BPFK style guidelines for Lojban dictionary definitions (proposal draft)

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BPFK style guidelines for Lojban dictionary definitions (proposal draft)

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  • Insofar as possible, each meaning definition should be clear, easy and comfortable to read for everyone, and not cluttered with slashes, obscure abbreviations or anything else hindering readability or comprehension. Alternative phrasings of the definition may be separated with semicolons. Lists of appropriate translations or glosses are preferably put into a dedicated dictionary entry field, separate from the main definition.
  • Insofar as possible, each meaning definition should be simple, that is, made from simple grammar structures and common terms, so that anybody could easily understand them, even if that leads to more verbosity.
  • Each meaning definition should be as generic as possible, so as to encompass the whole semantic range of the lexeme being defined.
  • The appropriate gloss words are recorded in the gloss fields.
  • The etymologies are presented along with the meaning in order to help retaining the term and its origin.
  • The various sumti types must be specified between parentheses: proposition (du'u), event (nu), property/relation (ka), quantity (ni)…
  • The predicate argument slots are marked with the x1…xN notation. The place structure's etymology (mostly relevant with lujvo) should be moved to the note fields, or ideally to a dedicated field.
  • A good definition should ideally be accompanied by one or several Lojban usage examples together with their translation to the definition language, if it isn't Lojban. Those examples and translations would ideally have dedicated fields; however in case of technical restrictions, they may be put into the notes field instead.

Language-specific recommendations


In French, in most cases a noun phrase must be accompanied by a determiner, so this leads to the problem of which article to use in Lojban→French predicate definitions. We suggest using the indefinite article when the predicate is translated as [to be]+[noun phrase] (e.g. "x1 is a [noun phrase]"), and using the definite article when it is needed to restrict the nature of an argument slot with a juxtaposition, e.g. "x1 is a dog of the species x2".


  • « balni = x1 est une plate-forme en saillie sur la façade x2 »
  • « cusku = x1 dit x2 (text) à l'intention de x3 via le moyen de communication x4 »
  • « tcidu = x1 lit le texte x2 inscrit sur le support x3 »
  • « danlu = x1 est un animal de l'espèce x2 »

Example of English definition using the proposed guidelines

Lexeme: balni
Type: gismu
Meaning: x1 is a platform overhanging on facade x2
Glosses (x1): balcony, overhang, ledge, shelf
Exemple 1:
  (Lojban): ti balni
  (English): This is a balcony
Exemple 2:
  (Lojban): lo balni be lo vi dinju
  (English): The balcony of this building
  Chinese: iantai
  English: balkani
  Hindi: baramda
  Spanish: balkon
  Russian: balkon
  Arabic: curfa


  • Ilmen: It would be preferable to have one single Etymology field for each meaning, so as to avoid needlessly duplicating the etymology field for each definition translation. However then the etymology source languages names should be written in a langugage-neutral way, possibly using ISO codes or directly the native name of these source languages.