Lojban Wave Lessons/18

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Lojban Wave Lessons: Foreword | ← Lesson 17 | Lesson 18 | Lesson 19 →

Lesson 18: Quotes

One of the key design features of Lojban is that it's supposed to be audio-visual isomorphic, meaning that everything expressed in text should also be expressed in speech and vice versa. Therefore, there cannot be any punctuation which is not pronounced. This means that Lojban has a wide range of words to quote other words. All Lojban quotes take some input of text and converts it to a sumti. Let's begin with the most simple:

lu = Quote word: Begin quote of grammatical Lojban content
li'u = Quote word: End quote of grammatical Lojban content

The text inside this construct must by itself be grammatical. It can quote all Lojban words with some few exceptions, most notably, obviously, li'u.

Try to translate the following sentence. Take your time.

mi stidi lo drata be tu'a lu ko jai gau mo li'u

drata = x1 is different from x2 by standard

Answer: I suggest something different than something about ko jai gau mo.

These quote words cannot quote ungrammatical text. This is sometimes useful, when you want to only pick out part of a sentence, as in: is gi'e a Lojban sumtcita?

For this, you need these two cmavo

lo'u = Quote word: Begin quote of ungrammatical but Lojban content
le'u = Quote word: End quote of ungrammatical but Lojban content

The text inside must be Lojban words, but need not be grammatical. Try to translate the above example (the one with gi'e) into Lojban

Answer: xu lo'u gi'e le'u lojbo sumtcita

This quote can be used to quote all Lojban words except le'u. However, this is not enough. If we want to translate is do mo a correct translation of "What's up?", we might be slightly wrong about what we here state, since do mo also can mean What are you?, but let's roll with it for a second. What we need here is the word zoi.

zoi = Next cmavo starts all-purpose quote and closes all-purpose quote.

When using zoi, you pick any morphologically correct lojban word at will (called the delimiter), which then opens a quote. To close it, use that word again. This way, you can quote anything except the delimiter, which shouldn't be a problem because you can pick it yourself. Usually, the word picked is either zoi itself, or a letter which stands for the language which the quote is written in. Example: I liked The Phantom of the Opera is mi pu nelci la'e zoi zoi. The Phantom of the Opera .zoi Notice two things: Firstly, I need a la'e, since I didn't like the quote, but rather what it referred to. Secondly, between the chosen delimiter and the quote, there are pauses, optionally represented by a full stop in writing. This pause is necessary to correctly identify the delimiter.

Try to translate the above sentence concerning What's up?

drani = x1 is correct/proper in aspect x2 in situation x3 by standard x4

Answer: xu lu do mo li'u drani xe fanva zoi gy. What's up? .gy. Here the delimiter gy is chosen because it's short for glico, meaning "English"

Closely analogously, there is la'o. It works exactly like zoi, but turns the resulting quote into a name. It is needed because normally, only selbri and cmevla can be names, not quotes.

la'o = Next cmavo is begin all-purpose quote and close all-purpose quote – use as name.

Last of the official quote words, there is zo. zo always quotes the next Lojban word, no matter what it is. It's pretty handy.

zo = quotes next Lojban word, no matter what.


zo zo zo'o plixau
"zo" is useful, hehe.
zo'o = attitudinal: discursive: Humorously, "kidding you"
plixau = x1 is useful for x2 to do purpose x3

Some Lojban users have found it useful to supplement with four additional quote words. The most used is:

u'i ri pu cusku zo'oi Doh
Ha ha, he said "Doh!"
zo'oi = Quote next word only. Next word is identified by pauses in speech or whitespace/dot in writing:

It is apparently very easy to use, but as a matter of fact, general use of them is very problematic. Users should be aware that the word following zo'oi should not include a period, a glottal stop or a pause. For example, * zo'oi http://www.lojban.org/ is not grammatical since the string "http://www.lojban.org/" contains periods.

Another erratic text: * lo salpo (ku) fa'u lo finti cu smuni zo'oi saka fa'u zo'oi sa.ka lo ponjo. Here "sa.ka" has a period inside.

Analogous to zo'oi and la'o, there is also the word la'oi, which works just like zo'oi, but forms a sumti that refers to something called (whatever next words is put):

la'oi = Scope over the next word only; "something called by the name...". Next word is identified by pauses in speech or whitespace/dot in writing.

How would you say: "Safi" is an English guy. It's his name?

glico = x1 is English/pertains to English culture in aspect x2
cmene = x1 is the name of x2 as used by x3

Answer: la'oi Safi glico .i lu'e ri cmene ri

la'oi has the same problem as zo'oi: the word following la'oi should not include a period, a glottal stop or a pause. For example, the following sentences are not grammatical:

  • .u'a mi te vecnu lo zgike datni pe la'oi t.A.T.u. Here "t.A.T.u" has periods inside ("t.A.T.u" was a musical group).

Example of spoken text: la'oi .uli.uli zgike tutci. "`uli`uli" is a Hawaiian musical instrument. This word has periods inside.

Example of spoken text: ju'i la'oi jugemujugemugokounosurikirekaijarisuigiono- suigioumatsu,unraimatsufuuraimatsuku,unerutokoronisumutokoro,iaburakoujinoburakouji- paipopaipopaiponosiu,uringansiu,uringan,nogu,urindaigu,urindainoponpokopi,inoponpokona,anotcoukiu,umeinotcousuke mi'o ko'oi klama lo ckule. Don't take a breathing in the name, or it will result in an error! This word ("じゅげむじゅげむごこうのすりきれかいじゃりすいぎょのすいぎょうまつうんらいまつふうらいまつくうねるところにすむところやぶらこうじのぶらこうじぱいぽぱいぽぱいぽのしゅーりんがんしゅーりんがんのぐーりんだいぐーりんだいのぽんぽこぴーのぽんぽこなーのちょうきゅうめいのちょうすけ") is a famous Japanese name of a boy.)

Thirdly, ra'oi quotes the next rafsi. Since rafsi are not words, they would usually have to be quoted by zoi. Furthermore, several rafsi are also cmavo. To avoid confusion of which is meant, ra'oi always refer to a rafsi, and is wrong in front of any text string which are not rafsi.

What does ra'oi zu'e rafsi zo zukte .i ku'i zo'oi zu'e sumtcita mean?

ku'i = attitudinal: discursive: However / though (contrasts to something previously said)
rafsi = x1 an affix for word/concept x2 with properties/of form x3 in language x4

Answer: The rafsi zu'e is a rafsi for zukte. But zu'e is a sumtcita.

And finally the useful word ma'oi. ma'oi quotes any cmavo, but treats the quote as a name for the word class (selma'o) to which that word belongs. So, for instance, ba'o belongs to the wordclass called ZAhO, so ma'oi ba'o is unofficial Lojban for the selmaho ZahO.

Try it out. Say that pu and ba are in the same selma'o!

cmavo = x1 is a grammatical word of class x2 in language x3

One possible answer: zo pu cmavo ma'oi ba

Lojban Wave Lessons: Foreword | ← Lesson 17 | Lesson 18 | Lesson 19 →