User:Ramcinfo/sumti staile

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(Please note that this draft require at least passing knowledge of both Kēlen, beautiful verbless conlang, and Lojban. Author hopes to write more in-depth introduction in future.)

Imitating Kēlen in Lojban seems at first to be impossible, or at least, very awkward - after all, Lojban is built upon predicates, and predicates are often thought of as verbs (and adjectives). Most sumti, being descriptions, have a predicate in heart. On the other hand, if we consider simple descriptions of {lo broda} kind sort of atomic noun-like constructs, and look at Kēlen relationals as predicates, the task seems to be trivial. However, we can do better.

First, note that grammar of Lojban allows fragments - predicate-less constructions which can pe used at the same level as usual statements. Original semantics of fragments is to be short answers to various king of questions (“Who Did You Pass On The Road? Nobody”), but in general the grammar doesn't define semantics, and fragments are used by Lojbanists in various roles, e.g. in poetry. One kind of fragment is a bare terms sequence. We'll take the simplest term fragment, then, and interpret it as analogue of LA connective in it simplest pattern ([1]):

 lo kabri
 la jacēla;
 "A bowl exists."

Let us skip locatives for a moment and look at the other two patterns. Doesn't them remind you of anything? But of course!

 lo kabri po'u lo xunre
 la jacēla ñe janēla;
 "The bowl is the red thing."
 lo ka xunre po'e lo kabri
 "The redness is belongs to the bowl."
 la jacēla pa annēla;
 "The bowl has redness."

The equivalence pattern translation is very straighforward. The whole-part relationship is more complex; first note that ka abstraction take place of Kēlen's stative inflection. Also, relationship is reversed in Lojban, the main sumti being possessed and relative one, possessor. However, if we replace possession with association, the order could be made the same as in Kēlen:

 lo kabri pe lo ka xunre
 "The bowl is associated with the redness."

Now, let's return to the locative. By another quirk of the grammar, relative phrases could be not just sumti, but tagged terms. And lo, sumti tensed by another sumti!

 lo kabri pe ga'u re'o lo jubme
 la jacēla sū jatēwa;
 "The bowl is on the table."

Now to the other Kēlen connectives.

 ñi jacēla jahūwa;
 "The bowl is broken" or "The bowl broke."  

Simplest way of expressing change ([2]) I can think of is temporal tense. Now, pedantically, in Lojban tenses used as sumti tcita generally take nu-abstractons:

 lo kabri pe co'a lo za'i spofu
 "The bowl is beginning to be in broken state"

However, maybe it could be idiomatically simplified (though motivation here is mostly to imitate Kēlen more closely):

 lo kabri po'u co'a lo spofu
 "The bowl is beginning to be broken thing"

However, it is difficult to express agency in this way as easily as it is done in Kēlen.

 ñalla jacēla jahūwa;
 "I broke the bowl."

Agency is naturally expressed in lojban with gau, which is modal formed from predicate gasnu - so note that we now introduce another way to use predicates in this staile, besides simple descriptions. One approach is add another relative phrase:

 lo kabri pe  co'a lo za'i spofu pe gau mi
 "The bowl is associated with beginning of broken state, and this state is associated with me as agent."

- but note that here second association is with the abstraction (state itself), and not with its beginning. Maybe it is more fitting to move the event contour inside description:

 lo kabri pe lo mu'e co'a spofu pe gau mi
 "The bowl is associated with beginning of broken condition, and this beginning is associated with me as agent."

Or in identity pattern:

 lo kabri po'u lo co'a spofu pe gau mi
 "The bowl is starting-to-be-broken thing, which is associated with me as agent."

However, in doing so, we moved dangerously close to have full-flanged predicate in relative phrase :)

 lo kabri pe lo mu'e gau mi co'a spofu
 "The bowl is associated with me causing beginning of broken condition."

Unfortunately, I cannot yet see the unified way to translate transaction connective ([3]). For purely physical transaction, spatial tenses could be used, but in other types of transaction it would be too metaphorical for Lojban. The only approach I see now is to use various modals, which have two downsides: 1) for various kinds of transactions, various modals are used; and 2) in most typical cases, modal is reduplicated. E.g.:

 lo jdini pe va'u mi zi'e pe seva'u ko'a
 telme antēnni pē
 "I gave him some money."

Here, va'u (xamgu modal) is used in place of dunda. Both sides of transaction represent the places of the same predicate, so its modal must be repeated two times in separate relative phrases.

One could point that using xamgu for both sides of this kind of transaction is not very appropriate, as though x2 of xamgu is indeed one receiving the benefit, x1 is not source of the benefit, but the benefit itself. So, {lo jdini pe gau mi zi'e pe seva'u ko'a} might be more fitting. This argument shows yet another problem with this approach: connecting source and destination of transaction with zi'e creates no direct semantic link between them - in this case, the more direct translation should be "The money have me as agent and him as beneficiary", but it must be inferred that my agency is indeed the benifit of another person. This could be amended for in the same way as with NI connective:

 lo jdini pe seva'u ko'a pe gau mi
 "The money are for benefit of him, by my agency".

Finally, PA connective ([4]) is mostly shorthand for possessive pattern of LA, as noted in Kēlen grammar itself. It has additional meaning allowing abstractions to be possessors; but in Lojban it may be just expressed with (admittedly vague) pe:

 lo (ka/za'i)badri pe ko'a
 - or -
 ko'a po lo (ka/za'i) badri
 pa anlōrāl sāen;
 "She is grieving." (Lit: "Grief has her.")