Copyright, 1990, 1991, by the Logical Language Group, Inc. 2904 Beau Lane,
Fairfax VA 22031-1303 USA Phone (703) 385-0273
All rights reserved. Permission to copy granted subject to your
verification that this is the latest version of this document, that your
distribution be for the promotion of Lojban, that there is no charge for
the product, and that this copyright notice is included intact in the
Number 11 - March 1990
Copyright 1990, The Logical Language Group, Inc.
2904 Beau Lane, Fairfax VA 22031 USA (703)385-0273
Ju'i Lobypli (JL) is the quarterly journal of The Logical Language Group, Inc., known in these pages as la
lojbangirz. la lojbangirz. is a non-profit organization formed for the purpose of completing and spreading the logical
human language "Lojban". la lojbangirz. is a non-profit organization under Section 501(c)(3) of the U.S. Internal
Revenue Code. Your donations (not contributions to your voluntary balance) are tax-deductible on U.S. and most state
income taxes. Donors are notified at the end of each year of your total deductible donations. We note for all po-
tential donors that our bylaws require us to spend no more than 30% of our receipts on administrative expenses, and that
you are welcome to make you gifts conditional upon our meeting this requirement. See news below regarding contributions
and donations via credit card, or via checks drawn on non-US banks.
Press run for this issue of Ju'i Lobypli: 350. We now have over 650 people on our active mailing list.
Your Mailing Label
Your mailing label reports your current mailing status, and your current voluntary balance including this issue. Please
notify us if you wish to be in a different mailing code category. Balances reflect contributions received thru 4 April
1990. Mailing codes (and approximate annual balance needs) are defined as follows:
Level B - Product Announcements Only Level R - Review Copy for Publications
Level 0 - le lojbo karni only - $5 balance requested
Level 1 - le lojbo karni and Ju'i Lobypli - $15 balance requested
Level 2 - Level 1 materials and baselined/final products - $20 balance requested
Level 3 - Level 2 materials and lesson materials as developed - $50 balance or more
Contents of This Issue
This issue contains a complete news section. As noted below, those of you receiving Ju'i Lobypli will no longer be
receiving le lojbo karni, since the contents will be redundant. Also below is a series of articles relating in some way
to the value of Lojban. Athelstan and Bob compare Lojban and Esperanto. Robert Gorsch reports on his Semiotics course
at St. Mary's College in California, the first academic course significantly incorporating Lojban into its curriculum.
His bibliography, and Ralph Dumain's annotated bibliography on language and thought, are included. There is also an
article by David Morrow on using Lojban in writing fiction, Lojban text is by Michael Helsem, including the first
samples of original Lojban poetry, and a variety of letters and responses. ko xamgu lifri
Table of Contents
Finances, 1989 Financial Report, Master Card/Visa Now Accepted--3
1990 Plans set by la lojbangirz. Board - Textbook, Dictionary, LogFest, Logo, Grants --5
1990 Priorities --6
Research and Development - Grammar, Parser Status, pc to Visit DC, Transformational Grammar --6
Growth and Publicity - Continued Growth, International Publicity, Computer Networks --9
Education - New Classes Starting --10
International News --10
Products and Prices - New Lojban Tape, Hypercard Mac LogFlash, lujvo-Making Program,
Papers Offered, 3 1/4" Diskettes, Book Plans, LogFlash Porting --11
News (with Comments) About the Institute --15
Esperanto and Lojban - How many rules are enough? by Athelstan--16
On Comparing Esperanto and Lojban, by Bob LeChevalier --20
An Introductory College Course in Semiotics Using Lojban, by Robert Gorsch --25
Questions from the Class, compiled by Dr. Gorsch, with responses by Bob LeChevalier --26
Course Outline and Bibliography --33
Bibliography on Language and Thought, by Ralph Dumain --36
Lojban and Stream of Consciousness Writing, by David C. Morrow--39
le lojbo se ciska, all by Michael Helsem --40
Self-Description, haiku, 3 limericks, and Free Verse --41
Translations of le lojbo se ciska --45
Letters, Comments, and Responses: from Arthur Brown, jyjym., Eric Williams --56
Enclosures - Reprints from The Washington Post and San Francisco Chronicle/Examiner, Reference Outline of Lojban
Grammar, Some Proposed Logos
Computer Net Information
I want to remind people that, if you have access to Usenet/UUCP/Internet, you can send messages and text files
(including things for JL publication) to Bob at:
You can join the Lojban news-group by sending your mailing address to:
and traffic to the news-group can be sent to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Please keep us informed if your network mailing address changes.
Compuserve subscribers can also participate. Precede any of the above addresses with INTERNET: and use your normal
Compuserve mail facility (its possible that you can send only to addresses in the '@' format). Usenet/Internet people
can send to Compuserve addresses by changing the comma in the Compuserve address to a period:
Whether you wish to participate in the news-group or not, it is useful for us to know your Compuserve address. For
example, any decision for la lojbangirz. to obtain a Compuserve account will be based on a need to serve a goodly number
of you that want to exchange information.
If you have not received JL10 (and expected it), please let us know. JL10 and LK11 were mailed in mid-December,
but there are still some people known not to have received it. If you are one, we'll resend the issue. If you're not
sure, JL10 contained discussions of Lojban poetry and a lot of Lojban text, including Athelstan's translation of Saki's
The Open Window. We apologize to those of you who did not hear from us for a long while due to the very slow mail (and
our other, more normal, delays).
Our finances suffered a significant blow due to the serious delays in US Postal delivery of JL10. We paid for the
issue in December, but have not received income to cover the cost until this month. Even now, we have money in the bank
primarily because of Jeff Prothero, and Nora and me, each maintaining balances over $1000, thus in effect supporting la
lojbangirz. via interest-free loans. I don't like this situation, partly because Nora and I don't have the money to
spare. But I also dislike the conflict of interest of being the principal financial source at the same time that I'm
trying to serve your interests as President of la lojbangirz.
Some good decisions have resulted from our financial pain, though. We have now set up a credit account with our
printer, who is our largest expense. And we have advanced the publication date for a Lojban textbook and dictionary
(you'll see why this helps our finances in a little bit).
The la lojbangirz. Board has decided to add an incentive for those who are paying for materials and maintaining a a
positive balance, as well as for those who have contributed to the textbook development by studying the language now.
Thus, starting 1 April, if your account balance is positive, we will be giving a 20% discount on orders for software,
the cassette tape (see below), and our books when they are published, provided that either you prepay your order (or
have enough in your balance to cover the order) or you are an active level 3 subscriber.
Are you contributing what you feel the Lojban materials are worth to you? Please help!
1989 Financial Report
The Logical Language Group, Inc.
(Numbers rounded to nearest $)
Net Income $15671
Printing and Publications $5644
Non-administrative Postage $1904
Office Supplies $494
LogFest 89 $394
Administrative Expenses $519
Legal Expenses $4100
Total Admin. & Legal $4619 29% of expenses
Net Expenses $16090
Net Loss (418.34)
1988 Summary (Incorporated + Unincorporated)
including Administrative Expenses:
$452.42 or 7% of income
Net Loss ($1829.25)
la lojbangirz. Finances as of 1 January 1990
Cash in bank account $666.02 Subscriber Refundable Balances ($2673.06)
Undeposited checks $189.70
Estimated Value of Inventory$1260.30
Net Assets $2116.02 Net Liabilities ($2673.06)
Estimated Net Worth ($557.04)
Subscription Accounts as of 31 March 1990
The mailing list of The Logical Language Group, Inc. consisted of 811 names. Of these, 644 were currently active (level
0 or above); the rest were either deleted by request, or because mailings were returned with no forwarding address, or
are those that have asked to only receive product announcements when the textbook is ready. Known readership is about
50 more than this, due to multiple readers sharing single subscriptions.
Payment rates are highly correlated with level. 40-50% of those at level 1 or above maintain a positive balance. This
varies by 10-20% each mailing due to those whose balances drop below 0 and who then repay us. Only 3% of the level 0
recipients have positive balances.
As of 31 March, there were 95 subscribers at level 3, 161 at level 2, 48 at level 1, 327 at level 0, 11 press reviewers,
and 32 at level B for a total of 676.
Sales or distributions of key products as of 1 January 1990:
gismu lists 526
LogFlash/Mac LojFlash 122
flash cards 23
Lessons beyond Lesson 1 88
54 persons have donated a total of $12935.78 since we started through 1 January 1990. During 1989, Bob & Nora donated
$3203.02; Jeff Prothero donated $2245.68; others donated a net of $2543.45. $4099.68 of Bob, Nora, and Jeff's
donations were applied to legal bills.
128 persons have net positive voluntary balances
478 persons have net negative voluntary balances. This is the principal cause of our worsening financial position.
Master Card/Visa Now Accepted
We have arranged to be able to accept contributions to voluntary balances and donations on your Master Card or
Visa, effective immediately. This is an experimental program; we'll see how much it is used. We have to pay a fee of
6% on each transaction, and will be passing that fee on to your balance. We also have to pay a minimum fee of $15.00
per month for the service, even if there are no transactions; thus, our continuing this service is dependent on whether
you use it.
As with most mail-order charge systems, we need your card number and type, expiration date, name as it shown on the
card, and signature, to process your charge. We can accept telephone orders on your credit card if you follow it up
with a signed authorization. We have to be sure to follow the rules carefully, especially at first, because small mail
order firms are considered high risk for fraud, and are carefully watched.
We hope that providing this service makes it easier for some of you to contribute to your balances and/or to donate
support to la lojbangirz.
1990 Plans set by la lojbangirz. Board talled the expected page count for gismu lists, cmavo
lists, machine grammar definition, and explanatory
The la lojbangirz. Board had its first meeting since materials on how to use these, the result was enough to
LogFest to approve the above financial report, and to set compile the entire set of reference data into a book. It
the priorities for our activities during 1990. We were should take relatively little extra work to organize this
aided significantly by the responses to the questionnaire book as a reference dictionary, so that is what we plan to
sent out with LK11 and JL10 (we're still interested in do. The result should be available late this year.
getting these responses if you haven't yet sent yours in). The dictionary, like the textbook, will be a limited
The following paragraphs discuss the major priorities first edition. We expect it to have a short life, perhaps
that were discussed. The list of priorities is summarized 1-2 years, before being republished in a significantly
at the end of the discussion. expanded version (the first edition won't be obsolete then,
Textbook - Our numbers of active students (level 3) but later editions will presumably be much expanded and
has topped 100, and at the current rate, will exceed 200 perhaps better presented, as we learn from the first
this year even with no textbook. Given that the current attempt). As with the textbook, we will be pushing for ad-
draft textbook lessons are already 300 pages long, printing vance orders, due to our finances.
costs for the year for draft lessons alone could exceed LogFest - LogFest 90 is scheduled for the third weekend
$2000. I've gotten an estimate that would allow us to in June this year; including the Friday and Monday for some
publish a textbook for probably around $3000-4000 for 1000 activities. I've added air conditioning to our main
copies. Mailing books is also cheaper than mailing meeting rooms so that the expected larger-than-ever crowd
individual lessons. can be comfortable.
Adding in postage and overhead, we will probably be The themes for the meeting will be learning the language
charging a base price of $12-$15, with the discount and getting involved. I hope to have review draft copies
mentioned above for those with positive balances; this will of the textbook by then for people to examine. We will be
exceed our costs enough to help pay for our other discussing how each of you can study Lojban on your own or
activities. Yet it is much cheaper than the approximately with others, and Athelstan will show how easy it is to give
$23 we have to now charge for draft lessons - and we make an introductory presentation on the language.
no money on these. We think we can break even with about We will have several short sessions where people can
250 paid textbook sales. Can we sell that many books? join us in Lojban conversation, or just listen in to learn
That's up to all of you. that the language CAN be spoken.
Most important, your questionnaire responses indicate Most important, we intend to discuss and possibly
that when we publish a textbook, many more of you will then approve the trial grammar baseline, enabling the textbook
start learning the language. to be published and verifying that the language development
Dictionary - Lest anyone think that they have no truly is completed.
influence over the decision-making process in la I hope many of you will be able to attend. As in
lojbangirz., your questionnaire responses have caused a previous years, we have sleeping room for at least a dozen
major change in our plans (alas, we've heard from less than people inside, and will set up tents outside as necessary
30 of you, only half of last years' response - but we'll (bring sleeping bags if possible). If you bring your
take what ever feedback we get). Whereas only a few months family, they can either get involved, or go sightseeing in
ago, we planned not to start producing a dictionary until Washington DC. We are 2 blocks from the Metro, which runs
we had a significant body of users of the language. Lin- straight into all of the attraction of the capital.
guists believe that a dictionary is supposed to describe a You can call me for details at 703-385-0273. Next issue
language as it is used, not prescribe 'how it's supposed to will include a map on how to get here, and whatever final
be'. Many of you are apparently unconvinced of this plans have been made by then. Much of what goes on at a
argument, and your questionnaires indicated that you wanted Logfest is determined by the interests of the people who
the textbook AND the dictionary done prior to learning the are there. Local people come for part of the weekend, or
language. even drop in for a few hours. We have moved the annual
I've talked to several of you who so responded. Those business meeting of la lojbangirz. to Sunday morning, when
placing a high priority on a dictionary apparently are not relatively few people are around, after finding that a
waiting for a "Webster's Unabridged"; rather, you want an slow-moving meeting last year disrupted the lively
easy to use word-list, more complete in its definitions excitement of Logfest.
than our current gismu lists, and a feeling that the There is no charge to attend LogFest, but we are asking
language is sufficiently stable that we have the confidence people attending to contribute perhaps $20 for the weekend,
to publish a book instead of Xeroxed handouts. You want or $10 a day, to help defray food costs and other expenses.
enough examples therein so that you can see how words are (We'll be happy to accept more - our expenses for Logfest
made, how place structures are determined, etc. I think we run much higher than this. Contributions in excess of $20
can do this much. will be considered donations.)
We had already planned to republish the gismu list later Logo - As part of our effort to generate publicity,
this year with better place structure definitions. We also several people have suggested that we adopt a logo for la
are working hard on a good cmavo definition list, as we lojbangirz. We've had suggestions from several people, and
approach our initial baseline of the grammar. When I to- especially from Jamie Bechtel and Kit Archer. We are
running the sketches thus far submitted for your comments, and conversation), and supporting this textbook with a
and asking you to contribute your own ideas (or even draw cassette tape.
them up if you can - but others can do the drawing if you 5. Preparing and publishing a 1st edition reference
have more creativity than artistic talent). dictionary including revised, updated, and preliminary
We will put the question of a logo to the LogFest baselines of grammar, cmavo, gismu place structures, rafsi,
attendees synopsis, and additional useful materials as possible.
Grants - Now that we have our non-profit status, we will 6. Preliminary research in grantsmanship leading to later
be starting to investigate possible grant opportunities. decisions whether to actually seek grants.
Athelstan and I have identified several possible sources or 7. Preparing updated and new software and other educational
small amounts of support, and we want to find out how much materials unrelated to book publishing above, including the
work is involved in obtaining such grants before committing Lojban parser.
our limited people and money resources towards pursuing 8. Additional translation efforts by key people
them. (particularly Board members).
We will be concentrating on grants that will help us
improve our teaching materials, translate them into foreign
languages and promote the involvement of non-U.S. Research and Development
Lojbanists to improve our cultural balance. We will also
try to obtain grants for developing some of the ideas we've The primary R&D activities in the last couple of months
had for using Lojban in language education, and in such have been attempting to resolve two of the four open
classes as Robert Gorsch describes below. Finally, we will grammar issues discussed in the last issue: negation and
seek support for developing some of the linguistics attitudinal indicators.
research efforts using the language that were the original A proposal on the latter is out for review at this
goal for the Loglan Project. writing. If you are level 3 or otherwise knowledgeable of
We will probably not seek major grants such as from the the attitudinal issue, and want to participate in the
National Science Foundation at this point. We believe that review, let me know and I'll send a copy. The final
we need to establish credibility as an academic effort, proposal (incorporating any comments by then) will be
attract researchers who know how to get such grants, and printed in JL12, and any decision will be approved at
possibly affiliate with another organization to ensure LogFest.
accountability. We also need to show that we can work I have much of my time in the last few months working on
within the academic peer review system, and of course, a thorough treatment of negation which incorporates hours
prove that we can manage grant money wisely. I believe of discussion among Nora, Athelstan, pc, and me. The
that Jim Brown failed to get grants for his Loglan work discussion is being written somewhat in the style of the
after he left the University of Florida primarily because textbook lessons, with dozens of examples, and also
he never established this kind of outside accountability. includes explanation of logical connectives. I hope to
We should do much better - we've had a couple of years of involve as many people as possible in reviewing the result,
practice now in demonstrating that we are accountable to which I hope will appear in JL12. The entirety may be too
you, our supporters. long, so I may have to abridge it or send it separately to
level 3 people only - it depends on our finances, and your
expressions of interest in the topic.
1990 Priorities Negation is likely to be the last 'big' language issue
that can be reasonably understood without knowing the
The Board adopted the following priorities as its policy language; the issues to be resolved are semantic, and thus
for day-to-day business activities (i.e. spending money and not much dependent on Lojban's grammar and word lists.
receiving 'official' support). We ask that people work to Your ability to contribute will depend more on your
support these goals. The Board recognizes, of course, that understanding of how negation works in natural language
we are a volunteer-based organization and everyone should than on how Lojban works; the object is to make sure that
be free to work with or on the language in the way that he we have the means to cover everything involved in negation
or she chooses: in a logically consistent manner. The grammar of negation
in Lojban is quite simple, and easily adapted once we are
1. Maintenance of a stable business posture, fulfilling sure that we understand the problem. We may be trying to
legal requirements (including lawsuit-related), filling get linguists not otherwise involved in the language to
orders, etc. review our results for correctness and completeness.
2. Producing timely newsletters of comparable quality to The other two big issues are tense grammar and MEX. I
current practice. suspect that our tense system will be among the hardest
3. Responding to correspondents, especially submittals of things to teach in its entirety to new people, since so few
Lojban text, in such a degree as to support continued self- people realize how much hidden tense structure there is in
learning. Supporting classes started by others, and natural languages - all made open and optional in Lojban.
Athelstan's DC-area class. pc, as an expert in tense logic, will be the primary
4. Preparing and publishing a 1st edition textbook covering reviewer of the proposal. Others will have trouble getting
about half the language (the portion most used in writing involved in this one; the proposal will not be written up
until the textbook lessons are written, although its It isn't clear what such a parser tool would mean to
essence will be evident in the annotated sections of the Lojban. It could allow us to make significant
machine grammar dealing with tense. simplifications in the grammar, such as perhaps re-
The MEX issue is one mostly of philosophy - whether to coalescing the variety of logical connectives into a
try to make MEX comprehensive, or to make it easy to use. smaller and easier to learn set. It would certainly allow
Until we have people skilled enough in the language to try much of the hand-coded lexer routine in the parser to be
using MEX, we won't really be able to test our design. We replaced by table-driven rules in the automatically-
may have to omit the esoteric parts of MEX from the 5-year generated portion of the parser, eliminating several of the
grammar baseline, or else to simply recognize that MEX invisible 'machine lexemes' that allow the parser to
grammar is likely to change after that point. (I favor the emulate human grammar analysis.
former - the need for a baseline is to ensure that there is We'll report next issue on whether Doug's researches of
a stable language for people to learn. If we know in the topic have led anywhere.
advance that an area will be significantly revised, the
stability is illusionary.) A possibility to be considered pc to Visit DC
is that we put two competing MEX grammars into the language
and to see which survives. Just about the time this newsletter is mailed, pc will
Other than writing up the proposals, the major work to be visiting Bob and Nora in the DC area for a long weekend.
be done is reflecting the changes in cmavo lists and in the Although he's coming for other reasons, pc has budgeted a
machine grammar. The attitudinal proposal affects the significant amount of time for us to work together on
cmavo list a lot, with no grammar changes. The negation resolving the open grammar issues. Since pc is probably
change is primarily semantic, with minimal impact on either the most expert of all in the combination of logic,
grammar or cmavo list. The tense proposal is a linguistics, old Loglan design and current Lojban
regularizing of the already radical approach that I took in implementation, his review and agreement will set the tone
my redesign two years ago; it has been taught conceptually for the decision-making to take place in June.
to the DC-area class, and what remains (other than pc's In addition to going over the 4 biggies, we will also be
verification) is to make sure that the machine grammar discussing place structures of gismu, textbook plans, and
completely reflects the concept. the style to be used in producing the dictionary. We'll
The MEX decision will affect very little or quite a lot. probably slip in a little Lojban conversation, too,
If the status quo is deemed acceptable, there will be few although pc has just recently resumed studying the
changes. If there is a strong move towards an easier-to- vocabulary after lapsing for several months.
use MEX, then the grammar will have to be substantially
rewritten in this area. Transformational Grammar
In short, things are moving along well towards our
intended June decision point. It is a common myth among linguists that the
Loglan/Lojban project ignores and/or runs counter to the
Parser Status various transformational grammar theories developed by Noam
Chomsky. Transformational grammar theory has dominated the
Jeff Taylor hasn't had a lot of time to spare for the field of linguistics, especially in the U.S., since shortly
parser, and has put his emphasis on the cmavo list instead. after Jim Brown started the Loglan project. Jim Brown
This isn't a problem, because most of what remains to be lends credence to these myths by attacking some of
done is dependent on the decisions to be made in the four Chomsky's ideas in the new edition of Loglan 1.
open areas discussed above. The parser worked fine on the Contrary to this myth, the Lojban redevelopment team has
text samples in JL10; what remains is to incorporate the tried to bring ideas in from a variety of linguistic
results of the pending design changes - primarily the final sources, while trying to make sure the language meets
tense design which is substantially embedded in the hand- whatever criteria make a natural language 'natural' and
coded lexer. We've reduced the priority of the parser to learnable.
make sure that we get the textbook and dictionary done this Briefly, transformational grammar (tg) theory says that
year. there is an underlying structure to all natural languages
An alternative possibility for the parser has recently (called 'deep structure') which is often well-hidden from
shown up. Doug Landauer, who along with Sheldon Linker did our conscious thought. The argument for deep structure is
much of the germinal Loglan machine grammar work in the 70s based on the fact that children learn language so quickly
has volunteered to investigate and to possibly write a and easily, and before they understand anything about
parser generator especially tailored for Lojban grammar grammar, that some amount of 'innate grammar' must be
work. Key aspects - for those who know parser terminology genetically coded. What we perceive as the widely varying
- are that the new generator, which would replace our YACC- grammars of everyday natural language are 'surface
based program, will be able to look-ahead more than 1 structures' based on transformations from this innate 'deep
'token' - the exact number of look-aheads hasn't yet been grammar'. These transformations are then what is actually
decided. We would also try to have the generator save learned when we learn language. From this theory, if
tables that allow for better processing of elidable Lojban is truly 'different' from natural languages in some
terminators. basic way such that tg theory does not apply, then it
cannot be a natural language. Arguing in the reverse
direction, if such a 'deep structure' of Lojban can be Our growth in the last few months has been phenomenal,
found, and the language indeed turns out to be speakable especially since it is almost entirely due to word-of-mouth
by, and teachable to young children, then the deep advertising. We've added about 50 people since the start
structure of Lojban must be tied to that of the natural of the year, with new contacts averaging more than 1 every
languages. This has implications for the validity of a 2 days.
Sapir-Whorf test, while allowing Lojban to serve as a test Some of these new people have joined us due to several
bed for tg theory developments. Meanwhile, the extreme of you giving talks to groups about Lojban, and some are
simplicity of Lojban's grammar means that its consistency due to distributions of brochures at conventions. I want
with tg theory may say something basic about the deep to expressly thank all of you who are serving as emissaries
structure of natural language. of Lojban in this way. The list is getting too long to
Esperanto and most other artificial languages have name every convention or talk we have collectively given;
generally been of no interest to tg linguists, since their you've ensured a Lojbanic presence at some half-dozen
grammars usually are merely simplifications of standard science fiction conventions in the last 3 months that I
European language grammars that provide no useful basis for know of, and probably as many that I don't know about.
research. Keep it up!
pc did a simple transformational study of old Loglan We've had good response following an October ad in the
back in the 1970's and found nothing unusual. Now, Mensa national bulletin donated by a Lojbanist, which has
Lojbanist Greg Higley has been more thoroughly researching led to a follow-up article in the Mensa SIG publication
the applicability of tg theory to Lojban using the current 'Science Quest'. We got a scattering of responses from
language definition. around the country following Don Oldenburg's newspaper
Greg's results are still preliminary, but he has found article (reprint enclosed with this issue), and the follow-
that the basic Lojban sentence structure is indeed up Copley News Service release, and radio interviews with
consistent with tg theory. Furthermore, he says, in a various stations in the US, Canada, and United Kingdom.
recent letter to Bob, that the surface structure of Lojban The various press releases led to a contact with
is nearly transparent: "It is very rare for a language to reporter Dominique Schroder of the French news agency ASP
have the ability to display its deep structure while (their equivalent of the AP). After a pleasant several
maintaining grammaticalness, especially in complex hours of interview and discussion, her story was released
sentences, but Lojban does this admirably." in several languages. It is known to have been printed (in
Greg is trying to ensure that his research lives up to French) in the Quebec Soleil during February. Lojbanist
academic standards, and that his results will be Andre Bergeron saw the article, contacted the paper, and
publishable. If so, Lojban may significantly gain in convinced them to print our address a few days later, and
credibility within the community of linguists, and the goal we've had 5 new responses (4 of them in French, leading us
of using Lojban as a vehicle for experimental linguistics to test our network for multi-language correspondence
will be greatly forwarded. support).
