By John Cowan, a copy from lojban.org:
Pro-sumti/pro-bridi paper, draft 1.1
To: firstname.lastname@example.org (Bob lechevalier), email@example.com (nick nicholas), firstname.lastname@example.org (Colin Fine), email@example.com (Veijo Vilva), I.Alexander.firstname.lastname@example.org (Iain Alexander), email@example.com (mark shoulson), firstname.lastname@example.org (Ivan Derzhanski)
Subject: Pro-sumti/pro-bridi paper, draft 1.1
From: email@example.com (John Cowan)
Date: Tue, 16 Mar 1993 14:52:48 -0500 (EST)
Pro-sumti And Pro-bridi: Brevity Is The Soul Of Language
1. What Are Pro-sumti And Pro-bridi? What Are They For?
Speakers of Lojban, like speakers of other languages, require mechanisms
of abbreviation. If every time we referred to something, we had to express
a complete description of it, life would be too short to say what we have
to say. In English, we have words called "pronouns" which allow us to
replace nouns or noun phrases with shorter terms. An English with no
pronouns might look something like this:
1.1) Speakers of Lojban, like speakers of other languages, require
mechanisms of abbreviation. If every time speakers of Lojban
referred to a thing to which speakers of Lojban refer, speakers
of Lojban had to express a complete description of what speakers
of Lojban referred to, life would be too short to say what
speakers of Lojban have to say.
Speakers of this kind of English would get mightily sick of talking.
Furthermore, there are uses of pronouns in English which are independent
of abbreviation. There is all the difference in the world between:
1.2) John picked up a stick and shook it.
1.3) John picked up a stick and shook a stick.
Example 1.3 does not imply that the two sticks are necessarily the same,
whereas Example 1.2 requires that they are.
In Lojban, we have sumti rather than nouns, so our equivalent of pronouns
are called by the hybrid term "pro-sumti". A purely Lojban term would
be "sumti cmavo". All of the pro-sumti belong to selma'o KOhA. In exactly
the same way, Lojban has a group of cmavo (belonging to selma'o GOhA) which
serve as selbri or full bridi. These may be called "pro-bridi" or "bridi
cmavo". This paper explains the uses of all the members of selma'o KOhA
and GOhA. They fall into a number of groups, known as series: thus, in
selma'o KOhA, we have among others the mi-series, the ko'a-series, the
da-series, and so on.
A few technical terms: The term "referent" means the thing to which a
pro-sumti (by extension, a pro-bridi) refers. If the speaker of a sentence
is James, then the term "I" refers to James. On the other hand, the
term "antecedent" refers to a piece of language which a pro-sumti
(or pro-bridi) implicitly repeats. In Example 1.1, the antecedent of
"we" is the phrase "speakers of Lojban". Not all pro-sumti or pro-bridi
have antecedents, but all of them have referents.
The tables which appear at the beginning of the following section and
most other sections of this paper have a common format. They are arranged
in four columns: a cmavo, its selma'o, the series to which it belongs if
any, and a rough English gloss (not necessarily an exact translation).
2. Personal Pro-sumti: The mi-series
mi KOhA mi-series I, me
do KOhA mi-series you
mi'o KOhA mi-series you and I
mi'a KOhA mi-series I and others, we but not you
ma'a KOhA mi-series you and I and others
do'o KOhA mi-series you and others
ko KOhA mi-series you-imperative
The mi-series of pro-sumti refer to the speaker, the listener, and others
in various combinations. "mi" refers to the speaker and perhaps others
for whom the speaker speaks; it may be a Lojbanic mass. "do" refers to the
listener or listeners. Neither "mi" nor "do" is specific about the number
of persons referred to.
The referents of "mi" and "do" are usually obvious from the context, but may
be assigned by the vocative words of selma'o COI, explained elsewhere. The
vocative "mi'e" assigns "mi", whereas all of the other vocatives assign "do".
2.1) mi'e djan. doi frank. mi cusku lu mi bajra li'u do
I-am John, O Frank, I express [quote] I run [unquote] to-you
I am John, Frank; I express "I run" to you.
The cmavo "mi'o", "mi'a", "ma'a", and "do'o" express various combinations
of the speaker and/or the listener and/or others (typically, but not
necessarily, other people). "mi'o" includes only the speaker and the
listener but no one else. "mi'a" excludes the listener, whereas "do'o"
excludes the speaker. "ma'a" includes all three. All of these pro-sumti
represent masses: "mi'o" is the same as "mi joi do", for example: the mass
of me and you considered jointly.
In English, "we" can mean "mi'o" or "mi'a" or even "ma'a", and English-
speakers often suffer because they mistake "mi'o" for "ma'a":
2.2) We're going to the store.
