[DWJ] losing words (was Tropes and other such)

Robyn Starkey rohina at shaw.ca
Thu Dec 7 20:09:24 EST 2006

Colin Fine wrote:

> Native Tongue, which somebody mentioned in this regard, is a different 
> case: the change is explicitly effected by language. I found it 
> enormously unsatisfactory, because she doesn't give you a hint of how 
> this is supposed to work. You're told that Laadan is a women's 
> language, and given some blather about vocabulary, but I can't see 
> what is supposed to make it so world-changing.  Vocabulary (or at any 
> rate the stock of content words) is the most labile part of a language 
> - which again was where we came in.
> The grammar of Laadan, which I used to have, but must have lent to 
> somebody long ago, curse it) is more interesting, with such things as 
> attitudinal and evidential sentence particles. But I still don't see 
> how it is supposed to have the effect it has.
> At one level of course, my objection is akin to complaining of any 
> hard science fiction work "But they haven't told us how the maguffin 
> works!" But for me it is a different case, because S.H.E. so clearly 
> means Something Significant by the 'women's language', and because she 
> gives too much information about it.
> Blish actually produced some equations for the spindizzy, but he 
> didn't publish circuit diagrams, or believe that it was the saviour of 
> mankind. (Maybe Campbell and dianetics is a closer parallel).
> Perhaps after all, it's just that I'm a mere man.

I think so. As someone who worked for a bit on speaking the language, I 
think the vocabulary is the most obviously important thing, and Laadan 
makes coining words easy. The thing that makes it hard to learn (for 
native English speakers), the syntax, I think works more deeply and 
subtly. I wrote a paper about how I think the language does work to 
create social change.


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