We're trying to identify within our community, people We have no reports of other publications of Dominique's
with sufficient training in tg theory to assist in story, mostly because it did not include our address, and
reviewing Greg's results, to the extent that he desires our because it would have appeared primarily in publications
assistance. Identify such people will also be important to serving locales where we don't have a lot of existing
us in the event that we decide to seek research support people who would have noticed and reported it. Some of
based on Greg's efforts. Let Bob know if you want to these people will eventually find us by contacting ASP, but
participate in reviewing Greg's work. we mostly gained international name recognition.
(A good understanding of Lojban grammar and/or Our most significant recent growth has been through the
principles of transformational grammars will probably be computer networks. With the assistance of Lojbanist Eric
vital - Greg's work so far makes very technical statements Raymond, we have an international news forum on the Inter-
about Lojban grammar which would be hard to evaluate net/Usenet/uucp circuit, which also can tie in to
without such knowledge. Indeed, the sophistication of Compuserve (see page 2 for instructions on how to join this
Greg's work is extremely heartening; he has demonstrated a group or to send messages to me). The network presence has
sophisticated and thus far error-free understanding of attracted the attention of a couple of dozen new people,
Lojban grammar, yet is totally self-taught from the draft and more importantly has allowed us to respond quickly to
textbook lessons and other materials. Readers may recall people's questions. (Now all I need is a connection to the
that Greg skillfully found a subtle but important error in net here in DC, so I don't have to spend money on long
the textbook lessons, as he reported in JL10). distance bills to Eric's computer near Philadelphia.)
This is an exciting prospect for Lojban, one which We've also been able to respond to inquiries on the
heightens our sense of contributing to our understanding of Usenet linguistics newsgroup 'sci.lang' about Loglan and
language. We'll try to have more on Greg's work in one of Lojban. We have even profited from Jim Brown's advertising
the next two issues of JL. efforts, as people who have bought Jim's book inquire on
the net looking for others working with the language; al-
most invariably, people who find out that there are two
Growth and Publicity groups and that our group is larger, more organized, and
supports a public domain version of the language, end up Education
choosing to study Lojban.
The same effect has occurred on Compuserve, where a copy We've believed that Lojban has a major potential to
of our brochure was placed in the Foreign Language contribute to various aspects of education. Finally, this
Education forum. This has brought us several new people, has been proven. Dr. Robert Gorsch of St. Mary's College
including some who have started using the AMRAD BBS to in California used Lojban as a major component of an
contact us. intensive course in Semiotics taught during the interses-
We've gained no new people as a result, yet, but Mark sion in January. The course proved popular and quite
Manning published an article reviewing Lojban in his successful; a surprising number of these very bright
science fiction 'fanzine' Tand #2, last fall. Since the students were not aware of Lojban OR Esperanto, or the
article included several misunderstandings, Mark agreed to various other attempts to invent a language throughout
print a rebuttal written by Athelstan and Bob, which just history. The class will be expanded to a full semester
appeared in Tand #3 a couple of weeks ago. There is the course for next school year.
possibility of continuing dialog in the magazine, which The course is described in detail by Dr. Gorsch below,
relies on letters of comment on previous issues for much of including an outline and bibliography for others who are
its content. interested in Lojban and Semiotics (which Gorsch says has
A high percentage of new respondents have been moving been heavily influenced by the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis), and
quickly from level 0 to levels 1-3, and most of them are for others who would like to develop similar courses.
paying for their materials. The count of level 3's has Otherwise, education has been a bit of a disappointment
been growing at 10% per month. these past couple of months. After months of promises from
My only complaint is that filling orders takes a lot of the organizers, the New York and Boston classes are no
time away from other Lojban activities, especially because closer to starting than last fall, when we gave talks en-
I personalize the response to many of the people I send to route home from Worldcon. In Boston, things have been
with information about other Lojbanists nearby, etc. HEAR complicated by the fact that both of our organizers are
THIS! I want to continue to have THIS complaint! unemployed and job hunting in a bad labor market; one has a
new baby and no telephone making his life even more
complicated; there is some evidence that things will
eventually come together there. Boston people at least
have a place to meet, since everyone seems to find MIT a
I can't say what is going on in New York. The principal
hang-up seems to be difficulty in finding a place that
everyone is willing to travel to, and a day to meet. I've
suggested that they divide into multiple groups which study
on their own and get together to interchange on a less
frequent basis, or by telephone. The same suggestion might
be appropriate for San Francisco and Los Angeles metro
areas, which also have large, geographically disperse
groups of Lojbanists.
Things are going much better in the self-study arena.
The best evidence of this is the collection of material
written by self-taught Lojbanist Michael Helsem. I'm also
including with his writings a sample of the feedback that
we gave him, thus showing that we support those of you who
try to learn Lojban on your own, and also that WE WANT YOU
TO SEND YOUR ATTEMPTS AT USING THE LANGUAGE TO US, EVEN IF
YOU DON'T THINK THEY ARE VERY GOOD! Because Michael did
so, his current Lojban is much improved. Moreover, WE
learned a lot from his attempts, which will in turn improve
the textbook when it comes out.
New Classes Starting
While New York and Boston haven't yet jelled, we've
demonstrated further viability as a language here in DC and
in Blacksburg VA, where new classes are starting and are
being taught by graduates of the last set of classes. This
is the best sign that our teaching was successful, that
those who have studied the language have enough confidence
to feel that they can lead a new group up to their skill too, if we can find a translator who will get it done by
level in Lojban. then). (Athelstan is also brushing up on 6 languages at
Athelstan is teaching a new DC-area class, under the once besides Lojban, so that he can deal with people in
auspices of the University of Maryland 'Free University' their own language - a truly heroic endeavor!)
Program. This program gives the class an on-campus meeting Athelstan will be spending about 4-6 weeks following
point, coincidentally in the foreign language education Worldcon travelling around Europe by Eurorail, and
building. Unlike the first class, this class is only 8 eventually to Israel in October. He will be visiting
weeks long with one 2-hour session per week. The students 'friends', a label which includes every Lojbanist on the
are not expected to master the vocabulary, and only the Continent that he can work into his itinerary. He
basics of the grammar will be covered. The lowered specifically plans to make it to John Negus in France and
expectation takes the pressure off both students and Silvia Romanelli in Italy, and possibly to others in
instructor. The class will probably be followed up with an Germany, Switzerland, and Austria. Again, he will be
advanced class after people have learned more of the vo- giving talks on Lojban and mini-lessons everywhere he goes.
cabulary. Eight students showed up for the first meeting, Lojbanists who can organize sessions for him to give talks
with a couple of additional people who didn't show up at will gain precedence on his itinerary.
indicating that they want to join in late. If you are a European Lojbanist who wants Athelstan to
The 2nd Blacksburg class will be taught by Karen Stein stop through for a visit, please let us know as soon as
starting in April, after people are recruited at a local possible. We'll provide more details on his plans next
science fiction convention and the VA Tech campus. John issue.
Hodges, who taught the first class, is struggling under a
full class load and a full-time job, but will be advising International Finance
Karen as needed.
We have finally arranged with an international service
firm, Deak International, to process currency exchanges for
International News us with a corporate account.
This means that we can now accept checks drawn in your
Much of the international news has been covered under country's currency as payment to contribute to your
'Growth and Publicity' above. We have gained significant voluntary balance, or to donate to the project. The
numbers in Canada through the ASP story and other contacts, currency must be convertible to US dollars, and will be
such that there could potentially be classes or group exchanged at the official rate. The service is MUCH
studies organized in Vancouver, Toronto, and Quebec. cheaper than what it would cost you otherwise to send us a
The ASP story is good news to Lojbanist John Negus, in check. We pay a service charge of US$3.50 for each check
Bessas, France. John is serving as our 'French (which we will charge against your voluntary balance since
correspondent', agreeing to serve as a local point of we charge people what it costs us, so please allow for it).
contact for any new French Lojbanists. John has also been Above all, PLEASE make sure that you keep any such check
making his own attempts to recruit new people, and has covered until it clears, which might take a few weeks - we
written a one-page description of Lojban emphasizing its are charged US$50.00 if Deak cannot collect on the check.
international language aspects for his own distribution. We also now can accept contributions and donations via
The French language version of the brochure (translated Master Card and Visa credit cards, as described above under
by Andre Bergeron) has now been entered onto computer, just 'Finance'. We originally sought this service for our
in time to receive an 'acid test' by being distributed to international customers as an alternative to sending US
the several French-speaking respondents to the ASP article. currency through the postal system, and hope that it is
It will receive one more review pass before being printed useful to you.
up in bulk.
The Italian language brochure (translated by Silvia
Romanelli), is being typed up. After Silvia reviews it, we Products and Prices
will be printing bulk copies of it as well. Silvia has
plans to actively recruit people in the Italian city of Our emphasis these last few month has been on polishing
Asti, near her home. up design features of the language, working towards the
Board member Tommy Whitlock recently visited Germany on grammar baseline, rather than developing new products, but
a personal trip. We don't yet have a German brochure, and we do have a few, primarily due to the efforts of others
the trip occurred during a university break period, but among you who have helped me out. These include two com-
some 50 English brochures were distributed, and Tommy made puter programs, a cassette tape, and several technical
contact with a couple of Lojbanists who are linguistics papers of a length or of a more limited interest group such
students in Germany. that we can't justify printing them in a JL issue.
Athelstan will be attending the 1990 World Science
Fiction Convention (Worldcon) in Amsterdam, which takes New Lojban Tape
place the last week of August. He will arrive prepared to
give several talks at the convention and to distribute We have finally made the long-promised cassette tape
brochures in the 3 languages completed (and possibly German designed to accompany the first few lessons of the
textbook. The tape was made on very short notice, since functionality (and of course if any bugs need fixing); our
Robert Gorsch wanted to use it in his class described below normal update price is $6 for each update (with the 20%
(although a U.S. mail foul-up meant that it didn't get to discount per above).
him in time). We are offering the program for now under similar
Bob, Nora, Athelstan, Tommy Whitlock, Sylvia Rutiser, restrictive terms as the cassette tape - priority will be
and new Lojbanist David Young participated in the various given to advance paid orders, to level 3 subscribers, and
pronunciation exercises and dialogues on the tape. The to people needing the program for a demonstration; no
recording includes samples from the first three textbook guarantees that we can fill unpaid orders.
lessons. We are also offering the 20% discount on both Mac
We are announcing availability of this tape under rather teaching programs as described under 'finances' above.
restricted conditions. Because of our strained finances
and the impending textbook rewrite, we cannot afford to lujvo-Making Program
mass produce the tape. Also, since the text associated
with the tape is derived from the draft textbook lessons, Nora has pretty well tested her new lujvo-making program
it is fairly worthless to give the tape to anyone who for PC/MS-DOS machines, and we're going to start offering
doesn't have at least the first 3 draft textbook lessons. it for sale now. The program, unlike LogFlash and its
Since we aren't mass producing the tape, Bob has to variations, does not use a ladder technique, nor is it
manually copy each tape that we distribute, which is not solely a teaching program.
quick. And since the tape is not being widely distributed, lujvo-maker has two modes, one for reference, and one
we can't afford to put a lot of effort into polishing and for drill. One mode allows you to type in up to 5 keywords
editing it (although Lojbanist John Vengrouskie has vol- from the list of gismu English keywords, and it will form
unteered to assist us in this, when we finally do so.) the set of possible lujvo, listing up to 32 valid forms in
Enough qualifications. The bottom line is that, for now order of highest 'score'.
at least, we will probably accept orders for the tape only The scoring algorithm differs from both proposals
from a) people who need the tape as examples for a group included in the Synopsis - these latter failed the most
presentation they are giving on Lojban, and b) level 3 important test of all - usability by a Lojbanist trying to
people who specifically ask for the tape. Among the make words 'on the fly'. The new algorithm stresses word-
latter, high priority will be given to paid orders, and to length, with adjustments minimizing hyphens and consonant
people who have been trying to use or write in the language clusters. It generally selects the intuitive 'best word'
or have otherwise contributed. I won't promise to fill from the list, and at least can be predicted 'on the fly'.
unpaid orders at this point; we can't afford it. The drill mode selects a random tanru of 1 to 5
The price for the 60 minute cassette is $9.00, with a elements, and displays the English keywords. It then asks
20% discount ($7.20) as announced in 'finances' above for you to type in what you think is the 'best' lujvo. When
people with positive balances who are either level 3 or who you respond, it displays the set of correct values, and
prepay their order. tells you whether you chose a valid lujvo, one in the top
few in the list, or optimally, the best lujvo on the list.
Hypercard Mac LogFlash At this point, it keeps no statistics, although we may
eventually add such a function for research aimed at
Dave Cortesi has written a Hypercard implementation of evaluating how well people learn rafsi and lujvo-making.
LogFlash for the MacIntosh which is available on special For now, the program is fairly simple - not even requiring
order. The program, being new, and on the Mac, has not a users manual. Just start it up and follow the menus.
undergone Nora's exhaustive testing program; it has, We are offering lujvo-maker on a separate disk at this
however, been tested by at least three users and found to point for $10, with a 20% discount for those with positive
be a worthwhile product. balances etc., per 'finances' above. At some point, we
The main feature of the program, other than its will probably offer it in combination with the random sen-
Hypercard design that allows you to use the program for tence generator on a single diskette.
word look-ups as well as for testing, is that it interfaces Unlike the above new products, there are no restrictions
with the standard MacIntosh speech generator. Thus, unlike on ordering lujvo-maker; I can make copies fairly easily.
Mac LojFlash, and other LogFlash versions, you can hear the The program is very effective at teaching lujvo-making,
word on request. This makes this program especially especially if used after or in conjunction with LogFlash 2,
valuable to newer Lojbanists who are unfamiliar with the which teaches the rafsi independent of lujvo-making. After
sound of the language, although the Hypercard reaching 80% on LogFlash 2, it took me only about an hour
implementation is apparently noticeably slower than Mac of practice to regularly be able to predict either the top
LojFlash, especially on the older and slower models. scoring lujvo, or at least one of the top 3 scorers. Since
Because Hypercard Mac LogFlash is of comparable all lujvo forms based on the same root tanru have the same
functionality with Mac LojFlash, we are offering it at the meaning, this is more than acceptable for everyday use.
same price - $20. Since the program is still in a late
development stage, we will include in this price 6 months Technical Papers Offered
of update support: free updates will be provided during
that time if a new release provides meaningful new
Over the last year or two, as many of you know, I have try something else, but I want to do something to bring
been building a linguistics reference library, and a more of these writings to interested readers.
Loglan/Lojban historical archive. Your correspondence over I'll try to start this service with the next JL issue.
the two years amounts to about 4-5 feet of filing cabinet I'm interested in anyone's comments about the idea, and how
space. Most of this correspondence is short letters, it might be made to work best.
questionnaire responses, etc., that are primarily of
interest for statistical or historical purposes. Some of 3 1/4" Diskettes
you, however, have written article length essays and
comments, etc. reviewing some aspect of Lojban or With my new 386/25 machine, I have a 3 1/4" disk drive,
linguistics. T. Peter Park, Paul Doudna, and Jim Carter and can now offer PC/MS-DOS software in that format. For
have been especially prolific, and Michael Helsem has writ- now, we'll charge the same price, since the higher cost of
ten more Lojban text than we can review and print in JL (I the diskettes is approximately countered by my not needing
get a new letter every week or two. Keep it up, Michael!). to use expensive disk mailers, and by slightly cheaper
For a while, I published almost anything printable in JL. postage.
We can't do so anymore. Readers want me to be selective
about length, relevance to general interest, etc. Book Plans
The writings I'm talking about are NOT low quality. In
some cases, they are written for readers of a particular Here's the way I think things look for the textbook at
experience background that I don't think is representative. this writing.
To give an example, a year ago Jeff Prothero wrote a proof After I finish whatever needs to be done on the four
of Lojban elidable-terminator disambiguity. It's only 1 open grammar issues, I will start working intensely on the
page long, but if I added enough explanation of Jeff's textbook. First priority is to write up Athelstan's mini-
terminology and its relationship to our standard usages, lesson, which will serve as a new opening lesson. I may
and also explained the point of the proof to those who are also revise the Overview for incorporation in the introduc-
unfamiliar with the machine grammar design, the result tion.
might be a dozen pages - and since I'm not sure that the I have long planned to scrap the existing Overview as an
proof is correct, or that people are interested, I can't introduction to the language for new people and to replace
use that much space on the article (nor can I spend the it with a derivative of one of T. Peter Park's outstanding
time writing the explanation). efforts at overview-writing (these will be among the papers
A similar reason explains why I've never printed Jim made available per the above discussion). T. Peter's
Carter's descriptions of the evolving versions of his overviews are heavy with examples and have a much more
Loglan-derivative language. The text is too long, of personable style than the stilted, fairly technical
insufficient general interest, and filled with vocabulary overview we distribute now. But the latter is useful for
and usages that are peculiar to Jim's writing (and often the textbook, perhaps blended into the mini-lesson write-
contradicting our own terminology) to print in JL. But up, because it covers the whole language, and defines our
some among you want to read about other artificial language special usage vocabulary and jargon that is found
proposals, and Jim and others have given me their efforts throughout JL, the textbook, and all of our other writings.
presumably so that I can bring their ideas to a wider, I will then be revising the 6 existing lessons, probably
interested, audience. breaking them up into smaller chunks - as many as 20. I'll
What I'm going to try to do over the next couple of try to add more examples, and to bring a student to a
months is to assemble a list of such special papers that I greater feeling of competence earlier in the text.
think can be made available to the Lojban readership, and Athelstan has people making good sentences after an hour
I'll include it as a separate page of ordering materials. mini-lesson; the textbook takes 2+ lessons to get to the
I'll also put the oldest issues of JL and its predecessor same point.
newsletters on that list, freeing up space on the main Next, I will finish the equivalent of Lessons 7, 8, and
order form for new products. 9 of the textbook outline, using the same organization and
I suspect that I have a couple dozen such papers, lesson size that I develop for the first 6 lessons. Much
ranging in length from 1 page to 75 (for Paul Doudna's of this material will come from the write-up on negation
detailed analyses of Loglan/Lojban gismu categories). that I'm putting together for next issue.
I'm going to start with a base price of 15 cents/page, Finally, I'll put together a vocabulary list Appendix,
which is my estimate of what it costs for special order Glossary, Index, and perhaps a couple of appendices on
printing and mailing of such papers. I will apply the 20% using the textbook more effectively for self-study and for
discount to these papers for advance paid orders - if we classroom study. I'd also like an appendix dealing with
lose a little money on this, I'll consider it a well-spent common errors made by new Lojbanists.
reward for those who are supporting us with cash. So I can Nora will be assisting me by devising more examples - my
keep going on more normal orders, I will have to fill these main weakness in textbook writing and teaching is an
orders on a time-available basis, unless you give me some inability to devise good examples to illustrate a
time-dependent reason for rushing your order. particular point on demand. I will also be using examples
If we lose too much money on this service, or if it out of the various writings that Lojbanists send me for
takes too much of my time, we'll have to raise the price or
review. This textbook will thus be a creation of many specifically towards textbook publication, or towards
people, not just a few. paying for copies for people who legitimately cannot afford
As I said above, I want to have a draft finished by them.)
LogFest in mid-June. This is probably optimistic, since I Your feedback on our plans is important. Let me know
haven't gotten started on it yet, but I think it will move your opinions.
quickly once I get going. (Now where have we heard this
before!) But I've made a commitment; the textbook, and the LogFlash Porting
dictionary, will be done this year.
As for the dictionary - the primary efforts to be done We've had volunteers to port LogFlash to CP/M, the Amiga,
in prerequisite are the completion of the new cmavo list, and the Apple II, during the last 3 months, all of which
which Jeff Taylor has been working on for several months, I've tried to discourage: people who start this effort
and a word by word review of expanded gismu place don't seem to finish it, and I'd rather see people not
structures that I actually prepared about 8 months ago. waste their time on an incomplete effort. Perhaps a half
These will form the core of the dictionary, which will be dozen people have volunteered for each of the portings
enhance by a data base of alternative English keyword mentioned, and only one (an Amiga version by Carl Burke)
equivalents, and entries for conversions and abstractions got partially running. LogFlash is apparently surprisingly
of the gismu and their corresponding lujvo. complex - 2000 lines of Turbo Pascal, and this will proba-
I haven't yet figured out how I want to write such bly be increased later this year when we have longer
entries, but the first dictionary will be prepared with English definitions for the gismu list.
fairly mechanical definitions to make sure that it gets CP/M is the only porting possibility that seems
written. We'll then revise it based on your feedback on meaningful; older Turbo-Pascal versions exist for CP/M so
the First edition. that conversion would be easy. Speed, small diskette
Finally, I'll be adding in the (hopefully) baselined sizes, and the infinite variety of terminal interfaces and
machine grammar and an explanation of how to use it, diskette formats make a conversion a problematical
various supplementary lists, such as Lojbanizations of investment of effort in the rapidly declining CP/M market.
common names, an index of rafsi, etc., and a revision of Eric Raymond had completed an 85% conversion of
the Synopsis, which belongs in a reference work. Probably LogFlash to portable Unix C, using a Turbo-to-C translator
to be added to a later edition will be a revised an that he is modifying as he goes to make sure that we can
completed grammar synopsis that I once started writing, now always generate working Pascal from the C and vice-versa.
available as the partial 'grammar description' we list on There have been hang-ups due to incompatible I/O between
our order form. Turbo-Pascal and C; LogFlash uses 'random access' to disk
Right now, I am hoping to sell each of these books for files, which is apparently difficult to match in C.
about $12-15, with the 20% discount ($10-12) for positive Otherwise the project would be completed.
balances described under 'finances' above. At least one Volunteers who have significant amounts of time to
person has pointed out that we probably should charge more, contribute and a good knowledge of both C and Turbo Pascal
since quality technical paperbacks generally sell for $15- can contact Eric on uucp/Internet at:
20 nowadays. At this point, I'm inclined to go the cheaper email@example.com
route. I want students and Lojbanists overseas to buy the
books, and I want more people buying them, rather than If the conversion is completed it can perhaps serve as a
having fewer people buying, and giving books away to the basis for portings to several other machines, given the
others because I don't want anyone who wants to learn the attempt to maximize portability of the C code. If the
language to be deprived by an inability to afford the porting is completed, we will consider making the C version
books. the main 'baseline' version. The problem with this is
Another possibility I'm considering is that the prices support, since neither Nora nor Bob is proficient with C.
given above will be advance order prices only to repay all
of you who have stuck with us over the years with a special
lower price, and that within a few months after publi- News (with Comments) About the Institute
cation, we will raise prices to start earning money in
support of our other activities. (For newcomers, The Loglan Institute, Inc. is the
I am noting people's requests for textbooks now, but organization headed by James Cooke Brown, the founder of
don't have a mechanism in place to record advance orders, the Loglan Project. While la lojbangirz. has serious
so please don't send 'orders' yet. You CAN, of course, disputes with Brown on availability of the language, and
send money now to bring your balance positive before the the politics of the Loglan/Lojban community, we respect his
textbook comes out, and to even put in enough to have paid achievements and contributions to Loglan/Lojban. We will
for the 'advance order price' needed for the 20% discount. strive to continue to present reasonably fair outside
A large number of people bringing their balances positive reports on his efforts, especially reporting on how his
will probably lead to keeping textbook prices lower, organization's activities affect Lojban and Lojbanists.)
because we'll have the money and orders to print more
books, and to not have to take out a loan to pay for the Jim Brown's 4th edition of Loglan 1 has been out for 9
printing. (We'll also accept your donations made months now. The Loglan Institute, Inc. has advertised the
book in Scientific American, Analog, and a couple of other form, but it did have the first paragraph of text in
magazines (If you see anything about Loglan or Lojban in Institute Loglan that has been seen in years (other than in
any publication, or receive anything from Jim Brown, please Loglan 1), and a couple of articles other than by Brown,
consider sending me a copy for the historical archive, or also a rarity.
at least asking me if I need it - I am already getting most Other than cartoons, the quality has a long way to go to
things put out by the Institute, since our information match JL, so I'm not threatened (we've asked Rex to draw us
network is spread wide). some cartoons, too). Disturbing is Brown's announced
We've noted that the Institute is spending a LOT of intent to give several issues of Lognet to new book
money on advertising (thousands of dollars), which must purchasers and inquirers; this is disturbing not in its
certainly be adding significantly to Institute prices. In threat to us - that is after all what we do with le lojbo
contrast, la lojbangirz. is trying to minimizing karni and Ju'i Lobypli, but rather in ethical sense that it
advertising costs by building an extensive word-of-mouth seems unfair to charge Institute members $25 for such a
network in advance of the textbook. meager publication, and then give it to everyone else who
Incidentally, the number of books Jim, and we, can sell, doesn't pay for it, for free.
is an uncertain question. Most small press print runs are The three relatively technical articles included a
for 500, 1000, or 2000 books, with significant per book proposal by Rex May on non-Loglan alphabets, which is
savings on the larger numbers. We don't know how many similar in many ways to Lojban's scheme for the same
copies Jim had printed, but I believe he only sold 2000 problem. An article by Brown reported on problems in
copies of the 3rd Edition of Loglan 1 back in 1975-7 (at a Loglan 1 that were detected by 'several persons' (he quoted
MUCH lower price), and he advertised in Scientific American only problems and examples Athelstan and I reported in our
at least 3 times. He also didn't have Lojban and la review in LK10). Brown claimed that the problems were
lojbangirz. around as a 'competitor'. minor and offered a contest for the best solutions. I
We haven't been hurt in the slightest by Brown's barely resisted the temptation to submit the simplest
publication. In fact, we have profited some thereby. solution: switch to Lojban.
