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Lesson 60
Identifier Case, Pt 2


Vocabulary

eduth

engineering [e– (science of) + duth (to use)]

eduthemid

beaver [eduth (engineering) + mid (creature)]

elosh

economy [e– (science of) + losh (money/credit)]

emath

architecture [e– (science of) + math (building)] {YML}

eri

history [e– (science) + ri (to record; keep records)]

eróo

agriculture [e– (science of) + róo (harvest)]

eyon

administration [e– (science of) + yon (government)]

ezho

accoustics [e– (science of) + zho (sound)]

léeli

jonquil [léli (yellow)]

memazh

train [me– (larger, more important) + mazh (automobile)]

From “eróo” (agriculture) we can reap “o” (harvest); of course, we’ve seen “róo” before in “róomath” (barn).

We first saw “yon” (government) in Lesson 28; “eyon” (administration) isn’t, perhaps, the most transparent “science of” formation from an English standpoint, but it may say something significant about the culture embodied in Láadan.

Verb Prefixes in Identifier Case

[(Aux) “in” [verb: exist] (Neg) CP–S CP–Identifier]

The Identifier Case structure identifies its Subject with another Case Phrase; it states what the Subject “is” in terms of gender, profession, nationality, and so on. But what if the identification isn’t so straightforward? What if the Subject is “trying to be” or “beginning to be” or “being again” whatever-it-is? The verb has that “null surface form” (we can’t see or hear it), so we have no apparent verb to which to attach the verb prefixes that would make all those more tenuous Identifier relationships work. At this point, I emailed Suzette Haden Elgin for help. My questions are in italics, Dr. Elgin’s responses are in roman type.

The correspondence below between me and Dr Elgin predates the adoption of the case suffix “–m” for the Identifier Case. At that time, the Identifier Case used a null suffix (like the Subject Case). We will not be using the null Identifier suffix in these lessons, but you may happen upon it when reading older texts—such as the below—and should be familiar with it.


The Identifier case makes it easy to say “Bíi le omá wa” (I am a teacher). But we have all these nifty verb prefixes that modify the verb […]. How would we incorporate these meanings into an Identifier structure—where the verb has a null surface form?

Let’s do it the way we do DO-SUPPORT in English. [That is, when we want to do a negative, a question, or an emphatic sentence in English, we insert “do”; it’s just there to carry the negative/question/emphasis. As in: “I didn’t sing”; “Did I sing?”; “I did sing!”]

Láadan has a verb, “in,” that means “to exist.” Just insert it in the Identifier-case sentence and let it carry the prefixes. So…. “Bíi le omá wa.”—I am a teacher. “Bíi nahin le omá wa.”—I’m beginning to be a teacher. “Bíi nóhin le omá wa.”—I’ve stopped being a teacher.

Examples

Our basic Identifier case sentence for these examples is:

Bíi ril le omám wa.

I am a teacher.

When needed, we insert the verb “in” (to exist) to carry the prefixes that allow the Identifier structure to convey more than a bare equivalence:

Bíi ril duhin le omám wa.

I am trying to be a teacher.

Bíi ril dúuhin le omám wa.

I am trying in vain to be a teacher.

Bíi ril nahin le omám wa.

I am beginning to be a teacher.
I am becoming a teacher.

Bíi ril náhin le omám wa.

I am continuing to be a teacher.

Bíi ril nehin le omám wa.

I am a teacher again.

Bíi ril nóhin le omám wa.

I am ceasing to be a teacher.

Bíi ril nohin le omám wa.

I am finishing being a teacher.

Bíi ril théhin le omám wa.

I am about to be a teacher, any second now.

Bíi ril théehin le omám wa.

I am about to be a teacher, but not any second.

Bíi ril thóhin le omám wa.

I was, just now, being a teacher.

At last we can see the derivation of the verb “nahin” (become), introduced in Lesson 28, and why the “after” form is rendered in the Identifier Case.

The “do-support” model using “in” (to exist) is very elegant. Using the Identifier structure with [“in,” I can now use all those verb prefixes]. Now, can we take it one small step further? Can we use “in” as the second verb in a verb complex?

If you needed “in” in your embedded sentence­—to carry verb prefixes, for example—you’d keep it. Otherwise, I don’t understand what its function would be or why it is needed.


Bíi ril néde le omám wa.

I want to be a teacher.

Bíi ril néde nehin le omám wa.

I want to be a teacher again.

Bíi ril néde inehóo le omám wa.

I want to BE a teacher.


The rule when embedding is that the embedded clause always begins with a verb or an auxiliary. The verb in an Identifier case structure usually presents a null surface form—a problem for embedding them. When embedding Identifer case structures, when no auxiliary is appropriate, would we use “in” as the verb that begins the embedded clause?

I have no objection to using “in” as the verb when embedding a sentence that has an Identifier [noun phrase] as its predicate.


Bíi néde le in le omáhé wa.

I want that I be a teacher.

Bíi ril menéde bedihá mehin bezh omáhé wa.

The students want that they be teachers.

Note that the first example above (the full embedding to disambiguate the first example in the previous set) would be awkward. Human languages do not like to repeat identical information within a connected discourse without very good reasons—in this case to explicitly resolve some ambiguity.

Note also, in the sets of sentences that comprise the rest of this lesson’s examples, that we needn’t use “in” to begin embedded clauses if the clause begins with an auxiliary. This is because the rule for embedding states that an embedded clause begins either with a verb or with an auxiliary. Of course, even in the presence of an auxiliary, if we were going to use one of the verb prefixes, we would use “in” to carry the prefix.

Bíi ul Mázhareth in le omáhé wa.

Margaret hopes that I am a teacher.

Bíi ul Mázhareth rilrili le omáhé wa.

