble with the word “dená”? It’s a straightforward formation of “den” (to help) + –á (DOER); it means “helper” or “assistant.”

How about, in #6, the word “ebalá”? Formed of e– (SCIof) + “bal” (bread) + –á (DOER), it means “baker” or, more literally, “doer of the science of bread.””

Transform the following into Verb Complex form & translate into Láadan.

7

A pregnant peace-scientist promised [the pregnant peace-scientist swim].

8

Would that the blessed travelers be able [the blessed travelers needlework].

9

The furry mice are willing [the furry mice jump].

10

Steven may not want [Steven be warm].

11

Long ago, a traveling grandmother hoped [a traveling grandmother laugh].

12

Who doesn’t need [who be safe]?

Translate the following into Láadan.

13

The worker’s friends were afraid to help.

14

Can’t the green plants be beautiful now?

15

Margaret’s heart-sibling’s child was not willing to be small.

16

Suzette tries to attend but begins to be weary.

17

Whose aunt promised, long ago, to follow?

18

The menopausal teacher remembers to be strong.

Did you notice that #16 is a “trick question?” It doesn’t actually involve a Verb Complex. Instead we have a compound verb, each verb of which uses a prefix to impart one of those meanings that might be mistaken for Verb Complexes.

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Answers

1

Did Teresa want to sing?

2

The busy women will hope to speak.

3

Will Steven’s nieces remember to work, in the far future?

4

Our (few of us) birth-brother needs to sleep now.

5

The old assistant is afraid to eat.

6

The amazed baker intends to dance.

 

7

A pregnant peace-scientist promised to swim.

Bíi eril dibé ilisháad wolawida woheshoná wa.

8

Would that the blessed travelers be able to needlework.

Bíi wil methad medathim mewohothel wohimá wa.

9

The furry mice are willing to jump.

Bíi ril menime mehoób mewoshane wohedemid wa.

10

Steven may not want to be warm.

Bíi rilrili néde owa ra Thíben wa.

11

Long ago, a traveling grandmother hoped to laugh.

Bíi eríli ul ada wohim wohothul wáa.

12

Who doesn’t need to be safe?

Báa them yom ra bebáa? listen to this sentence pronounced

 

13

Bíi eril mehéeya meden lan halátho wáa.

14

Báa ril methad meháya ra mewoliyen wodala? listen to this sentence pronounced

15

Bíi eril nime híya ra shem héenatha Mázhareth betho wáa.

16

Bíi duham izh nahóoha Shuzhéth wáa.

17

Báa eríli medibé medoth berídan bebáatha?

18

Bíi dom do wozháadin wohomá wa.listen to this sentence pronounced

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