People come up to us at conventions and ask about the An essay written by Robert McIvor proposed that gismu be
relationship between Lojban and Loglan, and we tell them - assigned 5 different place structures, depending on the 5
generally doubling our response rate. different final vowels possible at the end of a word (in
We also gain through our extensive grass roots network. both versions of the language, two gismu are not permitted
Perhaps once a month people post a message on Internet to differ only by final vowel. Unlike Lojban, the
saying that they've bought Loglan 1 and asking whether Institute version makes an exception for 'cultural words',
anyone else is studying Loglan. We answer, and have added and this proposal is a major expansion of that exception
a couple of level 3 language students as a result, because into a universal.
these are people that want something like la lojbangirz. to I won't go at length into the problems with the
support their language learning activities. Similar proposal, but its adoption would spell the end of the
messages are posted on Compuserve, Genie, and other Institute version as a true predicate language. The
national networks, and Lojban volunteers have been quick to proposal calls the varying place structures 'cases' - and
answer. indeed the proposal is in effect reinventing declensions.
Meanwhile we've lost exactly 1 person in each of the More important, the gismu are divided into a bunch of cate-
last 3 years who has chosen to study the Institute's gories, including 'nouns' and 'verbs', 'culture words',
version of the language over Lojban 'people', 'body parts' and a few others. Each category
Turning to other Institute activities, we've heard that would have its own peculiar set of declensions. Thus the
Robert McIvor has revised the 8-year-old draft of a paper assumption of a predicate language that all predicates are
intended for submission to Communications of the ACM on the alike is violated at the start - major 'Whorfian effects'
supposed unambiguity of the Institute's version of the that might derive from the fact that things traditionally
language, and that he again plans to submit the paper. Jim 'verbs' can be treated as 'nouns' in Loglan, and vice versa
wrote to several of the co-authors of the paper to tell would be eliminated. There are other problems, some
them; most of these co-authors are studying Lojban. One identified by McIvor himself, any of which should be
co-author, Jeff Prothero, who devised some of the major sufficient to kill the idea.
schema for making the language truly unambiguous, indicates There is some letter feedback and questions on Institute
that he now thinks the paper's concept is too flawed to be equivalents of LogFlash and other programs. It appears
worth publishing, and that the hand-waving evidence for that those programs are being sold without proper testing.
'unambiguity' needed to explain the Institute's grammar But I won't pretend that la lojbangirz. hasn't had its own
would be laughed at by the computer community. I have an software support problems, especially with MacIntosh
old draft of the paper in the archives and tend to agree. software.
The Institute published its first issue of Lognet in Finally, Brown calls on readers to do a lot of things to
over a year just after JL11 went out. Jim recruited Rex promote the Institute version of the language. A lot of
May, a nationally known cartoonist and libertarian author the proposals are things that we've been doing. la
as the new editor. The result was a much improved Lognet, lojbangirz. is honored by the extent that Brown values our
if small. It included a dozen pages or so, including a methods. If only he would realize that our methods require
couple of pages of sales offerings comparable to our order a public domain language in order to work.
Alas! Feature Topic:
Next issue, and a lot more news. Esperanto and Lojban
[Whether you have (or should have) interest in Lojban as a
candidate for an "international language" is not a question
addressed in the following two articles. To achieve most
of its goals, including the scientific ones, Lojban needs
to develop an international, multi-cultural speaker base.
Lojban can be helped in this effort by the "international
language" community, or it can be hurt by it. Perhaps one
of the best ways to spread Lojban into other cultures will
be to translate the introductory and teaching materials
into Esperanto (any volunteers?) In any case, it is to all
Lojbanists' advantage to clarify the relationship between
Lojban and Esperanto, and to ensure that supporters of each
language do not see the other language as a 'rival'.]
Probably the most commonly asked questions from new or
potential Lojbanists relate to various comparisons between
Esperanto and Lojban. Many of these questions come from
Esperantists, who of course are the ones most familiar with
their language. Some of these are friendly and curious;
others are defensive and hostile, seeing Lojban as a threat
or competition to Esperanto. Others come from people who
have dabbled in Esperanto, and they then want to use their
knowledge of Esperanto as a standard for evaluating
Lojban's qualities with respect to their personal priori-
ties or goals. And then there are the genuinely confused,
who often have seen one of the short eye-catching
advertising flyers used by Esperantists to whet people's
interest. These questions generally lead to discussions
along one of several lines:
- Why another international language? Isn't Esperanto good
enough? After all, it's already spoken by [insert
questionable statistic of your choice between 25,000 and
- Is Esperanto a European language? Does the answer mean
that non-Europeans will or won't be able to easily learn
it? Is Lojban any better?
- Can Esperanto be used in testing the Sapir-Whorf
Hypothesis? Can Esperanto be used for machine translation?
(and similar questions about applications for which we
think Lojban is especially well-designed).
- Esperanto had speakers within a few months of its publication, but Loglan/Lojban has been around for 15/25/35 years
before even the first speakers gained competence. (This leading to the humorous aside that Loglan is the first artifi-
cial language to undergo a schism before anyone spoke it. Probably not true - Lojban is the first language to SURVIVE a
schism occurring before anyone spoke it. la lojbangirz. is now far stronger and less-divided than the Loglan/Lojban
community has ever been.)
- I want a language that I can use NOW for speaking and writing to other people. Lojban doesn't have anyone speaking
the language, especially in other countries.
- There are also comments commending the short, free correspondence course that Esperanto supplies. These generally are
compared to our considerably more complicated teaching materials.
And finally, sparking the following article:
- You say Lojban has 600 rules. But Esperanto has only 16. How can you say Lojban is simpler than Esperanto?
Athelstan will answer this question, and then Bob will follow with an essay tackling the other issues that stem from
trying to compare Lojban and Esperanto.
How many rules are enough? by Athelstan
Many people are confused or dismayed that Lojban has 600 rules while Esperanto has a mere 16. The key is in the
different kinds of rules these are: Lojban's are computer parsing rules, similar to the types of rules used by compiler
writers to describe computer languages. Zamenhof's 16 Rules of Esperanto are essentially commentary on 16 topics of
I have concocted 11 rules of Lojban that approximately correspond to Esperanto's 16. Like Zamenhof's list, the
Lojban rules are often groups of rules concerning a single topic. Also, following Zamenhof's example, the rule set is
incomplete: the rules do not describe word or sentence order, relative and subordinate clauses, relative pronouns, and
numerous other topics of grammar and vocabulary.
The 16 Rules of Esperanto
Corresponding Rules for Lojban
1) There is no Indefinite Article, there is only a definite article (la), alike for all sexes, cases, and numbers.
1) The articles la, le, lo, li, and lu are the name, non-veridical, veridical, numeral, and utterance articles,
respectively. lai, lei, and loi are the mass articles and la'i, le'i, and lo'i are the set articles corresponding to
the first three above. lo'e is the typical/average article, and le'e is the stereotypical article. None vary by
number, case or sex.
Comment: This is the one rule where Lojban is not as succinct as Esperanto in covering the same ground.
2) Substantives end in o. To form the plural j is added. There are only two cases: nominative and accusative; the
latter is obtained from the nominative by adding n. Other cases are expressed by preposition (genitive de, dative al,
ablative per, etc.)
2) sumti (arguments) assume the case of the sumti place they occupy. The place tags fa, fe, fi, fo, and fu may be used
to explicitly state the place. Also, the case tags bai, bau, di'u, etc. may be used to specify the case.
Comment: Lojban words do not change endings, so the corresponding rule only deals with determination of cases. Note
that this is a conglomeration of four rules, each in its own sentence.
3) The Adjective ends in a. Case and number as for substantives. The Comparative is made by means of the word pli,
the Superlative by plej; with the Comparative the conjunction ol is used.
3) Any selbri may modify any other selbri by position. Comparatives and Superlatives are formed by simple
Comment: The Lojban rule describes a secondary function, as there are no separate words that act only as adjectives in
Lojban. The Esperanto rule consists of six rules this time; the second sentence is short but refers to two separate
rules inside Rule 2.
4) The cardinal Numerals (not declined) are: unu, du, tri, kvar, kvin, ses, sep, ok, nau, dek, cent, mil. Tens and
hundreds are formed by simple junction of the numerals. To mark the ordinal numerals a is added; for the multiple, obl;
for the fractional, on; for the collective, op; for the distributive, the preposition po. Substantival and adverbial
numerals can also be used.
4) The digits are pa, re, ci, vo, mu, xa, ze, bi, so, and no (zero). pi is the decimal point. Numbers are formed by
junction of the digits. li ... boi surround simple numbers as sumti. To mark the ordinal, the post-position moi is
used; similarly mei for the collective. pi ... mei surrounds the fractional.
Comment: These two Rules correspond closely for the first seven parts, but the last sentence of Zamenhof's rule invokes
rules from Rule 2 and Rule 3, adding ten rules in all for a total of seventeen rules directly and indirectly contained
in this paragraph.
5) Personal Pronouns: mi, vi, li, si, gi (thing or animal), si, ni, vi, ili, oni; possessives are formed by adding a.
Declension as for substantives.
5) Anaphora: ko'a, ko'e, etc; mi, do, ko, ti, ta, tu, ri, ra, ru, zu'i, zo'e; possessives are formed by position or
with prepositions pe, po, po'e.
Comment: These are of similar length except that Rule 2's substantive declension rules are included. I count six
rules, therefore, to Lojban's three.
6) The Verb undergoes no change with regard to person or number. Forms of the verb: time being (Present) takes the
termination -as; time been (Past) -is; time about-to-be (Future) -os; Conditional mood -us; Imperative mood -u; In-
finitive -i. Participles (with adjectival or adverbial sense): active present -ant; active past -int; active future -
ont; passive present -at; passive past -it; passive future -ot. The passive is rendered by a corresponding form of the
verb esti and a passive participle of the required verb; the preposition with the passive is de.
6) The selbri undergoes no change. The tense markers pu (past), ca (present), ba (future), vi, va, vu (space), etc.
may be used with any selbri or within sumti. nu, ka, ni, etc. are the abstraction operators. For the imperative, use
the anaphorum ko.
Comment: Without reference to any other Rules, Zamenhof has packed Rule 6 with sixteen rules. Lojban's nine include
the abstraction operators, which have no counterpart in Esperanto. Also, I have counted the tense markers as three
separate rules, but they should probably count as one, like any of the other lists.
7) Adverbs end in e; comparison as for adjectives.
Comment: This is covered under Rule 3 on modification.
8) All Prepositions govern the nominative.
Comment: Lojban has no cases in the sense used here, so it needs no rule corresponding to this one.
9) Every word is Pronounced as it is Spelt.
7) Every word is Pronounced as it is Spelt.
10) The Accent is always on the second-last syllable.
8) The Accent is always on the second-last syllable (names may be marked for irregular stress).
11) Compound Words are formed by simple junction of the words (the chief word stands at the end). Grammatical
terminations are also regarded as independent words.
9) lujvo are formed by simple junction of the gismu or rafsi, substituting or inserting y where appropriate.
Comment: As Zamenhof left off variant compounding rules, I felt equally free in leaving out the more extensive lujvo-
12) When another negative word is present the word ne is left out.
10) na acts to negate a bridi, and is never an intensifier.
Comment: I have recently examined a treatise on the scope of negation in the natural languages. It is medium-sized,
and an inch and a half thick; both of these two Rule statements obviously miss a lot of ground. [Bob's note: the
current Lojban negation proposal covers all of the ground of negation with 4 cmavo, and involves 47 of the 600-odd
machine grammar rules. But it requires a lot of explanation to cover all of natural language negation, as will be seen
13) In order to show direction towards, words take the termination of the accusative.
Comment: see comment on 8, above.
14) Each Preposition has a definite and constant meaning; but if the direct sense does not indicate which it should
be, we use the preposition je, which has no meaning of its own. Instead of je we may use the accusative without a
15) The so-called Foreign Words, that is, those which the majority of languages have taken from one source, undergo no
change in Esperanto, beyond conforming to its orthography; but with various words from one root, it is better to use
unchanged only the fundamental word and to form the rest from this latter in accordance with the rules of the Esperanto
11) Nonce le'avla are marked with le'a and a marker rafsi as appropriate, and should conform to Lojban orthography.
Comment: Zamenhof's Rule here does not seem to admit of any major group of languages that are not closely interrelated.
That is, he assumes that if a word varies, it varies from one fundamental root word. I have included a description of
borrowed terms as the closest approximation to this rule.
16) The Final Vowel of the substantive and of the article may sometimes be dropped and be replaced by an apostrophe.
Please note the overall structure of the 16 Rules. The first 8 cover eight major parts of speech in Graeco-Roman
grammar; articles, nouns, adjectives, numerals, pronouns, verbs, adverbs and prepositions. The last 8 cover seven
aspects of the same grammatical philosophy: pronunciation, accent, compounding, negation, case usage, borrowings, and
elision. (Rule 14 should really be divided and shared between Rule 8 and Rule 13.)
This means that any language with a Graeco-Roman grammar form can be described by similar rules. They may be long
rules, including lots of sub-rules, but Zamenhof started this practice with the Esperanto rules. They may ignore a lot
of the grammar, but again this is in keeping with the example set.
In fact, with slight adjustments to the Rule topics, any language may be described with approximately 16 rules, if
the rules are sufficiently complex (and allow for all the exceptions that are inherent in natural languages). In some
cases, a language's rule set may not even be as complex as Esperanto's; this is the case with Lojban.
In order to have a meaningful comparison between numbers of rules, the complexity of those rules must be nearly
uniform; the machine parsing rules (of which Lojban has about 600) come closer to meeting that ideal. Unfortunately,
there are no figures on the number of such rules required by Esperanto; we must rely on indirect evidence of their
number. Esperanto's dependency on case declensions probably alone requires a complete set of rules comparable to
Lojban's FOR EACH CASE.
It is not my intention here to prove that Lojban is 'better than Esperanto' or that Esperanto is in some way
'defective'. It is rather to show that the comparison of two languages is a complex task, and not to be decided by
comparing raw numbers. Each of these languages is complex in itself, and yet much simpler than the natural languages.
[Bob's note: Even comparing languages by counting machine parsing rules is risky, unless you count rules the same way.
We've used the number 600 as the machine rule count for Lojban in the above article. However, that number is a count of
each individual rule line in the current machine grammar proposal, which was not written to minimize the rule count, but
to modularize the grammar into separate, small chunks that can be readily understood. An earlier JL article compared
Lojban's rule count to the 'BNF rules' used to define common computer languages like C, Pascal, or ADA; such a
comparison can only be approximated. The Lojban rules are much simpler than those used in BNF rule descriptions, which
are generally use compression conventions that are not directly testable with YACC for unambiguity. Eventually,
probably after we baseline the YACC grammar, someone will rewrite the Lojban rules in the shorter, more readable BNF
format. The result will be much shorter than the current rule set - perhaps 250-350 rules, within the same order of
magnitude as computer languages.]
On Comparing Esperanto and Lojban, by Bob LeChevalier
First let me state a guiding principle for evaluating the two languages. Lojban is not 'in competition' with
Esperanto. These are two separate languages with separate goals and applications. These may overlap, but are not
Evaluating two languages is like 'comparing apples and oranges'. If forced to choose between an apple and orange,
you will do so for purely personal reasons, based on your needs and desires of the moment. Similarly, if your goal is
to learn an artificial language and you don't have time to learn both Lojban and Esperanto, you will end up choosing
based on your own personal reasons. (Learning a language, even an artificial one, is a fairly abstruse goal in itself -
you usually have some longer range purpose for such a major effort, a purpose that will probably dictate the language
Competition would be pointless. Partisan support for one language doesn't make that language 'better' for others;
it can, however, spark counterproductive rivalry. Far better instead to work to attract new people into discovering
reasons for learning our respective artificial languages. By encouraging these new people, as well as supporters of our
respective languages, to be as informed as possible about both languages, intelligent choices can be made towards indi-
If Lojban becomes widely used, it might become a le lojbo ciska this issue may demonstrate this to you.
meaningful candidate as a universal 'second language', just Whether you like his poetry or not, he clearly has found
as Esperanto now is. If Esperanto continues with healthy something in the language that inspires him to explore
growth, then at that time there might be a basis to speak further. He couldn't have found this without trying to
of a 'choice' for 'world language' between Lojban, Es- express his own ideas in the language.
peranto, and possibly other candidates. The decisions will Most people make a first evaluation of Lojban based on
then be made by nations and cultures on the basis of THEIR two sentences in the brochure, and a couple more if they
personal desires and goals - the same non-competitive get the Overview. These sentences can be evaluated by a
situation, but at a higher level. newcomer only in translation, and whatever virtue Lojban
For Lojban to reach that level of viability, its various has is obviously going to be lost by translation into En-
applications will have to be proven - there must be glish. The sentences are longer than the colloquial
computer implementations, accomplishment of useful English translation, so Lojban seems complicated
scientific research, and thousands or millions of speakers, (heightened by people's perception that logic is
before Lojban can be talked of as a 'world language' as complicated). The frequent reference to 'logic' in our
Esperanto now is. If Lojban becomes such a force for introductory materials makes people think of Vulcans,
consideration as a world language, then I think that demon- whereupon they presume that a logical language must
strating enough growth to 'catch up to Esperanto' as well inherently be cold and inhuman.
as enough usefulness OUTSIDE of the international language Similarly, people criticize our 'Chicken McNugget' gismu
movement to survive until then, will be convincing evidence - it seems like the wrong way, to them, to build a 'warm,
that Lojban is suited for world acceptance. Furthermore, human' language. A newcomer sees a heavy emphasis on the
if Esperanto hasn't succeeded as an international language rules of the language, on computer applications, and on
by the time Lojban is proven viable for global consider- linguistic principles, in our introductory descriptions,
ation, then Lojban's 'higher momentum' and extra which makes Lojban seem 'cold' and 'mechanical'.
applications should the cause it to be considered 'more' A third group of critics see Lojban words as unaesthetic
viable. Meanwhile, if Esperanto does succeed, then Lojban because of particular sounds that they find difficult to
will continue to be used and useful for its other purposes. say, or simply because the words are enough different from
Each language will succeed or fail at its own goals on its English that they think it will be hard to learn them.
own merits. I believe that all of these evaluations are based on
Neither language has been accepted yet, and neither misconceptions caused by the way we describe the language
language will be accepted at the expense of the other. and by the readers' cultural prejudices. However, we can't
There is no point in talking of competition, especially possibly tell a casual newcomer enough about the language
when many Lojbanists are at the same time Esperantists, and for him/her to aesthetically evaluate it. There are too
who have no desire to 'make a choice'. Let's keep the many possible misconceptions to deal with; in this
community of artificial language aficionados together, newsletter alone I've written 3 or 4 essays that try to
bucking the tendency in that community towards disharmony dispel misconceptions among readers with far more
and schism. information than the person who casually picks up our
So let us try to compare apples and oranges. brochure.
There are four major areas of criteria wherein Esperanto Esperanto appeals aesthetically to European-family
and Lojban can be compared - aesthetics, usefulness, newcomers because they grasp the simplified European
scientific or linguistic merit, and success. I'll discuss principles relatively easily. They can read Esperanto text
each in turn. and recognize dozens of cognates, giving them a feeling
that they already practically know the language. Esperanto
Aesthetics will always have this advantage over Lojban, since Lojban
requires an interested person to learn a bit more before
The first basis of comparison is aesthetic. There are a she/he can see the simplicity and the patterns.
few aesthetic qualities - sound, rhythm, ease of We need to make introductory Lojban materials good
pronunciation, simplicity, elegance, completeness - but the enough that a newcomer feels compelled to learn enough
standards of 'good' in these qualities are cultural at about the language to properly evaluate aesthetic features.
best, and individual at worst. I am most irritated by peo- WHEN PEOPLE LEARN ABOUT LOJBAN, THEY STAY WITH US. Our
ple, not having made an effort to learn the language, who dropout rate among such people is only a couple of percent
say that Lojban seems 'cold', 'mechanical', 'inhuman', per year.
'complicated', 'hard to learn', or deficient any other Several people have tried to write a one-or-two page
measure of aesthetic quality; they have absolutely no handout on Lojban, but it's awfully hard to describe
knowledge basis on which to make such an evaluation! something as complex as a human language in just a couple
The aesthetics of language is totally determined by of paragraphs. On the other hand, at Worldcon, we saw
knowledge. All languages have beauty, when looked at from numerous 1-page Esperanto handouts that showed great
an internal perspective. You have to see, and to advertising sophistication, reducing all of Esperanto to
understand, the sounds, the forms, the structure, and the some graphics and a catchy slogan that plays to the
poetry, before you can determine whether a language has emotions. I would feel dishonest trying to do the same.
properties that attract you. Michael Helsem's writings in Our handouts give information, quite dense information at
that. Our only catchy slogan so far is ".e'osai ko sarji Usefulness
la lojban.", which of course also loses something in the
translation. Turning to the second major area where Esperanto and
Perhaps Lojban promoters can learn from Esperanto in Lojban may be compared, we examine the qualities of
other ways. Esperanto has a correspondence course for usefulness - what are the uses to which each language may
newcomers, which Lojban doesn't. It isn't even on our be put, and how well does each language serve those
priority list yet, although Athelstan's mini-lesson may purposes. Esperanto was designed solely as an
eventually serve much the same basic purpose - to give peo- international language. Other purposes that could be
ple the warm, fuzzy, feeling that they can indeed learn the devised for it are accidental. Lojban was first designed
language, and that it is aesthetically pleasing - then they as a linguistic tool, but with specific requirements
will be willing to start the hard work necessary to (cultural neutrality, ease of learning, simplicity) that
actually learn it. Only the people who move beyond such probably are important in an international language, and
introductory lessons actually learn and use the language. one (extremism in one or more areas of language structure)
On a more practical note, it will be impossible to that is a disadvantage. For various reasons, the disadvan-
evaluate the aesthetics of Lojban until it is spoken by tage of extremism has been ameliorated; most of the
reasonably fluent speakers. Only the first tidbits of extremes in Lojban are optional, and can be avoided by an
Lojban poetry have now been written, by one poet, so the international user. The advent of computers and the large
enormous power of the language to convey ideas has hardly number of computer professionals has led to a secondary
been tapped. The aesthetics of Lojban are being evaluated goal of useful computer applications while the language was
on such trivial grounds as whether one likes the apostrophe still being formed, making this a third area of usefulness
as a representation for the vowel buffer (pronounced like that is in effect designed into the language.
an h - but NOT an h), or whether the consonant clusters at Unless we've really fouled up, Lojban HAS to be
the beginning of "cfari" and "mrilu" seem pronounceable. potentially useful in more ways than Esperanto is. IT WAS
Esperantists have a similar problem, with four alphabetic DESIGNED TO BE.
letters not found on any typewriter or computer keyboard. This doesn't suffice for a comparison, though. Lojban
But Esperanto has speakers, poetry, novels - a community of may have a great deal of unrealized potential, but
people using the language - to give it the aura of Esperanto has realized most of its potential. It HAS been
'humanity'. It did not have these 100 years ago, when used for international communication. It is NOW being de-
people first made the choice to learn the language. Lojban signed into an elaborate machine translation system that is
will have these things, too, and in a very short while. expected to bear fruit by 1992. And while most linguists
ignore Esperanto because it is not a 'natural language',
has few native speakers, and is in effect a simplified
European tongue, there are some linguists who have re-
searched Esperanto as a language, and who have used it in
linguistic studies such as language education.
Lojban is not yet being used for any of these things.
However, every application 'discovered' for Esperanto has
been designed for in Lojban, and a few more besides.
Esperanto has an advantage in application now, but if
Lojban survives at all, it will eventually have more and
better applications. And because all of these applications
are conceived of and being worked on from the start, Lojban
won't take 100 years to achieve that large variety of
In the third area, scientific or linguistic merit, there
is also no competition possible. Lojban has 'won the race'
by starting at the finish line that Esperanto can never
reach. Yet in another sense, Esperanto is also at a finish
line, which Loglan/Lojban has had to strive for 35 years to
When Esperanto was invented, there wasn't a science of
linguistics. A few seeds had been planted, mostly along
the lines of historical evolution of languages. The
concept of inventing a language significantly different
than European languages was inconceivable - at least in
Europe. Indeed, until my generation, all languages, even
Oriental ones, were taught using Latin as the pure,
perfect, ideal if dead language that was the model of what mark of the amount of work that went into the language, a
a language 'should be'. Of hundreds of international sign that this spoken language is different, but not
languages invented before Lojban, almost none have a non- inferior to, any that have existed before.
