Suzette Haden Elgin's unfinished conlangs

A forum for all topics related to constructed languages
Post Reply
Posts: 250
Joined: 21 Jul 2012 08:01
Location: Buffalo, NY

Suzette Haden Elgin's unfinished conlangs

Post by Porphyrogenitos » 07 Oct 2017 05:44

This is just something I noticed the other day. So, as some of you may know, science fiction author and linguist Suzette Haden Elgin, who created the experimental feminist conlang Láadan, passed away in 2015. I happened to look on her SWFA page the other day while browsing Láadan materials, and apparently she had been working on another novel before she died. The last post on her SWFA page says:
Suzette is writing a new novel -- no title yet. The protagonist is a linguist from the U.S. Corps of Linguists [USCOL] who has failed some of her finals and has been ordered, as a penalty, to do fieldwork on -- and write a monograph about -- four ET languages spoken on the planet Gaudalle. One of the first things linguists do to prepare for fieldwork with a language is put together a core-vocabulary list [traditionally called a "Swadesh list"] for it, roughly one hundred words long. Which means that before Suzette could write the novel she had to do one of those lists for each of the languages: Thandi; Lenadess; Aubre; and Nangdi. And here they are, starting with a Panglish list to serve as the key....
Here's a link to that page. The word lists are reproduced below. They're just Swadesh lists, written in a non-IPA format, so we can't know a ton about the languages just from looking at them, but I thought some people here might be interested in seeing them, if only as a curiosity.

[Note: /E/ is the vowel sound in "bed"; /e/ is the vowel sound in "break"; /I/ is the vowel sound in "kiss"; /i/ is the vowel sound in "machine"; /ae/ is the vowel sound in "can"; /o/ is the vowel sound in "go"; /u/ is the vowel sound in "soon"; /th/ is the "th" sound in "there"; /TH/ is the "th" sound in "think."]


all, ash, baby, bark, belly, big, bird, bite, black, blood, blue, bone, breasts, burn, child, claw, cloud, come, cold, die, dog, drink, dry, ear, earth, eat, egg, eye, feather, fire, fish, flesh, fly, foot, full, give, good, grease, green, hair, hand, head, hear, heart, horn, hot, I, kill, kneww, know, leaf, lie, liver, long, make, man, many, mountain, moon, mouth, name, neck, new, night, nose, not, one, path, person, put, rain, red, root, round, sand, say, see, sky, seed, sit, skin, sleep, small, smoke, stand, star, stone, sun, tail, that, this, tongue, tooth, tree, two, walk, water, we, what, white, who, woman, work, yellow, you


all, ban; ash, eba -- /EHba/; baby, gal; bark, fale -- /faLE/; belly, phonaphon; big, zhef -- /zhEf/; bird, shala; bite, gim -- /gIm/; black, fanal -- /faNAL/; blood, mal; blue, funul; bone, rohan -- /ROhan/; breasts, mamali -- /maMAli/; burn, besh -- /bEsh/; child, gala -- /GAla/; claw, less -- /lEs/; cloud, hali -- /HAli/; come, bo; cold, fel -- /fEl/; die, usha -- /Usha/; dog, nep -- /nEp/; drink, hal; dry, pha; ear, owa -- /Owa/; earth, nali -- /NAli/; eat, wal; egg, wo; eye, awa -- /Awa/; feather, pelepah -- /PELEpah/; fire, ebesh -- /EbEsh/; fish, fifil -- /fifil/; flesh, iwa -- /iwa/ [stress on first syllable]; fly, banga -- /BANGa/; foot, pre -- /prE/; full, ol; give, mella -- /mELA/; good, ala -- /ala/ [stress on second syllable]; grease, hefe -- /HEfE/; green, fenal -- /fENAL/; hair, bilish -- /BIlIsh/; hand, pra; head, ezhen -- /EZHEN/; hear, howa -- /HOwa/; heart, ama; horn, gref -- /grEf/; hot, fal; I, o; kill, relh -- /rElh/; knee, bage -- /BAgE/; know, meteg -- /mEtEg/; leaf, lelen -- /lElEn/; lie, haghal; liver, esse -- /EsE/; long, pesha -- /pesha/ [stress on first syllable]; make, freng -- /frEng/; man, bi -- /bI/; many, banna; mountain, geleff -- /gELEFF/; moon, paligal -- /palIgal/; mouth, menne -- /mEnE/; name, shebe -- /shEBE/; neck, fre -- /frE/; new, lem -- /lEm/; night, felena -- /fElEna/ [stress on third syllable]; nose, arah -- [stress on first syllable]; not, wi -- /wI/; one, ah; path, brema -- /brEma/; person, be -- /bE/; put, prin -- /prIn/; rain, ilanila -- /IlanIla/; red, fonol -- /foNOL/; root, pe -- /pE/; round, ho; sand, sheshe -- /shEshE/; say, lo; see, hawa; sky, ilan -- /iLAN/; seed, fren -- /frEn/; sit, bahg; skin, iwan -- /iwan/ [stress on first syllable]; sleep, zhal; small, fezh -- /fEzh/; smoke, hishi -- /hishi/; stand, odan -- /odan/ [stress on first syllable]; star, rali -- /raLI/; stone, mara; sun, pali -- /paLI/; tail, ep -- /Ep/; that, buha -- /buHA/; this, buhe -- /buHE/; tongue, shren -- /shrEn/; tooth, doss; tree, lerren -- /lEREN/; two, aha; walk, breng -- /brEng/; water, la; we, oho; what, aless -- /aLES/; white, fonal -- /foNAL/; who, belel -- /bELEL/; woman, ba; work, habega -- /habEGA/; yellow, finil -- /fiNIL/; you, sho

