Native Tongue by Suzette Haden Elgin
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
In a future world where Linguists have cornered the market on the translation of Alien languages, the 19th amendment has been repealed in 1991 (okay, so this book is dated) and replaced with one deeming females as minors all their lives, with no rights. In this bizarre US society (it's generally implied that it's worldwide? But other than a few mentions of a few European countries, the rest of the world is quite non-existent), women are apparently smart enough to learn languages and be translators/linguists but not intelligent enough to have control of their lives. Wives are very much just well-trained pets.
Yet in a hard-kept secret and brilliant subterfuge, the Linguist women of the Barren Houses are creating a whole new women's language which will be the key to their freedom.
It's a story of misogynist society taken to an extreme and a really chilling read. Because some of the things said are views that I've seen online recently. So it's not a thing of the past, but something that's still going on. Men like this exist--and they shouldn't be in power.
The biggest problem with this book is its letdown of an ending. The story builds but seems to go nowhere. Nazareth, a brilliant linguist with the ability to see what needs to be done, is finally brought into the secret, things are moving, and Laadan exceeds their expectations... And then it fizzles out and I'm left going, "that's it?" All this trouble and the men just... I mean, it's entirely plausible. The way it's set out makes it a possible solution. It's just not very satisfying, fiction-wise.
Or maybe I just think that the ideal the women were striving for was quite lame.
There are apparently 2 more books in this series, but I'm not sure I'll read them.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from The Feminist Press at CUNY via Edelweiss. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
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