ELG. Selbri

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The structure of main verb (selbri)

Lojban content words: brivla

At the center, logically and often physically, of every Lojban bridi is one or more words which constitute the selbri. A bridi expresses a relationship between things: the selbri specifies which relationship is referred to. The difference between:

do mamta mi
You are-a-mother-of me
You are my mother

and

do patfu mi
You are-a-father-of me.
You are my father.

lies in the different selbri.

The simplest kind of selbri is a single Lojban content word: a brivla. There are three different varieties of brivla: those which are built into the language (the gismu), those which are derived from combinations of the gismu (the lujvo), and those which are taken (usually in a modified form) from other languages (the fu'ivla). In addition, there are a few cmavo that can act like brivla; these are mentioned in Section 1.8, and discussed in full in Chapter ELG-ERROR in Template:Lch.

For the purposes of this chapter, however, all brivla are alike. For example,

ta bloti
That is-a-boat.
That is a boat.
ta brablo
That is-a-large-boat.
That is a ship.
ta blotrskunri
That is-a-(boat)-schooner.
That is a schooner.

illustrate the three types of brivla (gismu, lujvo, and fu'ivla respectively), but in each case the selbri is composed of a single word whose meaning can be learned independent of its origins.

The remainder of this chapter will mostly use gismu as example brivla, because they are short. However, it is important to keep in mind that wherever a gismu appears, it could be replaced by any other kind of brivla.

Simple tanru

Beyond the single brivla, a selbri may consist of two brivla placed together. When a selbri is built in this way from more than one brivla, it is called a tanru, a word with no single English equivalent. The nearest analogue to tanru in English are combinations of two nouns such as “lemon tree”. There is no way to tell just by looking at the phrase “lemon tree” exactly what it refers to, even if you know the meanings of “lemon” and “tree” by themselves. As English-speakers, we must simply know that it refers to “a tree which bears lemons as fruits”. A person who didn't know English very well might think of it as analogous to “brown tree” and wonder, “What kind of tree is lemon-colored?”

In Lojban, tanru are also used for the same purposes as English adjective-noun combinations like “big boy” and adverb-verb combinations like “quickly run”. This is a consequence of Lojban not having any such categories as “noun”, “verb”, “adjective”, or “adverb”. English words belonging to any of these categories are translated by simple brivla in Lojban. Here are some examples of tanru:

tu pelnimre tricu
That-yonder is-a-(lemon tree).
That is a lemon tree.
la djan. barda nanla
That-named John is-a-big boy.
John is a big boy.
mi sutra bajra
I quick run
I quickly run./I run quickly.

Note that pelnimre is a lujvo for “lemon”; it is derived from the gismu pelxu, yellow, and nimre, citrus. Note also that sutra can mean “fast/quick” or “quickly” depending on its use:

mi sutra
I am-fast/quick

shows sutra used to translate an adjective, whereas in Example it is translating an adverb. (Another correct translation of Example , however, would be “I am a quick runner”.)

There are special Lojban terms for the two components of a tanru, derived from the place structure of the word tanru. The first component is called the seltau, and the second component is called the tertau.

The most important rule for use in interpreting tanru is that the tertau carries the primary meaning. A

pelnimre tricu is primarily a tree, and only secondarily is it connected with lemons in some way. For this reason, an alternative translation of Example would be:

That is a lemon type of tree.

This “type of” relationship between the components of a tanru is fundamental to the tanru concept.

We may also say that the seltau modifies the meaning of the tertau:

That is a tree which is lemon-ish (in the way appropriate to trees)

would be another possible translation of Example . In the same way, a more explicit translation of Example might be:

John is a boy who is big in the way that boys are big.

This “way that boys are big” would be quite different from the way in which elephants are big; big-for-a-boy is small-for-an-elephant.

All tanru are ambiguous semantically. Possible translations of:

ta klama jubme
That is-a-goer type-of-table.

include:

  • That is a table which goes (a wheeled table, perhaps).
  • That is a table owned by one who goes.
  • That is a table used by those who go (a sports doctor's table?).
  • That is a table when it goes (otherwise it is a chair?).

In each case the object referred to is a “goer type of table”, but the ambiguous “type of” relationship can mean one of many things. A speaker who uses tanru (and pragmatically all speakers must) takes the risk of being misunderstood. Using tanru is convenient because they are short and expressive; the circumlocution required to squeeze out all ambiguity can require too much effort.

No general theory covering the meaning of all possible tanru exists; probably no such theory can exist. However, some regularities obviously do exist:

do barda prenu
You are-a-large person.
do cmalu prenu
You are-a-small person.

are parallel tanru, in the sense that the relationship between barda and prenu is the same as that between cmalu and prenu. Section 1.13 and Section 1.14 contain a partial listing of some types of tanru, with examples.

Three-part tanru grouping with bo

The following cmavo is discussed in this section:

bo
BO
description

Consider the English sentence:


That's a little girls' school.

What does it mean? Two possible readings are:

That's a little school for girls.

That's a school for little girls.

This ambiguity is quite different from the simple tanru ambiguity described in Section 1.1. We understand that “girls' school” means “a school where girls are the students”, and not “a school where girls are the teachers” or “a school which is a girl” (!). Likewise, we understand that “little girl” means “girl who is small”. This is an ambiguity of grouping. Is “girls' school” to be taken as a unit, with “little” specifying the type of girls' school? Or is “little girl” to be taken as a unit, specifying the type of school? In English speech, different tones of voice, or exaggerated speech rhythm showing the grouping, are used to make the distinction; English writing usually leaves it unrepresented.

Lojban makes no use of tones of voice for any purpose; explicit words are used to do the work. The cmavo bo (which belongs to selma'o BO) may be placed between the two brivla which are most closely associated. Therefore, a Lojban translation of Example would be:

ta cmalu nixli bo ckule
That is-a-small girl [] school.Example might be translated:
ta cmalu bo nixli ckule
That is-a-small [] girl school.

The bo is represented in the literal translation by a hyphen because in written English a hyphen is sometimes used for the same purpose: “a big dog-catcher” would be quite different from a “big-dog catcher” (presumably someone who catches only big dogs).

Analysis of Example and Example reveals a tanru nested within a tanru. In Example , the main tanru has a seltau of cmalu and a tertau of

nixli bo ckule; the tertau is itself a tanru with nixli as the seltau and ckule as the tertau. In Example , on the other hand, the seltau is
cmalu bo nixli (itself a tanru), whereas the tertau is ckule.

This structure of tanru nested within tanru forms the basis for all the more complex types of selbri that will be explained below.

What about Example ? What does it mean?

ta cmalu nixli ckule
That is-a-small girl school.

The rules of Lojban do not leave this sentence ambiguous, as the rules of English do with Example . The choice made by the language designers is to say that Example means the same as Example . This is true no matter what three brivla are used: the leftmost two are always grouped together. This rule is called the “left-grouping rule”. Left-grouping in seemingly ambiguous structures is quite common – though not universal – in other contexts in Lojban.

Another way to express the English meaning of Example and Example , using parentheses to mark grouping, is:

ta cmalu [] nixli bo ckule
That is-a-small type-of (girl type-of school).
ta cmalu bo nixli [] ckule
That is-a-(small type-of girl) type-of school.

Because “type-of” is implicit in the Lojban tanru form, it has no Lojban equivalent.

Note: It is perfectly legal, though pointless, to insert bo into a simple tanru:

ta klama bo jubme
That is-a-goer [] table.

is a legal Lojban bridi that means exactly the same thing as Example , and is ambiguous in exactly the same ways. The cmavo bo serves only to resolve grouping ambiguity: it says nothing about the more basic ambiguity present in all tanru.

Complex tanru grouping

If one element of a tanru can be another tanru, why not both elements?

do mutce bo barda gerku bo kavbu
You are-a-(very type-of large) (dog type-of capturer).
You are a very large dog-catcher.

In Example , the selbri is a tanru with seltau

mutce bo barda and tertau
gerku bo kavbu. It is worth emphasizing once again that this tanru has the same fundamental ambiguity as all other Lojban tanru: the sense in which the “dog type-of capturer” is said to be “very type-of large” is not precisely specified. Presumably it is his body which is large, but theoretically it could be one of his other properties.

