Saturday, February 26, 2011


Suzette Haden Elgin (1936- ) is an American science fiction author. She founded the Science Fiction Poetry Association, and is considered an important figure in the field of science fiction constructed languages[1]. Elgin is also a linguist; she publishes non-fiction, of which the best-known is the Gentle Art of Verbal Self-Defense series.

Elgin attended the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) in the 1960s, and began writing science fiction in order to pay tuition. She has a Ph.D. in linguistics[2], and was the first UCSD student to ever write two dissertations (on English and Navajo). She created the engineered language[3] Láadan for her Native Tongue science fiction series [The official home for the Láadan language.]

She supports feminist science fiction, saying "women need to realize that SF is the only genre of literature in which it's possible for a writer to explore the question of what this world would be like if you could get rid of [X], where [X] is filled in with any of the multitude of real world facts that constrain and oppress women. Women need to treasure and support science fiction."

[1]A planned or constructed language—known colloquially as a conlang—is a language whose phonology, grammar, and/or vocabulary have been consciously devised by an individual or group, instead of having evolved naturally. There are many possible reasons to create a constructed language: to ease human communication (see international auxiliary language and code); to give fiction or an associated constructed world an added layer of realism; for linguistic experimentation; for artistic creation; and for language games.

[2]Linguistics is the scientific study of human language. Linguistics can be broadly broken into three categories or subfields: (1)the study of language form, (2)of language meaning, and (3)of language in context.

[3]Engineered languages (sometimes abbreviated to engilangs or engelangs) are constructed languages devised to test or prove some hypotheses about how languages work or might work. There are at least three subcategories, philosophical languages (or ideal languages), logical languages (sometimes abbreviated as loglangs), and experimental languages. Engineered languages are "languages that are designed to specified objective criteria, and modeled to meet those criteria".

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