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Lesson 25
Advanced Pronouns


Rather than give an extended list of all the possible forms with their English translations, here they are in grid form. Under each column heading, the Subject form is followed by the reflexive base form in (parentheses). Both of these forms will receive any appropriate case endings. Of course, the nature of the reflexive usually precludes its use as the Subject of a sentence.







1st person


le (leyóo)

lezh (leyóozh)

len (leyóon)


la (layóo)

lazh (layóozh)

lan (layóon)


li (liyóo)

lizh (liyóozh)

lin (liyóon)


lhele (lheleyóo)

lhelezh (lheleyóozh)

lhelen (lheleyóon)

2nd person


ne (neyóo)

nezh (neyóozh)

nen (neyóon)


na (nayóo)

nazh (nayóozh)

nan (nayóon)


ni (niyóo)

nizh (niyóozh)

nin (niyóon)


lhene (lheneyóo)

lhenezh (lheneyóozh)

lhenen (lheneyóon)

3rd person


be (beyóo)

bezh (beyóozh)

ben (beyóon)


ba (bayóo)

bazh (bayóozh)

ban (bayóon)


bi (biyóo)

bizh (biyóozh)

bin (biyóon)


lhebe (lhebeyóo)

lhebezh (lhebeyóozh)

lheben (lhebeyóon)



beye (beyeyóo)

beyezh (beyeyóozh)

beyen (beyeyóon)


baye (bayeyóo)

bayezh (bayeyóozh)

bayen (bayeyóon)


biye (biyeyóo)

biyezh (biyeyóozh)

biyen (biyeyóon)


lhebeye (lhebeyeyóo)

lhebeyezh (lhebeyeyóozh)

lhebeyen (lhebeyeyóon)

As you may already have observed, the –ye– infix is an indefinite marker that is attached to the “be” (third person pronoun) forms. This would in no way interfere with the “be” portion of the indefinite pronouns carrying the sense of “beloved” or “honored” or “despised.”

Inflected Pronoun Forms

The pronouns of Láadan are perfectly serviceable in their neutral forms. However, we can convey more information about our perception of the person being referred to by inflecting the pronoun. This is accomplished by changing the vowel of the base form away from the “e” of the neutral form.

We can incorporate the meaning “beloved” by changing the “e” to “a.” To imbue the pronoun with the sense “honored,” we change the vowel to “i.” The third inflection of the pronoun brings the meaning “despised;” to do this, rather than changing the vowel, we attach the prefix “lh–” (pejorative) to the base form (of course, we must also insert the “e” to separate the “lh” from the consonant that begins the base form).

In the following excerpt from an online conversation with Suzette Haden Elgin, the italic paragraph is the question posed to Dr. Elgin; the rest is her response:

Whereas I can reconcile with myself 2nd & 3rd person usage (e.g. “na,” “ni,” “lhene”), I have some difficulty with 1st person (e.g. “la,” “li,” “lhele”). Is the agent ambiguous for all persons (“na” meaning “you, beloved by someone”) rather than specific (“na” meaning “you, beloved by me”)? I have some difficulty not seeing “la” and “li” as rather conceited if the agent isn’t ambiguous.

That’s a very good question, and I don’t mean that in the cliche sense—it really is a good question; it falls into the area of linguistics called pragmatics. But you’ve already answered it for yourself. It certainly would be conceited and arrogant for anyone to refer to himself or herself in the first person using the “beloved” or “honored” pronoun forms. There might be special and extraordinary situations in which that would be appropriate, but they would be extremely rare. (Example: in a very intimate situation, one lover might say to the other, “I am so honored to be your beloved,” or something of the kind, and that might involve the beloved/honored pronoun forms. And it wouldn’t be likely to happen more than once.) It’s one thing for someone to say “Honored-you” or “Honored-she”; it’s quite another to say “Honored-I.” In referring to oneself, the neutral pronouns would be used 999 out of 1000 times.

