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What is Lojban?
Lojban is a constructed language based on so called predicate logic which makes it kind of a bridge between different languages and cultures.
Why learn Lojban?
- It is a clean, simple, and at the same time powerful language. Whereas natural grown languages have complications in grammar rules, biases and restrictions Lojban is designed to free us from them thus encouraging other ways of thinking otherwise unreachable. So why not start speaking it?
- Being explicitly based on formal logic Lojban helps understand how any human language works thus making learning other languages a bit easier.
- Lojban has exotic features that differ from major world languages.
- It allows you to say things shorter without unnecessary distracting details. For example, you don't have to always think of what tense (past, present or future) to use in a verb when it's already clear from context. When you need details you add them. But unlike other languages Lojban doesn't force you to do so.
- Lojban is for artists: it has unprecedented tools for expressing tiny variations in human emotions
- It is for lovers of wisdom (philosophers, in the original sense)
- It is for scientists who like all concepts be put in a concise system.
- It is the best tool for implementing machine automatic translation. Still it's a speakable language.
- Lastly, Lojban is also fun !
Lojban is going to change the way you look at verbal communication. Learning it is much more than just learning its words and grammar: it is more about understanding it. You will need to understand many things about the way languages work. If you are not a linguist, it will be new to you. If you are a linguist it'll strike you how different ideas and philosophies you familiar with can be directly uttered in the flow of normal speech.
Lojban will make you think about the ways you express ideas in words. Something that you learned and used every day but never tried to understand how it works.
If you are deciding which language to learn or whether to learn any at all, you need to define your goals. Being able to understand what is spoken or speak so that other speakers understand is a good reason to learn most other languages. Learning new ways of thinking and expression of thoughts is a good reason to learn Lojban.
Lojban is likely to be very different to the kinds of languages you are familiar with — which certainly include English. Learning it may be easy or hard, depending on how well you understand the ideas behind it. There are not many words and rules that you need to learn to get into a basic level. You will get there rather quickly if you put a systemic effort. On the other hand, if you fail to understand some basic point, memorizing things will not help you much. In such cases don't hesitate to move on, and come back to it later. Likewise, some of the exercises are trickier than others (particularly the translation exercises).
Several reasons for learning Lojban NOW
- Those working with the language now are actively consulted for their opinions on how to teach and spread the language. People who write in the language are contributing to the growth of the lexicon, and establishing the conventions and idioms that will guide language use in future years. People who are especially active have joined the project leadership within a few months of becoming involved.
- Those with a computer background can lead development of the first computer applications for the language. Expertise in the language will no doubt be valuable as Lojban becomes recognized as a useful tool for computer applications by the computer industry. Computer-oriented Lojbanists can also aid in developing computer-aided instruction tools or converting existing software to run on new computers.
- Regardless of background, learning Lojban is a mind-expanding experience. Learning any language other than your native tongue broadens your perspectives and allows you to transcend the limited viewpoints of your native language culture. Lojban, being much simpler to learn than natural languages, provides this benefit much more quickly than does the study of other languages. Being so strongly different, the intensity of the effect seems to be heightened. When Lojbanists talk about language, the discussion has been observed to be more sophisticated as well as qualitatively different from the talk of students of second natural languages.
- The logical organization embedded in Lojban aids in organizing and clarifying thoughts. Having done so, your new perspective on language, ambiguity, and communication will allow you to express those thoughts more clearly, even when you use an ambiguous natural language.
- A relatively short study of Lojban by high school (or younger) students has been proposed, providing the linguistic understanding that was once associated with studying Latin and other languages for much longer periods of time. Such study can be tied in with concepts of logic, and possibly with computer-related activities, helping to show the essential interrelated nature of language and other human endeavor.
You needn't learn Lojban for any practical purpose, however. Many of those learning Lojban are doing so because it is fun. Learning Lojban is intellectually stimulating, and provides human interaction and mental challenge. Lojban has all the benefits of games designed for entertainment, with the added prospect of developing useful skills as a side benefit. Learning Lojban as an 'intellectual toy' means that you can get enjoyment from learning Lojban without nearly the effort needed to benefit from studying other languages. While becoming fluent in Lojban will probably take hundreds of hours over several months, you can feel some sense of accomplishment in the language after just a few hours of study. You can use Lojban immediately for fun, while gaining skill with greater experience.
Some basic features of Lojban
- Lojban is an experiment in language — the grammar is regular, simpler than most natural languages, but complex in its own unique way. Non-naturalistic structures abound, but all are regular and make sense in their own way. Lojban is thus an experiment in thought, as well, it wishes to see how these unique language structures affect thought and cognition.
- Lojban allows the expression of emotion, using words called attitudinals, which are essentially spoken emoticons, expressing your feelings. You can indicate the precise degree and intensity of your emotion as well as indicate which word your emotion stems from. You can even indicate that your statement was meant as a joke, a quick argument defuser.
- Lojban allows you to communicate concisely without unnecessary or undesired details. For example, you don't have to always think of what tense (past, present or future) to use in a verb when it's already clear from context. When you wish to provide the details you can add them. But unlike other languages Lojban doesn't require you to do so.
- Lojban has 1341 root words, covering a broad section of human experience. These words may be combined into compounds, allowing precision in meaning. Futhermore, Lojban makes provisions for borrowings, integrating them into the Lojban morphophonologic system. These words allow the creation of a vast vocabulary to describe the totality of human experience. Lojban vocabulary expands by the day, with users creating more words as gaps are found. Lojban vocabulary still has much progress to make, and our community strives towards perfecting it every day.
- Lojban is syntactically unambiguous. Natural languages often have ambiguous sentences — does "He's left" mean that he's still here or that he's gone? Lojban systematically eliminates this, but don't take it to mean that Lojban has no ambiguity at all! Lojban mostly allows you to be as ambiguous as you want, with, of course, trade offs in verbosity.
- Lojban is machine parsable, allowing potential new explorations in the fields of artificial intelligence communication and machine translation.
- Lojban is culturally neutral, as far as such things are achievable. The base vocabulary was generated using an algorithm and words from the (at the time of its creation) 6 most spoken languages on Earth, averaging them out. The Lojban community strives to maintain this neutrality.
- Lojban has a flexible pronunciation. Lojban phonemes (basic units of sound) allow many realizations, for example, the r may be pronounced as an English, French, or Spanish r. There are no silent letters, and each letter corresponds to one phoneme. While not the simplest language to pronounce, these sounds are also carefully arranged to allow self-segregation — a Lojban sentence, spoken with proper stress and pauses is uniquely segmentable into its component words, an invaluable tool in computer parsing of speech.
This section contains various texts in English. They address the question "Why Lojban?" from many viewpoints.
- Top 7 Reasons to Learn Lojban: by Daniel Piccirillo
- Lojban and Esperanto: JL discussions including comments from Donald Harlow and Lojban's 'Answer' to the '16 Rules'.
- Lojban's relevance to linguistics and linguistics research.
- Lojban and machine translation by Patrick Juola.
- Lojban and other planned languages by Todd Moody.
- 1991 Reply by John Cowan to Arnold Zwicky's 1969 "Language" Review of Loglan 1.
- General discussion on 'Why Lojban?', extracted from ju'i lobypli, includes JCB on Sapir Whorf. Many contributors.