“The New Hire” is a story inspired by the ridiculous things we’ve all had to do just to make ends mete. When you are desperate, how far is too far?
“Witness” is an attempt at writing something a bit gross with a touch of horror.
Would there be any benefit to reviving the archaic pronoun thou and its other forms? Originally a way of conveying familiarity, intimacy, or even disrespect in some cases, thou was the singular form of the word “you.” It provided a similar dichotomy that other European languages have: in French tu/vous can be translated as thou/you.
These days thou is archaic, but it persists in daily speech in some parts of the world: regional dialects in Scotland, for example, and among the Society of Friends (Quakers).
For most English speakers, however, it has completely lost the aura of intimacy it once had and instead seems stiff, formal, and ritualistic due to its use in religious texts. We still see thou used in some modern contexts: Thor in Marvel Comics is a regular thou-user, and we hear Darth Vader ask of Emperor Palpatine, “What is thy bidding, my master?”
With the increasing acceptance of non-binary third person pronouns [such as they or ke or ze], might thou also find new life?
This was a lot of fun to write! “Spectrophobia” is a palindromic story: the ending is told in reverse, telling a slightly different tale.
“Oneirodynia” is a short story inspired by an assignment from an intro philosophy class I took several years ago. It has been rattling around in my brain for a long time. This daily post is the perfect time to write it down. It was very hard to write, so I’m not entirely satisfied with how it turned out, but I’m glad to finally get it out of my head.
Láadan is a language created in the 1980s by Suzette Haden Elgin, a linguist, feminist, and “verbal self-defense coach.”
Though this lovely language has its problems [no particular way of referring to non-binary people, for example], its strengths far out-weigh these. For example, here are some things that I love about Láadan:
My point here is that Laadan is capable of expressing nuance easily and it has a lot of interesting features. So why does the idea of a “feminist language” disturb some people?
Why did Láadan fail?
Elgin conceived of Láadan as an experiment. She gave it 10 years to succeed, either by communities picking it up and using it, or by others creating women-centric languages. Elgin felt that it failed by either measure. But why did Láadan, a beautiful and interesting language, fail?
Whether or not Láadan is better suited to express a feminine point of view is irrelevant. People aren’t learning Esperanto because it succeeded in becoming a global auxiliary language – they learn it because it is interesting.
One word that gets criticized over and over is ásháana [to menstruate joyfully]. Why does this word so irritate people? I’ve seen trans women say it sickens them, others accuse Elgin of never experiencing the reality of menstruation, and saying that the word is useless.
In English, we refer to menstruation as “the curse of Eve.” Menstrual taboos exist all over the world that claim menstruating people are unclean. Menstruation means many girls can’t go to school or participate in family life.
Yet this is not the case in every culture. Among the Cherokee, moonblood was a source of great power and could be used to destroy enemies. The verb ásháana shows us that menstruation doesn’t have to be a horrible experience; there are several situations where it could be used – a pregnancy scare, for example, or after an extended illness that eliminated healthy menstruation. And among cultures that do not denigrate this natural event, perhaps the word would have many other uses too.
Incidentally, ásháana is only one of a set of verbs: osháana [to menstruate], desháana [early], elasháana [for the first time], husháana [painfully], zhesháana [in sync with someone else]. Names have power and by naming these experiences, Láadan allows us to express a reality that would be difficult to describe otherwise. These words are part of a trend in Láadan: giving names to things that aren’t deemed worthy of having one.
After a while it becomes psychologically disorienting for women to look out at a world where their reality doesn’t exist.
In the end, Láadan failed because it was labelled “feminist.” In a patriarchal society there can be no worse insult.
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