Does this include the listener or not? There's no way to be sure.
Finally, the cmavo "ko" is logically equivalent to "do"; its referent is
the listener. However, it transforms an assertion about the listener
into a command to the listener to make the assertion true:
2.3) do klama le zarci
You go to-the store.
2.4) ko klama le zarci
You [imperative] go to-the store.
Make "you go to the store" true!
Go to the store!
In English, the subject of a command is omitted, but in Lojban, the word
"ko" must be used. However, "ko" does not have to appear in the x1
2.5) mi viska ko
I see you [imperative]
Make "I see you" true!
Be seen by me!
In Example 2.5, it is necessary to make the verb passive in English in
order to convey the effect of "ko" in the x2 place.
There is no exact equivalent of the mi-series among pro-bridi. However,
we may create the effect of personal pro-bridi by using "me" before a
mi-series pro-sumti. The general purpose of "me" is to convert a sumti
into a selbri with the place structure:
x1 pertains to <the sumti> in aspect x2.
2.6) la bantas. me mi
Bantha pertains-to me.
Bantha is mine.
The device of preposing "me" before any pro-sumti to form the equivalent
of a pro-bridi may be used wherever a series of pro-sumti does not have
a pro-bridi equivalent.
3. Demonstrative Pro-sumti: The ti-series
ti KOhA ti-series this here; a nearby object
ta KOhA ti-series that there; a medium-distant object
tu KOhA ti-series that yonder; a far-distant object
It is often useful to refer to things by pointing to them or by some
related non-linguistic mechanism. In English, the words "this" and "that"
serve this function among others: "this" refers to something pointed at
that is near the speaker, and "that" refers to something further away.
The Lojban pro-sumti of the ti-series serve the same functions, but more
narrowly. The cmavo "ti", "ta", and "tu" provide only the pointing function
of "this" and "that"; they are not used to refer to things that cannot be
pointed at. In written text, their meaning is inherently vague; is the
writer to be taken as pointing to something, and if so, to what?
There are three pro-sumti of the ti-series rather than just two because it
is often useful to distinguish between objects that are at more than two
different distances. Japanese, among other languages, regularly does this.
As late as the 16th century, English did too; the pronoun "this" referred to
something at a medium distance from the speaker, and the now-archaic pronoun
"yon" to something far away.
In conversation, there is a special rule about "ta" and "tu" that is often
helpful in interpreting them. When used contrastingly, "ta" refers to
something that is near the listener, whereas "tu" refers to something far
from both speaker and listener. This makes for a parallelism between
"ti" and "mi", and "ta" and "do", that is convenient when pointing is not
possible; for example, when talking by telephone. In all cases, what counts
as "near" and "far away" is relative to the current situation.
It is important to distinguish between the English pronoun "this" and the
English adjective "this" as in "this boat". The latter is not represented
in Lojban by "ti":
3.1) le ti bloti
the this boat
does not mean "this boat" but rather "this's boat", "the boat associated
with this thing." The true Lojban translation of Example 3.1 is
3.2) le vi bloti
the here boat
the nearby boat
using a tense before the selbri "bloti" to express that the boat is
near the speaker.
There are no demonstrative pro-bridi to correspond to the ti-series:
once again, "me ti" is appropriate:
3.3) la djan. me ti
John pertains-to this-thing.
It is important to notice the vowels used in the cmavo of the ti-series:
"i" represents a small distance, "a" a medium distance, and "u" a large
distance. This pattern is repeated often (though not invariably) in other
series of both pro-sumti and pro-bridi, and even in certain tense selma'o
(such as ZI, VA, ZEhA, VEhA, and VIhA, all explained elsewhere).
4. Utterance Pro-sumti: The di'u-series
di'u KOhA di'u-series the previous utterance
de'u KOhA di'u-series an earlier utterance
da'u KOhA di'u-series a much earlier utterance
di'e KOhA di'u-series the next utterance
de'e KOhA di'u-series a later utterance
da'e KOhA di'u-series a much later utterance
dei KOhA di'u-series this very utterance
dai KOhA di'u-series some utterance
The cmavo of the di'u-series enable us to talk about things that have
been or will be said. In English, it is normal to use "this" and "that"
for this purpose:
4.1) You don't like cats.
That is untrue.
Here "that" does not refer to something that can be pointed to, but to
the preceding sentence "You don't like cats". In Lojban, therefore,
Example 4.1 is rendered:
do na nelci loi mlatu .i di'u jitfa
You not like the-mass-of cats. The-previous-utterance is-false.