European grammar. They were simplified forms of Latin with Since Lojban's purposes include linguistic
some a priori or derived set of words to fit onto that experimentation, evaluating Lojban's merit requires noting
Latinate architecture. Indeed, most of the hundreds of the mechanisms built into the language that allow, even
languages I've seen in the Library of Congress stacks are require, the use of the language for linguistic
described only as dictionaries, with some small set of experimentation. There are roots of redundant expression
rules at the front telling what simplifications have been forms for several types of expression. They will compete
made to standard European (read Latin) grammar. with each other for usage as Lojban grows. The choices
Esperanto's 16 rules are just such a set. Indeed, made by real speakers should reveal NEW facts about
Zamenhof apparently intended all things not covered by the language.
rules to be done 'like they are in your own language', as Lojban also has the cultural neutrality needed to test
if all languages were alike in such reference. The 16 the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis. (Yes, 'logic' could be a
rules are confusing to anyone who doesn't know a European European bias. Indeed, Jim Brown intended that Loglan have
language, just as Lojban's machine grammar is confusing to an extreme bias that would have measurable effects - that
anyone not versed in YACC grammars. What is an is the requirement for a Sapir-Whorf experimental test.
'accusative' in any of the Amerind languages, an But beyond logic, Lojban is exceptionally free from obvious
'adjective' in Chinese, or perhaps a 'passive'? You can't bias.) It has structures built into it that allow
teach Esperanto without teaching these concepts, which are comparison with languages of many different families, not
inherent to the design of the language. A non-European just European ones; such comparison will unmask observed
can't learn Esperanto without first learning the concepts Sapir-Whorf effects that are European artifacts in
and mind-set of European language. disguise, and will be possible because Lojban's grammar is
The Loglan Project was started some 40 years after what non-European.
is considered the birth of modern linguistics. Then, in And you don't 'have to be logical' in Lojban. The
the 1950's, the language was a skeleton - a simple redundant structures allow both hyperlogical and illogical
structure with a few hundred words - based on predicate ways of expressing things; you can be as erudite, or
logic, which has been thoroughly studied for 2000 years. nonsensical as you choose.
By the time the language meaningfully took shape, in the
1960's, modern linguistic theory had undergone the Success
revolution that had pretty much thrown out the Latin ideal.
Older versions of Loglan show obvious Latinate biases. Finally, the last criteria - success. Lojban has NO
Newer versions leading up to Lojban have successively fluent speakers. Esperanto has some large number - the
weeded out more and more of them. The Lojban version now value dependent on your source and whether you or the
being taught has had input from dozens of linguists, and source is trying to promote or denigrate the language - but
has been examined in comparison with a variety of certainly a lot more than Lojban. Where's the comparison?
linguistic theories that weren't around when Esperanto was Where's the competition?
developed. Loglan/Lojban has changed to account for the You cannot compare Esperanto's numbers with Lojban's
rapidly developing field of linguistics. Only recently has numbers and gain any useful information regarding their
there been enough confidence that a baselined Lojban is relative potential for success. Lojban's couple of
'good enough' to meet the stringent linguistic tests that speakers are too small to deal with statistically. Thus
we believe are required for a totally new language to seem you can use our numbers to prove practically anything.
'natural'. For example, the number of Lojban students is growing in
Loglan/Lojban has striven for 35 years from scratch to excess of 8% per month, or 100% per year. Extrapolating on
achieve the finish line of 'natural' language. 100 years this trend, Lojban would pass Esperanto in 15 years, and
ago, Esperanto started at the European finish line, taking would be universally spoken 15 years after that. Reduce
a few steps back to 'simplify' the European grammar before the growth rate and the results will be identical - just
again 'completing the race'. Lojban moves beyond the take longer, as long as Lojban grows faster than Esperanto.
restrictions of European grammar. It overtly incorporates This extrapolation is ridiculous of course, and almost any
linguistic universals, building in what is needed to method of predicting numbers is equally worthless, because
support the expressivity of the whole variety of natural changes will occur in the world every year that will
languages, including non-European ones. Esperanto, on the invalidate any prediction. Just ask the peoples of Eastern
other hand, will always be constrained to some degree by Europe.
its Latinate structure. Esperanto is growing in numbers too, though not nearly
I am particularly bothered by comparisons that note that as fast as Lojban. If it did, there would be no question
Lojban has taken 35 years to achieve meaningful about ITS eventually being a world language. But Esperanto
conversation, while Esperanto had hundreds of thousands of right now isn't growing fast enough. When the population
speakers within 35 years of its founding, including some of the world grows by hundreds of millions per year, Es-
native speakers. The fact that Lojban took 35 years to peranto is losing ground every day - just as Lojban is.
reach a point of development where it was speakable is a Both languages are failures.
Two paragraphs, opposite conclusions. Counting speakers language, or is 'beaten out by Esperanto' as a world
is meaningless. Based on numbers, anything will happen language, it will still have succeeded in its original aim
tomorrow. Or nothing. - to teach us more about language.
Numbers of speakers are meaningless anyway, if the peo- This is one aspect in which I can comfortably say that
ple don't USE the language. The biggest shock for me at 'Lojban is better than Esperanto'.
Worldcon was sitting next to the Esperanto table for sev-
eral days and NEVER HEARING A SINGLE CONVERSATION IN Side Note on the Discussion
ESPERANTO. I won't say that none occurred (some of the
people at the Esperanto tables are reading this), but I Philosophically, I am unconvinced that personal and
didn't hear any. political decisions should be made in a competitive
We didn't talk much Lojban at our table either. But our environment. The prevalent idea seems to be that "for me
audience of potential conversationalists was much smaller - to be right, you must be wrong" or "for me to be good, you
those of us who had driven up to Boston. The same group of must be bad" is unrealistically simplistic. Within human
us did speak Lojban for hours in the car going to and from endeavors, there is no absolute right or absolute good.
Boston. But Esperantists visiting from all over the Whether a language or a person, a candidate should be
country and all over the world were speaking English in chosen on the basis of how well the varying needs of
preference to Esperanto at their table. everyone concerned will be served, preferably not at the
Only if a language is used can it be judged successful. expense of others' needs.
And neither language is being used to its potential (Nora An interesting side note occurred to Nora in reading
and I COULD set time aside each day to talk in Lojban, but this. The Lojban gismu "xamgu", representing the concept
we don't.) This will have to change if either language is of 'good', has the place structure "x1 is good for x2 by
to achieve 'success', in the sense of being widely used. standard x3". Comparatives were also removed from other
Lojban has a long-term advantage there, based on the place structures when the language was redesigned. While
greater potential uses discussed above. If the language is Lojban can express comparisons quite easily, they are now
USED by the people who learn it. If the 100-or-more level avoided in gismu place structures. Thus one need not
3 people out there start sending me sentences, then para- consider everything as being 'more' or 'better' than
graphs, then texts in Lojban, and eventually start something else in order for a basic predicate relationship
interacting with each other because they don't need us to to be claimed. One needn't decide what something is "bluer
tell them that they are using the language correctly, then than" in order to decide that it is "blue". One needn't
Lojban will be used for its intended purposes. If not, decide that something is "better than" something else in
Lojban will be just another dead artificial language. The order for it to be "good". This seems metaphysically
same is true for Esperanto. simpler, and now appears to be a more significant quali-
Any Esperantist/Lojbanist who gives me the argument that tative difference from earlier versions of the language
they can use Esperanto now, but cannot use Lojban, is than we've perceived before.
arguing a self-defeating position. If you want to use a The metaphysical difference is perhaps significant to a
language, you will find a way to use it. We have the Sapir-Whorf test, since if S/W is true, the earlier design
network in place for Lojbanists to interact with each could lead to a culture where people see the world as a
other, including some people from other countries (though competitive place where everything always strives to be
the numbers are still small). But you have to learn the more 'broda' (~whatever) than something else, a culture
language first in order to use it. that doesn't seem very pleasant to me in an aesthetic
The same argument follows for people who are 'waiting sense.
for some practical application' before learning the ________________________________
language. The people who are waiting should be making the
known applications a reality, and should also be creating The following article is taken from a letter received
new ones. Some of the brightest people in the world are from Dr. Gorsch in which he described his recent class.
reading this essay; you certainly have the ability to make Those of you interested in the evolution of the Sapir-Whorf
Lojban (or Esperanto) applicable to your life - but only if Hypothesis since 1955, and those of you interested in
you choose to. developing useful applications for Lojban in education
Lojban applications will naturally spring up from the should find the letter an following course outline very
seeds we've planted. The time that no one seems to have useful. We ask anyone else who considers using the
available now for learning the language, could bear fruit materials below to develop their own course, or for any
and be ripe with reward in just a few years. other purpose, to let us know their results in a similar
Meanwhile Lojbanists have the ultimate consolation. fashion. We also ask that appropriate credit be given Dr.
Unlike Esperanto, Lojban can achieve one of its goals even Gorsch for his germinal work.
while failing as a language. While most of the linguistic
community has yet to realize it, the efforts of the past 35 An Introductory College Course in Semiotics Using Lojban by
years have probably taught more about the nature of Robert Gorsch
language than any other experimental effort. Every day and
every new Lojban speaker adds to that knowledge. If Lojban Thanks for sending the wonderful tape.
suddenly is abandoned 5 or 10 years from now as a dead
Alas, it arrived too late for me to use it in my class. Semioticians like Eco also analyze the way in which a
Don't worry, though. I will use it when I reorganize this given language organizes human experience by relating
occasional course in "Semiology" into a regular course in culturally pertinent units ("signifieds") to one another
"Language/Culture/Society." We are planning to make this through a network of connotative or associative links.
course in "Language/Culture/Society" a regular part of the Thus, as Eco explains in "Social Life as a Sign-System," a
curriculum of the English Department, and "Artificial language not only differentiates each cultural unit from
Languages" (including Lojban) will be a unit of this other, "adjacent" units ("orange" is differentiated from
course. I expect to be offering it for the first time in "red" and from "yellow"), but links each cultural unit to
the Spring of 1991. other units in other "semantic fields." The signified of
I have enclosed the reading list for my course in the word "rose," the idea of a certain kind of flower, is
semiology, together with copies of the readings most linked connotatively to other signifieds, "romance,"
closely related to the Whorfian Hypothesis and the "sexual passion," "male reverence for the female,"
development of modern sign-theory. Please note that this "courtship customs (giving flower)," "femininity," "youth,"
is an "intensive" course: each meeting represents 2 1/2 "freshness," and so on without limit. In this way each
hours of class-time or something like a week in a regular language is "contaminated" by traces of the cultural
semester. history of those who have used it: connotations are the
Let me briefly sketch the context in which I introduced links, arbitrary and mostly culture-specific, between one
students to Loglan and Lojban. "semantic field" and another that speech communities
In my course we began with an examination of the way in inherit and take for granted.
which sign-systems, linguistic and non-linguistic, organize This thesis about the segmentation of "raw" human
the raw experience of the human mind. We concentrated on experience is not incompatible with the Whorfian
developments in Continental linguistics and culture-theory Hypothesis. Indeed, to the extent that Whorfians
that derive from the Swiss linguist Saussure. This tra- concentrate on the structure of the lexicon and ask, for
dition, associated with the terms "structuralism," instance, how many words the Eskimo has for snow, the
"semiotics" or "semiology," and "post-structuralism" and Whorfian Hypothesis can scarcely be distinguished from
"deconstruction," anticipates, parallels, and from the Eco's argument about the "form" or "content" in the sign
1960's on elaborates the speculations of Sapir and Whorf. (see "Social Life as a Sign-System"). But, to my mind, the
Saussurean "sign-theory," with all of its quasi-Whorfian Whorfian Hypothesis is concerned more with grammatical
implications, is extremely influential today in academic structure rather than with lexicon. This is why I assign
circles, particularly in such fields as literary studies, the essay "Science and Linguistics" in my course (see
anthropology, and communications. Indeed, it has been enclosed). I selected this from a number of possibilities
practically the intellectual orthodoxy in literary studies as Whorf's clearest articulation of the thesis that the
since the mid-1970's. grammatical structure of a language, and not just the map
Some semiologists look back to the Whorfian Hypothesis afforded by its lexicon, shapes the perceptions of its
as a kind of corroboration of Saussure's thesis that the speakers.
sign consists of the arbitrary correlation of a signifier, In my course, I used some introductory materials on both
for example, an arbitrarily selected segment of human Esperanto and Loglan/Lojban to illustrate possible escapes
speech sounds, and a signified, an arbitrarily defined from the constraints imposed on thought, according to the
segment of human thought or experience. This thesis Whorfian Hypotheses, by natural languages. It was my hope
concerning the relation between language and thought is that students would perceive the relations between the
developed, in particular, on pp. 111-22 of Saussure's organizations of experience embodied in Esperanto and
Course. Umberto Eco uses the terms "cultural unit" and Logan/Lojban and those embodied in Indo-European languages
"culturally pertinent unit" to refer to what Saussure and like English, Spanish, and French. Anyone who examines
his followers would call the "signified" (see the enclosed Esperanto will see that it is Indo-European, even Romance-
selections from Eco). Germanic, to the core. Lojban, in contrast reflects a
For writers in this Saussurean tradition the lexicon of serious attempt to fashion a syntactic structure
each language is of especial interest. Eco, for example, significantly different from that which structures English
makes much of the fact that speakers of Latin had no word and other Indo-European languages.
for "rat" as opposed to "mouse." They did not (or did not I believe that you will find the enclosed readings on
easily) make a distinction where speakers of English do language and culture useful: they place the Sapir-Whorf
make a distinction. Through the lexical items they make hypothesis in context and reflect the importance of the
available to their speakers different languages embody thesis of linguistic relativity in modern "culture-
different segmentations or divisions of potential human criticism." You should be able to locate the other
experience. Each language constitutes a "map" of human readings assigned in my course using the information found
experience. Takao Suzuki's discussion of the English words in the syllabus (I would be happy to provide copies of any
break, drink, desk, water, and lip is designed to show that readings that you find difficult to obtain).
these maps do not coincide. It is as though English and
Japanese cartographers--to say nothing of Turkish and
Swahili cartographers--organized Earth's land masses into Questions from the Class, compiled by Dr. Gorsch, with
political units in quite different ways. responses by Bob LeChevalier
families from which the artificial language derives: the
[Dr. Gorsch compiled some interesting, provocative, and ideal artificial language would be derived from an analysis
very perceptive questions asked by his students. I'll try of, say six languages representing six utterly unrelated
to answer them here, for everyone's benefit, and to hope language families rather than from an analysis of those six
that Dr. Gorsch is able to pass the answers back to languages which yield the largest possible "target
appropriate questioners.] audience."
Following is a digest of comments, reflections, and Bob's response: I think it a quite perceptive
questions prompted by my students' encounter with materials observation, and a true one, that marketing mentality has
relating to Loglan and Lojban. We discussed Loglan and had an influence on the design of the language, although I
Lojban in class and students wrote about them in their can't say for sure that it is the case in the word-making.
"intellectual diaries" (which I read). Brown never mentions such a criterion in discussing why he
Needless to say, all of my students were dazzled by the chose the particular algorithm that he did in either Loglan
very idea that anyone would attempt to fashion an 1 or Loglan 2.
artificial language, and the brightest ones were intrigued Without evidence to back me up, I would tend to think
by the idea of testing the Whorfian Hypothesis. that it was Brown's background as a social scientist in the
I would like it to be understood that all of the 50's that led him to maximize an algorithmically-derived
following questions and remarks were framed in a skeptical and weighted statistical score. In social science, this
spirit: my students are trained to question things, has been a frequently used and accepted methodology.
everything in fact, in a skeptical spirit. Furthermore Looking at his goal, it is not an unreasonable approach.
they are based upon an introductory acquaintance with the The goal was a culturally neutral word-set, but also a
idea of the language. I hope these questions and remarks maximally learnable one. This is unquestionably a 'market-
will be of interest to you. minded' goal, though whether Brown chose it for market
reasons is uncertain. I think he was concerned about
1. As one of my brightest students argued, the learnability, trying to balance it against neutrality. The
architects of Loglan/Lojban seem to have taken a "marketing most learnable words to a culture are the one's most like
approach" to language design. For example, they worried that culture's words. The most culturally neutral of words
more about the size of the target audience of the language would give no link back to the native tongue. For what was
-- by attempting to maximize the number of potential originally thought of as a small short-term language
learners whose native languages would be incorporated, in experiment, learnability among test subjects was important
part, into the artificial language -- than about the cul- enough to get a weighting factor.
tural neutrality of the language. J. C. Brown, at least, Brown scored words based on the appearance therein of
seems unreasonably impressed by mere numbers (how many phoneme sequences that could be used as cognate memory
hundreds of millions of speakers have been targeted by hooks. As a result, English speakers find "klama" easy to
having their native languages incorporated in some way into learn for "come", while Chinese speakers will find "cadzu"
the artificial language?). As compared with Loglan, Lojban easier to learn for "walk", and both find "blanu" for
clearly seems to take a step forward by including a Semitic "blue" relatively easy.
language among its source languages; but it takes a step JL9 had a more extensive discussion of the word-making
backward, too, by the elimination of Japanese. As things algorithm and learnability. Briefly, it is believed that
now stand, four out of six of the source languages Brown never actually tested whether his algorithmic score
(English, Hindi, Russian, and Spanish) are Indo-European. actually measured learnability. Nor is it clear that it
Thus, only three independent language families are measures cultural neutrality. Eventually linguists can
represented (Indo-European, Hamito-Semitic, and Sino- study both questions - the language as a tool is there for
Tibetan). Even if one limited oneself to languages spoken the studying.
by over fifty million speakers, one could, in principle, The choice of languages was not a 'marketing' decision,
represent three additional language families, for a total but a practical one. Again, I don't know enough about
of six families: the Malay-Polynesian (e.g., Javanese and Brown's reasons, but I know what we considered, tried, and
Malay-Indonesian), the Altaic (e.g., Turkish and probably rejected. Brown used 8 languages; we used 6 for the Lojban
Korean, and perhaps Japanese), and the Dravidian (e.g., version, because these now are the 'top languages' in terms
Tamil and Telugu). of population. While Japanese is sociologically, if
An important compromise seems to have been made here: anything, a more important language than it was 35 years
"inter-culturality" seems to have been sacrificed to ago, the number of speakers has remained constant in a
maximal "target audience" (or, from another perspective, growing world population. Chinese and Hindi have swelled
maximal "learnability"). Legitimate questions could be enormously. With the end of colonialism, French and German
raised about the cultural neutrality of any language which are on the retreat, and so to a lesser extent is English
rooted in a set of languages four out of six of which are (although English has increased as the language of science
Indo-European. Questions might also be raised about your and technology).
methodology: have you chosen source languages according to Given that the object of the algorithm is the creation
the best possible criterion? My own instincts tell me that of 5-letter words with 3 consonants, it turns out to be
one should maximize the number of independent language meaningless to use more than 3 language families to
generate scores under Brown's algorithm. First, regardless fects, it might invalidate Lojban as a test tool. Though I
of the number of languages, you must use uneven weights, or doubt if such biases will prove meaningful, there is always
you get ties among possible words, and we didn't want our a risk that any new scientific tool may have such flaws
own personal aesthetics to be what chose the words. If an that invalidate the research results. Lojban is such a
uneven weighting is to be used, populations of speakers is tool and is subject to the same risks.
certainly as rational a weighting to use as any. An essential factor in the word-making algorithm is
Then, given that language roots are most often reflected appearance, and this is a 'market-minded' goal. The method
in their consonants, a 4 language family set results in the we used gives an objective approach to word-making that
least-reinforced language being thrown out, and a lot of eliminates personal biases, and it demonstrates a mind-set
low, approximately equal scores for widely differing rules towards protecting cultural neutrality. Loglan/Lojban has
- again a formula for randomness and aesthetic selection on attracted researchers and students by using its word-making
my (the word-maker's) part. A lesser, but real factor in algorithm as an obvious symbol for cultural neutrality, a
our remaking of the words was the tradeoff of time vs. symbol which your students have correctly noted is at least
quality of language scholarship. We didn't have very good somewhat illusory.
dictionaries for languages of other families, and we didn't
have time to acquire the language expertise to properly 2. In the design of Lojban, how were the lexical items
research languages with unfamiliar alphabets. selected? From the perspective of semiology, this is a
By the way, we did experiment with both equal-weighting crucial question. A sign-system constrains thought above
of languages, and with adding additional languages into the all (or at least significantly) by virtue of the
calculation. Neither gave useful results. organization of experience it imposes on a community
While 4 of our languages are in the same family, Indo- through (a) the "cultural units" or "signifieds" it defines
European, they are from different subfamilies that have and (b) the web of connotative relations that it estab-
relatively minimal sharing of roots. Indeed, about the lishes between these "cultural units." See the articles by
only obvious reinforcing that we observed was some En- Eco and the selections from Suzuki.
glish/Spanish matches where we allowed a Latinate root in If one were simply to devise new signifiers, new
the English calculation. There was probably a good deal of "words," for the signifieds given by Indo-European schemas
subliminal sharing, but a high percentage of the words are ("man," "woman," "blue," "sky," and so on), one would be
primarily a blending of Chinese and English phonemes. producing a kind of code into which speakers could simply
What was achieved, I think, is better than a set of translate discourse already structured by a natural
random words. Because the weighted scores included phoneme language like English, Spanish, or Russian.
frequency and order, we have words that have a phoneme
frequency that is consistent with the weighted average Bob's response: First, I'll note that the first
concept. We have an extremely non-random distribution of paragraph of this question assumes the validity of Sapir-
sound sequences that emphasizes those sound sequences that Whorf; if S/W is false, then sign-systems would not
are pleasing to the widest possible distribution of constrain thought.
speakers, because those sound sequences came from the words How were Loglan/Lojban word concepts chosen? From a
of their own languages. variety of sources, all probably biased in their own way.
Cultural neutrality is served in that the words are The hope that we have a neutral word set derives from the
sufficiently different from the roots of any one language variety of ways that words have come into the language, and
family that no language sees a too high level of cognate the large number of people involved in the project over the
reinforcement. Even with 4 Indo-European languages, no years, have neutralized any major biases.
linguistic historian would ever recognize Lojban as having When we rebuilt the vocabulary for Lojban, we heavily
an obvious Indo-European heritage instead of a Sino-Tibetan based our concept selection on Brown's. The source of each
one. Thus we counter to some extent the cultural biases of Brown's concepts may be buried in his notes, but has not
caused by semantic transference, where Lojban words end up been published. Brown has presented some of his basic
with the meanings of the base language. ideas, though.
Furthermore, since we use the same concept (as near as - Brown started with some number of root concepts that
possible) from each source language, our vocabulary has a had been identified by linguists in the 50's as being found
universality not biased towards a single culture. Such a in 'all' languages.
bias towards one culture is the main threat against - To this list, he apparently added the work of Ogden in
Lojban's usefulness in testing Sapir-Whorf, especially if creating the word list for BASIC English.
it is an unrecognized one. - Recognizing that linguistics hadn't dealt effectively
We can say that any biases in Lojban word-making are with taboos, he added explicit roots for a variety of
consistent, identifiable and to some extent measurable; biological functions that tend to be primitive in every
however, they are probably not important. language.
Researchers will be able to verify this. If the biases - Brown did a study, using the most frequent concepts in
are meaningful, linguists of the future will be able to Helen Eaton's list of the most frequent concepts in 4
look at Lojban and measure some resulting effect, corre- European languages. While this list undoubtedly has a
lating it with the known and measurable bias. If such an European bias, it served as a check on the primitive word
effect exists and can be tied to apparent Sapir-Whorf ef- list. Brown checked the first 3000 words of this list, and
required, according to Zipf's law, that the most frequent err on the side of inclusion; the inclusion of a word does
concepts be the shortest words, i.e. primitives. not mean that it will be used, while the exclusion of a
- Brown added concepts proposed by him and others rather word means that it won't be.
haphazardly over a period of 30 years. Loglan thus ended (Lojban development has often accomplished cultural
up with words for 'olive', 'billiards', and 'blonde'. (An neutrality by inclusion, rather than by exclusion. The
exception is that the entire collection of concepts existence of a language feature in any culture makes that
proposed in The Loglanist between 1975 and 1982, dis- feature a candidate for incorporation. Lojban thus allows
appeared without a trace when Brown rebuilt his word list many competing features as alternative expression forms; we
in 1981-2.) choose one feature over another only when there is an
Is there bias in these methods? Yes, especially when unreconcilable conflict.)
the decisions were made by Brown alone. Our gismu list, considered as 'basic concepts', could
Brown has expressed a strong bias towards theories that not be thought bias-free. No list could be - the very
claim biological innateness or instinctiveness of certain adopting of a set of words as 'basic' would bias the
concepts. Thus he retained concepts for father and for language towards concepts associated with those words.
mother as 'biologically primitive', rather than choosing to Lojban instead emphasizes providing 'semantic coverage' of
make them as the tanru 'male-parent' and 'female-parent'. the entire space of potential human thought, through the
To Brown, mother is something more than 'female-parent' for combination of gismu, tanru, and lujvo. The form of the
biological reasons. For similar reasons, noting the wide word is not intended to be an indication of semantic import
use of human and animal body parts as the basis for or primtive merit. This philosophy frees us from much
metaphor in all languages, Brown decided that a large list excessive concern that biases in our gismu list invalidate
of body parts are primitive 'biological' concepts. Lojban's linguistic usefulness.
