Lojban Wave Lessons/9

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Lojban Wave Lessons: Foreword | ← Lesson 8 | Lesson 9 | Lesson 10 →

Lesson 9: sumtcita

So far we have been doing pretty well with the selbri we have had at hand. However, there is a finite amount of defined selbri out there, and in many cases the sumti places are not useful for what we had in mind. What if, say, i want to say that I am translating using a computer? There is no place in the structure of fanva to specify what tool I translate with, since, most of the time, that is not necessary. Not to worry, this lesson is on how to add additional sumti places to the selbri.

The most basic way to add sumti places are with fi'o SELBRI fe'u (yes, another example of a famyma'o, fe'u. It's almost never necessary, so this might be the last time you ever see it.)

In between these two words goes a selbri, and like lo SELBRI ku, fi'o SELBRI fe'u extracts the x1 of the selbri put into it. However, with fi'o SELBRI fe'u, the selbri place is converted, not to a sumti, but to a sumtcita, meaning sumti-label, with the place structure of the x1 of the selbri it converted. This sumtcita then absorbs the next sumti. One could say that using a sumtcita, you import a sumti place from another selbri, and add it to the bridi being said.

Note: Sometimes, especially in older texts, the term tag or modal is used for sumtcita. Ignore those puny English expressions. We teach proper Lojban here.

While it is hard to grasp the process from reading about it, an example can perhaps show its actual simplicity:

skami = x1 is a computer for purpose x2
pilno = x1 uses x2 as a tool for doing x3

mi fanva ti fi'o se pilno {fe'u} lo skami {ku}{vau} - I translate this with a computer The x2 of pilno, which is the x1 of se pilno is a place structure for a tool being used by someone. This place structure is captured by fi'o SELBRI fe'u, added to the main selbri, and then filled by lo skami. The idea of sumtcita is sometimes expressed in English using the following translation:

I translate this with-tool: A computer

A sumtcita can only absorb one sumti, which is always the following one. Alternatively, one can use the sumtcita construct by itself without sumti. In this case you need to put it either before the selbri or terminate it with ku. In such case one can think as if the sumtcita has the word zo'e as the sumti.

zukte = x1 is a volitional entity carrying out action x2 for purpose x3
zarci = x1 is a market/store/exchange/shop(s) selling/trading (for) x2, operated by/with participants x3

fi'o zukte {fe'u} ku lo prenu {ku} cu klama lo zarci {ku}{vau} - By their own volition, a person is going to the store

Note that there is ku in fi'o zukte {fe'u} ku. Without it the sumtcita would have absorbed lo prenu {ku} and we don't want that.

We can say the same in other words:

fi'o zukte {fe'u} zo'e lo prenu {ku} cu klama lo zarci {ku}{vau}

lo prenu {ku} cu fi'o zukte fe'u klama lo zarci {ku}{vau}

retaining the meaning.

What does mi jimpe fi lo skami fi'o se tavla {fe'u} mi state?

Answer: I understand something about computers, spoken to me

Putting the sumtcita right in front of the selbri also makes it self-terminate, since sumtcita only can absorb sumti, and not selbri. This fact will be of importance in next lesson, as you will see.

Actually, fi'o is not used very often despite its flexibility. What IS used very often, though, are BAI. BAI is a class of Lojban words, which in themselves act as sumtcita. An example of this is zu'e, the BAI for zukte. Grammatically, zu'e is the same as fi'o zukte fe'u. Thus, the above example could be reduced to:

zu'e ku lo prenu {ku} cu klama lo zarci {ku}{vau}. There exist something like 60 BAI, and a lot of these are very useful indeed. Furtermore, BAI can also be converted with se and friends, meaning that se zu'e is equal to fi'o se zukte fe'u, which results in a great deal more BAI.

Lojban Wave Lessons: Foreword | ← Lesson 8 | Lesson 9 | Lesson 10 →