Lesson 1

Lesson 1


[Verb (Negative) Case Phrase–Subject]

NOTE: Don’t be concerned about the notation above; it will be useful in the long run. A “Case Phrase” is the same thing as what traditional English grammars call a “prepositional phrase.” In English this means a preposition and its following noun phrase, as in “with a hatchet” or “to the beach,” most of the time; in Láadan it usually means a noun phrase and its ending. This will become clear as we go along, and each of the sentence patterns explained will use the notation, with “Case Phrase” abbreviated to just “CP” in future to save space. “Case Phrase–Subject” will be written “CP–S.” The parentheses around “Negative” mean that it is an optional element in the sentence.


Bíi                Speech Act Morpheme—declarative
ra                 no, not, negative
i                    and
izh               but
be                she, he, it
bezh           they (few)
ben             they (many)
ro                 weather
with            woman, person
wa               Evidence Morpheme—see note below
thal             to be good
hal              to work


  • Bíi thal ro wa.          The weather’s good.
  • Bíi thal ra ro wa.     The weather’s not good.

NOTE: A Láadan sentence begins with a word that tells you what sort of sentence it is—statement, question, request, etc. The most common of these words is “Bíi,” which begins declarative sentences, ordinary statements.

NOTE: A Láadan sentence ends with a word that states why the speaker considers the sentence to be true; in the example it is “wa,” which means “claimed to be true because the speaker herself perceived whatever has been said.” “Wa” is probably the most common of these words, which are called “Evidence Morphemes.”

  • Bíi hal with wa. The woman works.
    Bíi hal ra with wa. The woman doesn’t work.
(d) Bíi hal be wa. She works.
Bíi mehal bezh wa. They (2 to 5 people) work.
Bíi mehal ben wa. They (6 or more people) work.
(e) Bíi hal with wa. The woman works.
Bíi mehal with wa. The women work.


  1. The basic sentence begins with a Speech Act Morpheme to indicate what the sentence does, and ends with an Evidence Morpheme. (When several sentences are used together by one person, and these remain the same, they don’t have to be put on every single sentence—this will become clear.)
  2. The verb comes before the noun phrase in Láadan.
  3. To make a sentence negative, just put “ra” immediately after the verb.
  4. To make a verb plural, put the prefix “me–” at the beginning of the word. (Notice that the shape of the noun phrase doesn’t change in the plural.)
  5. Láadan doesn’t divide adjectives and verbs into two classes as English does. Thus “thal” means “be good” without any need for a separate word “be” in the sentence.

Supplemental Section:

  1. Bíi hal omid      horse háawith       child

omá      teacher thul parent

ábedá                     farmer

The _________ works.

NOTICE: Láadan has no separate words for “a” or “the.”

  1. Bíi hal ra áwith      baby rul      cat

mahina       flower ezha  snake

The _________ doesn’t work.

3. Bíi áya       be wa. beautiful
balin old
lawida pregnant
wam still; calm
shóod busy
lath celibate by choice

She is _________.

4. Bíi amedara be wa. dances
yod eats
ada laughs
ma listens
osháana menstruates
wéedan reads
wod sits
rúu lies down

She _________.

NOTE: For this (and all the other) supplementary sections, it would be good if you would practice combining the patterns you know—make the positive sentences negative by adding “ra,” make the singular verbs plural by adding “me–” and so on.

NOTE: Láadan is a language that works to maintain a pattern of alternating consonants and vowels, for ease of pronunciation; for this reason, you can’t put “me–” directly on a verb that begins with a vowel. In such a case, you insert an “h” to keep the pattern. Here are a few examples:

      Bíi hal ra omid wa. The horse doesn’t work.
Bíi mehal ra omid wa. The horses don’t work.
       Bíi áya mahina wa. The flower is beautiful.
Bíi meháya mahina wa. The flowers are beautiful.
       Bíi ada be wa. She laughs.
Bíi mehada ben wa. They laugh.

A First Dictionary and Grammar of Láadan
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