Lojban Wave Lessons/1

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Lojban Wave Lessons: Foreword | ← Lesson 0 | Lesson 1 | Lesson 2 →

Lesson 1: Bridi, jufra, sumti and selbri

Bridi is the most central unit of Lojban utterances. The concept is very close to what we call a proposition in English. A bridi is a claim that some objects stand in a relation to each other, or that an object has some property. This stands in contrast to jufra, which are merely Lojban utterances, which can be bridi or anything else being said. The difference between a bridi and a jufra is that a jufra does not necessarily state anything, while a bridi does. Thus, a bridi might be true or false, while not all jufra can be said to be such.

To have some examples (in English, to begin with), Mozart was the greatest musician of all time is a bridi, because it makes a claim with a truth value, and it involves an object, Mozart, and a property, being the greatest musician of all time. On the contrary, Ow! My toe! is not a bridi, since it does not involve a relation, and thus does not state anything. Both, though, are jufra.

Try to identify the bridi among these English jufra:

  1. I hate it when you do that.
  2. Woah, that looks delicious!
  3. Geez, not again.
  4. No, I own three cars
  5. Nineteen minutes past eight.
  6. This Saturday, yes.

Answer: 1, 2 and 4 are bridi. The rest contain no relation or claim of a property.

Put in Lojban terms, a bridi consists of one selbri, and one or more sumti. The selbri is the relation or claim about the object, and the sumti are the objects which are in a relation. Note that object is not a perfect translation of sumti, since sumti can refer to not just physical objects, but can also purely abstract things like "The idea of warfare". A better translation would be something like "subject, direct or indirect object" for sumti, and main verb for selbri, though, as we will see, this is not optimal either.

We can now write the first important lesson down:

bridi = selbri + one or more sumti

Put another way, a bridi states that some sumti do/are something explained by a selbri.

Identify the sumti and selbri equivalents in these English jufra:

I will pick up my daughters with my car.

Answer: selbri: pick up (with). sumti: I, my daughters, my car

He bought 5 new shirts from Mark for just two hundred euro!

Answer: selbri: bought (from) (for) sumti: He, 5 new shirts, Mark and two hundred euros

Since these concepts are so fundamental to Lojban, let's have a third example:

So far, the EPA has done nothing about the amount of sulphur dioxide.

Answer: selbri: has done (about) sumti: The EPA, nothing and the amount of sulphur dioxide

Now try begin making Lojban bridi. For this you will need to use some words, which can act as selbri:

dunda = x1 gives x2 to x3 (without payment)
pelxu = x1 is yellow
zdani = x1 is a home of x2

Notice that these words meaning give, yellow and home would be considered a verb, an adjective and a noun in English. In Lojban, there are no such categories and no such distinction. dunda can be translated gives (verb), is a giver (noun), is giving (adjective) as well as to an adverb form. They all act as selbri, and are used in the same way.

As well as a few words, which can act as sumti:

mi = "I" or "we" – the one or those who are speaking
ti = "this" – a close thing or event nearby which can be pointed to by the speaker
do = "you" – the one or those who are being spoken to

See the strange translations of the selbri above - especially the x1, x2 and x3? Those are called sumti places. They are places where sumti can go to fill a bridi. Filling a sumti in a place states that the sumti fits in that place. The second place of dunda, for example, x2, is the thing being given. The third is the object which receives the thing. Notice also that the translation of dunda has the word to in it. This is because, while this word is needed in English to signify the receiver, the receiver is in the third sumti place of dunda. So when you fill the third sumti place of dunda, the sumti you fill in is always the receiver, and you don't need an equivalent to the word to!

To say a bridi, you simply say the x1 sumti first, then the selbri, then any other sumti.

Usual bridi: (x1 sumti) (selbri) (x2 sumti) (x3 sumti) (x4 sumti) (x5 sumti) (and so on)

The order can be played around with, but for now, we stick with the usual form. To say I give this to you you just say mi dunda ti do, with the three sumti at the right places.

So, how would you say This is a home of me?

Answer: ti zdani mi

Try a few more in order to get the idea of a place structure sink in.

You give this to me?

Answer: do dunda ti mi

And translate ti pelxu

Answer: This is yellow.

Quite easy once you get the hang of it, right?

Multiple bridi after each other are separated by .i This is the Lojban equivalent of full stop, but it usually goes before bridi instead of after them. It's often left out before the first bridi, though, as in all these examples:

.i = Sentence separator. Separates any two jufra (and therefore also bridi).

ti zdani mi .i ti pelxu This is a home to me. This is yellow.

Before you move on to the next lesson, I recommend that you take a break for at least seven minutes to let the information sink in.

Lojban Wave Lessons: Foreword | ← Lesson 0 | Lesson 1 | Lesson 2 →