Lojban Wave Lessons/4

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Lojban Wave Lessons: Foreword | ← Lesson 3 | Lesson 4 | Lesson 5 →

Lesson 4: Attitudinals

Another concept which can be unfamiliar to English speakers is that of attitudinals. Attitudinals are words that express emotions directly. They turned out to be incredibly awesome and useful. They all have a so-called free grammar, which means that they can appear almost anywhere within bridi without disrupting the bridi's grammar or any grammatical constructs.

In Lojban grammar, an attitudinal applies to the previous word. If that previous word is a word which begins a construct (like .i or lo), it applies to the entire construct. Likewise, if the attitudinal follows a word which ends a construct like ku, it applies to the ended construct.

Let's have two attitudinals to make some examples:

ui = attitudinal: simple pure emotion: happiness - unhappiness
za'a = attitudinal: evidential: I directly observe

Note that in the definition of ui, there are listed two emotions, happiness and unhappiness. This means that ui is defined as happiness, while its negation, means unhappiness. Negation might be the wrong word here. Technically, the other definition of ui is another construct, ui nai. Most of the time, the second definition of attitudinals - the ones suffixed with nai - really is the negation of the bare attitudinal. Other times, not so much.

nai = misc. negation - attached to attitudinals, it changes the meaning into the attitudinal's "negation"

And some more selbri, just for the heck of it:

citka = x1 eats x2
plise = x1 is an apple of strain/type x2

The sentence do citka lo plise ku ui, means You eat an apple, yay! (especially expressing that it is the apple that the speaker is happy about, not the eating, or the fact that it was you.) In the sentence do za'a citka lo plise ku, the speaker directly observes that it is indeed the you, who eats an apple as opposed to someone else.

If an attitudinal is placed at the beginning of the bridi, it is understood to apply to an explicit or implicit .i, thus applying to the entire bridi:

ui za'a do dunda lo plise ku miYay, I observe that you give an/some apple to me!

mi vecnu ui nai lo zdani ku I sell (which sucks!) a home.

Try it out with a few examples. First, though, here are some more attitudinals:

.u'u = attitudinal: simple pure emotion: guilt - remorselessness - innocence.
.oi = attitudinal: complex pure emotion: complaint - pleasure.
iu = attitudinal: miscellaneous pure emotion: love - hate.

Look at that, a word with three emotions in the definition! The middle one is accessed by suffixinng with cu'i. It's considered the midpoint of the emotion.

cu'i = attitudinal midpoint scalar: attach to attitudinal to change the meaning to the "midpoint" of the emotion.

Try saying I give something to a German, who I love

Answer: mi dunda fi lo dotco ku iu or zo'e instead of fi

Now Aah, I eat a yellow apple

Answer: .oi nai mi citka lo pelxu plise ku

Let's have another attitudinal of a different kind to illustrate something peculiar:

.ei = attitudinal: complex propositional emotion: obligation - freedom.

So, quite easy: I have to give the apple away is mi dunda .ei lo plise ku, right? It is, actually! When you think about it, that's weird. Why is it that all the other attitudinals we have seen so far expresses the speaker's feeling about the bridi, but this one actually changes what the bridi means? Surely, by saying I have to give the apple away, we say nothing about whether the apple actually is being given away. If I had used ui, however, I would actually have stated that I gave the apple away, and that I was happy about it. What's that all about?

This issue, exactly how attitudinals change the conditions on which a bridi is true, is a subject of a minor debate. The official, textbook rule, which probably won't be changed, is that there is a distinction between pure emotions and propositional emotions. Only propostional emotions can change the truth conditions, while pure emotions cannot. In order to express a propositional emotional attitudinal without changing the truth value of the bridi, you can just separate it from the bridi with .i. There is also a word for explicitly conserving or changing the truth conditions of a bridi:

da'i = attitudinal: discursive: supposing - in fact

Saying da'i in a bridi changes the truth conditions to hypothetical, which is the default using propositional attitudinals. Saying da'i nai changes the truth condition to the normal, which is default using pure attitudinals.

So, what's two ways of saying I give the apple away? (and feel obligation about it)

Answer: mi dunda lo plise ku .i .ei and mi dunda da'i nai .ei lo plise ku

The feeling of an attitudinal can be subscribed to someone else using dai. Usually in ordinary speech, the attitudinal is subscribed to the listener, but it doesn't have to be so. Also, because the word is glossed empathy (feeling others emotions), some Lojbanists mistakenly think that the speaker must share the emotion being subscribed to others.

dai = attitudinal modifier: empathy (subscribes attitudinal to someone else, unspecified)

Example: .u'i .oi dai citka ti - Ha ha, this was eaten! That must have hurt!

.u'i = attitudinal: simple pure emotion: amusement - weariness

What often used phrase could .oi .u'i dai mean?

Answer: Ouch, very funny.

And another one to test your knowledge: Try to translate He was sorry he sold a home (remembering, that tense is implied and need not be specified. Also, he could be obvious from context)

Answer: u'u dai vecnu lo zdani ku

Lastly, the intensity of an attitudinal can be specified using certain words. These can be used after an attitudinal, or an attitudinal with nai or cu'i suffixed. It's less clear what happens when you attach it to other words, like a selbri, but it's mostly understood as intensifying or weakening the selbri in some unspecified way:

Modifying word Intensity
cai Extreme
sai Strong
(none) Unspecified (medium)
ru'e Weak


What emotion is expressed using .u'i nai sai ?

Answer: Strong weariness

And how would you express that you are mildly remorseless?

Answer: .u'u cu'i ru'e

Lojban Wave Lessons: Foreword | ← Lesson 3 | Lesson 4 | Lesson 5 →