[Note: Stresses not indicated are as in Thandi.]

all, ban; ash, eba; baby, gad; bark, fade -- /fadE/; belly, phonaphon; big, zhef -- /zhEf/; bird, shada; bite, gimi -- /gImI/; black -- /faNAD/; blood, mad; blue, funud -- /fuNUD/; bone, rohana -- /ROhana/; breasts, mamadi -- /maMAdi/; burn, besh -- /bEsh/; child, gada -- /GAda/; claw, dess -- /dEs/; cloud, hadi -- /HAdi/; come, bo; cold, fed -- /fEd/; die, usha -- /Usha/; dog, nep -- /nEp/; drink, had; dry, pha; ear, owa; earth, nadi -- /nadi/; eat, wad; egg, wo; eye, awa; feather, pedepah; fire, ebesh /EbEsh/; fish, fifid -- /fifid/; flesh, iwa -- /iwa/; fly, banga; foot, pre -- /prE/; full, od; give, medda -- /mEDA/; good, ada; grease, hefe -- /hEfE/; green, fenad -- /fENAD/; hair, bidish -- /BIDIsh/; hand, pra; head, ezhen -- /EZHEN/; hear, howa -- /HOwa/; heart, ama; horn, gref -- /grEf/; hot, fal; I, o; kill, relh -- /rElh/; knee, bage -- /BAgE/; know, meteg -- /mEtEg/; leaf, deden -- /lElEn/; lie, haghad; liver, esse -- /EsE/; long, pesha -- /pesha/; make, frengana -- /frEngana/; man, bi -- /bI/; many, bana; mountain, gedeff -- /gEDEF/; moon, padigadi -- /padIgadI/; mouth, menne -- /mEnE/; name, shebe -- /shEBE/; neck, fre -- /frE/; new, leme -- /lEmE/; night, fedena -- /fEdEna/; nose, arah; not, wi -- /wI/; one, ah; path, brema -- /brEma/; person, be -- /bE/; put, prini -- /prInI/; rain, idanida -- /IdanIda/; red, fonod -- /foNOD/; root, pe -- /pE/; round, ho -- /ho/; sand, sheshe -- /shEshE/; say, do; see, hawa; sky, idana -- /iDANa/; seed, frene -- /frEnE/; sit, bahg; skin, iwana -- /iwana/ [stress on first syllable]; sleep, zhad; small, fezh -- /fEzh/; smoke, hishi -- /hishi/; stand, odana -- /odana/ [stress on first syllable; star, radi -- /raDI/; stone, mara; sun, padina -- /padina/ [stress on second syllable]; tail, ep -- /Ep/; that, buha -- /buHA/; this, buhe -- /buHE/; tongue, shrene -- /shrEnE/; tooth, doss; tree, derren -- /dEREN/; two, aha; walk, brenge -- /brEngE/; water, da; we, oho; what, adess -- /aDES/; white, fonad -- /foNAD/; who, beled -- /bELED/; woman, ba; work, habega -- /habEGA/; yellow, finid -- /fiNID/; you, sho