We will now justify the title of this chapter by exploring the ramifications of the phrase “pretty little girls' school”, an expansion of the tanru used in Section 1.2 to four brivla. (Although this example has been used in the Loglan Project almost since the beginning – it first appeared in Quine's book Word and Object (1960) – it is actually a mediocre example because of the ambiguity of English “pretty”; it can mean “beautiful”, the sense intended here, or it can mean “very”. Lojban melbi is not subject to this ambiguity: it means only “beautiful”.)

Here are four ways to group this phrase:

ta melbi cmalu nixli ckule
That is-a-((pretty type-of little) type-of girl) type-of school.
That is a school for girls who are beautifully small.
ta melbi cmalu nixli bo ckule
That is-a-(pretty type-of little) (girl type-of school).
That is a girls' school which is beautifully small.
ta melbi cmalu bo nixli ckule
That is-a-(pretty type-of (little type-of girl)) type-of school.
That is a school for small girls who are beautiful.
ta melbi cmalu bo nixli bo ckule
That is-a-pretty type-of (little type-of (girl type-of school)).
That is a small school for girls which is beautiful.

Example uses a construction which has not been seen before:

cmalu bo nixli bo ckule, with two consecutive uses of bo between brivla. The rule for multiple bo constructions is the opposite of the rule when no bo is present at all: the last two are grouped together. Not surprisingly, this is called the “right-grouping rule”, and it is associated with every use of

bo in the language. Therefore,

ta cmalu bo nixli bo ckule
That is-a-little type-of (girl type-of school).

means the same as Example , not Example . This rule may seem peculiar at first, but one of its consequences is that bo is never necessary between the first two elements of any of the complex tanru presented so far: all of Example through Example could have bo inserted between melbi and cmalu with no change in meaning.

Complex tanru with ke and ke'e

The following cmavo are discussed in this section:

ke
KE
description
ke'e
KEhE
description

There is, in fact, a fifth grouping of “pretty little girls' school” that cannot be expressed with the resources explained so far. To handle it, we must introduce the grouping parentheses cmavo, ke and ke'e (belonging to selma'o KE and KEhE respectively). Any portion of a selbri sandwiched between these two cmavo is taken to be a single tanru component, independently of what is adjacent to it. Thus, Example can be rewritten in any of the following ways:

ta ke melbi cmalu ke'e nixli ckule
That is-a-( pretty little ) girl school.
ta ke ke melbi cmalu ke'e nixli ke'e ckule
That is-a-( ( pretty little ) girl ) school.
ta ke ke ke melbi cmalu ke'e nixli ke'e ckule ke'e
That is-a-( ( ( pretty little ) girl ) school ).

Even more versions could be created simply by placing any number of ke cmavo at the beginning of the selbri, and a like number of ke'e cmavo at its end. Obviously, all of these are a waste of breath once the left-grouping rule has been grasped. However, the following is equivalent to Example and may be easier to understand:

ta melbi ke cmalu nixli ke'e ckule
That is-a-( pretty type-of ( little type-of girl ) ) type-of school.

Likewise, a ke and ke'e version of Example would be:

ta melbi cmalu ke nixli ckule [ke'e]
That is-a-(pretty type-of little) ( girl type-of school ).

The final ke'e is given in square brackets here to indicate that it can be elided. It is always possible to elide ke'e at the end of the selbri, making Example as terse as Example .

Now how about that fifth grouping? It is

ta melbi ke cmalu nixli ckule [ke'e]
That is-a-pretty type-of ( ( little type-of girl ) type-of school ).
That is a beautiful school for small girls.

Example is distinctly different in meaning from any of Examples 4.2 through 4.5. Note that within the keke'e parentheses, the left-grouping rule is applied to

cmalu nixli ckule.

It is perfectly all right to mix bo and keke'e in a single selbri. For instance, Example , which in pure keke'e form is

ta melbi ke cmalu ke nixli ckule [ke'e] [ke'e]
That is-a-pretty type-of ( little type-of ( girl type-of school ) ).

can equivalently be expressed as:

ta melbi ke cmalu nixli bo ckule [ke'e]
That is-a-pretty type-of ( little type-of ( girl type-of school ) ).

and in many other different forms as well.

Logical connection within tanru

The following cmavo are discussed in this section:

je
JA
description
ja
JA
description
joi
JOI
description
gu'e
GUhA
description
gi
GI
description

Consider the English phrase “big red dog”. How shall this be rendered as a Lojban tanru? The naive attempt:

barda xunre gerku
(big type-of red) type-of dog

will not do, as it means a dog whose redness is big, in whatever way redness might be described as “big”. Nor is

barda xunre bo gerku
big type-of (red type-of dog)

much better. After all, the straightforward understanding of the English phrase is that the dog is big as compared with other dogs, not merely as compared with other red dogs. In fact, the bigness and redness are independent properties of the dog, and only obscure rules of English adjective ordering prevent us from saying “red big dog”.

The Lojban approach to this problem is to introduce the cmavo je, which is one of the many equivalents of English “and”. A big red dog is one that is both big and red, and we can say:

barda je xunre gerku
(big and red) type-of dog

Of course,

xunre je barda gerku
(red and big) type-of dog

is equally satisfactory and means the same thing. As these examples indicate, joining two brivla with je makes them a unit for tanru purposes. However, explicit grouping with bo or keke'e associates brivla more closely than je does:

barda je pelxu bo xunre gerku
barda je ke pelxu xunre ke'e gerku
(big and (yellow type-of red)) dog
big yellowish-red dog

With no grouping indicators, we get:

barda je pelxu xunre gerku
((big and yellow) type-of red) type-of dog
biggish- and yellowish-red dog

which again raises the question of Example : what does “biggish-red” mean?

Unlike bo and keke'e, je is useful as well as merely legal within simple tanru. It may be used to partly resolve the ambiguity of simple tanru:

ta blanu je zdani
that is-blue and is-a-house

definitely refers to something which is both blue and is a house, and not to any of the other possible interpretations of simple

blanu zdani. Furthermore,
blanu zdani refers to something which is blue in the way that houses are blue;
blanu je zdani has no such implication – the blueness of a
blanu je zdani is independent of its houseness.

With the addition of je, many more versions of “pretty little girls' school” are made possible: see Section 1.15 for a complete list.

A subtle point in the semantics of tanru like Example needs special elucidation. There are at least two possible interpretations of:

ta melbi je nixli ckule
That is-a-(beautiful and girl) type-of school.

It can be understood as:

That is a girls' school and a beautiful school.

or as:

That is a school for things which are both girls and beautiful.

The interpretation specified by Example treats the tanru as a sort of abbreviation for:

ta ke melbi ckule ke'e je ke nixli ckule [ke'e]
That is-a-( beautiful type-of school ) and ( girl type-of school )

whereas the interpretation specified by Example does not. This is a kind of semantic ambiguity for which Lojban does not compel a firm resolution. The way in which the school is said to be of type “beautiful and girl” may entail that it is separately a beautiful school and a girls' school; but the alternative interpretation, that the members of the school are beautiful and girls, is also possible. Still another interpretation is:

That is a school for beautiful things and also for girls.

so while the logical connectives help to resolve the meaning of tanru, they by no means compel a single meaning in and of themselves.

In general, logical connectives within tanru cannot undergo the formal manipulations that are possible with the related logical connectives that exist outside tanru; See Section for further details.

The logical connective je is only one of the fourteen logical connectives that Lojban provides. Here are a few examples of some of the others:

le bajra cu jinga ja te jinga
the runner(s) is/are winner(s) or loser(s).
blanu naja lenku skapi
(blue only-if cold) skin
skin which is blue only if it is cold
xamgu jo tordu nuntavla
(good if-and-only-if short) speech
speech which is good if (and only if) it is short
vajni ju pluka nuntavla
(important whether-or-not pleasing) event-of-talking
speech which is important, whether or not it is pleasing

In Example , ja is grammatically equivalent to je but means “or” (more precisely, “and/or”). Likewise, naja means “only if” in Example , jo means “if and only if” in Example , and ju means “whether or not” in Example .

