Láadan Made Easier – Lesson One

Lesson One


Rule 1. A Láadan sentence begins with a Speech Act Morpheme, which is a chunk of language that explains what action — question, command, statement, request, promise, or warning — the speaker intends to carry out with that sentence. In connected speech or writing, the Speech Act Morpheme can often be deleted; however, a sentence headed by one is always acceptable — when in doubt, use one. The Speech Act Morphemes we’ll be using in this lesson are “bíi” (declarative statement) and “báa” (question).

Rule 2. A Láadan statement ends with an Evidence Morpheme, which is a chunk of language that explains on what basis the speaker claims the right to say what is being said. The Evidence Morpheme we’ll be using in this lesson is “wa,” which means “claimed to be true because the speaker has observed it with her or his own senses.”

Rule 3. When a Láadan sentence is negative, the word “ra” comes immediately after the verb. (You’ll notice that words that would be called “adjectives” in English or French or Spanish are verbs in Láadan.)

Rule 4. The “direct object” of a Láadan verb (that is, the creature or thing that an action is done to) carries the ending “-th” to mark it as Object.

Rule 5. In Láadan sentences, the verb is before the subject and the Object is after the subject. That is: If English had Láadan word order it would be correct to say “Ate Mary spaghetti” instead of “Mary ate spaghetti.”


B, D, H, L, M, N, R, SH, W, and Y are pronounced as in English; TH is pronounced like the TH of “think”; ZH is pronounced like S in “pleasure.” The vowels are A as in “calm,” E as in “best,” I as in “linguistics,” O as in “home,” and U as in “Susan” or “soothe.”

When two identical vowels are side by side, one of them must take high tone. To get the high tone right, think of the difference between “convert” as in “to convert” and “convert” as in “the convert.” In “the convert” the high tone would be on “con-“; in “to convert” the high tone would be on “-vert.”

(Láadan has one more sound — the LH used to indicate negative meanings; we’ll ignore it for now and come back to it in a later lesson.)


1a. Bíi ada with wa. (The woman laughs.)

1b. Bíi ada ra with wa. (The woman doesn’t laugh.)

1c. Báa ada with? (Does the woman laugh?)

[Literally: Bíi (I-say-to-you-as-a-statement), or Báa (I-say-to-you-as-a-question); ada (laughs); with (woman); wa (true-because-I-observed-it-with-my-own-senses.) Plus “ra,” which means “no” or “not.” Note: “The man” would be “withid” — “with” plus the masculine ending “-id.”)]

2a. Bíi lema with wa. (The woman is gentle.)

2b. Bíi lema ra with wa. (The woman isn’t gentle.)

2c. Báa lema with? (Is the woman gentle?)


3a. Bíi wida with yuth wa. (The woman carries the fruit. Fruit: “yu”)

3b. Bíi wida ra with yuth wa. (The woman doesn’t carry the fruit.)

3c. Báa wida with yuth? (Does the woman carry the fruit?)


4a. Bíi shulin ili wa. (The water overflows.)

4b. Bíi shulin ra ili wa. (The water doesn’t overflow.)

4c. Báa shulin ili? (Does the water overflow?)