Lojban Wave Lessons/21

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Lojban Wave Lessons: Foreword | ← Lesson 20 | Lesson 21 | Lesson 22 →

Lesson 21: COI

In this lesson, you will familiarize yourself with vocatives, or ma'oi coi. They get their own lesson, not because understanding these provides a basis for understanding Lojban grammar in general, or because they are hard to understand, but rather because they are very often used in casual speech, and there are a lot of them.

A vocative is used partly to define who do refers to. If the vocative is followed by a cmevla, the cmevla gets an implied la in front of it. If a selbri follows, a le is used as a gadri instead.

In these examples, I will use the vocative coi, with means Hi or Hello.

If a person is called la + SELBRI, using a vocative with only the selbri to address that person will mean you refer to her as actually being the x1 of that selbri, which is often wrong. If, for instance, a person is called la tsani, Sky, saying coi tsani refers to her as a le tsani, meaning Hi, you sky, while coi la tsani correctly refers to her as someone called "Sky", meaning Hi Sky. This is a frequent mistake, especially among new Lojbanists.

All vocatives have a famyma'o which is sometimes required. This is do'u. It's mostly used if both the first word after the vocative phrase and the last word of the phrase is a selbri, so that it prevents forming a tanru:

do'u = End vocative phrase. Usually elidable.
klaku = x1 cries x2 (tears) for reason x3
coi la gleki do'u klaku fi ma
Hello Happy. Why are you crying?

The generic vocative, doi, does nothing except defining who is being referred to by do:

xu doi .ernsyt. do dotco merko
Ernst, are you a German-American?

All the other vocatives have some content beside defining do. coi, which you know, also means Hello, for example. Many of the vocatives have two or three definitions like the attitudinals. Like attitudinals, this is because they can be modified with cu'i and nai, though only one vocative has the cu'i-form defined.

Some important vocatives are listed in the table below. There are others, but those are not used much.

vocative Without suffix cu'i nai
coi Hello
co'o Goodbye
je'e Understood / OK Not understood
fi'i Welcome Not welcome here
pe'u Please
ki'e Thanks Disappreciation
re'i Ready to recieve Not ready
ju'i Hey! At ease Ignore me
ta'a Interruption
vi'o Will do Will not do
ke'o Please repeat No repeat needed
di'ai well-wish curse

Notice that di'ai is experimental

What would coi co'o mean?

Answer: Greetings in passing or Hello and Goodbye

je'e is used as OK, but also the appropriate response when receiving praise or thanks (at least, if you want to be modest), as it indicates that the praise or thanks was successfully understood.

Translate ki'e sidju be mi bei lo vajni .i je'e .jenifyn.

sidju = x1 helps x2 do x3

Answer: Thanks, you helper of me to do something important. No problem, Jennifer

And fi'i te vecnu .i e'o do citka

Answer: Welcome, buyer. Please eat!

re'i is used to signal that you are ready to be spoken to. It can be used as the Lojban equivalent of What can I do for you? or perhaps replace Hello, when speaking on a phone. re'i nai can mean AFK or Be there is a second.

Translate: Hello, what can I do for you, Interpreter/Translater?

Answer: coi re'i la fanva

ta'a is used when attempting to politely interrupt someone else. What would be good responses to this?

Translate: ta'a ro do mi co'a cliva

cliva = x1 leaves x2 via route x3

Answer: Excuse me for interrupting, everyone. I begin to leave now Notice that no famyma'o or .i is needed.

ke'o is used a lot when inexperienced Lojbanists speak together vocally. It's quite a handy word

sutra = x1 is quick at doing x2

Translate: .y ke'o sutra tavla

Answer: Uh, Please repeat, you quick speaker.

And Okay okay, I got it already! I'll do it!

An answer: ke'o nai .ui nai vi'o

Lojban Wave Lessons: Foreword | ← Lesson 20 | Lesson 21 | Lesson 22 →