Now consider the following example:

ricfu je blanu jabo crino
rich and (blue or green)

which illustrates a new grammatical feature: the use of both ja' and bo between tanru components. The two cmavo combine to form a compound whose meaning is that of ja but which groups more closely; ja'bo is to 'ja as plain bo is to no cmavo at all. However, both ja and ja'bo group less closely than bo does:

ricfu je blanu jabo crino bo blanu
rich and (blue or green - blue)
rich and (blue or greenish-blue)

An alternative form of Example is:

ricfu je ke blanu ja crino [ke'e]
rich and (blue or green)

In addition to the logical connectives, there are also a variety of non-logical connectives, grammatically equivalent to the logical ones. The only one with a well-understood meaning in tanru contexts is joi, which is the kind of “and” that denotes a mixture:

ti blanu joi xunre bolci
This is-a-(blue and red) ball.

The ball described is neither solely red nor solely blue, but probably striped or in some other way exhibiting a combination of the two colors. Example is distinct from:

ti blanu xunre bolci
This is a bluish-red ball

which would be a ball whose color is some sort of purple tending toward red, since xunre is the more important of the two components. On the other hand,

ti blanu je xunre bolci
This is a (blue and red) ball

is probably self-contradictory, seeming to claim that the ball is independently both blue and red at the same time, although some sensible interpretation may exist.

Finally, just as English “and” has the variant form “both ... and”, so je between tanru components has the variant form gu'egi, where gu'e is placed before the components and gi between them:

gu'e barda gi xunre gerku
(both big and red) type-of dog

is equivalent in meaning to Example . For each logical connective related to je, there is a corresponding connective related to gu'egi in a systematic way.

The portion of a gu'egi construction before the gi is a full selbri, and may use any of the selbri resources including je logical connections. After the gi, logical connections are taken to be wider in scope than the gu'egi, which has in effect the same scope as bo:

gu'e barda je xunre gi gerku ja mlatu
(both (big and red) and dog) or cat
something which is either big, red, and a dog, or else a cat

leaves mlatu outside the gu'egi construction. The scope of the gi arm extends only to a single brivla or to two or more brivla connected with bo or keke'e.

Linked sumti: be-bei-be'o

The following cmavo are discussed in this section:

be
BE
description
bei
BEI
description
be'o
BEhO
description

The question of the place structures of selbri has been glossed over so far. This chapter does not attempt to treat place structure issues in detail; they are discussed in Chapter ELG-ERROR in Template:Lch. One grammatical structure related to places belongs here, however. In simple sentences such as Example , the place structure of the selbri is simply the defined place structure of the gismumamta. What about more complex selbri?

For tanru, the place structure rule is simple: the place structure of a tanru is always the place structure of its tertau. Thus, the place structure of

blanu zdani is that of zdani: the x1 place is a house or nest, and the x2 place is its occupants.

What about the places of blanu? Is there any way to get them into the act? In fact, blanu has only one place, and this is merged, as it were, with the x1 place of zdani. It is whatever is in the x1 place that is being characterized as blue-for-a-house. But if we replace blanu with xamgu, we get:

ti xamgu zdani
This is-a-good house.
This is a good (for someone, by some standard) house.

Since xamgu has three places (x1, the good thing; x2, the person for whom it is good; and x3, the standard of goodness), Example necessarily omits information about the last two: there is no room for them. Room can be made, however!

ti xamgu be do bei mi [be'o] zdani
This is-a-good (for you by-standard me) house.
This is a house that is good for you by my standards.

Here, the gismu xamgu has been followed by the cmavo be (of selma'o BE), which signals that one or more sumti follows. These sumti are not part of the overall bridi place structure, but fill the places of the brivla they are attached to, starting with x2. If there is more than one sumti, they are separated by the cmavo bei (of selma'o BEI), and the list of sumti is terminated by the elidable terminator be'o (of selma'o BEhO).

Grammatically, a brivla with sumti linked to it in this fashion plays the same role in tanru as a simple brivla. To illustrate, here is a fully fleshed-out version of Example , with all places filled in:

ti cmalu be le ka canlu bei lo'e ckule be'o
This is a small (in-dimension the property-of volume by-standard the-typical school)
nixli be li mu bei lo merko be'o bo ckule
(girl (of-years the-number five by-standard some American-thing) school)
la bryklyn. loi pemci
in-Brooklyn with-subject poems
le mela nu,IORK. prenu le jecta
for-audience New-York persons with-operator the state.

This is a school, small in volume compared to the typical school, pertaining to five-year-old girls (by American standards), in Brooklyn, teaching poetry to the New York community and operated by the state.

Here the three places of cmalu, the three of nixli, and the four of ckule are fully specified. Since the places of ckule are the places of the bridi as a whole, it was not necessary to link the sumti which follow ckule. It would have been legal to do so, however:

mi klama be le zarci bei le zdani [be'o]
I go (to-the market from-the house).

means the same as

mi klama le zarci le zdani
I go to-the market from-the house.

No matter how complex a tanru gets, the last brivla always dictates the place structure: the place structure of

melbi je cmalu nixli bo ckule
a (pretty and little) (girl school)
a school for girls which is both beautiful and small

is simply that of ckule. (The sole exception to this rule is discussed in Section 1.7.)

It is possible to precede linked sumti by the place structure ordering tags fe, fi, fo, and fu (of selma'o FA, discussed further in Section ), which serve to explicitly specify the x2, x3, x4, and x5 places respectively. Normally, the place following the be is the x2 place and the other places follow in order. If it seems convenient to change the order, however, it can be accomplished as follows:

ti xamgu be fi mi bei fe do [be'o] zdani
This is-a-good ( by-standard me for you ) house.

which is equivalent in meaning to Example . Note that the order of be, bei, and be'o does not change; only the inserted fi tells us that mi is the x3 place (and correspondingly, the inserted fe tells us that do is the x2 place). Changing the order of sumti is often done to match the order of another language, or for emphasis or rhythm.

Of course, using FA cmavo makes it easy to specify one place while omitting a previous place:

ti xamgu be fi mi [be'o] zdani
This is-a-good (by-standard me) house.
This is a good house by my standards.

Similarly, sumti labeled by modal or tense tags can be inserted into strings of linked sumti just as they can into bridi:

ta blanu be ga'a mi [be'o] zdani
That is-a-blue (to-observer me) house.
That is a blue, as I see it, house.

The meaning of Example is slightly different from:

ta blanu zdani ga'a mi
That is-a-blue house to-observer me.
That is a blue house, as I see it.

See discussions in Chapter ELG-ERROR in Template:Lch of modals and in Chapter ELG-ERROR in Template:Lch of tenses for more explanations.

The terminator be'o is almost always elidable: however, if the selbri belongs to a description, then a relative clause following it will attach to the last linked sumti unless be'o is used, in which case it will attach to the outer description:

le xamgu be do noi barda cu zdani
The good-thing for you (who are-large) is-a-house.
le xamgu be do be'o noi barda cu zdani
The (good-thing for you) (which is-large) is-a-house

(Relative clauses are explained in Chapter ELG-ERROR in Template:Lch.)

In other cases, however, be'o cannot be elided if ku has also been elided:

le xamgu be le ctuca [ku] be'o zdani
the good (for the teacher) house

requires either ku or be'o, and since there is only one occurrence of be, the be'o must match it, whereas it may be confusing which occurrence of le the ku terminates (in fact the second one is correct).

Inversion of tanru: co

The following cmavo is discussed in this section:

co
CO
description

The standard order of Lojban tanru, whereby the modifier precedes what it modifies, is very natural to English-speakers: we talk of “blue houses”, not of “houses blue”. In other languages, however, such matters are differently arranged, and Lojban supports this reverse order (tertau before seltau) by inserting the particle co. Example and Example mean exactly the same thing:

ta blanu zdani
That is-a-blue type-of-house.
That is a blue house.
ta zdani co blanu
That is-a-house of-type blue.
That is a blue house.

This change is called “tanru inversion”. In tanru inversion, the element before co ( zdani in Example ) is the tertau, and the element following co ( blanu) in Example ) is the seltau.

