Native Tongue (Suzette Haden Elgin novel)

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Native Tongue
NativeTongueElgin.jpg
First edition
Author Suzette Haden Elgin
Cover artist Jill Bauman
Country United States
Language English
Series Native Tongue
Genre Science fiction novel
Publisher DAW Books
Publication date
1984
Media type Print (Hardcover & Paperback)
Pages 320 pp
ISBN 0-87997-945-3
OCLC 44270270
813/.54 21
LC Class PS3555.L42 N38 2000
Followed by The Judas Rose

Native Tongue is the first novel in Suzette Haden Elgin's feminist science fiction series of the same name. The trilogy is centered in a future dystopian American society where the 19th Amendment was repealed in 1996 and women have been stripped of civil rights. A group of women, part of a worldwide group of linguists who facilitate human communication with alien races, create a new language for women as an act of resistance. Elgin created that language, Láadan, and instructional materials are available.

Contents[edit]

Summary[edit]

"Native Tongue" follows Nazareth, a talented female linguist in the 22nd century - after the repeal of the 19th Amendment. Nazareth is part of a small group of linguists "bred" to become perfect intergalactic translators.[1]

Nazareth looks forward to retiring to the Barren House - where women past childbearing age essentially go as they wait to die - but learns that the women of the Barren Houses are creating a language to help them break free of male dominance.

Author's comments[edit]

Elgin has said about the book:

Native Tongue was a thought experiment, with a time limit of ten years. My hypothesis was that if I constructed a language designed specifically to provide a more adequate mechanism for expressing women's perceptions, women would (a) embrace it and begin using it, or (b) embrace the idea but not the language, say "Elgin, you've got it all wrong!" and construct some other "women's language" to replace it. The ten years went by, and neither of those things happened; Láadan got very little attention, even though SF3 actually published its grammar and dictionary and I published a cassette tape to go with it. Not once did any feminist magazine (or women's magazine) ask me about the language or write a story about it.
The Klingon language, which is as "masculine" as you could possibly get, has had a tremendous impact on popular culture -- there's an institute, there's a journal, there were bestselling grammars and cassettes, et cetera, et cetera; nothing like that happened with Láadan. My hypothesis therefore was proved invalid, and the conclusion I draw from that is that in fact women (by which I mean women who are literate in English, French, German, and Spanish, the languages in which Native Tongue appeared) do not find human languages inadequate for communication.[2]

Publication history[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Notes
  1. ^ "Native Tongue at The Feminist Press". Retrieved 30 September 2011. 
  2. ^ Glatzer, Jenna (2007). "Interview With Suzette Haden Elgin". Archived from the original on 2007-06-12. Retrieved 20 March 2007. 
  • Mohr, Dunja M. Worlds Apart: Dualism and Transgression in Contemporary Female Dystopias. Jefferson, NC, McFarland, 2005. [extensive chapter on the Native Tongue Series]

External links[edit]