Lojban Wave Lessons/kau, ki, modal sumtcita

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Lesson 31: The not-so-cute assorted words

Yes, this lesson is yet another which focuses on assorted words. This time, however, the content of the lesson is not chosen by common usage: Unlike words like jai and si, most of the following words see little usage in ordinary conversation. Some of them are, however, important to understanding the following lessons, and so these words must be awkwardly placed before their usage in these lessons.

Before we venture to obscure words, there's one word which I think deserves a more thorough explanation than it has been given so far: kau.

kau was explained in lesson twelve, but the real implications of it was not. If you have forgotten what it means, I advice you to go back and see. Unfortunately, I can't present a theory on what kau does when it's present in the main bridi, only on what it does inside an abstraction.

A bridi with abstraction containing a kau makes two claims: The bridi itself makes one claim as usual, and implicit in the abstraction is furthermore the claim that the word kau is attached to has a real, nonzero meaning.

This should be demonstrated: The bridi mi pu viska lo nu ma kau cliva le salci (I saw who left the party) makes two claims. First, it makes an implicit claim that the ma refers to something real. That is, the bridi actually claims that da cliva le salci (X left the party). Secondly, the main bridi makes the claim that what the ma refers to is what was being seen, or in lojban mi pu viska lo nu da cliva le salci. (I saw that X left the party)

This principle is not restricted to the abstractor nu, or to the question word ma. The same principle can be extended to any other abstractor and any other question word, as in the following bridi:

la .bab. na'e birti lo du'u xu kau la .mias. pampe'o (Bob isn't sure whether or not Mia has a boyfriend) states firstly that xu applies, which means that a truth value correctly can be assigned to the bridi, and secondly that what Bob isn't sure about is the correct truth value for the bridi.

kau can also be applied to a non-question word. This doesn't really change the meaning of the word. The same procedure still applies:

do ca'o djuno lo du'u la krestcen kau cu cinba la an
You already know that it was Kristian, who kissed Anne.

states firstly that la krestcen cu cinba la an and then that do ca'o djuno lodu'u la krestcen cu cinba la an.

Moving on to the more obscure words, we can begin with xi; it's easy.

xi = Subscript. Converts any following number string to a subscript, which has the grammar of an attitudinal (ie. placable practically anywhere).

There are few officially encouraged uses of xi, but precisely because the construct xi+number has the free grammar of an attitudinal, the possible uses of xi are almost endless. In general, it's used to enumerate any word, variable or grammatical construct, as opposed to what it refers to. Let's see some examples.

la tsani cu cusku zo coi .i ba bo la .triliyn. cu cusku lu .ui coi la tsani coi la klaku li'u .i ba bo la klaku cu spusku fi lu coi ty. xi pa .e ty. xi re do'u zo'o li'u
Tsani said "hi", then Triliyn said "Hey Tsani, hey Klaku :)", then Klaku answered "Hello T1 and T2 :P".
spusku = x1 makes a reply x2 (text) to x3

Because it's the standard that ty. refers to the last sumti which began with T, ty by itself as said by Klaku would have referred to Tsani. Two different ty. can be made by subscripting with xi.

If the rare situation arises that we need more variables of the type da or bu'a that there are in the language, an infinite number can be made by simply subscripting any existing with a number. Note that a non-subscripted variable is not defined of being equivalent to any subscripted one. That is: ty is not always equal to ty xi pa or ty xi no or anything of the sort. I expect this to be rarely used, because any sentence with more than 3 da-like words or more than 10 ko'a-like words would be hard to keep track of.

Second, we have ki, of which I am not aware of a single usage in my time on IRC; probably not because the word's useless, but because few Lojbanic texts are of the kind where you need it.

ki = "Sticky tense". Set/use tense default; establishes new open scope space/time/modal reference base.

Any row of tense words can be suffixed with ki to make the tense(s) apply to all following bridi. When, for instance, telling a story, this can be used to make explicit that the default time - the time as meant without any tense words - is the time the story is placed in. Usually, this will not be necessary; beginning a fairytale with pu zu vu ku, one can assume that the entire tale is happening a long time ago and far away. Let's have an example:

pu zu vu ki ku zasti fa lo pukclite je cmalu nixli goi ko'a .i ro da poi pu zu vu viska ko'a cu nelci ko'a
Once upon a time there was a sweet, little girl. Everyone who saw her liked her.

The ki allows us to elide the three tenses in the second bridi, and in all the bridi to follow.

So, if a bunch of tenses have been make sticky with ki, how do we unstick them? Simply use ki by itself, and all sticky tenses are made unsticky.

Lastly, several sets of tenses can be made sticky by subscripting ki. If there are several of such sets in usage at any given time, one can use the subscripted kis to make the corresponding set of tenses apply. Unsubscripted ki alone still makes all tense stickiness disappear, so you have to be careful not to use ki unsubscripted if you plan on using several sets of tenses.

Changing subject. There's a set of sumtcita which are often used, but which I dare not try to define if not under the disclaimer of part three. Let's see official definitions for two of them first.

ca'a = modal aspect: actuality/ongoing event. Bridi has/is/will happen during under the circumstances of {sumti}
ka'e = modal aspect: innate capability; possibly unrealized. Bridi is possible under the circumstances of {sumti}

Let's first contrast ca'a with ka'e. ka'e means that the bridi is "possible if the event of SUMTI has/is/will occur". ca'a by contrast, means that the bridi "has, is, or will happen if the event of SUMTI has/is/will occur".

Like all sumtcita, their corresponding sumti can be elided if the sumtcita is placed before the selbri:

le vi sovda ka'e fulta .i ja'o bo ri fusra - "This egg floats. Therefore, it's rotten".

By using ka'e, this sentence does not state that the egg has floated, or ever will float, but rather that it could float.

pu'i = modal aspect: can and has; demonstrated potential. Bridi could or could not happen, but in fact it is/did/will happen under the circumstance of {sumti}
nu'o = modal aspect: can but has not; unrealized potential. Bridi is possible, but is/will/have not happened under {sumti}

Understanding ka'e and ca'a, nu'o simply means ka'e je na ku ca'a, and pu'i means ca'a je ka'e na ku.

Historically, these four words was tense sumtcita - therefore the "modal aspect" in their definitions. All tense sumtcita was then not considered sumtcita at all, but rather "selbri tcita". A modern understanding of Lojban is gaining popularity, wherein the tense sumtcita are considered sumtcita, almost exactly like the BAI, and in where selbri tcita are not used.

Because of these four words' history as selbri tcita, they can be freely elided - indeed, since one of the four words always applies, one is always assumed to be elided. This is most often ca'a. Indeed, it's so often ca'a that one could wonder why ca'a is not the default.

One reason is that some selbri has two useful definitions, one which implies ka'e SELBRI and one which implies ca'a SELBRI. For an example, see fasnu, which can mean "x1 is happening" or "x1 is an event", where the first implies ca'a fasnu and the second ka'e fasnu

Another use of "implied ka'e" is as a way to escape an annoying philosophical problem in the language. A selbri only applies if all its places apply too. For some selbri, like kabri, that's a problem.

kabri = x1 is a cup containing contents x2 and of material x3

The definition suggests that if the content of the cup is removed, the x2 no longer applies and it stops being lo kabri. Implied ka'e, or more fittingly, nu'o, let us escape that problem.

End of lessons

Sorry, but as of now, there are no more lessons in this series. Perhaps more will be added later.