The theory of biological innateness may be true; its As a result, the exact mapping of the gismu to the
assumption without proof is an identified bias. Because it semantic space, expressed by their use in tanru, does not
is a known bias, it can be used positively in watching for yet exist. The speakers of the language will make that
Sapir-Whorf effects. mapping. They will determine exactly 'what the words
Brown's individual biases have been corrected, or at mean', and this will be the final elimination of a priori
least ameliorated, by the extensive redevelopment of the cultural bias from the word set.
language over the last several years. Since Lojban's set of gismu concepts is significantly
Over time, the Eaton list analysis was expanded. This different from any other language, the semantic map that
analysis gave birth to the dissenting opinion that will result must also be different for this reason. Three
primitive words should be selected on the basis of examples follow:
usefulness in making tanru, and not on some innate - Lojban has a gismu for computer, a concept that didn't
'basicness'. Brown disagreed, and while he was in charge exist a hundred years ago. Clearly the Lojban semantic map
of the language, usefulness per se was not a factor unless of concepts related to computers must be different than any
the chosen primitive could be justified on the basis of natural language.
Eaton frequency. - In kinship terminology, Lojban, possibly uniquely, has
When we remade the words for Lojban, we accepted the sex-neutral concepts for all kinship relationships (as well
'usefulness' criterion as a primary consideration, choosing as 5 pairs of sex-linked words to allow specification of
to make the gismu list a set of 'root' concepts chosen sex where it is important to a person); it also allows se-
primarily for building tanru, and not a set of 'basic' mantic distinction at the primitive level between
concepts (more on this below in the response to jyjym.) biological parent and rearing parent, and there is even a
We reviewed Brown's list word by word, attempting to current proposal for a gismu that would permit one to avoid
justify each in terms of either its ability to be used in making such a distinction.
tanru covering the most frequent words in the Eaton list, - In colors, we have a set of about a dozen colors,
on one of Brown's scientific criteria, or on high frequency which can be equally modified in tanru to indicate blends,
in the Eaton list coupled with an inability to express the or for 'pale' or 'intense'. tanru can also be made for
concept as a tanru of other gismu. Where there was doubt, association with physical objects (sea green vs. pea green,
we deferred to Brown's earlier decisions, in order to etc.) The size of the set of colors is towards the maximum
enhance chances for reconciliation. found as 'primitive' in language.
During this review, one final criteria was adopted, Each of these cases should have a significant effect on
based on the work of Paul Doudna and others. The words the Lojban semantic map, causing it to differ from any
were divided into semantic categories. If there were natural language. Multiply this effect by all of the other
several words in a semantic category, we added other words, gismu and Lojban's map will undoubtedly have patterns that
even if of lesser frequency, to complete the set. we can't yet even imagine.
Our re-evaluation actually took place at least 4 times, The best assurance that we have that Lojban will not be
with concepts being added and removed. A final review a code for another language is its grossly different
against Roget's Thesaurus sought to verify that we had structural basis: predicate grammar. Any Lojban predicate
allowed for the entire range of semantic thought, although word (brivla) has exactly one place structure, and hence
there is plenty of room for addition of new concepts if one denotation. This immediately militates against
admissions are identified. In general, we have tried to transferring connotations.
The place structure effect is especially strong when tested? I must admit that I don't quite understand what
forming tanru, and hence lujvo, which will eventually form one would test and how.
the bulk of the language vocabulary. Thus, when Michael
Helsem attempts to transfer the odd English metaphor Bob's response: I think the first half the question was
'purple prose' to Lojban in his writings below, his tanru answered by the previous discussion. By necessity,
"zirpu lojbo" or "zirjbo" is obviously invalid for Lojban; learning to think in Lojban will require a drastic
one would have to be able to define in the place structure reforming of one's semantic maps beyond that achievable by
what chromatic aspect of the "signified" is "purple", and translating from the native tongue.
by what standard. Similarly, a "computer run" is not going We have no proof that "thinking in Lojban" is possible.
to be expressed in Lojban as "skami bajra", which would We'll undoubtedly know within a year or two. We do have
more likely connote the 'Bionic Woman' running down the much anecdotal evidence. Lojbanists, who tend to be
street in tennis shoes while a printer built into her back creative people and word-players in the first place, have
spits out digits of 'pi'. habitually used Loglan/Lojban to create metaphors, then en-
At first, people will no doubt make such semantic tertained themselves with the implications of the place
transferences. But assuming that people learn to think in structures as I did above with "computer run". Some
Lojban, it will quickly prove difficult to continue such Loglan/Lojban usages, where they most clearly express what
encoding. the speaker wants, have already crept back to English.
Meanwhile, those of us who assemble dictionaries and Thus Jim Brown has for years used old Loglan anaphora in
word lists militantly watch to prevent any obvious English as sex-neutral pronouns, in place of various
transference of Englishisms, our worst problem while we English pronouns. "malglico" and other "mal-" pejoratives
have mostly native English speakers. Indeed, I suspect are slowly coming to replace English pejoratives in Nora
that we have a bias against English metaphor, and are prone and my everyday English speech.
to turn to our Chinese dictionary to confirm any permanent I myself have minimal experience in actually learning
choice. other languages, but I've been told that to learn a
Sticking with gismu place structures, we similarly avoid language fluently, you have to be able to 'think' in it,
problems. As noted in the Esperanto discussion, "xamgu" and adopt the 'maps' associated with the second language.
("good") is not a comparative. A different word ("xagmau") In the case of Lojban, this will be a Lojbanic map - not an
would be used for the comparative, and a third ("xagrai") English one. Can a Lojbanic map be learned? Second
for the superlative. But also in the concept "xamgu" is an language learners have learned new languages (and their
'observer/evaluator' who opines the property of goodness maps) both similar and drastically different from their
and a 'purpose/beneficiary' so that the concept is really own. Studies of English speakers using BASIC English
"good for". The claim that there may be an absolute good indicate that if the new language is too similar to the
that isn't 'for' someone or something requires a different old, it is actually harder to learn the new map. The
concept, shall we call it 'virtue' for argument, that has Lojban map will have some similarities with the Chinese
to be a different word with a different, derived or primi- one, since they have similar methods of compounding tanru.
tive place structure. It is unclear whether Lojban's unique grammar will cause
The final obvious effect of predicates is the blurring any problems in learning its map. I suspect not.
between nouns, verbs, and adjectives. While this might Whether second language learners are adequate candidates
have less drastic an effect on Chinese semantic for a Sapir-Whorf test has been subject to debate. Some
transference, Lojban uses a single word for "caringly", believe that proper use of controls will allow a
"caring", "take care of", and "caretaker". While the four significant Sapir-Whorf effect to be verified. Others
are obviously related in English, each has unique believe that we won't be able to test Sapir-Whorf until we
connotations tied to its nature as noun, verb, adjective, have speakers who are raised to be bilingual, or even
or adverb. In Lojban, all of those connotations which monolingual in Lojban from birth. Such a requirement won't
remain consistent with the single place structure are be viable for some years, of course (there have been small
combined and blended, forming a new meaning for the numbers of Esperanto 'native speakers', so it isn't
predicate word "kurji". unthinkable that Lojban will one day support 'natives',
3. One question, related to the preceding concerns, to The second half, on testing Sapir-Whorf, can't be fully
which my students kept returning was this: will speakers answered. Jim Brown proposed a flawed approach in his new
of Lojban really be able to escape the "maps" of experience edition of Loglan 1. John Parks-Clifford (pc) has written
imposed upon them by their native languages? Will they on the subject a couple of times. See JL6, JL7, and the
really be able to think in Lojban, instead of translating essays at the end of the last issue JL10, for details on
into Lojban, and, if so, is Lojban sufficiently inter- the topic.
cultural to permit its speakers to escape the "maps" that Skepticism is valid and useful. We believe we've
they acquired in learning their native languages? created a tool that will display Sapir-Whorf effects if
Students were accordingly somewhat skeptical about the there are any, and which is sufficiently independent of
feasibility of an empirical test of the Whorfian natural language to allow isolation of effects to determine
Hypothesis. How, exactly, would the learning of Lojban as if their cause is a Sapir-Whorf effect, or something else.
a second language enable the Whorfian Hypothesis to be The problem now is to build a speaker base, and develop the
means of measuring any perceived effect and ruling out non- Eventually, Lojban will (hopefully) indeed become a
Sapir-Whorf causes. Skeptics are the best source of people 'natural language' in the sense of having its own culture.
to poke holes in inadequate methods. (I should note that If the culture is built by native-speaking Lojbanists, this
pc, our most 'forward' methodologist at this point, does culture would be the subject of massive sociological and
not believe that the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis is valid. linguistic experimentation, and we would know the answer on
Truly a healthy skepticism for an experiment like this.) Sapir-Whorf. This indeed is the most desirable test for
Sapir-Whorf, and methodology questions are generally based
4. Once Lojban comes to be used as an instrument of on the assumption that we want to know the answer before,
communication, won't idioms naturally develop, thereby and whether or not, such a culture comes to exist.
undermining its designed explicitness? The development of
idioms is a natural phenomenon in any language that is 5. Students seemed to be obsessed with the idea that
actually used. And yet idioms are, arguable, the products languages are contaminated (or enriched) by culture.
of the culture-community of those who use a language. Lojban as presented seems innocent of culture. Yet if it
Wouldn't the inevitable emergence of idioms and "slang" were to be used it would be "corrupted" by culture and
defeat some of the purposes for which Lojban was created? would therefore escape the intentions of its architects, in
Consequently, students asked, wouldn't Lojban be particular through the emergence of idioms and slang.
contaminated by the cultures of those who used it--and, as
a result, lose not only some of its explicitness and Bob's response (brief for once): I hope more than
univocality, but also some of its cultural neutrality? anything else that Lojban grows beyond my meager
conceptions and intentions for its potential, and develops
Bob's response: The development of idiom and slang is its own unique culture. Language is a bigger thing than
not well understood, although it is perceived to be uni- any one person or small group can control; the French
versal. The processes of slang development may indeed be a Academy knows this for sure. We have resisted Brown's
measurable Sapir-Whorf effect. What type of idiom, if any, attempt to create a Loglan/Lojban Academy.
develops in Lojban, and to what extent is explicitness We hope merely to channel our loss of control away from
lost? We'll certainly find out. destructive trends. But if they occur anyway, we still
Lojban has, by the way, a methodology for importing learn something.
words from other languages by borrowing. these words are
considered '2nd class' words already, and hence slang of a 6. When languages are used, webs of connotative
sort. Yet they will be the basis for labelling foods, ani- relations emerge: every natural language reflects in this
mals, plants, chemicals, indeed all manner of jargon words way the history of the community of those who have used it.
and concrete terms that have minimal semantic associations. One signified (rose) suggests another signified in another
Lojban 'slang', will, like names, probably never really semantic field (say, romance), which suggests any number of
acquire deep semantic associations. It will probably tend other signifieds. See Eco, "Social Life as a Sign System."
to be avoided where possible, since borrowings tend to be In any language actually used this web of a-logical
longer, less clear, and harder to combine into compounds, relations would emerge. Wouldn't the emergence of such a
than other words. web, in the community of speakers of Lojban, undermine its
Lojban slang, in the creative sense of the word, will claims to be culturally neutral, fully explicit,
probably turn towards the creation of new tanru for old unambiguous, and so on?
ideas. In this way the basic semantic mapping will slowly
drift to keep the rigid place structures in line with Bob's response: If the web develops totally internally,
usage. There will probably be evolution of place from a spontaneous cultural development, it would not
structures as well, but it isn't clear how significant this violate cultural neutrality. I've already said that Lojban
will be. Probably the occurrence of such drift will be need not be explicit, nor, especially in the area of tanru,
tied to the formation of that peculiarly Lojbanic culture is Lojban semantically unambiguous. I think that we have
that we discussed above. retained enough flexibility in the creative aspects of
Lojban is not, by the way, inherently explicit. It has Lojban to make the internal cultural development of such a
an elaborate, carefully thought out, or at least much web consistent with the areas that we have kept rigid.
debated, system for ellipsis. I suspect that Lojban idiom Indeed, we have retained, primitives chosen by Jim Brown
will occur in the direction of simplification through the for body parts, animals, and materials that are
use of ellipsis, and that therefore, the idiom won't really metaphorically used by many cultures; yes, even 'rose'. We
mean anything other than what it says. If you want a non- recognize that they are the potential seeds of bias.
idiomatic reading of the same predicate, you will fill in Because we know these words are there, we can watch for
the non-obvious places normally omitted by the idiom. their use and guide the community away from biased use in-
Lojban will, to some extent, borrow idioms from natural sofar as we can recognize it. If the canary dies, we'll be
language cultures, when those idioms are compatible with wary of poison.
Lojban grammar and semantics. This isn't necessarily bad,
as long as the borrowing isn't excessive (turning the 7. Languages in use cannot be stabilized: they develop
language into a code), or linked to one particular culture organically through usage by a community, adapting
(causing a bias). themselves to the needs of their speakers. Wouldn't that
be the case with Lojban? What would be the consequences of
this inevitable organic development?
Bob's response: I think this was answered in response to
4. and 5., with a little hint in the last question. While
I don't see a Lojban Academy trying to prevent organic
development, there may be an organization trying to keep
the development moving in a positive direction. This has
generally been the function of poets; more recently of
Note that we have talked about 'baselining' the language
only long enough to ensure that critical mass exists
internally among speakers of the language to resist
external forces for change. We don't mind change if it is
done by Lojban speakers thinking in and using their lan-
guage in the way they choose. That is how culture
On the other hand, except in vocabulary growth, I think
that linguistic drift has drastically slowed in the 20th
century due to the printed word, nearly universal
education, and mass communication. Where drift exists,
language has tended towards uniformity among speakers
rather than variation - hence the increasing use of "The
Queen's English" dialect in Britain.
8. Is the syntax devised for Lojban truly culturally
neutral? Derived as it was from the formal logic that has
evolved in Western European culture, what claims does it
have to cultural neutrality? In Whorf's essay "Science and
Linguistics" (enclosed), Whorf wonders whether our logic is
truly universal. Does it really derive from something
other than an analysis of the shape of thought constrained
by Indo-European languages like Greek, Latin, German, and
English? Whorf's article implies that we would possess a
very different "science" had our science been bequeathed to
us by the American Indians rather than the Western
Bob's response: Predicate logic is probably not
culturally neutral, nor the assumptions that would cause it
to be valued. This is the essence of Brown's original
concept for Loglan/Lojban in a Sapir-Whorf experiment:
that metaphysical assumptions and cultural biases be kept
to a minimums so that the one extreme bias causes an unde-
niably significant change.
Since Brown started, we've identified other potential sources of Sapir-Whorf effects, most notably the elimination
of constraints on thought that develops from our minimization of metaphysical assumptions (like singular/plural and
us/them distinctions). These effects WOULD BE culturally neutral, and probably would show up in spite of minor biases
other than the big 'L' logic bias.
(John Parks-Clifford notes that the content of formal logic, if not the exact form, was independently derived in
India and to a lesser extent in China. Every problem in Western logic turned up and was solved in India. Chinese
logical thought was equally sophisticated, but its development was aborted after only a few decades, by political
turmoil rather than by direct cultural rejection, and never re-emerged. Meanwhile, the Western form embraces
contributions from Arabic as well as European sources. Logic was chosen as the basis for Lojban due to its simplicity
of structure as well as for predictably significant Sapir-Whorf effects.)
Note that while logic is not the only strong force guiding Lojban development that stems from Western thought.
Other forces include the counters to logic such as 'liberty', 'free choice', and 'romantic ideals'. Funny that no one
worries about these forces destroying Lojban's cultural neutrality. Maybe we should.
For that matter, as this question implies, modern science and the interest in the question of whether the Sapir-
Whorf hypothesis is true also are based on Western tradition.
I think this type of question should be left for the philosophers, who may come up with a useful answer.
Otherwise, in the extreme, we end up questioning whether the fact that we do our science the way we do causes the
universe we observe to change, making the observations, and the science thus invalid. Sort of a Heisenberg Uncertainty
Principle on a grand scale.
Science is valuable as an endeavor if it gives useful results. Does knowing more about the nature of language give
useful results? If Lojban is a language, will studying it teach us more about language? Does the fact that we've
defined some measurable control on the design of the language improve the chances that we can learn useful information
from study Lojban? If the answer to these questions is 'yes', then Lojban will be worthwhile as a project, and valuable
to those who learn it, those who study it, and the world that will be affected by it.
Course Outline and Bibliography
An Introduction to Semiology
Marshall Blonsky, ed., On Signs (Baltimore, 1985): selections from Blonsky's collection will be marked with the
letter "B" in the schedule.
Other readings to be distributed in class: these readings will be marked with an asterisk (*) in the schedule.
M Jan 8/ THE FIRST DAY OF CLASS
T Jan 9/ INTRODUCTION: SOCIAL LIFE AS A SIGN SYSTEM
*Umberto Eco, "social Life as a Sign System," from David Robey, ed., Structuralism: An Introduction (1973),
*Pierre Guiraud, Semiology (1975), pp. 1-4 and 82-98.
THE WHORFIAN HYPOTHESIS: LANGUAGES AS WAYS OF SEEING
*Benjamin Whorf, "Science and Linguistics" (1940), Language, Thought, and Reality: Selected Writings of
Benjamin Lee Whorf, ed. John B. Carroll (1956), pp. 207-219.
*Clyde Kluckhohn, "The Gift of Tongues," Mirror for Man (1949); rpt. in Introductory Readings on Language,
Fourth Edition (1974), ed. Wallace L. Anderson and N. C. Stageberg, pp. 38-47.
W Jan 10/ Umberto Eco, "How Culture Conditions the Colours We See," B 157-715.
*Anthony G. Wheeler, "Pitfalls of Perception," The Skeptical Inquirer, Summer, 1988; rpt. in The Utne Reader,
Sept./Oct. 1989, p. 100.
HOW LANGUAGES WORD AS SIGN-SYSTEMS
*F. de Sussure, Course in General Linguistics, pp. 7-17, 65-78, 111-122.
*Takao Suzuki, Words in Context: A Japanese Perspective on Language and Culture (1984), pp. 7-44.
Th Jan 11/ ARTIFICIAL LANGUAGES: THE ATTEMPT TO ESCAPE CULTURE:
Read these selections in the order indicated. Try to get a sense of how each of these languages sounds and how
each "works" as a way of expressing ideas. Where the texts tell you how to pronounce words and phrases, try it
on your own. Where the readings provide texts in the languages and literal translation, examine these carefully.
In examining the Esperanto passages look for words that you recognize from your knowledge of English, Spanish,
French, and other European languages.
*George Cox, "Preface to the First Edition" and "L'Espero," A Grammar and Commentary on the International
Language Esperanto, Second Edition, pp. v-xvii and xx-xxi.
*Arthur Baker, "The Alphabet," "Sounds," and "Exercise 1," The American Esperanto Book (1907), pp. 7-11 and
*Baker, "Rules of the Grammar," pp. 12-18.
*Cox, "Conversation (Interparolado)," pp. 311-315.
*Don Oldenburg, "Tongue-Twister of a Language," San Francisco Chronicle: Sunday punch, Nov. 26, 1989.
*James Cooke Brown, "Loglan," Scientific American, June, 1960, pp. 52-63.
*The Logical Language Group, "What is Lojban? (la lojban mo)," 1989.
*The Logical Language Group, "Translation of Lesson 6 Reading Text: lenu vitke lei rarna (Visiting Nature),"
[Lojban Textbook] (1989), 6.43-6.46.
M Jan 15/ DUE: ANNOTATED BIBLIOGRAPHY. Hand in a xerox of your annotated bibliography (keep a copy for yourself).
Consult the Borzoi Handbook to refresh your memory on the proper form for entries in a bibliography.
Annotate each entry: after reviewing the item, briefly describe it and explain how it might be useful to
you in your investigation.
A MODEL OF COMMUNICATION
*Guiraud, Semiology, pp. 5-21.
T. Sebeok, "Pandora's Box: How and Why to Communicate 10,000 Years into the Future," B 448-466.
*Guiraud, Semiology, pp. 5-21.
M. Blonsky, first part of "Endword," B 505-7 (to middle of the page).
T Jan 16/ SEMIOLOGY AS A METHOD OF ANALYSIS
New York Times, "What's the real message of 'Casablanca'? Or of a Rose?" B 424-5.
Wlad Godzich, "The Semiotics of Semiotics," B 421-26 only (you need not read beyond Sec. 2: "On Cowboy
M. Blonsky, "When Cains of Difference Intersect: A Lesson," B 441-43.
Umberto Eco, "Casablanca, or the Cliches are Having a Ball," B 35-38. (Think of Who Killed Roger Rabbit?, as
well as Casablanca, if you have seen them.)
REPORTS (Second Half)
W Jan 17/ SOCIAL LIFE AS A SIGN SYSTEM
*P. Guiraud, Semiology, 82-98: review.
*Eco, "Social Life as a Sign System": review.
INTRODUCTION TO BODY LANGUAGE
*Charles Downey, "A Guide to No-Fail Flirting," San Francisco Chronicle, May 17,1989.
*E. T. and M. R. Hall, "The Sounds of Silence" (1971); rpt. in Introductory Readings on Language (1975), ed.
Anderson and Stageberg, pp. 318-29.
*Leonard W. Doob, "Communication in Africa" (1961), rpt. in Introductory Readings on Language (1975), ed.
Anderson and Stageberg, pp. 330-35.
REPORTS (Second half)
Th Jan 18/ READING OTHER CULTURES
Jean Franco, "Killing Priests, Nuns, Women, Children," B 414-20
M. Blonsky, "The Way of Masks," B 186-87.
*E. T. and M. R. Hall, "The Sounds of Silence"
*Leonard W. Doob, "Communication in Africa."
REPORTS (Second half)
M Jan 22/ LOOKING AT MODERN CULTURE: BECOMING AWARE OF "CULTURE"
*P. Guiraud, Semiology, pp. 99-104.
*Roland Barthes, Mythologies (1972), pp. 9-12, 50-52, 58-64, 84-87, and 109-31.
REPORTS (Second half)
T Jan 23/ U. Eco, "Strategies of Lying," B 3-11.
Edmundo Desnoes, "Cuba Made Me So," B 384-402.
M. Blonsky, "Introduction . . .," B xxvii-xxxv and xl-xliv.
REPORTS (Second half)
W Jan 24/ MARKETING AS APPLIED SEMIOLOGY
M. Blonsky, "Semiotics in the Marketplace," B 434-5.
Milton Glaser, "I Listen to the Market, " B 467-75.
Ronald Weintraub, "Lifting the Veil," B 475-480.
M. Blonsky, "Endword," B 505-11.
Matthew Klein, "And Above All, Please Do Not Disturb," B 481-87.
REPORTS (Second half)
Th Jan 25/ HOW THE MEDIA (RE-)CREATE THE EVENTS THEY REPORT
Daniel Dayan and Elihu Katz, "Electronic Ceremonies: Television Performs a Royal Wedding," B 16-32.
REPORTS (Second half)
M Jan 29/ REPORTS
T Jan 29/ REPORTS
W Jan 29/ REPORTS
Th Feb 1/ SIGN-SYSTEMS: CULTURE-BOUND WAYS OF SEEING
Robert Scholes, "Is There a Fish in This Text?" B 308-320.
Michel de Certeau, "The Jabbering of Social Life," B 146-54.
The following was written by Ralph Dumain over a year ago. We haven't printed it until now, because, as a bibliography
relating to Sapir-Whorf, it is incomplete in omitting some of the basic references needed to understand what the Sapir-
Whorf hypothesis is. Dr. Gorsch's course outline at least partially remedies this. Readers seeking more on Sapir-Whorf
should also investigate the bibliography of either edition of Loglan 1.
Bibliography on Language and Thought
by Ralph Dumain
The question of the relation of thought to language is a multifaceted one and has been approached by such
disciplines as philosophy, linguistics proper, sociology of language, sociology, anthropology, psychology, political
science, and educational policy.
This selected bibliography is not representative of the field of language and cognition as a whole, nor of its
historical evolution, nor of its most current work, nor of its most significant contributions. I have selected, in a
nonsystematic way, works which illustrate different angles from which the issue may be considered and which illuminate
the problems to be confronted. This bibliography reflects my interest in the high-level aspects of language and
cognition, e.g.. the strong version of Whorf's hypothesis [the world view issue], particularly the human ability to for-
mulate and critique concepts. For me, the issue of the ability to form and interrelate abstract concepts is exclusively
an issue of semantics. The practical and political issue is the mastery of word meanings and the conquest of the
opacity of semantic systems.
Omitted are works by William Labov and Basil Bernstein, two of the foremost researchers of the 1960's on issues of
cognitive ability and social dialects. Bernstein was a pioneer in the comparison of standard English vs. British work-
ing class dialects, the formulation of the notions of elaborated and restricted code, and the investigation of different
uses of language as social reinforcements. Labov presented a wealth of ethnographic data to prove that ghetto-dwelling
Black Americans using so-called Black English were perfectly capable of abstract thinking, refuting assertions to the
contrary. Labov also used transformational-generative grammar to analyze the syntax of Black English and to refute
superstitions about linguistic deficiency.
Besides paying more attention to recent developments in linguistic theory, one must also delve into the pragmatics
of language more thoroughly, where much of the hidden dynamics of language and social control lie. There is much in the
literature of philosophy, especially philosophy of science, that bears upon the tacit assumptions of Loglan ideologists
about the nature of language, the limits to thought, the role of formal logic, and the nature of creativity and novelty
in the progress of thought.
