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Native Tongue

by Suzette Haden Elgin

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Native Tongue (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
1,1343018,022 (3.78)2 / 107
"In 2205, the Nineteenth Amendment has been repealed and men hold absolute power. The Earth's economy relies on an insular group of linguists who "breed" women to become interstellar translators until they are sent to the Barren House to await death. But instead, these women are secretly creating a language of their own to reclaim their autonomy and make resistance possible for all."--Back cover.… (more)
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» See also 107 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 30 (next | show all)
Minu jaoks mitmel moel väga raputav raamat, ja just eriti pärast Kuangi "Babeli" lugemist, kuna temaatika on sama, aga hoopis teise nurga alt. Keele väest, maagiast ja sellest, kuidas keel loob maailma, milles me elame. ( )
  sashery | Jan 29, 2024 |
Oh, goodness, where to start? There are so many problems with this book.

Firstly, it's so boring. I was recommended this because I like the movie Arrival and linguistics. But honestly, this book doesn't say a whole lot about linguistics, or even aliens.

It was definitely too long, and it strangely had 3 different main plots going on that never successfully came together. The ending was abrupt and unsatisfying.

It's super feminist, which was the author's point. She definitely preferred to hit readers over the head with her personal moral convictions at the expense of the actual story. I was confused about why she chose to make her world a "men are powerful jerks, women are disempowered but strong rebels" scenario. Especially with the way her world was set up (women can't vote, they can't go places without their male escort, etc.), a historical novel (or one set in the Muslim world) honestly could have communicated all that. I think it would have been vastly more interesting to read about a society in which women were the power-hungry abusers and men the victims.

There is a ton of profanity, which I found very strange for a linguist author - you'd think a linguist would enjoy using words more creatively. And, profanity is offensive in general.

On that same note, this book is very anti-religion - and specifically, anti-Christian. The author makes the "evil" men the ones who are "Christian" (though I use that term loosely, because the author doesn't understand the difference between nominal and devout Christians, apparently).

The author made sure to work in the fact that the "smart, brave women" had secret abortions.

There are several sexual references, though no explicit content. ( )
  RachelRachelRachel | Nov 21, 2023 |
This is my all-time go-to feminist sc-fi read ( )
  tornadox | Feb 14, 2023 |
This is a feminist dystopia written in the 1980s, set in a future in which women's rights have been taken away and they are completely subservient to men. In this future, linguists are very important as they communicate with the many, many alien species that have been encountered to negotiating trading contracts and space colonies. The main events of the story take place 200 years in the future and follow the household of one of the 13 linguist families, whose children are trained from birth to acquire alien languages.

I had such mixed feelings about this book. For one thing, it took me so long to get into it, for two reasons. First, I didn't think it was plausible that all of women's rights would be taken away in the 1990s by constitutional amendments just because one paper was published positing that women were biologically not as intelligent as men. As someone who was alive in the 1990s, this just does not seem feasible. I can't imagine that even if 38 states had ratified these amendments, that our country would have remained whole after that.

Second, everyone talks like someone in a parody of a stiff 1950s television show. Sometimes, it was laughable. And the men are so ridiculous. I kept getting angry every time I picked this up to read and had to take breaks. Granted, there certainly are men who think this way about women, but in this book, it's ALL of them. And there is no romantic love, or even lust. Really? I get tired of misogyny too, but this goes against everything I know and have experienced of male-female relationships.

But I started getting more into it as I read. The baby-exploding caught my attention. That was a bit of horror I wasn't expecting. Too bad that plot line wasn't developed much more, but I gather that was probably left for the sequels. Then the character of Michaela, the one woman who's mad as hell and isn't going to take it anymore. I really liked her and all the bits of the book she was in. This story required an outsider character to give it some perspective, and she was it.

Overall, the writing was stiff and awkward and aggressively feminist, of its day. It did remind me a lot of The Female Man, in that sense. But it has interesting ideas to present in the guise of science fiction. Overall, I'm glad I read this, if not for the plot or characterization, but rather for the ideas and for it being a kind of artifact of a very particular time in the feminist movement (again, like The Female Man). ( )
  sturlington | Jan 24, 2022 |
Kind of interesting but I got to a point where I couldn't be bothered to finish it. ( )
  mjhunt | Jan 22, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 30 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Elgin, Suzette Hadenprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Armstrong, OenaCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bauman, JillCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Marín Trechera, RafaelTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Shapiro, SusanCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Squier, Susan M.Afterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vedder, JulieAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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There is a sense in which no book can be said to be "ordinary" today; we are well aware of that.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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"In 2205, the Nineteenth Amendment has been repealed and men hold absolute power. The Earth's economy relies on an insular group of linguists who "breed" women to become interstellar translators until they are sent to the Barren House to await death. But instead, these women are secretly creating a language of their own to reclaim their autonomy and make resistance possible for all."--Back cover.

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Average: (3.78)
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