ELG. Sensory perception

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Sensory perception

Taken from two mailing list messages:



Sense words can either express experiencing the sensation or expressing an action being taken to acquire a sensation. In English, these are:

Active Passive
look see
listen hear
touch feel
sniff smell
taste taste

In Lojban, there are few dedicated gismu:

Active Passive
sight catlu viska
sound tirna
touch pencu
scent sumne
generic zgana ganse

There are two options of lujvo. Naming based on the sensory organ gives:

Active Passive
sight kalzga kalga'e
sound kerzga kerga'e
touch pilzga pilga'e
scent zbizga zbiga'e
taste tacyzga tacyga'e

Naming based on the thing being sensed gives:

Active Passive
sight vinzga vinga'e
sound snazga snaga'e
touch te'uzga te'urga'e
scent panzga panga'e
taste vu'izga vu'irga'e

la gleki's first (aggressive) proposal

is to replace the current set of sensory predicates with another one. The scheme is still not complete. Let's put all sensory aspects into one table. These are the predicates that we might get (I will give them temporary names in curly brackets).

HEAR - x1 hears object(e.g. musician)/event (e.g. concert) x2, listens to it and defines x2 as x3 (noisy, loud, sweet, lovely, romantic etc.)

SEE - x1 sees object/event x2, looks at x2 and defines it as x3 (green, that it looks ugly etc.)

SMELL - x1 smells object/event x2, observes x2 and defines it as x3 (e.g. flowery,pungent, musk)

TASTE - x1 tastes object/event x2, observes x2 and defines it as x3 (e.g. tasty, sweet,sour)

TOUCH - x1 touches x2, observes (tries) x2 and defines it as having texture x3 (e.g. rough). As you can see we actually need valsi with three places. "observe" is a variation of each predicate that can be best expressed using additional jundi or zgana. This scheme is consistent. The only problem is that it doesn't correspond to the current mess of sensory gismu.

The only gismu that corresponds to this scheme is te panci. Probably te jvinu as well (thanks xorxes for pointing out!) and te skari.

tirna3=viska3=skari4 is something that we can also place in every sensory gismu. However, they can be easily expressed using va'o.

gua\spi's vyi=X1 sees object X2 against background X3 looks like lojbanic tirna3.

sumne is a superfluous gismu.

vrusi overlaps the senses of taste and smell (against the policy of lojban one word=one meaning).

In gua\spi there are a bit better definitions, e.g. xel=X1 smells like prototype (xi) X2*.

la gleki's second (compromise) proposal

In order to reach maximum compatibility with the current gimste I can also suggest mergin x2 and x3 in my previous proposal getting

Alternate proposal

  • tirna* - x1 hears object(e.g. musician/sound)/event x2 (e.g. mi tirna lo nu balzgibende cu cladu)
  • viska* - x1 sees object/event x2 (mi viska lo du'u lo tricu cu crino)
  • sumne* - x1 smells object/event x2 (mi sumne lo nu lo xrula cu cpina)
  • smaka* - x1 tastes object/event x2 (mi me'oi TASTE lo nu lo plise cu titla)
  • palpi* - x1 touches x2 (mi me'oi TOUCH-FEEL lo nu lo sefta cu rufsu)

I also suggest that x2 in all 5 sensory gismu can be both an object and an event, thus allowing sumti-raising so that we can say mi tirna lo balzgibende mi tirna lo cladu mi tirna lo nu balzgibende cu cladu

We have no gismu for TASTE ( vrusi has no place for experiencer) and TOUCH-FEEL (pencu is not what we need. when i touch ko'a with a screwdriver i touch-feel the screwdriver but touch ko'a ). We would also need to allow in sumne2 not only the object being smelled but the type of smell and abstraction for the combination of the object and it's smell.

la gleki's third proposal

(main 6 cases corresponding to 6 human senses are in bold. Note that vision is divided into vision of form and vision of color).

full form raising co-referential expressions
viska lo tarmi be lo najnimre i ri se tarmi lo cukla viska lo najnimre
viska lo gusni be fi ri viska lo najnimre
viska lo se skari be lo najnimre i ri skari lo narju viska lo najnimre
tirna lo sance be lo palta poi ca'o porpi i ri se sance lo cladu tirna lo palta
smaka lo tasta be lo najnimre i ri se tasta lo kukte smaka lo najnimre
sumne lo panci be lo najnimre i ri se panci lo xrula sumne lo najnimre
te se panci fi ri te se panci ri
palpi lo sefta be lo najnimre i ri se sefta lo xutla palpi ri

The second column might be incorrectly thought of as of sumti-raising while in reality it is referential transparency (in linguistics or in programming (thanks tsani for making this terminology clear). In this table the second column contains raising. However, the meaning of najnimre is different in each column. In mi viska lo tarmi the word lo najnimre is a property of tarmi but in mi viska lo najnimre the word lo najnimre is a property of vision. You may call "an orange" any object in the form of an orange or colored like an orange. Perhaps you just meant "orange color" just like we do in English!


This is something that definitely needs revision. We have five senses and we must clearly express what we feel.

See also Tlön, Uqbar and la gleki's fishy apples