Bisseret, Noelle (1979) - Education, Class Language and Ideology. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.
Bisseret examines the views of sociologists of language who analyze class dialects, such as Basil Bernstein.
Bisseret asserts that the logicality and coherence of the world belong to the dominant class.
Carroll, John B. (1964) - Language and Thought. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, Inc. See chapter 7: "Language and
cognition", esp. the section "The linguistic-relativity hypothesis" (p. 106-110).
Carroll is skeptical of the strong Whorfian thesis. Evidence is lacking that grammatical differences between
languages signify cognitive differences. He gives examples to show misleading extrapolations based only on linguistic
Chomsky, Noam (1973) - See Schaff, Adam.
Friedrich, Paul (1979) - Language, Context, and the Imagination: Essays by Paul Friedrich, selected and introduced by
Anwar S. Dil. Stanford: Stanford University Press.
Friedrich disagrees with Whorf's views on language and metaphysics, but accepts the strong thesis in the realm of
poetic language and its relation to the imagination.
Gyekye, Kwame (1977) - "Akan language and the materialist thesis: a short essay on the relation between philosophy and
language", in Studies in Language, vol. 1, no. 2, p. 237-244.
Gyekye opposes linguistic relativity in philosophy. Examples are given of mentalistic linguistic expressions in
English which are expressed physicalistically in Akan. A linguistic relativist would conclude that the Akan people are
materialists, yet Akan ontology is actually dualistic, with an absolute distinction between body and soul.
Havranek, Bohuslav (1964) - "The functional differentiation of the standard language", in: A Prague School Reader on
Esthetics, Literary Structure, and Style, selected and translated from Czech by Paul L. Garvin. Washington: Georgetown
University Press; p. 3-16.
On lexical and syntactic aspects of standard vs. folk speech, different modes of utilization of the devices of
language, intellectualization, automatization and foregrounding. Intellectualization of language makes possible
precision, rigor, and abstractness. Syntactic devices enable an integrated structure of sentences. Automatization is
the creation of conventional expressions with definite meanings; once established, an automatization does not attract
attention to itself linguistically. Foregrounding is the use of language (usually uncommon) that attracts attention to
itself, e.g.. live poetic metaphor. An expression automatized in one context may be foregrounded in another.
Automatizations of science are different from those in conversation.
This article is important for two complementary reasons: (1) It proposes requisites of intellectual language,
especially the ability to express abstractions, which I believe is the key issue in being able to formulate and change
one's world view; (2) automatization, in creating conventional expressions, not only makes possible the expression of
concepts, but an automatization as such is no longer metaphorically alive and so no longer binds a thought to its
particular linguistic expression (thus negating a putative Whorfian limitation on thought).
Foregrounding is relevant to Loglan because as Loglan is entirely new, there are no cliches, no tiresome or worn
expressions. Loglan seems poetic to some of its propagandists because the entire language is foregrounded. What might
otherwise be banal seems to be exquisitely poetic. Whorf foregrounded Hopi grammar, making it a source of live
metaphors for him if not for the Hopi themselves.
Jackendoff, Ray (1983) - Semantics and Cognition. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Deals with grammatical constraint, semantic structure and conceptual structure, and theory of representation. This
reference is included not as an endorsement of a particular semantic theory but as an example of one of the more
sophisticated recent treatments of semantics.
Kahane, Henry and Renee (1984) - "Linguistic aspects of sociopolitical keywords", in Language Problems and Language
Planning, vol. 8, no. 2, p. 143-160.
The Kahanes examine the semantics of ideologically loaded words (keywords) and the processes by which they evolve
over time. I think that ideological semantic systems create the most crucial biases in language, and so this article is
Lakoff, George and Johnson, Mark (1980) - Metaphors We Live By. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
The authors make an important study of the metaphorical basis of language. In the final chapters they argue for an
Langacker, Ronald W. (1976) - "Semantic representations and the linguistic relativity hypothesis", in Foundations of
Language, vol. 14, p. 307-357.
Langacker tries to formulate the hypothesis in a non-vacuous manner, and ultimately rejects the strong version,
basing himself on a distinction between primary conceptual structures and the semantic representations into which
thought is coded. Langacker uses the framework of generative semantics.
Levitas, Maurice (1974) - Marxist Perspectives in the Sociology of Education. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul. See
chapter 7: "Language and deprivation"
Levitas articulates the basic ideas of Vygotsky's view of language and thought and its educational implications.
He accepts Vygotsky's view that word-meaning is the unit of verbal thought. Using Vygotsky and Luria, Levitas argues
that working class children must be helped to master the elaborated code and to achieve in linguistic expression freedom
from the context.
Macnamara, John. 1970. "Bilingualism and thought", in Georgetown University Round Table on Languages and Linguistics
1970: Bilingualism and Language Contact, edited by James E. Alatis; Washington: Georgetown University Press; p.25-45.
Includes discussion by other participants. The inadequacies of Whorf's formulations are analyzed. Macnamara
urgently emphasizes the need for a semantic theory.
Newmeyer, Frederick J. (1983) - Grammatical Theory: Its Limits and Its Possibilities. Chicago: University of Chicago
Newmeyer clarifies the nature and intent of generative linguistics, answering common objections. Newmeyer deals
with distinctive advantages of generative linguistics, its potential applications, and the role of other types of
linguistics that deal with aspects of language outside of the reach of grammatical theory.
______ (1986a) - The Politics of Linguistics. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
This is an excellent treatment of the history of linguistics and its internal and external politics. Newmeyer
attacks Whorf's notions about grammar and world view and gives practical examples of Whorfianism's racist implications.
______ (1986b) - Linguistic Theory in America. 2nd edition. Orlando: Academic Press, Inc.
This differs from the first edition in that it abridges treatment of earlier developments such as rise of abstract
syntax and generative semantics in the late 1960's while adding information on recent developments. This book gives a
feel for the problems and evolution of theories, and shows how the rise and fall of competing theories or versions of a
theory come about as responses to real problems. A reader can also see that Chomsky's particular theoretical
formulations form only part (and not always the most influential current) of the stream of modern linguistic theory.
Rossi-Landi, Ferruccio (1973) - Ideologies of Linguistic Relativity. The Hague: Mouton.
This book analyzes the shortcomings of and the ideology behind the doctrine of linguistic relativity, including the
white liberal guilt about Indians.
Schaff, Adam (1973) - Language and Cognition. Translated by Olgierd Wojtasiewicz; edited by Robert S. Cohen;
introduction by Noam Chomsky. New York: McGraw-Hill. [Originally published in Polish, 1964.]
Chomsky's introduction is a valuable critique of Whorf and of superficial understanding of languages. He shows
that the imputation to a language of a conceptual system about time based on its tense system does not hold up to
examination. The English tense system with its use of verbal auxiliaries (including modals) suggests a different
conception of time than idea of time characteristic of modern English-speaking and other European peoples.
Schaff gives a history of ideas (mostly in philosophy) about language and thought from 18th century German
idealism, through Neokantianism, conventionalism, logical positivism, to the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, and then adds his
own thoughts on the matter. Brown's Scientific American article on Loglan is referenced in the bibliography but is not
mentioned in the text.
Vygotsky, Lev (1986) - Language and Thought. 2nd edition. Translation newly revised and edited by Alex Kozulin.
Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Vygotsky was a pioneer in the area of developmental psychology, language and thought.
I said in one response to Robert Gorsch's class questions that I hoped that Lojban would move beyond the ideas that
I had for it. It already has. The following essay describes a potential use for Lojban that I never had thought of,
and have absolutely no experience that would help me form an opinion on its viability.
So I won't. Let's let David speak for himself. I welcome other's comments on his ideas, and I'll print any that
seem of general interest.
Lojban and Stream of Consciousness Writing may not be common at all; Classical cultures regarded ro-
by David C. Morrow mantic love as a form of lunacy.
Historical writers, who are nearly always depicting
Stream of consciousness, or subjective writing, was foreign cultures even when their setting is the
developed by Joyce, Proust, Woolf, Faulkner, and others recognizable antecedent of the readers' own, generally
to convey a character's immediate awareness and mental commit such anachronisms. Often they make their story
activities (an "interior monolog"). Leon Edel, who terms accessible by depicting "progressive" characters in re-
works using it "Modern Psychological Novels," lists four bellion against their culture. That device is an
salient elements. anachronism in most cases, since tolerance even of one's
Each work or section of a work takes the consistent own nonconformity is largely a Modern Western value.
viewpoint of a single character. The reader must puzzle Subjective writing might serve better in depicting
out what is happening from the character's interior social changes. One might wish to show why history took
monolog. Time moves according to the associations of the this turn once and another when a like situation again
character's thoughts and memories rather than a a simple arose, or to examine through the eyes of characters, who
linear flow. Finally, although authors using this mode likely did not intend their actions' present results, the
are realists, these very devices force them to be sym- origin of some philosophical or religious idea. An
bolists in order to create the impression of being alive. example of this last might be someone who realized that
It is the second and fourth elements that present human sacrifice does not necessarily make the crops grow
problems for author and reader. Part of the difficulty or that paternity is part of reproduction.
is that persons whose background enables them to enjoy Such persons' concepts and motives would differ so
piecing together the subtle but objective clues of vastly from ours that even were an author to reconstruct
mystery novels may not be so adept at empathizing with their consciousness with a degree of accuracy, the story
other's feelings or seeing the clues that reveal them. value would be lost because it would be difficult for
About that the writer can do little but keep following readers to untangle them without corresponding schol-
(or decide not to follow) his or her artistic bent. arship. Unless, that is, there were also some such way
But these complex puzzles hold difficulties even for of clarifying them as anchoring description in physical
persons who enjoy them that their creators may not have reality as we know it.
foreseen. It is hard enough to show the thoughts of When a character in a subjective narrative lacks
individuals contemporary to a reader; when a novel has knowledge or understanding the author may juxtapose some
become noncontemporary, like those of the writers other person's viewpoint or even an omniscient one.
mentioned above, or is about an earlier time (consider Faulkner used both to clarify his retarded character
McKinlay Kantor's Andersonville, written in the 1950's Benjy's innocent and atemporal impressions, and Durrell
and intended to represent the consciousness of par- provided an entire volume of his Quartet with the
ticipants in the War Between the States) the difficulty omniscient viewpoint on one character.
is increased. This would not be enough in many cases. If the
This is because, for example, few modern persons characters have very primitive ideas, believing, say,
depend on horses for transportation and so most lack the that the sun is a beetle or that there is no natural
associations with them or the knowledge of their behavior death but that everyone always dies of injury or sorcery,
that must have been common to people at and before the then much of their thinking -- the internal monolog
turn of the Twentieth Century. The same might apply to comprising the story narrative -- would seem ridiculous
candles or to certain foods. Again, the little sidelines or psychotic if not incomprehensible. In this case it
of style and fashion, the political and social quirks and would not help to play one character's consciousness off
nuances of a time, like geographical localisms, would against another's, since they would all share the same
figure large in the mind of a participant yet disappear assumptions even if their intellects differed. The use
even from historical footnotes. of a deliberate anachronism would only work for current
Even if a storyteller can discover and work there into readers, even when dealing with contemporary characters,
a character's mind, they may require as much explanation since nobody can know with what values or types future
as unfamiliar elements in an old text. During the 1982 readers will identify. Only objective narrative of some
and 1986 episodes of murder by poisoned Tylenol capsules, type will enable one to make such a tale both universal
offering someone -- stranger, boss, spouse -- that and particular.
medicine carried a host of special if temporary meanings. This is where Lojban can be useful. A writer could
To one not alive then, the unexplained appearance of such use a natural language to construct a symbolic flow of
an incident in a story set in those years would be consciousness belonging to the characters, filled with
puzzling. verifiable and if necessary imagined elements, im-
The same thing must apply even to ordinary narrative pressions, feelings, and motives. Linguistic devices can
writing about members of another culture; the readers may be used, and purely idiosyncratic character traits
not be as familiar with that life-way as the author. developed within a strange conceptual frame.
This often forces the artist to employ what are supposed To clarify what is objectively happening or convey
to be common human traits, such as romantic love, that meanings of invented symbols and transitory elements
without interrupting the story's dramatic movement, and
do so in a way that will (we hope) remain accessible to Michael has done this only with the level 3 materials
future readers, the writer can use lojban to describe the including only the 6 textbook lessons so far published,
physical setting, the movements, the actions, even in and the outdated cmavo list. While he has studied other
some cases the dialog of the characters whose interior languages, Michael is not a linguist. He does not have
monolog is in some artificially specialized form of LogFlash or flash cards - he's learning the vocabulary by
English -- or French, or Spanish, or whatever. Lojban using it. But I don't mind it a bit if someone gets a
descriptions may either be given in separate chapters or word wrong because they don't yet know it. You can't
sections, or interspersed with the streams of characters' learn a language without making mistakes and learning
awareness. from them.
Not only would this provide the readers an anchor in It's that easy - you have to be willing to try writing
relating the characters' minds to theirs, but also in the a couple times, and wait for us to review them (which
case of completely abnormal persons in alien cultures will get easier as we get more of you up to Michael's
allow insight into their minds. Finally, the story could level of proficiency), read the examples printed in these
retain its unity as an artistic whole without newsletters, and then write a little more - in a few
anachronisms or intrusions from outside. months you'll be writing as good Lojban as Michael is (no
- I'm not promising to make you a publishable poet in a
couple of months - just a reasonably competent
le lojbo se ciska Lojbanist).
by Michael Helsem So let's see some more Lojban from the 100 other level
3 Lojbanists, most of whom I haven't heard from.
All of this issue's Lojban writing comes from one
person. This is partially due to space and time, and
partially because Michael Helsem has been so prolific in
Lojban over the past few months. Michael has taken to
heart what I've said too many times: the language is
easy to learn if you just try to use it. The writings in
this issue prove that point.
You've seen a couple pieces of Michael's work in JL10,
written before Michael ordered the textbook lessons last
fall. Michael wrote the following after reading Lesson
4, which calls for a student to write a self-description;
it wasn't particularly grammatical, as you'll see in the
translation section which shows what he actually wrote.
We didn't get a chance to provide feedback to Michael
until after JL10 was out.
When Michael received JL10 in late January, he had
still not had direct feedback from us. However, seeing
his own article saying that Lojban could be used to write
poetry, Michael took up his own challenge. We had 2
limericks and 2 longer poems in February. Although he
had merely finished the lessons, the JL10 samples gave
Michael enough good examples of good Lojban that I had
only to change two or three words in each to make the
grammar correct. These poems are also printed below.
Finally we responded to Michael's self-description
with Nora's detailed review, which is given in the
translation section. I have since gotten a letter from
Michael every week or two - 2 or 3 pages handwritten in
Lojban (with interlinear translations - please don't send
me untranslated Lojban until we both know that you are
writing nearly error free. Otherwise, if your Lojban
isn't close to correct, we'll get extremely confused, and
if it's reasonably close, we won't be able to comment on
subtle shades of meaning - we have to take the Lojban as
meaning what you intend). The lot includes a couple more
poems, and a couple of typewritten sheets of 'poetic
tanru'. While there are occasional malglico anglicisms,
Michael has in 6 months and about 5 or 6 writing attempts
become about as good a Lojban writer as there is outside
of those few of us working on defining the language.
Self-Description (28 Sept 1989)
.i di'e du lu'a le ve seirskicu poi mi pu ciska sepu'a lemi bazi ckupra .itu'e ko'a goi la maiky'elsym. me la'e zoi
.zy. gnostik .zy. gi'e jbeta'uxa'u la delys. .i baziki lenu ko'a jbena kei da'i so'i finpe pu farlu fi le tsani
.ibabo ca le ko'a pacimoi nanca ko'a se darxi lo karce gi'e ba stali nenri lo roktu'u ca ze'e ta'e so'o masti .ibabo
tezu'enai leza'i cfari zvati le bancycu'e tai lo tadni pe loi ratske kei ko'a mulno gi'e te dunda lo ckulypikta pe loika
vidni cu'i .ibabo ko'a litru re tumplita lu'a .i kiku ca'o ko'a pu vi'o zgikei lo skami .e lo damri vau .ui to ji'a ca
ranji toi .i ko'a no'u lo tadni pe la vitgenctain. .e la'i latmo rampemcyzba ge'u o'o paroi pu lifri lenu tirna lenu
ko'a se pifyzifydi'a lo rupnu be li panononono .uecai .iri'o ko'a pujeca zbasu so'i cimpi'a ne pa'a lei pemci gi'e pu
finti pa rapnerpluja clacku ri'i .isa'u ki ca ku ko'a ne pa'a leko'a ractu no'u me'e zo byroz. sei ta'o ri
nalcumselfanva valselkei se'u cu xabju la .ok. klif. no'u lo jarbu vau tu'u .i .ia ro leivi jufra cu vasru su'opa le
ci'i mu'e srera ri'o fe'o
.i mi stali ledo memi tai loi zirjbo .i co'o
Included in the self-description letter, was a postscript, also in Lojban:
ni'o ca'o di'e cu me la'e zoi zy haiku zy me'e lu ca le puzi cerni li'u .i tu'e
fi le pamoi stapa
ra'i le ckana .oi fa mi pu
catra lo jalra
tu'u .i ke'u fe'o
The first two limericks were Michael's first attempts at original Lojban poetry after the self-description. They
each needed a little work, but his errors were minor. He wasn't too happy with the changes to the first one, since they
end up stretching the rhyme and rhythm scheme to the limit of what is acceptable in a limerick. However, if you read
with the annotated stress given in the pronunciation guide, running the syllables together into a single beat where
marked (or in one case running three syllables into two beats).
1. (As corrected)
la .uorf. .e la saPIR. pu pensi
lenu loi rembangu lei mensi
cu simsa leka lanzu
gi'e pamei nalbanzu
.i ku'i leva sidbo ca genytsi
/lah .WOHRF. .eh,lah,sah,PEER. poo,PEHN,see/
- / ----,---- / - / -
- / - - / - - / -
/shoo SEEM,sah leh,kah LAHN,zoo/
- / - ----- / -
----- / - - / -
/. ee KOO,hee,leh,vah,SEED,bo,ca GEHN,uh,tsee/
- / - ----- / - - / ------
2. (Minor corrections approved by author)
loi ve cusku cu mo loi se cusku
cumda'i .i mi danfu lu le sisku
cu nitcu pa jaspu
.uu .i ku'i na vasru
fa ri rixiCI pe'i li'u
----- / - - / - - / -
/shoom,DAH,hee . ee,mee DAHN,foo loo,leh,SEES,koo/
- / - ----- / - ---- / -
- / - - / -
---- / - - / -
/fah,REE ree,khee,SHEE peh,hee LEE,hoo/
- / - - / - - / -
3. (20 Mar 1990)
The third limerick was written after I gave him feedback on the first two, and received while I was typing this
newsletter in. It was almost perfect as written. He had left out a "cu" and not terminated some "nu" clauses -
mistakes I still make a lot - but his translation and his notes on intent made it trivial to fix them.
sei lu leka sarcu li'u cmene ni'o
lo cizra zasmunje lo'e skami
cu nenri .i RA mi se prami
.i ku'i le pratci
cu nu sisti kei batci
le nunmenxru .uu TA'i loi glaslami
/sei,loo leh,kah,SAHR,shoo lee,hoo,SHMEH,neh nee,ho/
- / - - / - ---- / -
/shoo,NEHN,ree . ee,RAH mee,seh,PRAH,mee/
- / - - / - - / -
/. ee KOO,hee,leh,PRAH,chee/
- / - - / -
----- / - - / -
/leh,noon,MEHN,khroo . woo TA,hee loi,glah,SLAH,mee/
----- / - - / - ------ / -
The first of these is Michael's translation from the Latin of Catallus, which he wrote on 26 Nov 1989, prior to
receiving any feedback from us. His grammar had already improved significantly over the self-description, with most of
his mistakes being wrong choices of cmavo.
seide'e se sanga bimumoi ni'o
prami joi xebni fa mi
.i lu la'edi'u ki'a vau li'u
do nu'o cusku .i mi
genai caca jimpe la'ede'u
gi ru'i lifri cai je
/sei,deh,heh seh,SAHN,gah bee,MUU,moi . nee,ho/
/. ee,LOO lah,heh,DEE,hoo kee,hah,vau LEE,hoo/
/doh noo,ho SHOOS,koo . ee mee/
/geh,nai . SHAH,shah,ZHEEM,peh lah,heh,DEH,hoo/
/gee,roo,hee LEE,free SHAI zheh/
The next two poems were written at about the same time as the first two limericks (10 Feb 1990). These, however, are
poems of some substance. For whatever reason, Michael made fewer and less serious errors in the longer poems than in
di'e lojbo pemci gi'e se cmene lu
le firgai pu'u se vimcu vau li'u
fe zo pei ca rapcpedu cai
fa mi .ei ne tai do pe pu fi mi
fo po'i loi so'iplo senta
.i mi vimcu ro lei firgai levi
sluni po'u lonu djica .ice'o
ju'ido'u rixire mujytisybanro po'a
.iku'i pu najenai ca ku
mi djuno leri cumyme'e
.e lejei ri se skicu
fo po'i lonu kansa kazmaksi
.a lo nalsti nu fasnu cictcima
po'a .a sa'u pa drata nu ka bebna
/dee,heh LOHZH,bo,PEHM,shee gee,heh seh,SHMEH,neh LOO/
/leh,FEER,gai poo,hoo,seh,VEEM,shoo vau,LEE,hoo/
/feh zo,PEI shah,rahp,SHPEH,doo SHAI/
/fah,MEE .EI neh,tai,DOH,peh,poo fee,mee/
/fo,poh,hee loi,so,HEE,plo SEHN,tah/
/.ee,mee,VEEM,shoo ro,lei,FEER,gai leh,vee/
/SLOO,nee po,hoo lo,noo,JEE,shah . ee,SHEH,ho/
/ZHOO,hee,doh,hoo ree,khee,REH moo,zhuh,tee,suh,BAHN,ro po,hah/
/. ee,koo,hee POO nah,zheh,nai SHAH,ku/
/mee,JOO,no leh,ree shoo,muh,MEH,heh/
/. eh leh,zhei ree seh,SKEE,shoo/
/fo po,hee lo,noo,KAHN,sah kah,ZMAHK,see/
/. AH lo,NAHL,stee noo,FAHS,noo sheesh,CHEE,mah/
/po,hah . AH,sah,hoo pah,DRAH,tah noo,kah,BEHB,nah/
In the following, Michael came close to perfection in grammar. He omitted only the hyphen 'r's in "caircinla", and
the "mei" in the final line, while inserting a couple of superfluous but permitted "ke"s that I left in to avoid
changing his sound qualities any more than necessary (plus - as an editor, I prefer to defer to the author where
possible). Of course, Michael's result differs slightly in meaning from the translation he gave me; however, since it
is supposed to be Lojban poetry, I'm letting the Lojban take precedence over the English, although I'll mention the
changes needed to match his English translation in the appropriate section below.
di'e se cmene lu
loika zvati vau li'u
ti'e lonu zgana
be lemu'e ke lunra
ka cuklymulno cu xamgu
.iku'i mi drata salci
lemu'e ke lunra ka caircinla
.i mi ckini ri leka manku
.e lo mipri nu zasti .e .a'u
lenu ka vlipa po'u piro lo
te pencu be le munje se rinka
.i ca lemu'e ke lunra ka caircinla
ku le lunra cukla cu binxo
leri pamei zgana
.i mi go'i gi'e ku'i roroi
pubi'ica zgana lemi ka nomei ji'a
/dee,heh seh,SHMEH,neh LOO/
/beh leh,MOO,heh ke,LOON,rah/
/. ee,KOO,hee mee,DRAH,tah,SAHL,shee/
/leh,MOO,heh keh,LOON,rah kah shai,r,SHEEN,lah/
/. ee mee,SKEE,nee,ree leh,kah,MAHN,koo/
/. eh,lo MEE,pree,noo,ZAH,stee . eh . ah,hu/
/leh,noo kah,VLEE,pah po,hoo ro,lo/
/. ee,shah leh,MOO,heh keh,LOON,rah kah shai,r,SHEEN,lah/
/koo leh,LOON,rah,SHOO,klah shoo,BEEN,kho/
/. ee mee,GO,hee gee,heh,koo,hee,RO,roi/
/poo bee,hee,shah,ZGAH,nah leh,mee,kah,NO,mei zhee,hah/
The following was dated 12 Mar 1990. It was perfectly grammatical as written, although we've changed two lujvo
minimally after discussion with Michael.
di'e se cmene lu
mela saPIR. .uorf. li'u
ko leido se mipri le
sutrai nalmorji ca dunda
.i lo narju joi rijno
fasnu ba snuji ro lei drata
.i zo'e tagji logji
/dee,heh seh,SHMEH,neh LOO/
/meh,lah sah,PEER . wohrf . lee,hoo/
/ko lei,doh,seh,MEEP,ree leh/
/. ee,lo,NAHR,zhoo zhoi,REEZH,no/
/. ee zo,heh TAHG,zhee,LOHG,zhee/
Michael has also sent me a couple of pages that he's created as exercises in making tanru and lujvo, but I'll save them
for next issue.