Implicit in that answer you may have noticed that, as the questioner puts it, the agent is not ambiguous; the “honor” or “love” or “despite” is from the point of view of the speaker. In other words, “nadoes mean “you, beloved by me” and “bidoes mean “she, honored by me” and “lheledoes mean “I, despised by myself”.

Reflexive Pronouns

When the Subject and another Case Phrase both refer to the same person, the other Case Phrase uses what is referred to as a reflexive pronoun. In English, this is signalled by the suffix “–self;” in Láadan, we use the infix –yóo– between the base form (“le,” “ne,” or “be”) and the number ending (–Ø, –zh or –n for singular, few/several or many, respectively) and then the case suffix. The result looks similar to the “beye” forms (referred to grammatically as indefinite pronouns), except that reflexive pronouns are not limited to the third person.


Bíi eril di bahizh wa.

She (beloved) spoke.

Bíi eril di bahizh ledim wa.

She (beloved) spoke to me.

Bíi eril di bahizh bayóodim wa.

She (beloved) spoke to herself.

Báa aril menaya nin beyeth?listen to this pronounced

Will you (many, honored) be caring for someone?

Báa aril menaya nin niyóoneth?listen to this pronounced

Will you (many, honored) be caring for yourselves?

Notice that, when the honored/beloved/despised form is used in the Subject, it is proper form to also use that form in the reflexive—since the same person(s) is(are) being referred to.

Bíi ril lhebeyezh wehehám wi.

Someones (few, despised) clearly are shopkeepers.

Bíi ril lhebeyezh lhebeyóozhem wi.

Someones (few, despised) clearly are themselves.

When the Subject is Indefinite (a “beye” form), the Reflexive will be its corresponding third person form (the matching “be” form without the –ye– infix). The inflection (neutral/love/honor/despite) and number (single/several/many) will be the same as the Subject.

Báa aril naya Méri áwitheth?

Will Mary care for the baby?

Báa aril naya bebáa áwitheth?

Who will care for the baby?

Báa aril naya bebáa beyóoth?

Who will care for himself/herself?

Báa aril menaya bebáazh beyóozheth?

Who (few/several) will care for themselves?

Báa aril menaya bebáan beyóoneth?

Who (many) will care for themselves?

If the subject is an Interrogative (a “bebáa” form), the Reflexive will be the corresponding “be” form with matching plural and inflection.


Translate the following into English.


Bíi théeban Máyel bini loshethuth lhebeyóodim wáa.


Bóo ril menaháana, shem letha. Wil dówoth ith óolethu nazheth wa.


Báa dathimá sherídanid Méri bitham?


Bé eril thel le woyem wobaleth ebaláde wa. Bel le lhebeth nidim.


Bíilan ril memahina meworahíya wodala letho wa; bóolan sháad láad nan aba banethath.


Báa menaya ábedá Donith? Bíi ril methem menaya biyen bath wi.  ¶

In #3, note that we can use the inflected pronoun forms wherever we use a pronoun. The pronoun need not be the primary nominal in its case phrase. The inflected form here grants the attribute “honored” to Mary.

In #4, did you note the effect of a promise () in the past? In English, promises refer to actions in the future. In Láadan, future promises fulfill the same function; however, a promise placed in the present or past is used to “swear an oath” or speak “on my honor.”

Change the inflection of the underlined pronoun to that described; translate into English before and after.


Báa meshe mewoshane wothom bebáatho neth?



Bíi wil thad dutha Ánetheni hoshem nezhetha wa.



Bé aril meduhel mewodo wobelidá wohowa wobelideth; hi beth Ána bethom. listen to this pronounced



Bíi menasháad Mázhareth i Hérel nude wa; báa mesháad bezh bebáadim? listen to this pronounced



Bóo bithim ne lalomá—e báa nahan ne behizheth eril?



Báa aril medódóon bebáan nezheth; medush medódóon nezh neyóozheth?


