Diane Martin and I have been friends for more than 40 years. We worked together on the feminist SF fanzines,Janusand Auroraand served on the first and several dozen subsequent WisCon convention committees. We worked for many years with the James Tiptree, Jr. Award/Otherwise Award. In 1980, Eileen Gunn gave me a tape recording one of Suzette Haden Suzette’s lessons, titled, “Teach Yourself Alien.” In this lesson Elgin offered advice to Science Fiction authors on how to deal with alien languages in their fiction. It was great. I shared it with Diane, and we immediately decided to contact Suzette and ask permission to reprint the text in our fanzine, Aurora, whole issue #19, Vol. 7, no. 1. In 1982, WisCon invited Suzette to attend WisCon 6 and again in 1986 for WisCon 10 as guest of honor. Diane went on to produce the first and second Dictionary and Grammar of Láadan(1985 and 1988). These books were typed on a Selectric typewriter and published by SF3. They have long gone out of print and since the text was never saved electronically, Diane and I worried that the material would become inaccessible. Diane and I both loved and honored Suzette Haden Elgin as a friend, an advisor, and a brilliant scientist. She died in 2015; We miss her and did not want to let the Láadan dictionary go out of print. So, in 2018, we began talking about reprinting and updating the dictionary and grammar.
It turns out that OCR technology has improved impressively over the year, but not enough to easily scan and translate text written in a heavily accented, invented language. The task of proofreading the scanned text was far more daunting that I imagined. Simply creating the first draft of this book proved to be an enormous project. We enlisted Susanna Sturgis, professional copyeditor, to help us. Susanna ended up basically learning Láadan in the course of her work. In addition to saving the material from the original books, we also were able to incorporate material from the Láadan website—additional vocabulary, lessons, and essays by Suzette Haden Elgin. Finally, Suzette's daughter, Rebecca Haden wrote a lovely preface to the book.
Interest persists in Láadan, the woman’s language Suzette Haden Elgin created in 1982, embodied in her science fiction "Native Tongue" series. Láadan is a feminist constructed language created by Elgin to test the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis that the language one speaks influences the way one thinks, i.e., can a language expressing the views of women shape a culture? Láadan includes morphemes that require speakers to own their own perceptions—words that indicate, for instance, whether a statement comes from personal observation, a trusted source, or an unreliable third party. Nowadays Elgin might argue that accusations of "fake news" would be impossible in Láadan. This language also encodes speakers’ intentions into their sentences, eliminating another form of micro-aggression, the rude comment that is passed off as “just a joke.”