Lojban Wave Lessons/Inner bridi and terminators

From Lojban
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Lesson 6: Abstractions

So far we have only expressed single sentences one at a time. To express more complex things, however, you often need subordinate sentences. Luckily, these are much easier in Lojban than what one would expect.

We can begin with an example to demonstrate this:

I am happy that you are my friend.

Here, the main bridi is I am happy that X., and the sub-bridi is You are my friend. Looking at the definition for happy, which is gleki

gleki = x1 is happy about x2 (event/state)

we can see that the x2 needs to be an event or a state. This is natural, because one cannot be happy about an object in itself, only about some state the object is in. But alas! Only bridi can express a state or an event, and only sumti can fill the x2 of gleki!

As you might have guessed, there is a solution. The words su'u...kei is a generic convert bridi to selbri function, and works just like loku.

su'u = x1 is an abstraction of {bridi} of type x2
kei = end abstraction


melbi su'u dansu kei
Beautiful dancing/Beautiful dance
melbi = x1 is beautiful to x2.
dansu = x1 dances to accompaniment/music/rhythm x2.

It's usually hard to find good uses of a bridi as a selbri. However, since su'u BRIDI kei is a selbri, one can convert it to a sumti using lo...ku.

Now we have the equipment to express I am happy that you are my friend. Try it out!

pendo = x1 is a friend of x2

Answer: mi gleki lo su'u do pendo mi kei ku

However, su'ukei does not see much use. People prefer to use the more specific words nukei and du'ukei. They work the same way, but mean something different. nu…kei treats the bridi in between as an event or state, and du'u…kei treats it as an abstract bridi, for expressing things like ideas, thoughts or truths. All these words (except kei) are called abstractors. There are many of them, and only few are used much. su'u…kei is a general abstractor, and will work in all cases.

nu = x1 is an event of (bridi)
du'u = x1 is the predication of (bridi), as expressed in sentence x2

Use nu to say I'm happy about talking to you.

tavla = x1 talks to x2 about subject x3 in language x4.

Answer: mi gleki lo nu tavla do kei ku (notice both the English and the Lojban is vague as to who is doing the talking).

Other important abstractors include: ka...kei (property/aspect abstraction), si'o...kei (concept/idea abstraction), ni...kei (quantity abstraction) among others. The meanings of these is a complicated matter, and will be discussed much later, in lesson twenty-nine. For now, you'll have to do without them.

It is important to notice that some abstractors have several sumti places. As an example, du'u can be mentioned. du'u is defined:

du'u = abstractor. x1 is the predicate/bridi of (bridi) expressed in sentence x2.

The other sumti places besides x1 is rarely used, but lo se du'u (bridi) kei ku is sometimes used as a sumti for indirect quotation: I said that I was given a dog can be written mi cusku lo se du'u mi te dunda lo gerku ku kei ku, if you will pardon the weird example.

cusku = x1 expresses x2 to x3 through medium x4
gerku = x1 is a dog of race x2

Lesson 7: NOI

While we're at it, there's another type of subordinate bridi. These are called relative clauses. They are sentences which add some description to a sumti. Indeed, the "which" in the previous sentence marked the beginning of a relative clause in English describing relative clauses. In Lojban, they come in two flavors, and it might be worth distinguishing the two kinds before learning how to express them.

The two kinds are called restrictive and non-restrictive (or incidential) relative clauses. An example would be good here:

My brother, who is two meters tall, is a politician.

This can be understood in two ways. I could have several brothers, in which case saying he is two meters tall will let you know which brother I am talking about. Or I might have only one brother, in which case I am simply giving you additional information.

In English as well as Lojban we distinguish between these two kinds – the first interpretation is restrictive (since it helps restrict the possible brothers I might be talking about), the second non-restrictive. When speaking English, context and tone of voice (or in written English, punctuation) helps us distinguish between these two, but not so in Lojban. Lojban uses the constructs poi…ku'o and noi…ku'o for restrictive and non-restrictive relative clauses, respectively.

Let's have a Lojbanic example, which can also explain our strange gift-eating behavior in the example in lesson five:

noi = begin non-restrictive relative clause (can only attach to sumti)
poi = begin restrictive relative clause (can only attach to sumti)
ku'o = end relative clause
mi citka lo se dunda ku poi plise ku'o
I eat the gift that (something is) an apple.

Here the poi…ku'o is placed just after lo se dunda ku, so it applies to the gift. To be strict, the relative clause does not specify what it is, which is an apple, but given the context we can safely assume that it means that the gift is an apple. If we want to be absolutely sure that it indeed was the gift that was an apple, we use the word ke'a, which is a sumka'i (a Lojban pronoun, more on them later) representing the sumti which the relative clause is attached to. ke'a is often omitted for brevity when it would be in the x1 place of the relative clause.

ke'a = sumka'i; refers to the sumti, to which the relative clause it attached.
ui mi citka lo se dunda ku poi ke'a plise ku'o
Yay, I eat the gift that is an apple.

To underline the difference between restrictive and non-restrictive relative clauses, here's another example:

lojbo = x1 reflects Lojbanic culture/community is aspect x2; x1 is Lojbanic.
mi noi lojbo ku'o fanva fo lo lojbo ku
I, who am a Lojbanic, translate from some Lojbanic language.

Here, there is not multiple things which mi could refer to, and the fact that I am lojbanic is merely additional information not needed to identify me. Therefore noi…ku'o is appropriate.

See if you can translate this:

I flirt with the man who is beautiful/handsome.

nanmu = x1 is a man
melbi = x1 is beautiful to x2 in aspect (ka) x3 by standard x4
cinjikca = x1 flirts/courts x2, exhibiting sexuality x3 by standard x4

Answer: mi cinjikca lo nanmu ku poi (ke'a) melbi ku'o

On a more technical side note, it might be useful to know that lo (selbri) ku is often seen defined as zo'e noi ke'a (selbri) ku'o.

Besides, it is also possible to connect two or more relative clauses to the same sumti, by using the relative clause joiner zi'e. It's syntax is "sumti + relative clause + zi'e + relative clause (+ zi'e + relative clause (...))". Here is an example:

penmi = x1 meets/encounters x2 at/in location x3
dasni = x1 wears/is robed/garbed in x2 as a garment of type x3
mi tavla lo nanmu ku poi do penmi ke'a ku'o zi'e noi dasni lo xunre ku ku'o
I talked to the man that you met and which (incidentally) was dressed in red.
... and which wears something red... [literally]

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.