Posted by Mark Rosenfelder on 14:12 5/9/02
In reply to: Laadan posted by Frank Legros on 17:39 5/9/02
Nice review... Haden Elgin often generates controversy, tho' I enjoyed her book The Language Imperative. Descriptions I've read are often at a loss to explain what's so female-oriented about Laadan.
There's a page in her book where she gives a set of words which might be useful for expressing female experience. Maybe I'll type in some of it at home. In general they struck me as the sort of labored contrivance people invent for humorous effect-- Sniglets or The Meaning of Liff are full of them. I actually did something like this for Verdurian: I invented a number of words for describing varieties of aesthetic experience or attitude toward life-- this is one reason there's three words for 'cynical'.
One thing I never quite got in her theories is why she seems to think that existing languages don't reflect female experience... don't women produce at least half of all utterances?
As for the pronouns... I agree with you about necessary hypocrisy... I kind of suspect that Haden Elgin is a child of the '60s, when people thought they'd try total honesty, with mixed results.
I'm not sure that "beloved" affixes wouldn't work, though. I expect they'd work like diminutives in Spanish; and perhaps her "despised" affixes would work like the pejorative ones in Russian. You can tell exactly how someone is feeling about you when they say your name in Russian. :) I might also mention the useful old word "Sirrah" in English.
Conlangers sometimes assume, I think, that people will actually use the words according to their dictionary definition. But people go well beyond this, with all sorts of metaphorical extensions, nonce expressions, and ironies. Surely "na" ('beloved thou') could also be used in sarcasm, and "lhene" ('despised thou') in affectionate banter?