In #11, since the “you” referred to in both the clauses here is the same person, we would render them both with the same inflection (neutral/beloved/honored/despised)—unless your attitude toward that person changed between one clause and the next, which would certainly be strongly indicated by a mismatch in the inflection of these two pronouns. Consequently, the translation provided carries the changed inflection on “ne” in the second clause just as in the first.

In #12, I’ve used the very formal “dódóon” (CAUSEto + Be correct). In more casual usage, “dóon” would be quite sufficient; the fact that there’s an Object in the sentence is sufficient to convey the information that someone is correcting (active verb), not simply being correct (stative verb).

Translate the following into Láadan.


Someones (many, honored) asked themselves an extremely important question, long ago.


These (few) goats followed you (single, honored) to the park, obviously.


Will you (few, honored) sell my grandfather some (few) red bushes if I ask it of you?


Someones (few, despised) intend to torment William; who (few) will help him (beloved)?


I swear, the education-specialists want to carry books to Suzette (beloved)’s family.


Will Bethany be willing to travel from her (beloved) native city to the moutain?

In #13, remember that when discussing acts of communication, the Object is that which is communicated and the one to whom it is communicated is the Goal.

Also in #13, remember that the Reflexive of an Indefinite pronoun omits the –ye– infix.

In #15, the English phrase “if I ask it of you” may present some difficulty. Láadan uses “hi” (this/that) to effect “internal reference” (to refer to a clause that precedes the one in which it occurs). In this sentence, “if I ask it of you” becomes “bere dibóo le hith nizhedim” with the “hith” carrying the reference to the preceding clause.

In #18, did the concept of “native city” give you any difficulty? The possessive-by-birth suffix (“–tha”) would apply to one’s native city or country just as it would to body parts or relatives into possession of which one comes at birth.




Michael is about to give a gift of money to himself (despised).


Go to sleep my children. May the light of the moon cause you (few, beloved) to be wise.


Is the needleworker Mary (honored)’s nephew?


On my honor, I got the sour bread from the baker. I brought it (despised) to you (honored).


[celebratory] My large plants are blooming; prithee come (you, many, beloved) to perceive them (many, beloved).


Do farmers care for the Earth? Clearly at this time some-honored-ones (many) need to care for it (beloved).



Whose fuzzy pillows comfort you?

Báa meshe mewoshane wothom bebáatho nath?

Whose fuzzy pillows comfort you (beloved)?


Would that Anthony be able to heal your (few) grandchild.

Bíi wil thad dutha Ánetheni hoshem lhenezhetha wa.

Would that Anthony be able to heal your (few, despised) grandchild.


I promise the strong carpenters will try to build a warm house; this will be Anna’s home.

Bé aril meduhel mewodo wobelidá wohowa wobelideth; hi beth Ána bithom.

I promise the strong carpenters will try to build a warm house; this will be Anna (honored)’s home.


Margaret and Carol depart hence; whither go they?

Bíi eril menasháad Mázhareth i Hérel nude wa; báa mesháad bizh bebáadim?

Margaret and Carol depart hence; whither go they (honored)?


I’d like you to meet the singer—or did you make her acquaintance beforehand?

Bóo bithim na lalomá—e báa nahan na bihizheth eril?

I’d like you (beloved) to meet the singer—or did you (beloved) make her (honored) acquaintance earlier?


Who (many) will correct you (few); will you have to correct yourselves (few, despised)?

Báa aril medódóon bebáan lhenezheth; medush medódóon lhenezh lheneyóozheth?

Who (many) will correct you (few, despised); will you have to correct yourselves (few, despised)?



Bíi eríli medibáa biyen wohothehul wodibáath biyóonedim wáa.


Bíi eril medoth éezh hizh nith heshehothedim wi.


Báa aril meheb nizh mewolaya wohemeneth beyezh hothulid lethadim bere dibóo le hith nizhedim.


Bíi menédeshub merashe lhebeyezh Wílem bath wáa; báa meden bebáazh bahideth?


Bé menéde mewida ehomá áabeth onida Shuzhéth bithadim wa.


Báa aril nime im Bétheni miwith bathade bodim?