The meaning, and more specifically, the place structure, of a tanru is not affected by inversion: the place structure of

zdani co blanu is still that of zdani. However, the existence of inversion in a selbri has a very special effect on any sumti which follow that selbri. Instead of being interpreted as filling places of the selbri, they actually fill the places (starting with x2) of the seltau. In Section 1.6, we saw how to fill interior places with bebeibe'o, and in fact Example and Example have the same meaning:
mi klama be le zarci bei le zdani be'o troci
I am-a-(goer to the market from the house) type-of trier.
I try to go to the market from the house.
mi troci co klama le zarci le zdani
I am-a-trier of-type (goer to-the market from-the house).
I try to go to the market from the house.

Example is a less deeply nested construction, requiring fewer cmavo. As a result it is probably easier to understand.

Note that in Lojban “trying to go” is expressed using troci as the tertau. The reason is that “trying to go” is a “going type of trying”, not a “trying type of going”. The trying is more fundamental than the going – if the trying fails, we may not have a going at all.

Any sumti which precede a selbri with an inverted tanru fill the places of the selbri (i.e., the places of the tertau) in the ordinary way. In Example , mi fills the x1 place of

troci co klama, which is the x1 place of troci. The other places of the selbri remain unfilled. The trailing sumti
le zarci and
le zdani do not occupy selbri places, despite appearances.

As a result, the regular mechanisms (involving selma'o VOhA and GOhI, explained in Chapter ELG-ERROR in Template:Lch) for referring to individual sumti of a bridi cannot refer to any of the trailing places of Example , because they are not really “sumti of the bridi” at all.

When inverting a more complex tanru, it is possible to invert it only at the most general modifier-modified pair. The only possible inversion of Example , for instance, is:

ta nixli [bo] ckule co cmalu
That (is-a-girl type-of school) of-type little.
That's a girls' school which is small.

Note that the bo of Example is optional in Example , because co groups more loosely than any other cmavo used in tanru, including none at all. Not even keke'e parentheses can encompass a co:

ta cmalu ke nixli ckule [ke'e] co melbi
That is-a-(little type-of (girl type-of school)) of-type pretty.
That's a small school for girls which is beautiful.

In Example , the ke'e is automatically inserted before the co rather than at its usual place at the end of the selbri. As a result, there is a simple and mechanical rule for removing co from any selbri: change “A co B” to “ke B ke'e A”. (At the same time, any sumti following the selbri must be transformed into bebeibe'o form and attached following B.) Therefore,

ckule co melbi nixli
school of-type pretty girl
school for beautiful girls

means the same as:

ke melbi nixli ke'e ckule
(pretty girl) school

Multiple co cmavo can appear within a selbri, indicating multiple inversions: a right-grouping rule is employed, as for bo. The above rule can be applied to interpret such selbri, but all co cmavo must be removed simultaneously:

ckule co nixli co cmalu
school of-type (girl of-type little)

becomes formally

ke ke cmalu ke'e nixli ke'e ckule
( (little) girl ) school

which by the left-grouping rule is simply

cmalu nixli ckule
little girl school
school for little girls

As stated above, the selbri places, other than the first, of

mi klama co sutra
I am-a-goer of-type quick
I go quickly

cannot be filled by placing sumti after the selbri, because any sumti in that position fill the places of sutra, the seltau. However, the tertau places (which means in effect the selbri places) can be filled with be:

mi klama be le zarci be'o co sutra
I am-a-goer (to the store) of-type quick.
I go to the store quickly.

Other kinds of simple selbri

The following cmavo are discussed in this section:

go'i
GOhA
description
du
GOhA
description
nu'a
NUhA
description
moi
MOI
description
mei
MOI
description
nu
NU
description
kei
KEI
description

So far we have only discussed brivla and tanru built up from brivla as possible selbri. In fact, there are a few other constructions in Lojban which are grammatically equivalent to brivla: they can be used either directly as selbri, or as components in tanru. Some of these types of simple selbri are discussed at length in Chapter ELG-ERROR in Template:Lch, Chapter ELG-ERROR in Template:Lch, and Chapter ELG-ERROR in Template:Lch; but for completeness these types are mentioned here with a brief explanation and an example of their use in selbri.

The cmavo of selma'o GOhA (with one exception) serve as pro-bridi, providing a reference to the content of other bridi; none of them has a fixed meaning. The most commonly used member of GOhA is probably go'i, which amounts to a repetition of the previous bridi, or part of it. If I say:

la djan. klama le zarci
John goes-to the market.

you may retort:

la djan. go'i troci
John [repeat last] are-a-tryer
John tries to.

Example is short for:

la djan. klama be le zarci be'o troci
John is-a-goer (to the market) type-of trier.

because the whole bridi of Example has been packaged up into the single word go'i and inserted into Example .

The exceptional member of GOhA is du, which represents the relation of identity. Its place structure is:

x1 is identical with x2, x3, ...

for as many places as are given. More information on selma'o GOhA is available in Chapter ELG-ERROR in Template:Lch.

Lojban mathematical expressions (mekso) can be incorporated into selbri in two different ways. Mathematical operators such as su'i, meaning “plus”, can be transformed into selbri by prefixing them with nu'a (of selma'o NUhA). The resulting place structure is:

x1 is the result of applying (the operator) to arguments x2, x3, etc.

for as many arguments as are required. (The result goes in the x1 place because the number of following places may be indefinite.) For example:

li vo nu'a su'i li re li re
The-number 4 is-the-sum-of the-number 2 and-the-number 2.

A possible tanru example might be:

mi jimpe tu'a loi nu'a su'i nabmi
I understand something-about the-mass-of is-the-sum-of problems.
I understand addition problems.

More usefully, it is possible to combine a mathematical expression with a cmavo of selma'o MOI to create one of various numerical selbri. Details are available in Section . Here are a few tanru:

la prim. palvr. pamoi cusku
Preem Palver is-the-1-th speaker.
Preem Palver is the first speaker.
la an,iis. joi la .asun. bruna remei
Anyi massed-with Asun are-a-brother type-of-twosome.
Anyi and Asun are two brothers.

Finally, an important type of simple selbri which is not a brivla is the abstraction. Grammatically, abstractions are simple: a cmavo of selma'o NU, followed by a bridi, followed by the elidable terminator kei of selma'o KEI. Semantically, abstractions are an extremely subtle and powerful feature of Lojban whose full ramifications are documented in Chapter ELG-ERROR in Template:Lch. A few examples:

ti nu zdile kei kumfa
This is-an-event-of amusement room.
This is an amusement room.

Example is quite distinct in meaning from:

ti zdile kumfa
This is-an-amuser room.

which suggests the meaning “a room that amuses someone”.

selbri based on sumti: me

The following cmavo are discussed in this section:

me
ME
description
me'u
MEhU
description

A sumti can be made into a simple selbri by preceding it with me (of selma'o ME) and following it with the elidable terminator me'u (of selma'o MEhU). This makes a selbri with the place structure

x1 is one of the referents of “[the sumti]”

which is true of the thing, or things, that are the referents of the sumti, and not of anything else. For example, consider the sumti

le ci nolraitru
the three noblest-governors
the three kings

If these are understood to be the Three Kings of Christian tradition, who arrive every year on January 6, then we may say:

la BALtazar. cu me le ci nolraitru

Balthazar is one-of-the-referents-of “the three kings”.

Balthazar is one of the three kings.

and likewise

la kaspar. cu me le ci nolraitru
Caspar is one of the three kings.

and

la melxi,or. cu me le ci nolraitru
Melchior is one of the three kings.

If the sumti refers to a single object, then the effect of me is much like that of du:

do du la djan.
You are-identical-with the-one-called “John”.
You are John.

means the same as

do me la djan.

You are-the-referent-of “the-one-called "John”".

You are John.

It is common to use me selbri, especially those based on name sumti using la, as seltau. For example:

ta me lai kraislr. [me'u] karce

That (is-a-referent of “the-mass-called "Chrysler"”) car.

That is a Chrysler car.

