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Láadan was Re: Computer Language Question

From:Peter Clark <peter-clark@...>
Date:Wednesday, November 27, 2002, 19:39
On Wednesday 27 November 2002 08:42 am, Amanda Babcock wrote:
> I would add to that "tlhIngan is a tie-in to a popular mass-media > phenomenon" and, most annoyingly, "Láadan does not allow free access > to the grammar and vocabulary". If you want something to be a success, > *don't copyright it*. > > (I know, tlhIngan was commercial too, but we're back to that mass-media > thing then.)
Well, it seems as though Suzette Haden Elgin has pretty much abandoned it. She originally intended it to provide both a realistic setting for her novels, and as an experiment to test some '70s feminist theories that languages are inherently unsuitable for women to express themselves in, because of the patriarchal system (<quote source="Monty Python and the Holy Grail">Come see the the patriarchy inherent in the system!</quote>). Elgin explains the nitty-gritty on her site: Personally, I don't Láadan woman-centric enough. A couple of months ago, I asked my wife what she thought of it and she agreed--the grammar, to be certain, doesn't offer enough of an advantage to overcome the work involved in learning a second language. I still have not found a list of "woman-centric" words, but after asking my wife how English vocabulary could be improved, she initially said that emotion words could use more shading of meaning--until she began to list some emotion words and realized that for the most part, English has an overabundance of nuanced emotion words; gaps she tends to fill in with Japanese loans. She suggested that the reason that she doesn't use them is because they sound to lofty and erudite; if woman (and men, for that matter) were to use them more, they probably would not seem so "high." I (and my wife, when she read Elgin's essay) found the underlying theory deeply flawed and rather offensive to women in general, especially the first premise: "Those languages lacked vocabulary for many things that are extremely important to women, making it cumbersome and inconvenient to talk about them." There seems to be no sociological constraint on the invention of new words, besides the necessity that other listeners understand them. My wife feels free to borrow from Japanese and Romanian whenever the English word eludes her, and we manage to understand each other just fine. One would think that if women in general found an unnamed concept important enough to name, they would do so--assuming a feminist critique, it would not even be necessary for the word to be accepted by the male half because it would still carry currency with the female half. That said, I would be interested in ideas for a "woman-centric" language. What do the doubly-blessed X chromosomers think? :Peter


Ian Maxwell <umlaut@...>Láadan
Sally Caves <scaves@...>