Using "ta" instead of "di'u" would cause the listener to look around to see
what the speaker of the second sentence was physically pointing to.
As with "ti", "ta", and "tu", the cmavo of the di'u-series come in threes:
a close utterance, a medium-distance utterance, and a distant utterance,
either in the past or in the future. It turned out to be impossible to
use the "i"/"a"/"u" vowel convention discussed in Section 3 without causing
collisions with other cmavo, and so the di'u-series has a unique "i"/"e"/"a"
convention in the first vowel of the cmavo.
Most references in speech are to the past (what has already been said),
and so "di'e", "de'e", and "da'e" are more useful in writing:
4.2) la saimn. cusku di'e
Simon expresses the-following-utterance.
Example 4.2 would typically be followed by a quotation. Note that although
presumably the quotation is of something Simon has said in the past, the
quotation utterance itself appears after Example 4.2, and so "di'e" is
The remaining two cmavo, "dei" and "dai", refer respectively to the very
utterance that the speaker is uttering, and to some vague or unspecified
utterance uttered by someone at some time:
4.3) dei jetnu
What I am saying is true.
4.4) dai jetnu
That's true (where "that" is not necessarily what was just said).
The cmavo of the di'u-series have a meaning that is relative to the context.
The referent of "dei" in the current utterance is the same as the referent
of "di'u" in the next utterance. The word "utterance" is used, rather than
"sentence", because the amount of speech or written text referred to by any
of these words is vague. Often, a single bridi is intended, but longer
utterances may be thus referred to.
Note one very common construction with "di'u" and the cmavo "la'e" (of
selma'o LAhE) which precedes a sumti and means "the thing referred to by
4.5) mi prami la djein. .i mi nelci la'e di'u
I love Jane. And I like the-referent-of the-last-utterance.
I love Jane, and I like that.
The effect of "la'e di'u" in Example 4.5 is that the speaker likes, not the
previous sentence, but rather the state of affairs referred to by the
previous sentence, namely his loving Jane. It is important not to mix up
"di'u" and "la'edi'u", or nonsense will generally result.
There are no pro-bridi corresponding to the di'u-series: "me" can be used
in the usual way to construct them.
5. Assignable Pro-sumti And Pro-bridi: The ko'a-series And The broda-series
ko'a KOhA ko'a-series it-1; 1st assignable pro-sumti
ko'e KOhA ko'a-series it-2; 2nd assignable pro-sumti
ko'i KOhA ko'a-series it-3; 3rd assignable pro-sumti
ko'o KOhA ko'a-series it-4; 4th assignable pro-sumti
ko'u KOhA ko'a-series it-5; 5th assignable pro-sumti
fo'a KOhA ko'a-series it-6; 6th assignable pro-sumti
fo'e KOhA ko'a-series it-7; 7th assignable pro-sumti
fo'i KOhA ko'a-series it-8; 8th assignable pro-sumti
fo'o KOhA ko'a-series it-9; 9th assignable pro-sumti
fo'u KOhA ko'a-series it-10; 10th assignable pro-sumti
broda BRIVLA broda-series is-thing-1; 1st assignable pro-bridi
brode BRIVLA broda-series is-thing-2; 2nd assignable pro-bridi
brodi BRIVLA broda-series is-thing-3; 3rd assignable pro-bridi
brodo BRIVLA broda-series is-thing-4; 4th assignable pro-bridi
brodu BRIVLA broda-series is-thing-5; 5th assignable pro-bridi
goi GOI pro-sumti assignment
cei CEI pro-bridi assignment
The discussion of personal pro-sumti in Section 2 may have seemed incomplete.
In English, the personal pronouns include not only "I" and "you" but also
"he", "she", "it", and "they". Lojban does have equivalents of this latter
group: in fact, it has more of them than English does. However, they are
organized and used very differently.
There are ten cmavo in the ko'a-series, and they may be assigned freely
to any sumti whatsoever. The English word "he" can refer only to males,
"she" only to females (and ships and a few other things), "it" only to
inanimate things, and "they" only to plurals; the cmavo of the ko'a-series
have no restrictions at all. Therefore, it is almost impossible to guess
from the context what ko'a-series cmavo might refer to if they are just
5.1) la .alis. klama le zarci .i ko'a blanu
Alice goes-to the store. It-1 is-blue.
The English gloss "it-1", plus knowledge about the real world, would tend
to make English-speakers believe that "ko'a" refers to the store; in other
words, that its antecedent is "le zarci". To a Lojbanist, however, "la
.alis." is just as likely an antecedent, in which case Example 5.1 means that
Alice, not the store, is blue.