The elidable terminator me'u can usually be omitted. It is absolutely required only if the me selbri is being used in an indefinite description (a type of sumti explained in Section ), and if the indefinite description is followed by a relative clause (explained in Chapter ELG-ERROR in Template:Lch) or a sumti logical connective (explained in Section ). Without a me'u, the relative clause or logical connective would appear to belong to the sumti embedded in the me expression. Here is a contrasting pair of sentences:

re me le ci nolraitru .e la djan. [me'u] cu blabi
Two of the group “the three kings and John” are white.
re me le ci nolraitru me'u .e la djan. cu blabi
Two of the three kings, and John, are white.

In Example the me selbri covers the three kings plus John, and the indefinite description picks out two of them that are said to be white: we cannot say which two. In Example , though, the me selbri covers only the three kings: two of them are said to be white, and so is John.

Finally, here is another example requiring me'u:

ta me la'e le se cusku be do me'u cukta
That is-a-(what-you-said) type of book.
That is the kind of book you were talking about.

There are other sentences where either me'u or some other elidable terminator must be expressed:

le me le ci nolraitru [ku] me'u nunsalci
the (the three kings) type-of-event-of-celebrating
the Three Kings celebration

requires either ku or me'u to be explicit, and (as with be'o in Section 1.6) the me'u leaves no doubt which cmavo it is paired with.

Conversion of simple selbri

Conversion is the process of changing a selbri so that its places appear in a different order. This is not the same as labeling the sumti with the cmavo of FA, as mentioned in Section 1.6, and then rearranging the order in which the sumti are spoken or written. Conversion transforms the selbri into a distinct, though closely related, selbri with renumbered places.

In Lojban, conversion is accomplished by placing a cmavo of selma'o SE before the selbri:

mi prami do
I love you.

is equivalent in meaning to:

do se prami mi
You [swap x1 and x2] love me.
You are loved by me.

Conversion is fully explained in Section . For the purposes of this chapter, the important point about conversion is that it applies only to the following simple selbri. When trying to convert a tanru, therefore, it is necessary to be careful! Consider Example :

la .alis. cu cadzu klama le zarci
Alice is-a-walker type-of goer to-the market.
Alice walkingly goes to the market.
Alice walks to the market.

To convert this sentence so that

le zarci is in the x1 place, one correct way is:
le zarci cu se ke cadzu klama [ke'e] la .alis.
The market is-a-[swap x1/x2] (walker type-of goer) Alice.
The market is-walkingly gone-to by-Alice.

The keke'e brackets cause the entire tanru to be converted by the se, which would otherwise convert only cadzu, leading to:

le zarci cu se cadzu klama la .alis.
The market (is-a-[swap x1/x2] walker) type-of goer to Alice.
The market is-a-walking-surface type-of goer to Alice.

whatever that might mean. An alternative approach, since the place structure of

cadzu klama is that of klama alone, is to convert only the latter:
le zarci cu cadzu se klama la .alis.
The market walkingly is-gone-to by-Alice.

But the tanru in Example may or may not have the same meaning as that in Example ; in particular, because cadzu is not converted, there is a suggestion that although Alice is the goer, the market is the walker. With a different sumti as x1, this seemingly odd interpretation might make considerable sense:

la djan. cu cadzu se klama la .alis
John walkingly is-gone-to by Alice

suggests that Alice is going to John, who is a moving target.

There is an alternative type of conversion, using the cmavo jai of selma'o JAI optionally followed by a modal or tense construction. Grammatically, such a combination behaves exactly like conversion using SE. More details can be found in Section .

Scalar negation of selbri

Negation is too large and complex a topic to explain fully in this chapter; See Chapter ELG-ERROR in Template:Lch. In brief, there are two main types of negation in Lojban. This section is concerned with so-called “scalar negation”, which is used to state that a true relation between the sumti is something other than what the selbri specifies. Scalar negation is expressed by cmavo of selma'o NAhE:

la .alis. cu na'e ke cadzu klama [ke'e] le zarci
Alice non- (walkingly goes) to-the market.
Alice other-than (walkingly goes) to-the market.
Alice doesn't walk to the market.

meaning that Alice's relationship to the market is something other than that of walking there. But if the ke were omitted, the result would be:

la .alis. cu na'e cadzu klama le zarci
Alice non- walkingly goes to-the market.
Alice doesn't walk to the market.

meaning that Alice does go there in some way ( klama is not negated), but by a means other than that of walking. Example negates both cadzu and klama, suggesting that Alice's relation to the market is something different from walkingly-going; it might be walking without going, or going without walking, or neither.

Of course, any of the simple selbri types explained in Section 1.8 may be used in place of brivla in any of these examples:

la djonz. cu na'e pamoi cusku
Jones is non-1st speaker
Jones is not the first speaker.

Since only pamoi is negated, an appropriate inference is that he is some other kind of speaker.

Here is an assortment of more complex examples showing the interaction of scalar negation with bo grouping, ke and ke'e grouping, logical connection, and sumti linked with be and bei:

mi na'e sutra cadzu be fi le birka be'o klama le zarci
I ( (non-quickly) ( walking using the arms) ) go-to the market.
I go to the market, walking using my arms other than quickly.

In Example , na'e negates only sutra. Contrast Example :

mi na'e ke sutra cadzu be fi le birka [be'o] ke'e klama le zarci
I non- ( quickly (walking using the arms) ) go-to the market.
I go to the market, other than by walking quickly on my arms.

Now consider Example and Example , which are equivalent in meaning, but use ke grouping and bo grouping respectively:

mi sutra cadzu be fi le birka be'o je masno klama le zarci
I (quickly – (walking using the arms) and slowly) go-to the market.
I go to the market, both quickly walking using my arms and slowly.
mi ke sutra cadzu be fi le birka [be'o] ke'e je masno klama le zarci
I ( (quickly (walking using the arms) ) and slowly) go-to the market.
I go to the market, both quickly walking using my arms and slowly.

However, if we place a na'e at the beginning of the selbri in both Example and Example , we get different results:

mi na'e sutra cadzu be fi le birka be'o je masno klama le zarci
I ( (non- quickly) - (walking using the arms) and slowly) go-to the market.
I go to the market, both walking using my arms other than quickly, and also slowly.
mi na'e ke sutra cadzu be fi le birka [be'o] ke'e je masno klama le zarci
I (non-(quickly (walking using the arms) ) and slowly) go-to the market.
I go to the market, both other than quickly walking using my arms, and also slowly.

The difference arises because the na'e in Example negates the whole construction from ke to ke'e, whereas in Example it negates sutra alone.

Beware of omitting terminators in these complex examples! If the explicit ke'e is left out in Example , it is transformed into:

mi na'e ke sutra cadzu be fi le birka be'o je masno klama [ke'e] le zarci
I non-(quickly ( (walking using the arms) ) and slowly) go-to) the market.
I do something other than quickly both going to the market walking
using my arms and slowly going to the market.

And if both ke'e and be'o are omitted, the results are even sillier:

mi na'e ke sutra cadzu be fi le birka je masno klama [be'o] [ke'e] le zarci
I non-(quickly walk on my (arm-type and slow) goers) on the market.
I do something other than quickly walking using the goers, both arm-type and slow, relative-to the market.

In Example , everything after be is a linked sumti, so the place structure is that of cadzu, whose x2 place is the surface walked upon. It is less than clear what an “arm-type goer” might be. Furthermore, since the x3 place has been occupied by the linked sumti, the

le zarci following the selbri falls into the nonexistent x4 place of cadzu. As a result, the whole example, though grammatical, is complete nonsense. (The bracketed Lojban words appear where a fluent Lojbanist would understand them to be implied.)

Finally, it is also possible to place na'e before a gu'egi logically connected tanru construction. The meaning of this usage has not yet been firmly established.

Tenses and bridi negation

A bridi can have cmavo associated with it which specify the time, place, or mode of action. For example, in

mi pu klama le zarci
I [past] go to-the market.
I went to the market.

the cmavo pu specifies that the action of the speaker going to the market takes place in the past. Tenses are explained in full detail in Chapter ELG-ERROR in Template:Lch. Tense is semantically a property of the entire bridi; however, the usual syntax for tenses attaches them at the front of the selbri, as in Example . There are alternative ways of expressing tense information as well. Modals, which are explained in Chapter ELG-ERROR in Template:Lch, behave in the same way as tenses.

