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Author: S. H. Elgin

Date: 1984

Sample Translation
Bíi mehada ben wa. They laugh. (I know because I perceived it myself.)

Miscellaneous Information:

Elgin wanted to know, as a linguist, exactly how her fictional language worked so she set about creating it, going far beyond the rough description and smattering of vocabulary of other fictional thought experiment languages, such as Newspeak. She put her language to the test by translating various texts into it, in the process refining and expanding it, and by the end of 1982 Láadan had a well-defined syntax and vocabulary of over 1000 words. Elgin began to see the possibility for a real world experiment as well. If women really did feel that existing languages were inadequate to their perceptions, what would happen when they were offered a woman’s language? Either “they would welcome and nurture it, or it would at minimum motivate them to replace it with a better women’s language of their own construction.” Láadan was released to the world when Native Tongue was published in 1984, and Elgin decided to wait 10 years to see how it fared out there. She would declare the experiment a success or a failure by 1994.

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