Translations of le lojbo se ciska
Orig: ke'u coi
Rev : ke'u coi
Tran: Again, Greetings!
Orig: di'e du lu'a le ve seinskicu noi mi pu ciska sepu'a lemi bazi ckupra
Rev : .i di'e du lu'a le ve seirskicu poi mi pu ciska sepu'a lemi bazi ckupra
Tran: The following has-the-same-identity-as, loosely speaking, the self-description which I write to-please my imminent
"seinskicu" vs. "seirskicu": You must glue on a CVV to the front of any lujvo, unless there are only two terms and
the second term is a CCV. The 'glue' is a vocalic 'r' unless the second rafsi begins with "r", in which case
use vocalic 'n'.
"noi" vs. "poi": "poi" says the following gives further information to identify WHICH self-description is being
talked about; "noi" assumes you know which self-description is being talked about, and just gives incidental
information about it. See Less. 5 & 6.
Orig: .i tu'e ko'a goi la maikl. 'elsym. du lo lea zoi zy gnostik zy joi lo vazyjbe xabju be la delys.
Rev : .i tu'e ko'a goi la maiky'elsym. me la'e zoi .zy. gnostik .zy. gi'e jbeta'uxa'u la delys.
Tran: (Long scope beginning) He, standing for Michael Helsem, is a-referrent-of "gnostik" and (is) a born-city-
inhabitant of Dallas.
On "du..." vs. "me...": "la maikl. 'elsym." is not necessarily equal in identity to "a gnostic-and-there-born-
dweller-of-Dallas"; there is a lot more to Michael Helsem than that, and probably there are other Gnostic
natives of Dallas, too. What you want to say is that Michael Helsem IS a Gnostic..., like saying that this IS
a letter ("ti xatra"). To do that, you want to make a selbri out of Gnostic, which you do with "me". The
"la'e" changes the following quoted piece into it's referent.
"joi" vs. "gi'e": "joi" means the combination is true, but probably NOT each individually. For example, if we
carry a piano up the stairs with you on one end and me on the other, NEITHER of us has individually carried it
up ("gi'e"); but, both of us together have ("joi").
"vazyjbe" vs. "jbeta'uxa'u": Just a suggestion [Michael agreed.] The "va" part doesn't really necessarily pick up
[Michael revised the preferred spelling of his name after reading a separate note from me. His original form is
invalid, because ' is NOT an 'h', even though it is pronounced like one. The apostrophe is a vowel buffer, and is
permitted only between two vowels.
Orig: .i bazi leko'a nu jbena sei da'i se'u so'i finpe pu farlu fi le tsani
Rev : .i baziki lenu ko'a jbena kei da'i so'i finpe pu farlu fi le tsani
Tran: Shortly after the event of his being born, really, many fish fell from the sky.
"ki": This resets 'story' time for all further discussion (until re-reset) to "shortly after the event of his
being born". Sentences coming after with no time referent are assumed to progress somewhat in time.
"le ko'a nu jbena" is "his event of birth", meaning an event of birth relating to him; possibly his son's birth.
"le nu ko'a jbena" makes it clear that the one being born was him.
"kei" closes off the "nu" clause so it doesn't presume the "so'i finpe" is another sumti on "jbena" of the clause.
"da'i" is a discursive and therefore somewhat parenthetical to begin with. You can still close it in parentheses,
but not with "sei...se'u", which takes a bridi (it is meant for a metalinguistic statement which is otherwise
not permitted in the position because it would be ungrammatical); if you do want to put "da'i" in parentheses,
you can use "to...toi".
Orig: .ice ti'u paci nanca ko'a se pu darxi lo karce joi pu stali lo roktu'u ti'u so'o masti
Rev : .ibabo ca leko'a pacimoi nanca ko'a se darxi lo karce gi'e ba stali nenri lo roktu'u ca ze'e ta'e so'o masti
Trans: Then, at-the-time-of his thirteenth year, he is hit be a car and will be stayingly-inside a rock-tube at-
[unspecified size interval]-continuously several months.
"ice" vs. "ibabo": "ice" means "and", but implies nothing about the timing; for "and-then" you want ".ibabo".
"ti'u" vs. "ca": "ti'u" means "dated", like a letter is dated with a certain date even though it was perhaps begun
earlier and finished later, and it remains a letter even after. For "at-the-time-of", "ca" is much better.
"paci nanca" means "thirteen years", making your phrase into "dated thirteen years". The "moi" makes it into
"thirteenth", and prefacing by "leko'a" makes it into "his".
"se pu darxi" is ungrammatical; it would have to be "pu se darxi". However, since the time was already set as "in
his thirteenth year", the indication of past tense would mean something earlier than then: "During his
thirteenth year, he earlier had ...".
"pu stali lo roktu'u" is "remained a rock-tube".
"ti'u so'o masti": Once again, you don't want "dated". The tense I put in I would not expect you to have built,
but it does mean during.
Orig: .ice tezu'enai leke za'i pu cfari bancycu'e tai lo se ctuca po'u ratske kei ko'a pu fanmo se du'a lo ckulypikta
po'u zu'o vidni cu'i
Rev : .ibabo tezu'enai leza'i cfari zvati le bancycu'e tai lo tadni pe loi ratske kei ko'a mulno gi'e te dunda lo
ckulypikta pe loika vidni cu'i
Tran: Then, ungoaled-by [i.e. despite] the state of startingly-attending the beyond-school by method of a taught-one of
atom-science, he was complete and was given a school-ticket of videonesses.
"leke...": The "ke" is not needed since it all groups the same with or without. The "kei" at the end will end the
clause by ending the "za'i" abstraction. (The ending cmavo for "kei" was changed to "ke'e" anyway.)
"za'i cfari bancycu'e" = "state of startingly being-a-college".
"po'u" (now "pe") takes a sumti; "ratske" is a selbri. You need a descriptor to turn it into a sumti.
"fanmo" is "is-an-end-of", like "le fanmo" of a rope. "mulno" means "is-complete"
"se du'a...": I guess you could use this form. It is a lot more vague than my suggested change.
"zu'o vidni" = "activity of being a video [screen]"
"se ctuca": have you considered "tadni" (student)? [he hadn't and asked us to change all occurrences of "se ctuca"
Orig: .ice ko'a pu litru re tumplita lu'a
Rev : .ibabo ko'a litru ji'i re tumplita
Tran: Then, he traveled via approximately two land-planes.
Final: .ibabo ko'a litru re tumplita lu'a
Tran: Then, he traveled via two land-planes, loosely speaking.
"lu'a" vs. "ji'i": "lu'a" is a discursive; discursives apply to text metalinguistically. In your usage, "lu'a"
was applying to your tanru for continents, and not to the number two. For "approximately" to apply to the
"two", "ji'i" is much better.
[Michael responded that his intent was metalinguistic - he was 'loosely speaking', and that he preferred "lu'a".
I'm not sure whether the result means quite what he intends, but it isn't necessarily 'wrong'.]
Orig: .ica'o ko'a ki pu vi'o zgikei pi'o skami je damri .ui to joi ca toi
Rev : .i kiku ca'o ko'a pu vi'o zgikei lo skami .e lo damri vau .ui to ji'a ca ranji toi
Tran: Incidentally, he did occasionally music-play with a computer and [with] drums, (whee!) (additionally now
"ki": Without a specific time reference to reset to, this jumps back to current time. Since the timing of this
and following pieces was not clearly specified as continuing in progression from previous events, I will
specify these specifically and only in reference to the present.
"pi'o" not needed since the first place of "zgikei" (based on "kelci") would be what is played on/with.
"je" vs. ".e": Again, like "joi" vs. "gi'e", I assume it is true of each separately, and not that you played music
on your computer-drum.
"vau": I used this to close off the sentence so the ".ui" would apply to the sentence as a whole. Generally it
applies only to the preceding word, or following a structural cmavo, the construct that the preceding word
initiates or closes.
"joi ca" is not grammatical as a complete utterance, unfortunately. I rephrased.
Orig: .i ko'a neke lo se ctuca po'u la vitgenctain. joi la'i latmo rampemcyzba kei .o'o paroi pu lifri nuke tirna le
nike ko'a pifyzifydi'a la'u panononono rupnu .uecai
Rev : .i ko'a no'u lo tadni pe la vitgenctain. .e la'i latmo rampemcyzba ge'u .o'o paroi pu lifri lenu tirna lenu ko'a
se pifyzifydi'a lo rupnu be li panononono .uecai
Tran: He, a taught-one relating to Wittgenstein and the Latin love-poem-makers, (indignation), once did experience the
event of hearing the event of his being prisoner-free be-priced by dollars in-amount-of 10000 (strong surprise).
"ne" vs. "no'u": These have been switched, probably after you wrote this. Since we in the class found that the
non-restrictive qualifier was used a lot more than the appositive, we made it the shorter word, "ne". Thus
"ne" means "(incidentally) is/does/is-related-to-in-some-manner", and "no'u" means "is incidentally the same
identity as". Similarly "pe" and "po'u" have been switched (used later in the sentence).
"ke lo...kei": "ke" does group some things, but they are always selbri; it is ungrammatical before a sumti. The
"no'u" phrase is closed by a sometimes-elidable "ge'u", so I have used that instead of the "kei" that isn't
allowed there either.
I rephrased the last piece. The literal translation would otherwise have been (after putting "le" before the "nu
ke tirna"): "experienced the event of hearing the amount of (he was a prisoner-free-price relating to
approximately 10000 dollars)".
Instead of "panononono" you can use "panoki'o"; it's a matter of taste. Your choice, being longer, emphasizes its
size. [Michael responded that he was engaging in a little word-play.]
Orig: .iri'o pa'a pemci ko'a pujeca zbasu so'i cimpi'a joi pu pa rapnerpluja clacku ri'i
Rev : .iri'o ko'a pujeca zbasu so'i cimpi'a ne pa'a lei pemci gi'e pu finti pa rapnerpluja clacku ri'i
Tran: Anyway, he did-and-does make many paint-pictures besides poems, and did create one repeat-inside-complex long-
On placing "pa'a": Usually there is one sumti you wish to parallel with what follows "pa'a". Is the poem in
parallel with you in the making of many paintings? Or, is it in parallel with the paintings as being made by
you? I assume the latter. It really should be attached, then, to the paintings to show that's what it is in
parallel with; you attach it with "ne". If it is left unattached totally, the only interpretation I can think
of is that "the poem" is in parallel with "I make many paintings and ...".
"joi pu" vs. "gi'e pu finti": Alas, ungrammatical. "pu" before "one repeat-inside-complex long-book" (which is
what you have) means "before one ...". You just can't leave out another selbri if you want to change the
tense from "did-and-do" to just "did". There is a proposed addition, parallel to "go'i" that will refer to
the current sentence's selbri.
Orig: .isa'u ca ko'a xabju la .ok. klif. sei jarbu se'u pa'a le ko'a ractu me'e la byroz. sei se ta'o ri du lo
nalcumfanva valkei se'u vau tu'u
Rev : .isa'u ki ca ku ko'a ne pa'a leko'a ractu no'u me'e zo byroz. sei ta'o ri nalcumselfanva valselkei se'u cu xabju
la .ok. klif. no'u lo jarbu vau tu'u
Tran: Simply speaking, now he, besides his rabbit who is named "Burroughs" (by the way, that is an untranslatable pun),
inhabits Oak Cliff, which is a suburb (end of long scope).
"ki ca ku": The "ki" is there to make sure time is reset to the present so the "ca" won't be taken to mean
"simultaneous with the previous sentence's time". The "ku" is needed to close off the "ca", which otherwise
would pick up the "ko'a" into a phrase meaning "at the time of him".
"pa'a" again has been linked to what it's in parallel with.
"la byroz." vs. "zo byroz.": "la byroz." means "that which is referred to by the name 'byroz.'", namely your
rabbit; the sentence then winds up stating your rabbit is called by his furry self, making you have to
reproduce him to call him. "zo byroz." is "the word 'byroz.'", which is a much better thing to have as a
I stuck in a couple "sel-"s into your lujvo to make it clearer that the second place is what is wanted in the
corresponding tanru. "nalcumselfanva" = "not-possible thing-to be translated", as opposed to "nalcumfanva" =
"not-possible translator". Similarly "valselkei" = "word thing-played-with", vs. "valkei" = "word player".
Orig: .i .ia ro brivla cu vasru pa le ci'i mu'e srera ri'o fe'o
Rev : .i .ia ro jufra cu vasru su'opa le ci'i mu'e srera ri'o fe'o
Tran: (Certainty), All sentences contain at-least-one of the infinitely-many achievements of being-an-error, to return
to the point (over-and-out).
Final: .i .ia ro leivi jufra cu vasru su'opa le ci'i mu'e srera ri'o fe'o
Tran: (Certainty), All of these-mass-of sentences contain at-least-one of the infinitely-many achievements of being-an-
error, to return to the point (over-and-out).
"brivla" is "relationship word"; from your translation, you want "jufra", which is "sentence" (or possibly
"bridi"). [Michael correctly improved on our correction.]
"su'o" is what you wanted to get the "at least" for "at least one".
Orig: co'o tai zirjbo
Rev : .i co'o sei tai zirjbo
Tran: Bye (observing a methodically purple-lojbanic thing).
Final: .i mi stali ledo memi tai loi zirjbo .i co'o
Tran: I remain your pertaining-to-me-thing, by methods purple-lojbanic. Bye.
Because "co'o" can take a sumti-tail (the sumti without the "le" or other descriptor), the original translated as
"Bye, O methodish purple-lojbanic-one" (similarly "co'o ractu" would be "Bye, rabbit"). The revised splits
off the second part into a parenthetical observative. An alternative would be to "co'o .i tai le zirjbo
vau", meaning "Bye. By-method-of the purple-lojbanic-one."; the "vau" is needed to end a sentence with just a
sumti (a machine grammar peculiarity).
[Michael made another attempt, based on the Anglicism "I remain yours", but it didn't quite come out the way he
intended. The final text is after discussion with him about what he wanted.]
[Note that 'purple Lojban' is "malglico" - a cultural metaphor dependent on knowing the English phrase "purple
prose"; Michael continues using this as a standing 'inside joke' between us, but we don't encourage others to
Orig: ca'o ca'o le di'e du lo zoi zy haiku zy me'e lu ti'u ti cerni li'u tu'e
Rev : ni'o ca'o di'e cu me la'e zoi zy haiku zy me'e lu ca le puzi cerni li'u .itu'e
Tran: (New paragraph) Incidentally, the following is the-referent-of "haiku", with name "At-the-time-of the past-by-
"ca'o ca'o" is fine, but I thought breaking off into a new paragraph would give the same feel as one of the
"du": see previous comments about "du" vs. "me ...".
"ti'u", again means "dated". "ca" means "at-the-time-of".
"ti cerni" is a sentence meaning "This is a morning". For "This morning" you really mean the just-passed morning:
"le puzi cerni".
Orig: fi le pa stapa
Rev : fi le pa nunstapa
Tran: By means of the one act of stepping.
Final: fi le pamoi stapa
Tran: By means of the first-stepper.
Originally, "By means of the one stepper".
[Michael didn't like either Nora's version, or Bob's first attempt listed afterwards (he hasn't seen the second or third
attempts until this printing). His intent was to emphasize that it was the FIRST step out of bed. The modified version
says what he intended, but is not perfect haiku, which has a syllable count of 5/7/5.]
Orig: ra'i ckana .oi mi pu
Rev : ra'i le ckana .oi fa mi pu
Tran: from source of the bed (annoyance), by me was
A modal ("ra'i") may either be used as a sumti tag (as I assume you intended) or as an inflection for the selbri.
To make "ra'i" a sumti tag, you need a descriptor on the selbri "ckana" (otherwise it will be taken as the
sentence selbri, on which "ra'i" is a descriptor).
"fa": Since you used "fi" previously to get at the third place of "catra", the next non-sumti-tagged item will be
assumed to be the fourth place; since you want the first, you will have to tag it again.
Orig: catra lo jalra
Rev : catra lo jalra
Tran: killed a cockroach.
Of course, all these changes kill the haiku form. Bob has suggested the following alternatives:
mi poi sa'akla
(The me who step-goes)
fi le ckana ku'o .oi
(from the bed, (annoyance))
catra lo jalra
(kills a cockroach.)
[As mentioned above, this doesn't say what Michael wanted to say, so Bob tried again. Two alternatives are the result,
depending on whether you want to complain about the bed (too hard, too soft, too inviting) or being a killer. Note that
to properly complain about getting out of bed, the ".oi" must be placed after the "ra'i". Thus the English translations
of the earlier attempts are only approximates.]
(Observative!) First act-of-stepping
ra'i le ckana .oi .i
out-of the bed (Complaint!). And
mi jalra catra
I am a cockroach killer.
(Observative!) First act-of-stepping
ra'i le ckana .i .oi
out-of the bed. And (Complaint!)
mi jalra catra
I am a cockroach killer.
Rev : tu'u
Tran: (End of block text)
Orig: ke'u fe'o
Rev : .i ke'u fe'o
Tran: Again, ending.
1. (As submitted - not good Lojban) - 10 Feb 1990
*la .uorf. .e la sapir. pu pensi
ke lo'i rembangu lei mensi
cu simsa leka lanzu
.eka pamei nalbanzu
.i ku'i ta sidbo ca gentsi
1. (Final form - with approved corrections)
la .uorf. .e la saPIR. pu pensi Whorf and Sapir wondered about
lenu loi rembangu lei mensi human languages, sisters
cu simsa leka lanzu being similar, in relatedness
gi'e pamei nalbanzu and in singular insufficiency.
.i ku'i leva sidbo ca genytsi But this nearby idea is now a knot-seed.
loi ve cusku cu mo loi se cusku The means-of-expression has-what-
relation-to the expressibly
cumda'i .i mi danfu lu le sisku possible-objects. I answer "The seeker
cu nitcu pa jaspu needs one passport
.uu .i ku'i na vasru (Alas!). But not-a-container,
fa ri rixiCI pe'i li'u it is, of him (I think)."
sei lu leka sarcu vau li'u cmene ni'o ("The Necessity" names.)
lo cizra zasmunje lo'e skami A strange temporary-universe, the
cu nenri .i RA mi se prami inside is. It (the universe), I love.
.i ku'i le pratci But the producer-tool
cu nu sisti kei batci is a cessation-biter.
le nunmenxru .uu TA'i loi glaslami of the mind-returning (Alas!) like
For the first example, I am assuming most readers don't know Latin, I'm including his English translation. Note that
the Latin original has two lines, but that it takes 3 sentences in both English and Lojban to translate it:
seide'e se sanga bimumoi ni'o Carmen LXXXV Song #85 (The following is Song 85th)
prami joi xebni fa mi odi et amo I love-and-hate.
.i lu la'edi'u ki'a vau li'u quare id facium, "What's that?"
do nu'o cusku .i mi fortasse requiris. / you may say. I
genai caca jimpe la'ede'u Nescio, don't understand it,
gi ru'i lifri cai je sed fieri sentio et but continuously experience(!)-and-
dunku ri excrucior. -am-anguished-by such a state.
Bob's note: If brevity was desired without significantly changing the meaning, the last Lojban sentence could be
ni'o prami joi xebni fa mi odi et amo I love-and-hate.
.i lu la'edi'u ki'a vau li'u quare id facium, "What's that?"
do nu'o cusku .i mi fortasse requiris. / you may say. I,
la'ede'u jimpe Nescio, this state, don't understand,
gi'e ru'i lifri je sed fieri sentio et but continuously-experience-and-
dunku excrucior. -am-anguished-by (it).
Michael's original had "je" instead of "joi". "je" is a logical connective, while "joi" is a mixture-connective.
The logical connective can expands out into logically equivalent sentences; these mean, of course: "I love" and "I
hate". The paradox causing the confusion is probably the poet's mixed emotion of love and hate, but this must be
inferred from context, since the Latin is no less ambiguous than the English. Athelstan reads the Latin differently than
Michael and suggests (not being too sure himself without more research) that the first line be interpreted as "I love-
and-hate. 'Why do you do this?', you might ask". This reading would require changing "cusku" to "dafcpe" (answer-
request) in line 3, and the question on the 2nd line becomes ".i lu go'i mu'i ma li'u", which translates as "This-last,
with what motive?".
For the next few, we'll give interlinear literal translations, and then, as appropriate, Michael's colloquial English
di'e lojbo pemci gi'e se cmene
The following is a Lojbanic-poem, and is named
lu le firgai pu'u se vimcu vau li'u
"The face-cover (mask) [type-of] process of being removed"
[Note that no "cu" causes the abstraction to be absorbed into a big tanru.]
fe zo pei ca rapcpedu cai
Request "How do you feel about?", repeatedly-request (!)
fa mi .ei ne tai do pe pu fi mi
I (Obligation!), in the manner that you, who were past [did], of me.
fo po'i loi so'iplo senta
in-the-manner/form-of (Figurative):[many-folded layers.
.i mi vimcu ro lei firgai levi
I remove all the face-covers from the-here
sluni po'u lonu djica .ice'o
onion, the state-of-desiring. And then, sequentially,
ju'ido'u rixire mujytisybanro po'a
(Attention, you!) it (the onion) universe-fillingly grows.]:(End figurative)
["ri" was probably sufficient, since he's said that the onion is the desiring-state.]
.iku'i pu najenai ca ku
mi djuno leri cumyme'e
do I know its (the onion's) possible-name(s)
.e lejei ri se skicu
and the-truth-of its (still the onion/desiring-state) being described
fo po'i lonu kansa kazmaksi
as (figuratively):[an-event-of together-magnetism
.a lo nalsti nu fasnu cictcima
or an unceasing event of being occurring wild-weather
[The "fasnu" seems redundant here.]
po'a .a sa'u pa drata nu ka bebna
]:(end figurative), or (simply) one other [=another] event of foolishness.
The "nu ka" seems malglico - an attempt to match an English phrasing. "nu bebna" is and event of something
being a fool, i.e. an event of foolishness. "ka bebna" is a property/quality of foolishness. "nu ka bebna"
thus has the place structure "x1 is an event of (x1a being a property of (x1b being a fool), which translates
approximately the same way into English but implies some meaningless sumti.
Michael's colloquial English translation:
A Lojban poem entitled "The Unmasking":
"What is it you feel?" -- now I must keep asking
myself, as you once did to me,
I remove all the masks from this
onion of a desire. Then
Lo! it grows-to-fill-the-world...
But still not
do I know what to call it,
nor whether it's described
by 'a state of together-magnetism'
or 'an unending storm'
-- or simply one more folly.
Note the fairly complex tense-negation in the 3rd stanza. This appears correct, but is exactly the type of
construct that we are pondering in our open-issue discussions of tense and negation. I may even find a way to use this
stanza as an example in the text.
This is why we want people to try to use the language, before its nailed into unchanging form. If people don't try
complicated expression, we don't have examples of all the ways people might try to use the grammar we've defined, thus
risking an error that will later come back to haunt us. We can only accomplish so much by thought-experiments, and the
relatively small number of texts and examples that the few of us making decisions can generate ourselves.
The second poem:
di'e se cmene lu
The following is called "
loika zvati vau li'u
ti'e lonu zgana
(I hear) states of observing
be lemu'e ke lunra
the (specific) achievement of lunar
ka cuklymulno cu xamgu
round-completeness (full-moon-ness) is good.
.iku'i mi drata salci
But I otherly-celebrate
lemu'e ke lunra ka caircinla
the (specific) lunar superlative-thinness (new-moon-ness)
.i mi ckini ri leka manku
I am related to it (the achievement) in the (specific) properties of darkness,
.e lo mipri nu zasti .e .a'u
and in secret states of existing, and (I wish!)
lenu ka vlipa po'u piro lo
the (specific) properties of powerfulness, all of a
te pencu be le munje se rinka
means of touching the world-cause.
.i ca lemu'e ke lunra ka caircinla
At the (specific) achievement of lunar superlative-thinness
ku le lunra cukla cu binxo
, the lunar disk becomes
leri pamei zgana
its (the disk's) single observer.
.i mi go'i gi'e ku'i roroi
I too (become the disk's single observer (sic), but always
pubi'ica zgana lemi ka nomei ji'a
from-earlier-until-now an observer of my zerosome-ness, also.
Michael didn't provide a colloquial translation - this poem is sufficiently Lojbanic that such a translation would
miss some things. I noted that in a few places, Michael's interlinear translation did not always match what he wrote,
so the above interlinear is my modification of his.
I like this poem; the images to me are powerful. The lengthy set of comments that follow have nothing to do with
its quality, which I think is outstanding. I hate picking apart something this good, lest I trivialize it, but teaching
is right now the important thing, and Michael will no doubt make the poem better still as a result, for the enjoyment of
future Lojbanists. But note that my comments, though occasionally picky, are of a different nature than, for example,
Nora's comments on Michael's self-description. Now we are not concerned with Michael writing a grammatical Lojban
sentence, but how he can best convey the subtleties of his ideas. In short we are now talking about the art of Lojban
- As noted previously, the "ke"s are unneeded. Michael probably included them based on the textbook lessons
written before we had changed the rule (Feb 89) and no longer require "ke" after the abstractor clause to indicate long-
scope abstraction, which is now the default. Instead, if he had wanted short-scope abstraction, he would put a "kei" in
to indicate the termination. The "ke"s are not harmful; the parser would merely assume a matching elided "ke'e" at the
end of the selbri.