Similarly, a bridi may have the particle na (of selma'o NA) attached to the beginning of the selbri to negate the bridi. A negated bridi expresses what is false without saying anything about what is true. Do not confuse this usage with the scalar negation of Section 1.11. For example:

la djonz. na pamoi cusku
Jones (Not!) is-the-first speaker
It is not true that Jones is the first speaker.
Jones isn't the first speaker.

Jones may be the second speaker, or not a speaker at all; Example doesn't say. There are other ways of expressing bridi negation as well; the topic is explained fully in Chapter ELG-ERROR in Template:Lch.

Various combinations of tense and bridi negation cmavo are permitted. If both are expressed, either order is permissible with no change in meaning:

mi na pu klama le zarci
mi pu na klama le zarci
It is false that I went to the market.
I didn't go to the market.

It is also possible to have more than one na, in which case pairs of na cmavo cancel out:

mi na na klama le zarci
It is false that it is false that I go to the market.
I go to the market.

It is even possible, though somewhat pointless, to have multiple na cmavo and tense cmavo mixed together, subject to the limitation that two adjacent tense cmavo will be understood as a compound tense, and must fit the grammar of tenses as explained in Chapter ELG-ERROR in Template:Lch.

mi na pu na ca klama le zarci
I [not] [past] [not] [present] go to-the market
It is not the case that in the past it was not the case that in the present I went to the market.
I didn't not go to the market.
I went to the market.

Tense, modal, and negation cmavo can appear only at the beginning of the selbri. They cannot be embedded within it.

Some types of asymmetrical tanru

This section and Section 1.14 contain some example tanru classified into groups based on the type of relationship between the modifying seltau and the modified tertau. All the examples are paralleled by compounds actually observed in various natural languages. In the tables which follow, each group is preceded by a brief explanation of the relationship. The tables themselves contain a tanru, a literal gloss, an indication of the languages which exhibit a compound analogous to this tanru, and (for those tanru with no English parallel) a translation.

Here are the 3-letter abbreviations used for the various languages (it is presumed to be obvious whether a compound is found in English or not, so English is not explicitly noted):

Aba
Abazin
Chi
Chinese
Ewe
Ewe
Fin
Finnish
Geo
Georgian
Gua
Guarani
Hop
Hopi
Hun
Hungarian
Imb
Imbabura Quechua
Kar
Karaitic
Kaz
Kazakh
Kor
Korean
Mon
Mongolian
Qab
Qabardian
Que
Quechua
Rus
Russian
Skt
Sanskrit
Swe
Swedish
Tur
Turkish
Udm
Udmurt

Any lujvo or fu'ivla used in a group are glossed at the end of that group.

The tanru discussed in this section are asymmetrical tanru; that is, ones in which the order of the terms is fundamental to the meaning of the tanru. For example,

junla dadysli, or “clock pendulum”, is the kind of pendulum used in a clock, whereas
dadysli junla, or “pendulum clock”, is the kind of clock that employs a pendulum. Most tanru are asymmetrical in this sense. Symmetrical tanru are discussed in Section 1.14.

The tertau represents an action, and the seltau then represents the object of that action: <tab class=wikitable header=true>pinsi nunkilbra pencil sharpener Hun zgike nunctu music instruction Hun mirli nunkalte deer hunting Hun finpe nunkalte fish hunting Tur,Kor,Udm,Aba fishing smacu terkavbu mousetrap Tur,Kor,Hun,Udm,Aba zdani turni house ruler Kar host zerle'a nunte'a thief fear Skt fear of thieves cevni zekri god crime Skt offense against the gods </tab>

nunkilbra
sharpness-apparatus
nunctu
event-of-teaching
nunkalte
event-of-hunting
terkavbu
trap
zerle'a
crime-taker
nunte'a
event-of-fearing

The tertau represents a set, and the seltau the type of the elements contained in that set: <tab class=wikitable header=true> zdani lijgri house row selci lamgri cell block karda mulgri card pack Swe rokci derxi stone heap Swe tadni girzu student group Hun remna girzu human-being group Qab group of people cpumi'i lijgri tractor column Qab cevni jenmi god army Skt cevni prenu god folk Skt </tab>

lijgri
line-group
lamgri
adjacent-group
mulgri
complete-group
cpumi'i
pull-machine

Conversely: the tertau is an element, and the seltau represents a set in which that element is contained. Implicitly, the meaning of the tertau is restricted from its usual general meaning to the specific meaning appropriate for elements in the given set. Note the opposition between

zdani linji in the previous group, and
linji zdani in this one, which shows why this kind of tanru is called “asymmetrical”.

<tab class=wikitable header=true> carvi dirgo raindrop Tur,Kor,Hun,Udm,Aba linji zdani row house </tab> The seltau specifies an object and the tertau a component or detail of that object; the tanru as a whole refers to the detail, specifying that it is a detail of that whole and not some other. <tab class=wikitable header=true> junla dadysli clock pendulum Hun purdi vorme garden door Qab purdi bitmu garden wall Que moklu skapi mouth skin Imb lips nazbi kevna nose hole Imb nostril karce xislu automobile wheel Chi jipci pimlu chicken feather Chi vinji rebla airplane tail Chi </tab>

dadysli
hang-oscillator

Conversely: the seltau specifies a characteristic or important detail of the object described by the tertau; objects described by the tanru as a whole are differentiated from other similar objects by this detail. <tab class=wikitable header=true> pixra cukta picture book kerfa silka hair silk Kar velvet plise tapla apple cake Tur dadysli junla pendulum clock Hun </tab>

dadysli
hang-oscillator

The tertau specifies a general class of object (a genus), and the seltau specifies a sub-class of that class (a species): <tab class=wikitable header=true> ckunu tricu pine tree Hun,Tur,Hop </tab> The tertau specifies an object of possession, and the seltau may specify the possessor (the possession may be intrinsic or otherwise). In English, these compounds have an explicit possessive element in them: “lion's mane”, “child's foot”, “noble's cow”. <tab class=wikitable header=true> cinfo kerfa lion mane Kor,Tur,Hun,Udm,Qab verba jamfu child foot Swe nixli tuple girl leg Swe cinfo jamfu lion foot Que danlu skapi animal skin Ewe ralju zdani chief house Ewe jmive munje living world Skt nobli bakni noble cow Skt nolraitru ralju king chief Skt emperor </tab>

nolraitru
nobly-superlative-ruler

The tertau specifies a habitat, and the seltau specifies the inhabitant: <tab class=wikitable header=true> lanzu tumla family land </tab> The tertau specifies a causative agent, and the seltau specifies the effect of that cause: <tab class=wikitable header=true> kalselvi'i gapci tear gas Hun terbi'a jurme disease germ Tur fenki litki crazy liquid Hop whisky pinca litki urine liquid Hop beer </tab>

kalselvi'i
eye-excreted-thing
terbi'a
disease

Conversely: the tertau specifies an effect, and the seltau specifies its cause. <tab class=wikitable header=true> djacu barna water mark Chi </tab> The tertau specifies an instrument, and the seltau specifies the purpose of that instrument: <tab class=wikitable header=true> taxfu dadgreku garment rack Chi tergu'i ti'otci lamp shade Chi xirma zdani horse house Chi stall nuzba tanbo news board Chi bulletin board </tab>

dadgreku
hang-frame
tergu'i
source of illumination
ti'otci
shadow-tool

More vaguely: the tertau specifies an instrument, and the seltau specifies the object of the purpose for which that instrument is used: <tab class=wikitable header=true> cpina rokci pepper stone Que stone for grinding pepper jamfu djacu foot water Skt water for washing the feet grana mudri post wood Skt wood for making a post moklu djacu mouth water Hun water for washing the mouth lanme gerku sheep dog dog for working sheep </tab> The tertau specifies a product from some source, and the seltau specifies the source of the product: <tab class=wikitable header=true> moklu djacu mouth water Aba,Qab saliva ractu mapku rabbit hat Rus jipci sovda chicken egg Chi sikcurnu silka silkworm silk Chi mlatu kalci cat feces Chi bifce lakse bee wax Chi beeswax cribe rectu bear meat Tur,Kor,Hun,Udm,Aba solxrula grasu sunflower oil Tur,Kor,Hun,Udm,Aba bifce jisra bee juice Hop honey tatru litki breast liquid Hop milk kanla djacu eye water Kor tear </tab>