AUBRE [O-bre; stress on first syllable]

all, bish -- /bIsh/; ash, tima -- /tIma/; baby, pa; bark, assa; belly, gara; big, kral; bird, tenten -- /tEntEn/; bite, blan; black, huth -- /huTH/; blood, ul; blue, fecha -- /fecha/; bone, kath -- /kaTH/; breasts, shtanen -- /shtanEn/; burn, stara; child, pak; claw, pith -- /pIth/; cloud, karaba; come, mihan -- /mIhan/; cold, lenar -- /lEnar/; die, felb -- /fElb/; dog, loroth -- /loroTH/; drink, tasha; dry, chenam -- /chEnam/; ear, chek -- /chEk/; earth, kren -- /krEn/; eat, otho -- /otho/; egg, kleraf -- /klEraf/; eye, no; feather, linrilin -- /lInrIlIn/; fire, gandi -- /gandI/; fish, pikpik -- /pIkpIk/; flesh, brek -- /brEk/; fly, plesh -- /plEsh/; foot, chal; full, nom; give, herrad -- /hErad/; good, amar; grease, olon; green, mesalin -- /mesalin/; hair, chezh -- /chezh/; hand, lash; head, azha; hear, fiti -- /fiti/; heart, bazhahan; horn, hepel -- /hEpEl/; hot, hub; I, li -- /li/; kill, nuf; knee, aketin -- /akEtIn/; know, ashtan; leaf, mamin -- /MAmin/; lie, robdan; liver, hulun; long, dorashi -- /dorashI/; make, holod; man, fash; many, echa -- /echa/ [stress on first syllable]; mountain, kepelen -- /kEpElEn/; moon, tahkah; mouth, daga; name, hafish -- /hafish/; neck, prepeh -- /prEpEh/; new, traba; night, berisa -- /BErIsa/; nose, thach -- /THach/; not, im -- /Im/; one, dol; path, alerana -- /aLErana/; person, breshel -- /brEshEl/; put, oso; rain, lek -- /lEk/; red, suk; root, inim -- /InIm/; round, sopa; sand, sese -- /sEsE/; say, glo; see, ferel -- /fErEl/; sky, chul; seed, hok; sit, fend -- /fEnd/; skin, indul -- /Indul/; sleep, genesh -- /gEnEsh/; small, ep -- /Ep/; smoke, shibi -- /shIbI/; stand, cheran -- /chEran/; star, zha; stone, klep -- /klEp/; sun, henne -- /hEnE/; tail, aber -- /abEr/; that, me -- /mE/; this, ma; tongue, hassel -- /hasEL/; tooth, feth -- /fETH/; tree, anbess -- /anbEs/; two, ta; walk, minmin -- /mInmIn/; water, pehl -- /pEhl/; we, elfe -- /ElfE/; what, oyo; white, katahl; who, ayo; woman, afash; work, bipa -- /bIpa/; yellow, fenath -- /fEnaTH/; you, wod


[Note: For the tones, 1=high, 2=low, 3=falling.]