- I have emphasized a little bit of inconsistency in his choices of "lo" vs. "le" by highlighting the difference in
translation. "le" implies that the speaker has (a) specific one(s) in mind. "lo" makes a statement about at least one
non-specific representative of the described type. Thus, I would expect that the descriptors on the three properties by
which Michael claims to be akin to the disk would either all be "le" (if he has specific properties in mind, which I
suspect), or they should all be "lo" (if any old property of the type described will do). Other places in the text
could stand re-examination of his choice of descriptor to further improve his clarity.
- As another example of a possibly inadequate descriptor choice, I think the two 'achievements' of new-moon-ness
and full-moon-ness should be described with "loi"; this not only means that he doesn't have specific new moon and full
moon achievements in mind (unlikely for an abstraction), but it heightens the sense of abstraction by referring to those
achievements as being of a mass of lunar achievements, presumably most or all alike in possessing the properties to
which Michael refers.
- Also relating to the properties of kinship: if they are all properties, they probably all should use the "ka"
abstractor. These would translate in a decidedly non-English manner, which may be why Michael made what I think are
errors. Thus "leka mipri zasti" (the quality of secret existence) or "le mipri ka zasti" (the secret essence [quality
of existence]). "leka vlipa" (the powerfulness. The latter would then better be qualified (I think) as "leka vlipa poi
piromei curmi lonu pencu le munje se rinka" (the powerfulness that wholly-is-a-permitter of touching the universe-cause.
- Is Michael akin to the moon, or to its achievements, in those properties of kinship. What he says is that he is
akin to the achievements. If he means to be akin to the moon, he needs to move the moon out of a tanru relationship so
he can refer to it anaphorically with "ri". The best way I see to do this is (assuming use of "loi" as mentioned above:
"... salci loimu'e le lunra cu caircinla .i mi ckini ri ...". This picks up "ri" as "le lunra".
- That the rephrasing I just proposed would work suggests to me that the "ka" is not needed on "cuklymulno" or
"caircinla". An achievement is itself an abstract state. You don't achieve a property, but rather a state
characterized by the property.
- I would have chosen "dukti" rather than "drata" as a modifier of "salci", thus clarifying that he is contrasting
with a celebration of the 'opposite state'.
- The use of "mi go'i" confuses; I think Michael is relying on a poetic sense that tells an English reader what is
meant here by "me too". As he has it written, "go'i" captures the bridi based on "binxo", and the "mi" replaces the
first sumti of that bridi. The x2 place remains unchanged - the Thus, instead of the moon becoming its own observer,
the poet now is. They can't both alone be observers. The solution here is tricky, and depends on what exactly he
means. The use of "mi'u" (UI - discursively indicates a parallel) marking the sentence might help. Changing the
wording of the x2 place of "binxo" might also play a role: saying that the moon becomes "lo pa sevzi zgana" (a self-
observer, of which there is exactly one in the set) or "lo pamei sevzi zgana" (a solitary self-observer). "sepli" might
be used in either form in place of "pamei", if the intent is to convey the apartness of the observer, rather than the
singularity. If the parallel he is trying to make allows for both he and the moon to be observing the same thing,
though apart (from each other and/or from humanity) then "pamei" misleads.
- Astronomers would dislike Michael's expressions for "full moon" and "new moon". The moon doesn't significantly
change shape either being completely-round or most-thin. Rather it is the observed moon (selzga lunra or, perhaps
better, lunra selzga) , or possibly the lunar disk (lunrycukla or just leave it as a tanru) that changes shape. The
latter might cause a problem with interpreting the later use of "lunra cukla" near the end of the poem: is it the lunar
disk (the planar projection that we see) that becomes an observer, or the lunar orb (lunra bolci = lunryboi), or maybe
just "le lunra" (the moon), since the self-observing moon would not see what we see from Earth. But we're dealing with
poetry here, and the place structure of "lunra" is that of a 'name predicate' (see the discussion of culture words in
the response to jyjym. below)
- Incidentally, Michael may have chosen not to compress the lujvo for "full moon" for sound reasons, but "cukmu'o"
is a valid shortening. Also, the rafsi for comparatives and superlatives are oriented towards final position use, so I
would prefer "cinlycai" to "caircinla", all other things being equal.
I think I'll stop commenting on this one; these comments are getting too picky even by my rather perfectionist
standards. The next poem is decidedly weird, but I think that was Michael's intent - to stretch one's mind.
di'e se cmene lu
The following is named "
mela saPIR. .uorf. li'u
Pertaining to Sapir-Whorf (Sapir-Whorf-ly)"
ko leido se mipri le
(Imperative you), your secrets, to the
sutrai nalmorji ca dunda
fastest non-rememberer, now give!
.i lo narju joi rijno
fasnu ba snuji ro lei drata
events will be sandwiches, filled by all of the other things.
.i zo'e tagji logji
Something unspecified is snugly logical.
I will leave this one for your imagination. I can't suggest any improvements. My mind is still trying to grasp
"orange-and-blue events", and figure out how they can be sandwiches.
Letters, Comments, and Responses too soon] 3) to have a competitive proposal when most NSF
proposals are written with the help of professional
Due to the length of this issue, I'm going to try to consultants [I have proposal writing experience, but I'm
keep my comments short in response to the following. not that good] and 4) to live down Jim Brown's actions of
Arthur Brown is a mathematician and has followed the Loglan the late 70's when he accused key individuals at NSF of
Project fairly closely since it was made public in 1960. improprieties in handling his proposals. Bureaucracies
His comments are in response to the Mathematics have long memories, and Jim Brown leveled serious charges.
from Arthur Brown
I've been working on an outline, a very rough one, of
There are some things about translation. In my opinion, the Lojban words on the 8/9/88 baselined gismu list. I
a thorough knowledge of the jargon used in the target think I'm going to try to learn Lojban, and the outline
language (in my case English) is essential. I remember a gives me a constructive way to learn some gismu. A
case in which the Office of Naval Intelligence used a completed outline should be useful in various ways.
broke-down Russian emigr‚ lawyer to translate some This effort, combined with learning more about Lojban in
technical documents: the poor chap used a "wide-striped general, has led me to an awareness of something
catcher" instead of a "broad-band receiver". This was good unfortunate. The gismu corresponding to particular cul-
Russian, but not good English, because the jargon was tures/nations/languages/religions, from "African" to
missing. (In fact, the Russian authors intended the "Urdi," have to go. I mean that those gismu are imposters;
English jargon, because a broad-band receiver was an Anglo- they are cmene in "gismu-clothing" and they must be
American technical development, I think.) The Chinese abolished. They are nothing other than a "Most Favored
might use a "wide one-long-piece ribbon electric-listen Cultured List" (MFCL). This does not apply to "mekso" It
thingamajig", for all I know. One would have to settle on does apply to "lojbo", but that can be fixed.
Lojban terms for the thing-in-itself, and let the I'll list a few things, in no special order, to show
translators into target languages cope with the jargon. what drove me to this conclusion about the MFCL.
A lot of mathematics is repetition, of stereotyped 1. Lojban is all grown up now and stands on its own.
language. But some of it isn't. Occasionally, and I think All other languages, including the target languages, are
regrettably, the authors break loose and become now foreigners. If it fails to treat all foreigners
picturesque; this outbreak poses a real problem for the equally, it is biased.
translator. What do you do when there isn't any jargon in 2. The inclusion of the MFCL was justified by pointing
the target language, or even worse, when there is jargon out the vast numbers of people covered by those labels. No
but it means something else (e.g. Khrushchev's "We will other gismu are judged in that way. For example, the
bury you", which is good Russian for "we will outlast you", inclusion of "civla" was not justified by citing the extent
but in English means the annihilation of cities). This of the infestation.
will be a problem for Lojban as a single intermediate 3. The language was made to have ample grammatical
language; overcomable, obviously, but a problem. tools for borrowing names from other languages. It is
I suggest that, for Lojban generally, you get hold of a irrational for the makers of the language to ignore the
copy of William Empson's Seven Types of Ambiguity, rules of what they have themselves created, and to write
published some 40 or 50 years ago. Empson was a disciple borrowings directly into the gismu list, to take up fifty
of I. A. Richards and C. K. Ogden; the book is about the extremely valuable spaces.
richness that a language gets from compression, where the 4. The gismu are words which speakers are forced to
reader is uncertain about which meaning the author in- use, unlike cmene and tanru which are a matter of personal
tended, and so settles for all the meanings possible. Loj- preference. Who are you to decide that a speaker must
ban, if I understand it, intends to be unambiguous; if acknowledge certain groups of ordinary people as basic
Sapir-Whorf takes ambiguity into account, as relating to concepts, and call them by the words you deem fitting?
real cultural languages, then I'm not sure that Lojban will 5. Practical difficulties may arise. For example, Tao
give a complete test. But that doesn't relate to science; is officially proscribed in China. Some Chinese bureaucrat
so the broader aims of Lojban should not be allowed to may see a description of Lojban, note that it includes Tao
interfere with its use as Intermath. as a basic concept, and stamp it "counterrevolutionary."
Is there any hope of getting the National Science That's the end of Lojban for a billion people. Easy come,
Foundation behind Lojban? easy go. But of course no one could even imagine that
happening to a culturally neutral language.
Bob responds to the last question: As described in the 6. The MFCL words convey no meaning in the way that
news section, we are currently seeking to establish gismu have to. gismu convey a meaning by excluding other
academic credibility before tackling the NSF. People have possibilities. For example, (dog) is (not cat), and
told us that we need 1) to have been published in a (sorrow) is (not bliss). But is it correct that (American)
refereed journal [not yet in the works] 2) to be willing to is (not African)? Words which do not exclude each other,
wait several months for decision and funding [we live from such as (clock) and (timepiece) are synonyms. The MFCL
month to month, hoping that I don't have to go back to work words are synonyms, if they are gismu.
7. Increased knowledge makes it easier to select a word 'pertaining to the Bible' (as an adjective - 'biblical')
if that word corresponds to a concept. For example, if we would be "Christian-sacred-book" (as opposed to the Torah,
gradually learn that X has something to do with an emotion, which is the "Jewish-sacred-book").
whispers, a crystalline mineral, and a carving on wood in There is a second type of word that uses culture words,
the shape of a bodily organ, we may begin to suspect that X which we in English use all of the time without realizing
is "love." Given more information we will know for sure. what we are doing. These are those words that have a
(Actually, if the carving is in the shape of a bodily hidden etymology that is a name - often a place name.
organ, it MUST be love.) But which MFCL word applies to a While we would be unlikely to use these particular tanru in
Toyota built in Tennessee? If more information is needed Lojban, "emerald" derives from "esmeralda", a word for
to decide whether this car is "America-concept" or "Japan- East, and "turquoise" from "Turkey". When we orient
concept," I will add that it is owned by the Reverend Dr. ourselves in a new situation, we hearken back to the time
Smith. He is a resident of Berlin. His pet name for it is when people oriented themselves in new places by facing the
"Romulus." More and more specific information only leads sunrise (the Orient).
to greater and greater doubt about which MFCL word is Apparently, all natural languages build metaphors from
appropriate. names. Lojban is different than natural languages in
8. That's enough. providing short, regular, combining forms for those
Oh yes, about lojbo--why not just define it to mean the believed to be likely to generate often-used words. Other
name of the language. Let future Lojban speakers choose names will have to be Lojbanized into le'avla, and then
their own names for their culture, nation, etc. Those made to combine using a non-abbreviated combining form
names are likely to be metaphors anyway. (?toionta + karce = toiontykarce)
Bob responds: jyjym. is absolutely correct in that the In point 6, jyjym. has made a distinction between cmene
MFCL words are 'cmene in gismu-clothing'. I'll go further and gismu, saying that "dog" is "not cat". From modern
and say that "mekso" also fits this, and so to a small science, we believe this the case, but there are cultures
number of other words like "lunra", "terdi", and "solri". that might believe in cat/dog half-breeds. To them, the
You can identify all of these words by their artificial- statement "dog" is "not cat" is not obvious. To use an ex-
sounding place structure "x1 pertains to ... in ample, we saw just above, we have gismu for 'love' and also
property/aspect/action x2". for 'hate', but these abstract concepts, though considered
Not surprisingly, this is also the place structure used opposites, do not exclude each other - else we would never
when you turn a cmene written as a sumti into a brivla by hear of a 'love/hate relationship'.
using the cmavo "me". Thus "me la iunaitedsteits." has the The assumption in Lojban is that all words are 'names'
grammar of a brivla, with the place structure x1 pertains for concepts. A selbri (of which gismu are only a part) is
to the United States in property/aspect/action x2. The a name for a concept expressed as a relationship. A cmene
function of turning a name into a predicate is vital to is a name for a concept expressed as a substantive label.
language. That is the only way you could say "This is a The cmavo "me" and "la" exist to blur the lines between
Toyota car". these two categories so that selbri can be turned into
Why do we have them, if they are names? Because they cmene and cmene into selbri.
are much used in practical everyday speech by people. Not There is a common misconception, which jyjym. appears to
directly as gismu, but in tanru and lujvo. Even if a share (#4), and that is the concept that gismu are some set
Toyota is built in Tennessee, most people will identify it of 'basic concepts'. It is precisely to avoid this
with the tanru Japanese-car. The answer to your last misconception that we started using the Lojban word gismu
question (8) is that people will use whatever culture label instead of "primitive". An idea that some words or
they wish to, to identify that feature, trait or stereotype concepts are 'basic' and others are not IS ITSELF a bias -
that they are attributing to the car, person, item, or a bias toward certain concepts being more important than
concept. other ones. No two human beings, much less cultures, would
If this sounds like catering to prejudice, it may indeed be likely to agree exactly on the set of basic words. Why
be. But on the Eaton list of concepts, the name for 'one's should 'cat' and 'dog' be gismu, and not 'lobster' and
own culture/nation' is on the first page of the frequency 'amoeba'?
list, and the concept of 'specific other culture/nation Surely, there are some concepts represented in the gismu
besides one's own', a combination of all the other culture that are universally considered basic, but they are a small
names put together, isn't far behind (the specific list of minority. Some cultures divide the color spectrum into as
'other cultures talked about' is going to vary in each few as two or three colors - Lojban uses about a dozen.
country/culture). Are those dozen 'basic' in some absolute sense? No.
In Lojban, these words will be used even more frequently The gismu set that we have is chosen on the basis of
in tanru and lujvo than in the natural languages. The most pragmatic usage. The notes in response to Robert Gorsch's
obvious uses are for concepts tied to nationality or class indicate that the evolution of our gismu list was
culture such as 'American dollar', as opposed to 'Canadian anything other than ideal. For example, some words were
dollar', and 'Japanese yen', 'English system of measures', considered by Jim Brown to indeed be biologically basic.
and a large number of religious concepts that inherently When we redid the list, we required some justification for
include the religion in the concept. For example, eliminating a word that Jim Brown had declared 'primitive'.
But the criteria for adding a word were that it either had preference, to determine which were included. But it is,
to complete an incomplete set of concepts, or be useful ei- in a sense, arbitrary.
in making tanru. The latter become more important as time 1. Lojban does not yet stand on its own. We are highly
has passed. dependent on native speakers of the 12 MFL, which include
There is a category of Lojban concept represented nearly all languages used in more than one nation. The 50-
neither by gismu, nor tanru, nor cmene - these are the 75% of the world that speaks one of the MFL's have the
le'avla, or borrowings. le'avla are predicate words, like capability to make lujvo for the words they use often in
gismu, but they are formed by Lojbanizing from a word in their culture; this will enhance Lojban's acceptability.
another language, like cmene. The rules for Lojbanizing As I've said a couple of times in this newsletter,
are a bit more strict than for cmene, and harder to learn, Lojban IS biased. The point is to have biases minimized
so we de-emphasize using le'avla, preferring to use a tanru and identified. Our list has less of a Euro-American bias
instead when we can; in the long run, however, le'avla may than Jim Brown's list. Note that all of our gismu can be
be the largest class of words in the language, covering said to be even more biased than the MFCL, in that they
most foods, animals, plants, and technical jargon words. maximize learnability for people of only 6 languages.
The words that are gismu have an 'advantage' over None of these presumed biases are believed significant
le'avla in that they are shorter. More significantly, they for a Sapir-Whorf test, although such an assumption must be
are the only words considered for assignment of rafsi. All verified at some point by testing MFCL members as well as
of the MFCL words have rafsi, which is not the case for all non-MFCL members.
gismu. The reason, based exactly on jyjym.'s logic, is 2. Actually, "civla" was included because of the
that if we couldn't assign a rafsi to a name-gismu, we ubiquity of lice and fleas, and properly covers all
shouldn't have it as a gismu. skin/hair parasites in its definition. Similarly, "jalra",
There is indeed an effective bias in including some "sfani", "bifce", "toldi", "manti" and "jukni" are
cultures as gismu, and in not including others. The bias ubiquitous - the gismu for these are intended to cover the
is that speakers in those cultures find an easier time rest of "bug-dom". (Do we need one for
talking about concepts peculiar to their culture as lujvo, "locust/grasshopper"?)
while people of other cultures will use le'avla. All gismu were considered from the standpoint of whether
Jim Brown had gismu for each of his 8 source language they would be useful to people of all cultures. Some
cultures, and Lojban. But he also added some odd additions limited sets, like the MFCL, some animals and plants,
like 'Italian', 'Roman', 'Amerind', and the distinction grains, and some metals, are exceptions that were included
between 'American' and 'British' within 'English' (but he for a combination of historical continuity, and because
left out 'Canadian' and 'Australian', and all of the Span- some of the 12 MFL cultures use the words metaphorically in
ish-speaking countries of Latin America). His choices their own languages.
struck us as biased and arbitrary, and made worse by the 3. As stated, we have 3 ways to borrow names, into 3
assignment of 3 gismu to each of his MFCL. different word categories. To use one set of rules is not
We chose to minimize bias by adding gismu to the point to ignore the others. There is nothing 'more basic' about
that we covered the 12 most common languages, the primary one set of rules as compared with another.
cultures (down to some minimum population) that spoke them, 4. I don't understand this claim. You can use, or not
and the primary religions and continents so-associated, use gismu, as you choose. There is nothing forced. I'll
etc. It was at this level that we reached the conflict admit that if you use LogFlash, you would have to edit out
stage for rafsi, and were starting to have to choose some words to not be 'forced' to learn them, but you are
between assigning them to MFCL words or to other gismu not required to use them. And what makes cmene and tanru
judged to be useful in tanru. more a matter of personal preference? You can creatively
(jyjym. is incorrect in a sense - gismu word space is make a different tanru if you don't like how one sounds,
not all that precious. We could have twice the number of but it will mean something different. If you use a cmene
gismu we have now. The number we stopped at was based on a as a label, which differs from someone else's label for the
consensus among the word-makers, strongly influenced by a same thing, they may not recognize who or what you are
historical tradition of 1000-1500 concepts in artificial talking to/about.
languages, and indications from foreign language education Again, gismu are not 'basic concepts'.
research that this was a minimum vocabulary size for It occurs to me that people can choose to ignore the
conversation. We also were starting to get an increasing MFCL gismu if they choose, and use cmene or le'avla if they
number of conflicts over rafsi, and highest scoring word- prefer. I don't see any advantage to this, since it is
form.) extra work for no gain.
The 12 language level (our 'most favored languages' - 5. If we were to include or exclude concepts from our
MFL) was historically significant - it included all of Jim list based on local politics, that would indeed be biased.
Brown's languages plus our own set, and included all I could say that ALL religions are proscribed in some
languages that we had considered using in making gismu. countries. Does this mean that we should eliminate "lijda"
The number 12 had a non-arbitrary feel to it - we were from the gismu? Incidentally, to ban something, you have
using an fairly objective standard, rather than personal to label it.
There are a million and one possible ways for people in In general, we've omitted comparatives from place
a given culture to become offended by something in Lojban structures because there is almost always a use where
which differs from their own culture. For example, we have comparatives cause problems. In fact, we've followed a
the gismu "gletu", "ganxo", "pinji", "kalci" which repre- 'less is better' philosophy of place structure
sent concepts taboo in our culture. The fact that Lojban determination for all of the gismu. It is easy to 'add' an
by rule forbids taboos on any word could offend religious extra place using a sumti tcita 'case tag'; it is
people. impossible to remove a place. So we try to keep out the
6. I've dealt with this partially above. It sounds like non-mandatory ones. This has the side advantage of making
jyjym. is claiming that no gismu overlap in meaning except the place structures easier to learn, because there is less
the MFCL, and that words that do overlap are synonyms. to learn.
Neither of these is true. For example, "nanmu", "prenu", (There IS a proposal to amend the place structure of
"bersa", "bruna", "patfu", "remna", and "panzi" all overlap "barda" and "cmalu" to add "as compared to standard x3.
in a set that includes all fathers who aren't the only This is different from a true comparative. Comments are
child of their parents. welcome.)
7. I'm lost on interpreting this one. The exact
mapping of associations to words is an individual, or at Question #2 - Why have Lojban pronouns been assigned
least a cultural thing. I suspect that there are some both singular and plural meanings? (If the S-W Hypothesis
cultures that, given the list of clue concepts, could is correct, one might argue that Lojban would create a
decide that jyjym. is referring to lust or worship, or cultural bias towards a pluralism - a society such as the
both. one in Ayn Rand's Anthem, which had done away with the word
"I" and hence, with man's ego.) Is there a method for
All in all, this is a valuable discussion. We get more stating "me, to the exclusion of all others"? If so,
questions about the culture words than any other gismu, please let me know.
usually asking why they were included, or complaining about
having to memorize them. There is a 'bottom line' - if no Bob's response - Predicate logic ignores the difference
one uses a gismu, or any other word, it will eventually between singular and plural, so Lojban, at its most basic
fall out of the language. I'm betting that while most level, also does. This might cause a S-W effect such as
Americans will have little call for using "xurdo", they'll you've described; that is why Lojban was created - so that
have trouble avoiding the use of "merko" and "glico". To such drastic differences in world view in a society can be
eliminate all of the MFCL that one doesn't personally use clearly tied to grammatical constructs.
would be "malglico" - oops, I just used one. Perhaps if When we say that Lojban is culturally neutral, we mean
you have memorized "xurdo", you'll find a use for it. not that the language has no effects on the culture - that
would be assuming that Sapir-Whorf is false, and minimizing
from Eric Williams just the types of effects we'd be looking for. Rather, we
try to eliminate the cultural biases of existing cultures
Question # 1 - Why are words for 'large' and 'small' of the world, the sources of natural language speakers that
included in Lojban? When a person says "ta cu barda", he will eventually form the Lojban speaker base.
or she has only expressed something very vague, since "ta" Lojban achieves cultural neutrality by trying to
is not 'larger than' something. It seems that the proper minimize metaphysical assumptions, and the singular/plural
way to express this concept is 'more' (or 'less') than an- distinction is one such assumption. Does there have to be
other in height, weight, surface area, or whatever. such a distinction? If so, why not a 3- or 4- way
distinction expressing singular, dual, trial, and
Bob's Response: If you want to express a comparison, multitudinal (there are languages with more than 2 number
you indeed should use "zmadu", or "ckamu"; they are categories, though I don't know of any with exactly this
comparative by nature and it shows in the place structure. set).
"barda" and "cmalu" are the same concept without an Lojban tries to remove constraints. Therefore, you CAN
inherent comparative. As you've noted, these provide less express number, tense, and the various other optional
information than the comparatives - exactly one sumti grammatical features if it is important to the truth of
place's worth. Based on English usage, there are cases your statement, which isn't that often. You have a couple
where a comparative could be misleading - a large negative of ways of expressing singular more clearly: "mipezi" (the
number is less than a small negative number. right-here me, limits by location rather than number. It
Quite often, we don't know what the basis of comparison is only plural if there are several people by me, and you
is. What is a 'big house' bigger than - possibly nothing are off across the room). "mipoipamoi" is the ultimate
in particular - and each person's standard of comparison singular - "I, the onesome".
might be different, so we can't use "zu'i", the You can make a whole bunch of other distinctions that
'unspecified typical' sumti place filler, unless we also you can't make in English, of course, but I've no room for
add an observer place. Since some comparatives are ob- them here.
server independent, you can't put the observer place in the
basic place structure.
[Eric also asked about the place structures of culture
words, but his question was answered in the response to
jyjym., so I've not repeated the answer here.]
Last Minute Request for Comment
In discussing some of the topics in this issue, and in
discussing negation, a question of bias arose. At present
"zmadu" has 3 rafsi, including "mau" which also serves as a
sumti tcita (lexeme BAI) for adding "more than ..."
comparatives. The 'opposite' word, "ckamu" has no rafsi,
partly because in English we seldom make comparatives in
this direction, so few have built tanru from "ckamu".
"ckamu" also has a sumti tcita, but it is not as clearly
connected to the gismu.
There are no good available solutions based on "ckamu".
The possible rafsi permitted in any position for this word
are "-cka-", "-cau-", "-kau-", "-ca'u-" and "-ka'u-", and
each of these is in use by a reasonably important gismu, in
We thus are proposing the first change in a gismu since
the baseline was established 20 months ago, and setting the
precedent by encouraging comment from all who have started
learning the words (and others) before even a single word
change. The proposed replacement is "mleca" with rafsi "-
mec-" and "-me'a" and the latter becoming the sumti tcita.
The issue will be decided at LogFest 90 after consideration
of all comments. What do you think?