sikcurnu
silk-worm
solxrula
solar-flower

Conversely: the tertau specifies the source of a product, and the seltau specifies the product: <tab class=wikitable header=true> silna jinto salt well Chi kolme terkakpa coal mine Chi ctile jinto oil well Chi </tab>

terkakpa
source of digging

The tertau specifies an object, and the seltau specifies the material from which the object is made. This case is especially interesting, because the referent of the tertau may normally be made from just one kind of material, which is then overridden in the tanru. <tab class=wikitable header=true> rokci cinfo stone lion snime nanmu snow man Hun kliti cipni clay bird blaci kanla glass eye Hun blaci kanla glass eye Que spectacles solji sicni gold coin Tur solji junla gold watch Tur,Kor,Hun solji djine gold ring Udm,Aba,Que rokci zdani stone house Imb mudri zdani wood house Ewe wooden house rokci bitmu stone wall Ewe solji carce gold chariot Skt mudri xarci wood weapon Skt wooden weapon cmaro'i dargu pebble road Chi sudysrasu cutci straw shoe Chi </tab>

cmaro'i
small-rock
sudysrasu
dry-grass

Note: the two senses of

blaci kanla can be discriminated as:

<tab class=wikitable header=true> blaci kanla bo tarmi glass (eye shape) glass eye blaci kanla bo sidju glass (eye helper) spectacles </tab> The tertau specifies a typical object used to measure a quantity and the seltau specifies something measured. The tanru as a whole refers to a given quantity of the thing being measured. English does not have compounds of this form, as a rule. <tab class=wikitable header=true> tumla spisa land piece Tur piece of land tcati kabri tea cup Kor,Aba cup of tea nanba spisa bread piece Kor piece of bread bukpu spisa cloth piece Udm,Aba piece of cloth djacu calkyguzme water calabash Ewe calabash of water </tab>

calkyguzme
shell-fruit, calabash

The tertau specifies an object with certain implicit properties, and the seltau overrides one of those implicit properties: <tab class=wikitable header=true> kensa bloti spaceship bakni verba cattle child Ewe calf </tab> The seltau specifies a whole, and the tertau specifies a part which normally is associated with a different whole. The tanru then refers to a part of the seltau which stands in the same relationship to the whole seltau as the tertau stands to its typical whole. <tab class=wikitable header=true> kosta degji coat finger Hun coat sleeve denci genja tooth root Imb tricu stedu tree head Imb treetop </tab> The tertau specifies the producer of a certain product, and the seltau specifies the product. In this way, the tanru as a whole distinguishes its referents from other referents of the tertau which do not produce the product. <tab class=wikitable header=true> silka curnu silkworm Tur,Hun,Aba </tab> The tertau specifies an object, and the seltau specifies another object which has a characteristic property. The tanru as a whole refers to those referents of the tertau which possess the property. <tab class=wikitable header=true> sonci manti soldier ant ninmu bakni woman cattle Imb cow mamta degji mother finger Imb thumb cifnu degji baby finger Imb pinky pacraistu zdani hell house Skt fagri dapma fire curse Skt curse destructive as fire </tab>

pacraistu
evil-superlative-site

As a particular case (when the property is that of resemblance): the seltau specifies an object which the referent of the tanru resembles. <tab class=wikitable header=true> grutrceraso jbama cherry bomb solji kerfa gold hair Hun golden hair kanla djacu eye water Kar spring bakni rokci bull stone Mon boulder </tab>

grutrceraso
fu'ivla for “cherry” based on Linnean name

The seltau specifies a place, and the tertau an object characteristically located in or at that place. <tab class=wikitable header=true> ckana boxfo bed sheet Chi mrostu mojysu'a tomb monument Chi tombstone jubme tergusni table lamp Chi foldi smacu field mouse Chi briju ci'ajbu office desk Chi rirxe xirma river horse Chi hippopotamus xamsi gerku sea dog Chi seal cagyce'u zdani village house Skt </tab>

mrostu
dead-site
mojysu'a
remember-structure
ci'ajbu
write-table
cagyce'u
farm-community

Specifically: the tertau is a place where the seltau is sold or made available to the public. <tab class=wikitable header=true> cidja barja food bar Chi restaurant cukta barja book bar Chi library </tab> The seltau specifies the locus of application of the tertau. <tab class=wikitable header=true> kanla velmikce eye medicine Chi jgalu grasu nail oil Chi nail polish denci pesxu tooth paste Chi </tab>

velmikce
treatment used by doctor

The tertau specifies an implement used in the activity denoted by the seltau. <tab class=wikitable header=true> me la pinpan. bolci Ping-Pong ball Chi </tab> The tertau specifies a protective device against the undesirable features of the referent of the seltau. <tab class=wikitable header=true> carvi mapku rain cap Chi carvi taxfu rain garment Chi raincoat vindu firgai poison mask Chi gas mask </tab>

firgai
face-cover

The tertau specifies a container characteristically used to hold the referent of the seltau. <tab class=wikitable header=true> cukta vasru book vessel Chi satchel vanju kabri wine cup Chi spatrkoka lanka coca basket Que rismi dakli rice bag Ewe,Chi tcati kabri tea cup Chi ladru botpi milk bottle Chi rismi patxu rice pot Chi festi lante trash can Chi bifce zdani bee house Kor beehive cladakyxa'i zdani sword house Kor sheath manti zdani ant nest Gua anthill </tab>

spatrkoka
fu'ivla for “coca”
cladakyxa'i
(long-knife)-weapon

The seltau specifies the characteristic time of the event specified by the tertau. <tab class=wikitable header=true> vensa djedi spring day Chi crisa citsi summer season Chi cerni bumru morning fog Chi critu lunra autumn moon Chi dunra nicte winter night Chi nicte ckule night school Chi </tab> The seltau specifies a source of energy for the referent of the tertau. <tab class=wikitable header=true> dikca tergusni electric lamp Chi ratni nejni atom energy Chi brife molki windmill Tur,Kor,Hun,Udm,Aba </tab>

tergusni
illumination-source

Finally, some tanru which don't fall into any of the above categories. <tab class=wikitable header=true> ladru denci milk tooth Tur,Hun,Udm,Qab kanla denci eye tooth </tab> It is clear that “tooth” is being specified, and that “milk” and “eye” act as modifiers. However, the relationship between ladru and denci is something like “tooth which one has when one is drinking milk from one's mother”, a relationship certainly present nowhere except in this particular concept. As for

kanla denci, the relationship is not only not present on the surface, it is hardly possible to formulate it at all.

Some types of symmetrical tanru

This section deals with symmetrical tanru, where order is not important. Many of these tanru can be expressed with a logical or non-logical connective between the components.

The tanru may refer to things which are correctly specified by both tanru components. Some of these instances may also be seen as asymmetrical tanru where the seltau specifies a material. The connective je is appropriate: <tab class=wikitable header=true> cipnrstrigi pacru'i owl demon Skt nolraitru prije royal sage Skt remna nakni human-being male Qab man remna fetsi human-being female Qab woman sonci tolvri soldier coward Que panzi nanmu offspring man Ewe son panzi ninmu offspring woman Ewe daughter solji sicni gold coin Tur solji junla gold watch Tur,Kor,Hun solji djine gold ring Udm,Aba,Que rokci zdani stone house Imb mudri zdani wooden house Ewe rokci bitmu stone wall Ewe solji carce gold chariot Skt mudri xarci wooden weapon Skt zdani tcadu home town Chi </tab>

cipnrstrigi
fu'ivla for “owl” based on Linnean name
pacru'i
evil-spirit
tolvri
opposite-of-brave

The tanru may refer to all things which are specified by either of the tanru components. The connective ja is appropriate: <tab class=wikitable header=true> nunji'a nunterji'a victory defeat Skt victory or defeat donri nicte day night Skt day and night lunra tarci moon stars Skt moon and stars patfu mamta father mother Imb,Kaz,Chi parents tuple birka leg arm Kaz extremity nuncti nunpinxe eating drinking Udm cuisine bersa tixnu son daughter Chi children </tab>

nunji'a
event-of-winning
nunterji'a
event-of-losing
nuncti
event-of-eating
nunpinxe
event-of-drinking