all, fang -- /fang[3]/; ash, ekhawa -- /e-kha[1]-wa/; baby, sham[3]; bark, taeshiba -- /tae-shi[3]-ba/; belly, la-la[1]-ba; big, fang[1]; bird, hanidem -- /ha[3]-nI-dEm/; bite, beshoda -- /bE-sho[1]-da/; black, halana -- /ha-la[1]-na[1]/; blood, fohlida' -- /foh-li-da'/; blue, hoyloynoy -- /hoy-loy[1]-noy[1]/; bone, shoba -- /sho[1]-ba/; breasts, loloba -- /lo-lo[1]-ba/; burn, khadawa -- /kha[1]-da-wa/; child, shamash -- /sha[3]-mash/; claw, thada' -- /THa-da'/; cloud, meth -- /mETH[1]/; come, neninaq -- /nE-ni[1]-naq/; cold, pashoy -- /pa[3]-shoy[3]/; die, foynala -- /foy[1]-na-la/; dog, shabadem -- /sha[1]-ba-dEm/; drink, lolidaq -- /lo[1]-lI-daq/; dry, feshefesh -- /fe[1]-she-fesh/; ear, shebanad -- /shE[1]-ba-nad/; earth, prezha -- /pre-zha[1]/; eat, lalidaq -- /la[1]-li-daq/; egg, mash; eye, shobanad -- /sho[1]-ba-nad/; feather, hanid -- /ha[3]-nId/; fire, khawa -- /kha[1]-wa/; fish, fohlidem -- /foh[3]-li-dEm/; flesh, shiba -- /shi[3]-ba/; fly, nesenan -- /nE-sE-nan[1]/; foot, sheba -- /shE[1]-ba/; full, fango -- /fang[3]-o/; give, fangota -- /fang[3]-o-ta/; good, tatina -- /ta-ti-na/; grease, we -- /we[3]/; green, holono -- /ho-lo[1]-no[1]/; hair, shaba -- /sha[1]-ba/; hand, shiba -- /shi[1]-ba/; head, shaban -- /sha[1]-ban/; hear, sheban -- /shE[1]-ban/; heart, mame' -- /ma-mE'/; horn, fada'; hot, shoy -- /shoy[3]/; I, lo -- /lo[3]/; kill, nehahoy -- /nE-ha[3]-hoy/; knee, shoba -- /sho[3]-ba/; know, amaba -- /a[1]-ma-ba/; leaf, breq -- /brEq/; lie, hamana -- /ha-ma[3]-na/; liver, sheba -- /shE[1]-ba/; long, simasa -- /si-ma-sa[1]/; make, weseda' -- /we-se-da[1]/; man, bada'; many, tetemon -- /te[1]-te-mon/; mountain, afatho -- /a-fa[1]-THo/; moon, gren -- /grEn/; mouth, shuban -- /shu[1]-ban/; name, woyo -- /wo[1]-yo/; neck, shaeban -- /shae[1]-ban/; new, filara -- /fi-la[3]-ra/; night, nangdi -- /nang-di/; nose, shoyban -- /shoy[1]-ban/; not, pa -- /pa[3]/; one, te -- /te[1]/; path, barresh -- /bar-rEsh/; person, da'; put, perinan -- /pe[1]-ri-nan/; rain, lilinin -- /lI[1]-lI-nIn/; red, hilini -- /hI-li[1]-ni[1]/; root, kha'; round, lalasa -- /la-la[1]-sa/; sand, prezhan -- /pre-zhan[1]/; say, dothada -- /doth-a[1]-da/; see, shobano -- /sho[1]-ba-no/; sky, metha -- /me-THa/; seed, thade -- /THa-de[1]/; sit, hemena -- /he-me[3]-na/; skin, sheba -- /shE[3]-ba/; sleep, aqana -- /a-qa[1]-na/; small, pafang -- /pa[3]-fang[1]/; smoke, begheda -- /bE-ghe[3]-da/; stand, homana -- /ho-ma[3]-na/; star, tandan; stone, so -- /so[3]/; sun, shess -- /shE[2]ss/; tail, totah -- /to[1]-tah/; that, ha -- /ha[3]/; this, ho -- /ho[3]/; tongue, wessina -- /wE-si[1]-na/; tooth, epass -- /e-pas[3]/; tree, taetae -- /tae[2]-tae[2]/; two, tete -- /te[1]-te/; walk, nesena -- /nE-se[1]-na/; water, fohli -- /foh[3]-li/; we, la -- /la[3]/; what, weri -- /we-ri[1]/; white, helene -- /he-le[1]-ne[1]/; who, wera -- /we-ra[1]/; woman, abada'; work, yiwa -- /yi-wa[1]/; yellow, hulunu -- /hu-lu[1]-nu[1]/; you, lu -- /lu[3]/

Copyright © 2009 by Suzette Haden Elgin

User avatar
Posts: 195
Joined: 30 May 2016 06:51

Re: Suzette Haden Elgin's unfinished conlangs

Post by shanoxilt » 14 Nov 2017 00:12

If you use Reddit, please post this to /r/Laadan. Her fans would love to read about her other works.
Click here to join the Common Honey server. Or click here for a general glossopoeia server.

User avatar
Posts: 278
Joined: 18 Nov 2017 02:41

Re: Suzette Haden Elgin's unfinished conlangs

Post by Pabappa » 20 Nov 2017 17:10

Thank you. I dont have much to add, other than that I know that Láadan's vocab was crowdsourced ... Elgin definitely created the majority of the words herself, but the words further from the core were sometimes contributed by other women, whose names were given in credits in a paper document which I no longer have. When two women came up with a word for the same concept, both were kept. This seems to suggest that SHE was open to collaboration from other people, and that extensions from fans of her work would be well integrated into the original content. Much like how (I think?) modern fans of Tolkien have come up with new vocbaulary for Quenya.

I know that Láadan's grammar is very unlike that of English. Unfortunately, i think that means that these wordlists are of little use at reconstructing the languages they were intended for. She may not have intended to make fully fledged languages from these wordlists herself.
Sorry guys, this one has the worst sting.

Post Reply