24 Useful Words From Laádan, a Language Invented to Express a Woman's Point of View

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In 1981, author Suzette Haden Elgin was working on a speech when she began to wonder why feminist science fiction always portrayed either matriarchy, where women were superior to men, or androgyny, where women were equal to men. What about another alternative, where women were simply different from men? Perhaps it was difficult to imagine such a possibility, she thought, because we lacked the language to express it.

Over the next few years she developed Laádan and wrote her Native Tongue trilogy, in which she imagines a future world where this language is spoken. Her intention was never for Laádan to be a language only spoken by women. Men could speak it too, but doing so would require them to adjust their perspective. She was curious to see whether if the language caught on, it might help change society. Of course it never did, but Laádan is full of vocabulary that can be useful for anyone.

1. áayáa - mysterious love, not yet known to be welcome or not
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2. áazh – love for one sexually desired at one time, but not now
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3. ab – love for one liked but not respected
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4. ad – love for one respected but not liked
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5. am – love for one related by blood
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6. raláadá – non-perceiver, one who fails to perceive
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7. raláadálh – non-perceiver, one who fails to perceive deliberately and with evil intent
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8. dehena – friendliness, despite negative circumstances
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9. dena – friendliness for good reason
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10. dina – friendliness for no reason
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11. dona – friendliness for foolish reasons

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12. duna – friendliness for bad reasons
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13. doóledosh – pain or loss that comes as a relief by virtue of ending the anticipation of its coming
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14. lóda – to be pregnant wearily
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15. lalewida – to be pregnant joyfully
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16. radíidin – non-holiday, a time allegedly a holiday but actually so much a burden because of work and preparations that it is a dreaded occasion; especially when there are too many guests and none of them help
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17. rahobeth – non-neighbor, one who lives nearby but does not fulfill a neighbor's role (not necessarily pejorative)
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18. ralorolo – non-thunder, much talk and commotion from one (or more) with no real knowledge of what they're talking about or trying to do
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19. ramine – to refrain from asking, out of courtesy or kindness
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20. thehena – joy despite negative circumstances
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21. wohosheni – a word meaning the opposite of alienation; to feel joined to, part of someone or something without reservations or barriers
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22. rathom – non-pillow, one who lures another to trust and rely on them but has no intention of following through, a "lean on me so I can step aside and let you fall" person
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23. raduth – to non-use, to deliberately deprive someone of any useful function in the world, as in enforced retirement or when a human being is kept as a plaything or a pet
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24. zhaláad – the act of relinquishing a cherished/comforting/familiar illusion or frame of perception

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October 21, 2012 - 8:44pm
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