Lojban Wave Lessons/8

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Lojban Wave Lessons: Foreword | ← Lesson 7 | Lesson 8 | Lesson 9 →

Lesson 8: Terminator elision

je'u mi djica lo nu le merko poi tunba mi vau ku'o ku jimpe lo du'u mi na nelci lo nu ri darxi mi vau kei ku vau kei ku vau kei ku vau
I do wish the American, who is my sibling, would understand that I don't like that he hits me.

Regardless of whether the above sentence is being understood, (it shouldn't, as it contains words we have not covered in these lessons yet) one thing stands out: As more complex Lojban structures are learned, more and more of the sentences get filled with ku, kei, ku'o and other of those words which by themselves carry no meaning.

The function of all these words is to signal the end of a certain grammatical construct, like for instance convert selbri to sumti in the case of ku. The English word for this kind of word is terminator, the Lojban word is famyma'o. They are underlined in the example above.

Note: The vau in the above example are the famyma'o for end bridi. There is a good reason you have not yet seen it, stay tuned.

vau = famyma'o: terminates bridi.

In most spoken and written Lojban, most famyma'o are skipped (elided). This greatly saves syllables in speech and space in writing, however, one must always be careful when eliding famyma'o. In the simple example lo merko ku klama, removing the famyma'o ku would yield lo merko klama, which is a single sumti made from the tanru merko klama. Thus, it means an American traveler instead of an American travels. famyma'o elision can lead to very wrong results if done incorrectly, which is why you haven't learned about it until now.

The rule for when famyma'o can be elided is very simple, at least in theory: You can elide a famyma'o, if and only if doing so does not change the grammatical constructs in the sentence. In other words, a construct extends as far right as possible, until either its famyma'o or another word not allowed in the construct appears.

Most famyma'o can be safely elided at the end of the bridi. Exceptions are the obvious ones like end quote-famyma'o and end bridi grouping-famyma'o. This is why vau is almost never used – simply beginning a new bridi with .i will almost always terminate the preceding bridi anyway. It has one frequent use, however. Since attitudinals always apply to the preceding word, applying it to a famyma'o applies it to the entire construct which is terminated. Using vau, one can then use attitudinals afterthought and apply them to the entire bridi:

za'a do dunda lo zdani {ku} lo prenu {ku}... vau .i'e
I see that you give a home to a person... I approve!
prenu = x1 is a person; x1 has a personality.

Knowing the basic rules for famyma'o elision, we can thus return to the original sentence and begin removing famyma'o:

je'u mi djica lo nu le merko poi tunba mi vau ku'o ku jimpe lo du'u mi na nelci lo nu ri darxi mi vau kei ku vau kei ku vau kei ku vau

We can see that the first vau is grammatically unnecessary, because the next non-famyma'o-word is jimpe, which is a selbri. Since there can only be one selbri per bridi, vau is not needed. Since jimpe as a selbri cannot be in the relative clause either (only one bridi in a clause, only one selbri in each bridi), we can elide ku'o. Likewise, jimpe cannot be a second selbri inside the construct le merko poi{...}, so the ku is not needed either. Furthermore, all the famyma'o at the very end of the sentence can be elided too, since beginning a new bridi will terminate all of these constructs anyway.

We then end up with:

je'u mi djica lo nu le merko poi tunba mi jimpe lo du'u mi na nelci lo nu ri darxi mi

with no famyma'o at all!

When eliding famyma'o, it is a good idea to be acquainted with cu. cu is one of those words which can make your (Lojbanic) life a lot easier. What it does is to separate any previous sumti from the selbri. One could say that it defines the next word to be a selbri, and terminates exactly as much as it needs to in order to do that.

cu = elidable marker: separates selbri from preceding sumti, allows preceding famyma'o elision.
prami = x1 loves x2
lo su'u do cusku lo se du'u do prami mi vau kei ku vau kei ku se djica mi
= lo su'u do cusku lo se du'u do prami mi cu se djica mi

That you say that you love me is desired by be = I wish you said you loved me.

Note: cu is not a famyma'o, because it is not tied to one specific construct. But it can be used to elide other famyma'o.

One of the greatest strengths of cu is that it quickly becomes easy to intuitively understand. By itself it means nothing, but it reveals the structure of Lojban expressions by identifying the core selbri. In the original example with the violent American brother, using cu before jimpe does not change the meaning of the sentence in any way, but might make it easier to read.

In the following couple of lessons, cu will be used when necessary, and all famyma'o elided if possible. The elided famyma'o will be encased in curly brackets, as shown below. Try to translate it!

.a'o do noi ke'a lojbo .o'a dai {ku'o} cu jimpe lo du'u lo famyma'o {ku} cu vajni {vau} {kei} {ku} {vau}

vajni = x1 is important to x2 for reason x3
jimpe = x1 understands that x2 (du'u-abstraction) is true about x3
a'o = attitudinal: simple propositional emotion: Hope - despair
o'a = attitudinal: simple propositional emotion: pride - modesty/humility - shame
dai = attitudinal modifier: Empathy (subscribes attitudinal to someone else, unspecified)

What do I state?

Answer: I hope that you, a proud Lojbanist, understands that famyma'o are important

Fun side note: Most people well-versed in famyma'o-elision do it so instinctively that they often must be reminded how important understanding famyma'o are to the understanding of Lojban. Therefore, each Tuesday have been designated Terminator Day or famyma'o djedi on the Lojban IRC chatroom. During Terminator Day, many people try (and often fail) to remember writing out all famyma'o with some very verbose conversations as a result.

Lojban Wave Lessons: Foreword | ← Lesson 7 | Lesson 8 | Lesson 9 →