Margaret hopes that I might be a teacher.

Bíi ul Mázhareth rilrili nahin le omáhé wa.

Margaret hopes that I might begin to be a teacher.


Bíi lothel ra rawith in le omáhée wa.

No-one knows whether I am a teacher.

Bíi lothel ra rawith eril le omáhée wa.

No-one knows whether I was a teacher.

Bíi lothel ra rawith eril dúuhin le omáhée wa.

No-one knows whether I failed to be a teacher.


Báa nasháad in néehá omáháa?

Is the alien who is a teacher departing?

Báa nasháad aril néehá omáháa?

Is the alien who will be a teacher departing?

Báa nasháad aril nohin néehá omáháa?

Is the alien who will finish being a teacher departing?

As we’ve seen before, the conjunction “úmú” takes only one noun phrase, which represents the Subject of an Identifier clause whose Identifier case phrase, together with the English copula, are represented by the conjunction.

Bíi di le úmú ebalá wa.

I tell who the baker is.

Bíi di le úmú duhin ebalá wa.

I tell who the baker is trying to be.

Bíi di le úmú aril ebalá wa.

I tell who the baker will be.

Bíi di le úmú aril duhin ebalá wa.

I tell who the baker will try to be.

That noun phrase can be represented by a Possessive structure or an Embedded Relative clause, since both fulfill a case role just like a noun or pronoun, as shown below:

Bíi dibáa le úmú hothul netha wa.

I ask who your grandparent is.

Bíi dibáa le úmú nahin hothul netha wa.

I ask who your grandparent is beginning to be.

Bíi dibáa le úmú eril hothul netha wa.

I ask who your grandparent was.

Bíi dibáa le úmú eril nahin hothul netha wa.

I ask who your grandparent was beginning to be.


Bíi lothel le úmú hal witheháa wa.

I know who the person who works is.

Bíi lothel le úmú nóhin hal witheháa wa.

I know who the person who works stops being.

Bíi lothel le úmú aril hal witheháa wa.

I know who the person who will work is.
I know who the person who works will be.

Bíi lothel le úmú aril nóhin hal witheháa wa.

I know who the person who works will stop being.

Exercises

Translate the following into English

1

Báa ril théehin ra Elízhabeth emidám?

2

Bíi ril thónahin belid bethem wa.

3

Bíi eril néde wobalin wowehehá imám wáa.

4

Báa medibé meduhin Yáanezh mewothal wothulem? Bere em, bé aril den le wohonal wa.

5

Bíi héeya ra ábedá aril be ninálhemehéth we.

6

Bíi en onida náhin nime nathademehéth wa.

7

Bíi eril medibáa háawith in homana thizhem e thuzhemehée(th) wa.

8

Bíi aril mebedi ilá nehin zho alehalemehéeth wa.

9

Báa azháadin in duthahá hothul nethameháa?

10

Bíidu meloláadeháalish with woho zhanath beróo dúuhin rashonelh shonem wa.


In #4, did you note the word “wohonal”? Formally, postpositions (such as “woho”) do not accept case suffixes; therefore, “in every way” would have to be translated “wethenal woho” [weth (road/path/way) + –nal (MANN) | woho (all/every)]. Informally, however, “wohonal” will be clearly understood and, as such, is perfectly acceptable Láadan.

Translate the following into Láadan

11

The musician tried in vain to be a singer.

12

Bethany and Michael are studying engineering; they’ll commence being engineers next month.

13

Your (honored you) niece is showing signs of being a philosopher.

14

[warning] Magic Granny intends to stop being Anthony’s neighbor in two weeks.

15

Astronomers teach us that our sun is a star.

16

Do you (many) believe that the prisoner must be my enemy?

17

Margaret Brown remembered whether the holiday was torment.

18

The housekeeper knows who is finished being a crime-doer (not a criminal) [skeptical].

19

Their great-aunt Carol was acquainted with the leaves that were herbs.

20

Does the nurse care for the drinker (not an alcoholic) who is ceasing to be a clergyman?

Of course you had no trouble with “alehalehá” (musician) and “lalomá” (singer) in #11 or with “eduthá” (engineer) in #12. They are all straightforward –á (doer) formations from “alehale” (music), “lalom” (sing) and “eduth” (engineering), respectively.

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Answers

1

Isn’t Elizabeth about to be a biologist?

2

The house has just become a home.

3

The old storekeeper wanted to be a traveler.

4

Do you young people promise to try to be good parents? If so, I promise to help in every way.

5

The farmer isn’t afraid that she will be the one to blame (I dreamed).

6

The family understands that to be willing is still to begin to be able. OR …that willingness continues to be the beginning of ability.

7

The children asked whether dessert was pie or cake.

8

The spectators will learn whether the sound is music again.

9

Is the healer who is your grandmother menopausing uneventfully?

10

[poetic] Everyone keenly feels regret (ext cause, no blame, remedy) because the war is failing to be peace.

 

11

Bíi eril dúuhin alehalehá lalomám wáa.

12

Bíi mehulanin Bétheni i Máyel edutheth; menahin bezh eduthám hathóoleya aril wa.

13

Bíi ril dam sherídan nitha ehenám wa.

14

Bée nédeshub nóhin Shósho obeth Ánetheni bethom híyahatheya shin aril wáa.

15

Bíidi mehom ehashá in rosh lenetho ashemehéth lenedim wa.

16

Báa mehedeláad nen dush zhilhad leb lethomehé?

17

Bíi eril dom Leyaneshem Mázhareth in diídin rashemehée wáa.

18

Bíi lothel elodá nohin bebáa ibámehée waá.

19

Bíi eril an Hérel hoberídan benetha mehin mi theshemeháath wa.

20

Báa naya onin nóhin ranahá wíithamidemeháath?

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