Lojban (pronounced as [ˈloʒban]) is a constructed language, based around the rules of predicate logic.
A short introduction to Lojban
- Lojban is an experiment in language — the grammar is regular, simpler than most natural languages, but complex in its own unique way. Lojban is an experiment in thought, as well, it wishes to see how these unique language structures affect thought and cognition.
- Lojban allows the expression of emotion, using words called attitudinals, which are essentially spoken emoticons, expressing your feelings. You can indicate the precise degree and intensity of your emotion as well as indicate which word your emotion stems from. You can even indicate that your statement was meant as a joke, a quick argument defuser.
- Lojban allows you to communicate concisely without unnecessary or undesired details. For example, you don't have to always think of what tense (past, present or future) to use in a verb when it's already clear from context. When you wish to provide the details you can add them. But unlike other languages Lojban doesn't require you to do so.
- Lojban is syntactically unambiguous. Natural languages often have ambiguous sentences — does "He's left" mean that he's still here or that he's gone? Lojban systematically eliminates this.
- Lojban has 1342 root words and makes provisions for compound words and borrowings. These words allow the creation of a vast vocabulary to describe the totality of human experience. Lojban vocabulary expands by the day, and the community of speakers strives towards perfecting it every day.
- Lojban is machine parsable, which allows potential new explorations in the fields of artificial intelligence communication and machine translation.
- Lojban is culturally neutral, as far as such things are achievable. The base vocabulary was generated using an algorithm and words from the (at the time of its creation) 6 most spoken languages on Earth, averaging them out. The Lojban community strives to maintain this neutrality.
Primary resources for learning Lojban
There are various ways of learning Lojban unique to the individual learning it, but to help you get started here are some suggestions.
- The full grammar of Lojban. This book will teach you how to read and use Lojban, what the different types of words and grammatical constructs do, how to use them and interpret them and how to express yourself in Lojban. It will not, however, teach you vocabulary, style, spoken flow, nor other aspects involved in really learning about and using a human language.
- IMPORTANT NOTE: Since the publication of the full grammar there has been a change to the semantics of Lojban articles known as xorlo. These changes simplify usage in that aspect and the new system is not difficult to grasp. Please keep this reform in mind when consulting the official reference grammar, as it was effectively published before the approval of xorlo.
Unofficial and supplemental resources
A various set of unofficial learning resources has been created. They are non-authoritative, but said to be more beginner-friendly.
- A set of pronunciation guides are available to help you speak Lojban.
- Lojban in simple phrases, an introduction to Lojban. Allows you to quickly understand the basics of a common Lojban sentence.
- Also available in pdf
- An introductory video
- Wave Lessons, a popular textbook.
Works in progress
- The Crash Course (a draft), a work-in-progress textbook.
- la sutsis is a dictionary that can work offline.
- the list of gismu (root words) and cmavo (particles) and a list of simple definitions of gismu (unofficial).The lists of gismu and cmavo with definitions in some languages in tsv and html formats
- la jbovlaste is a highly popular multilingual dictionary and dictionary editing system. When new words (such as compound words or loan words) are invented, they usually end up here.
- slovlacukt is an alternative offline dictionary.
- Stardict dictionaries in some languages are usable with GoldenDict, Dictionary Universal etc.
- Word lists ordered by frequency of use.
- memrise.com/courses/english/lojban/ is a great place where you can learn Lojban words online. Just register on that website, try several courses and use the one that you like most. Alternatively use Anki (downloadable, Lojban decks are downloadable within the program)
- camxes is an automatic grammar checker of what you write in Lojban (which is unique among all languages!). It can help you quickly understand whether your sentence is grammatically correct.
- Tatoeba.org database has a large collection of sentences in Lojban (since it's a live database not all sentences might be correct).
Try reading proofread (proofed by at least one Lojbanist in addition to the author) Lojban texts, starting with short-and-easy through to long-and-difficult. For example, read Terry the Tiger (you can listen to this one too!), then one of the Berenstain Bears books, for example The Berenstain Bears and the Prize Pumpkin, then The Little Prince.
Connect with the community
Lojban is spoken by a vibrant community of speakers, producing literature, music, and art, and solving together questions regarding Lojban. When the webcomic xkcd said that you'd have to be speaking Lojban with Lojbanists, it was indicating one of the best features of Lojban.
The IRC (Internet Relay Chat) is the best way
- to make friends,
- to practice real-time Lojban conversation,
- to get your questions answered quickly when there are others around.
Here are the three channels (chat rooms) that are displayed as tabs in the upper left corner in webchat:
- #lojban for basic discussions in any language,
- #ckule for questions from new learners in any language and
- #jbosnu for discussions in Lojban only.
If you have an IRC software installed you can join the chat following these instructions.
Here is an IRC cheat sheet for people who are learning Lojban.
The Lojban Beginners Mailing List is for discussions related to learning Lojban. Anything about how to understand a part of the language, how to learn it better, study tools, actual teaching sessions, and so on, is on topic. Nothing else is. You can also subscribe to it by sending your first question to [email protected]. Wait until it is approved and others reply to it.
The Lojban General Mailing List is another way to get your questions answered. It has about 500 subscribers, and has existed more-or-less continuously since 1989. You can also subscribe to it by sending a question to [email protected].
la jbotcan is a simple image board where one posts images and comments them and discuss other random stuff. The atmosphere is very informal here. There is a Lojban and an English version.
Some Lojban people also have organized themselves on several 3rd-party websites, such as:
- la selpa'i (English, German), [email protected]
- la gleki (English, Russian), [email protected]
- la ilmen (English, French), [email protected]
- la tsani (English, French), [email protected]
- la xorxes (English, Spanish), [email protected]
- la guskant (English, French, Chinese, Japanese, Esperanto), [email protected]
- la remod (English, Italian), [email protected]
Lojban around the world - other ways of communication ...
- Write your own original texts (prosa or poetry) in Lojban or translations. Start writing a blog or a personal diary
- Continue memorizing the vocabulary and using Lojban as much as you can! Once you know what words you want to learn, you could try additional memorization software to vastly improve your vocabulary.
- You could contribute to the jbovlaste dictionary interface by adding new words. You could also translate some definition into one of the many, many languages that jbovlaste supports.
Lojban means different things to different people:
- a linguistic curiosity - a test-bed for language experimentation
- a way to expand their mind or discipline their thought
- the desire for precise expression
- a new way to look at languages
- a fun way to meet and communicate with friends, entertainment, a challenge, art, software application ... the list goes on!
What will Lojban mean for you?