Alternatively, the tanru may refer to things which are specified by either of the tanru components or by some more inclusive class of things which the components typify: <tab class=wikitable header=true> curnu jalra worm beetle Mon insect jalra curnu beetle worm Mon insect kabri palta cup plate Kaz crockery jipci gunse hen goose Qab housefowl xrula tricu flower tree Chi vegetation </tab> The tanru components specify crucial or typical parts of the referent of the tanru as a whole: <tab class=wikitable header=true> tumla vacri land air Fin world moklu stedu mouth head Aba face sudysrasu cunmi hay millet Qab agriculture gugde ciste state system Mon politics prenu so'imei people multitude Mon masses djacu dertu water earth Chi climate </tab>

sudysrasu
dry-grass
so'imei
manysome

“Pretty little girls' school”: forty ways to say it

The following examples show every possible grouping arrangement of

'melbi cmalu nixli ckule using bo or keke'e for grouping and je or je'bo for logical connection. Most of these are definitely not plausible interpretations of the English phrase “pretty little girls' school”, especially those which describe something which is both a girl and a school.

Examples Example , Example , Example , Example , and Example are repeated here as Examples Example , Example , Example , Example , and Example respectively. The seven examples following each of these share the same grouping pattern, but differ in the presence or absence of je at each possible site. Some of the examples have more than one Lojban version. In that case, they differ only in grouping mechanism, and are always equivalent in meaning.

The logical connective je is associative: that is, “A and (B and C)” is the same as “(A and B) and C”. Therefore, some of the examples have the same meaning as others. In particular, Example , Example , Example , Example , and Example all have the same meaning because all four brivla are logically connected and the grouping is simply irrelevant. Other equivalent forms are noted in the examples themselves. However, if je were replaced by naja or jo or most of the other logical connectives, the meanings would become distinct.

It must be emphasized that, because of the ambiguity of all tanru, the English translations are by no means definitive – they represent only one possible interpretation of the corresponding Lojban sentence.

melbi cmalu nixli ckule
((pretty type-of little) type-of girl) type-of school
school for girls who are beautifully small
melbi je cmalu nixli ckule
((pretty and little) type-of girl) type-of school
school for girls who are beautiful and small
melbi bo cmalu je nixli ckule
((pretty type-of little) and girl) type-of school
school for girls and for beautifully small things
ke melbi cmalu nixli ke'e je ckule
((pretty type-of little) type-of girl) and school
thing which is a school and a beautifully small girl
melbi je cmalu je nixli ckule
((pretty and little) and girl) type-of school
school for things which are beautiful, small, and girls

Note: same as Example

melbi bo cmalu je nixli je ckule
((pretty type-of little) and girl) and school
thing which is beautifully small, a school, and a girl

Note: same as Example

ke melbi je cmalu nixli ke'e je ckule
((pretty and little) type-of girl) and school
thing which is a school and a girl who is both beautiful and small
melbi je cmalu je nixli je ckule
((pretty and little) and girl) and school
thing which is beautiful, small, a girl, and a school
melbi cmalu nixli bo ckule
(pretty type-of little) type-of (girl type-of school)
girls' school which is beautifully small
melbi je cmalu nixli bo ckule
(pretty and little) type-of (girl type-of school)
girls' school which is beautiful and small
melbi cmalu nixli je ckule
(pretty type-of little) type-of (girl and school)
something which is a girl and a school which is beautifully small
melbi bo cmalu je nixli bo ckule
(pretty type-of little) and (girl type-of school)
something which is beautifully small and a girls' school
melbi je cmalu nixli je ckule
(pretty and little) type-of (girl and school)
a pretty and little type of thing which is both a girl and a school
melbi bo cmalu je nixli jebo ckule
(pretty type-of little) and (girl and school)
thing which is beautifully small, a school, and a girl

Note: same as Example

melbi jebo cmalu je nixli bo ckule
(pretty and little) and (girl type-of school)
thing which is beautiful and small and a girl's school

Note: same as Example

melbi jebo cmalu je nixli jebo ckule
(pretty and little) and (girl and school)
thing which is beautiful, small, a girl, and a school
melbi cmalu bo nixli ckule
(pretty type-of (little type-of girl)) type-of school
school for beautiful girls who are small
melbi cmalu je nixli ckule
(pretty type-of (little and girl)) type-of school
school for beautiful things which are small and are girls
melbi je cmalu bo nixli ckule
(pretty and (little type-of girl)) type-of school
school for things which are beautiful and are small girls
ke melbi cmalu bo nixli ke'e je ckule
melbi bo cmalu bo nixli je ckule
(pretty type-of (little type-of girl)) and school
thing which is a school and a small girl who is beautiful
melbi je cmalu jebo nixli ckule
(pretty and (little and girl)) type-of school
school for things which are beautiful, small, and girls

Note: same as Example

melbi je cmalu bo nixli je ckule
(pretty and (little type-of girl)) and school
thing which is beautiful, a small girl, and a school

Note: same as Example

ke melbi cmalu je nixli ke'e je ckule
(pretty type-of (little and girl)) and school
thing which is beautifully small, a beautiful girl, and a school
melbi je cmalu jebo nixli je ckule
(pretty and (little and girl)) and school
thing which is beautiful, small, a girl, and a school
melbi cmalu bo nixli bo ckule
melbi ke cmalu ke nixli ckule [ke'e] [ke'e]
pretty type-of (little type-of (girl type-of school))
small school for girls which is beautiful
melbi ke cmalu nixli je ckule [ke'e]
pretty type-of (little type-of (girl and school))
small thing, both a girl and a school, which is beautiful
melbi cmalu je nixli bo ckule
pretty type-of (little and (girl type-of school))
thing which is beautifully small and a girls' school that is beautiful
melbi je cmalu bo nixli bo ckule
melbi je ke cmalu nixli bo ckule [ke'e]
melbi je ke cmalu ke nixli ckule [ke'e] [ke'e]
pretty and (little type-of (girl type-of school))
thing which is beautiful and a small type of girls' school
melbi cmalu je nixli jebo ckule
melbi cmalu je ke nixli je ckule [ke'e]
pretty type-of (little and (girl and school))
thing which is beautifully small, a beautiful girl, and a beautiful school

Note: same as Example

melbi je cmalu jebo nixli bo ckule
melbi je ke cmalu je nixli bo ckule [ke'e]
pretty and (little and (girl type-of school))
thing which is beautiful, small and a girls' school

Note: same as Example

melbi je ke cmalu nixli je ckule [ke'e]
pretty and (little type-of (girl and school))
beautiful thing which is a small girl and a small school
melbi jebo cmalu jebo nixli jebo ckule
pretty and (little and (girl and school))
thing which is beautiful, small, a girl, and a school
melbi ke cmalu nixli ckule [ke'e]
pretty type-of ((little type-of girl) type-of school)
beautiful school for small girls
melbi ke cmalu je nixli ckule [ke'e]
pretty type-of ((little and girl) type-of school
beautiful school for things which are small and are girls
melbi ke cmalu bo nixli je ckule [ke'e]
pretty type-of ((little type-of girl) and school)
beautiful thing which is a small girl and a school
melbi je ke cmalu nixli ckule [ke'e]
pretty and ((little type-of girl) type-of school)
thing which is beautiful and a school for small girls
melbi cmalu je nixli je ckule
pretty type-of ((little and girl) and school)
thing which is beautifully small, a beautiful girl, and a beautiful school

Note: same as Example

melbi je ke cmalu bo nixli je ckule [ke'e]
pretty and ((little type-of girl) and school)
thing which is beautiful, a small girl and a school

Note: same as Example

melbi je ke cmalu je nixli ckule [ke'e]
pretty and ((little and girl) type-of school)
thing which is beautiful and is a small school and a girls' school
melbi je ke cmalu je nixli je ckule [ke'e]
pretty and ((little and girl) and school)
thing which is beautiful, small, a girl, and a school