To avoid this pitfall, Lojban employs special syntax, using the cmavo "goi":
5.2) la .alis. klama le zarci .i ko'a goi la .alis. cu blanu
Alice goes-to the store. It-1, also-known-as Alice, is-blue.
Syntactically, "goi la .alis." is a relative phrase (relative phrases
are explained elsewhere). Semantically, it says that "ko'a" and "la .alis."
refer to the same thing, and furthermore that this is true because "ko'a"
is being defined as meaning "la .alis.". It is equally correct to say:
5.3) la .alis. klama le zarci .i la .alis. goi ko'a cu blanu
Alice goes-to the store. Alice, also-known-as it-1, is-blue.
that is, "goi" is symmetrical.
The afterthought form of "goi" shown in Examples 5.2 and 5.3 is probably
most common in speech, where we do not know until partway through our
utterance that we will want to refer to Alice again. In writing, though,
"ko'a" may be assigned at the point where Alice is first mentioned. An
example of this forethought form of "goi" is:
5.4) la .alis. goi ko'a klama le zarci .i ko'a cu blanu
Alice, also-known-as it-1, goes-to the store. It-1 is-blue.
Again, "ko'a goi la .alis." would have been entirely acceptable in
Example 5.4. This last form is reminiscent of legal jargon: "The
party of the first part, hereafter known as Buyer, ...".
Just as the ko'a-series allows a substitute for a sumti which is long
or complex, or which for some other reason we do not want to repeat,
so the broda-series allows a substitute for a selbri or even a whole
5.5) ti slasi je mlatu bo cidja lante gacri cei broda
.i le crino broda cu barda .i le xunre broda cu cmalu
This is a plastic cat-food can cover, or thingy.
The green thingy is large. The red thingy is small.
The pro-bridi "broda" has as its antecedent the selbri "slasi je mlatu
bo cidja lante gacri". The cmavo "cei" performs the role of "goi" in
assigning "broda" to this long phrase, and "broda" can then be used
just like any other brivla. (In fact, "broda" and its relatives actually
are brivla: they are gismu in morphology, although they behave exactly
like the members of selma'o GOhA. The reasons for using gismu rather
than cmavo are buried in the Loglan Project's history.)
Note that pro-bridi are so called because, even though they have the
grammar of selbri, their antecedents are whole bridi. In the following
rather contrived example, the antecedent of "brode" is the whole bridi
"mi klama le zarci":
5.6) mi klama cei brode le zarci .i do brode
I go-to (which-is claim1) the store. You claim-1
I go to the store. You, too.
In the second bridi, "do brode" means "do klama le zarci", because "brode"
carries the x2 sumti of "mi klama le zarci" along with it. It also
potentially carries the x1 sumti as well, but the explicit x1 sumti "do"
overrides the "mi" of the antecedent bridi. (In addition, any tense or
negation that is present in the antecedent is also carried, and can be
overridden by explicit tense or negation cmavo on the pro-bridi.) These
rules hold for all pro-bridi that have antecedents.
Another use of "broda" and its relatives, without assignment, is as "sample
5.7) broda ke brode brodi
a thing-1 type of ( thing-2 type-of thing-3 )
represents an abstract pattern, a certain kind of tanru.
As is explained elsewhere, the words for Lojban letters, belonging to
selma'o BY and certain related selma'o, are also usable as assignable
pro-sumti. The main difference between letter pro-sumti and ko'a-series
pro-sumti is that, in the absence of an explicit assignment, letters
are taken to refer to the most recent name or description sumti beginning
with the same letter:
5.8) mi viska le gerku .i gy. cusku zo arf.
I see the dog. G expresses the-word "arf".
I see the dog. D says "Arf!"
The Lojban word "gerku" begins with "g", so the antecedent "gy.", the cmavo
for the letter "g", must be "le gerku". In the English translation,
we use the same principle to refer to the dog as "D". Of course, in
case of ambiguity, "goi" can be used to make an explicit assignment.
Furthermore, "goi" can even be used to assign a name:
5.9) le ninmu goi la sam. cu klama le zarci
The woman also-known-as Sam goes to-the store.
The woman, whom I'll call Sam, goes to the store.
This usage does not imply that the woman's name is Sam, or even that the
speaker usually calls the woman "Sam". "Sam" is simply a name chosen,
as if at random, for use in the current context only.
6. Anaphoric Pro-sumti and Pro-bridi: The ri-series And The go'i-series
ri KOhA ri-series (repeats the last sumti)
ra KOhA ri-series (repeats a previous sumti)
ru KOhA ri-series (repeats a long-ago sumti)
go'i GOhA go'i-series (repeats the last bridi)
go'a GOhA go'i-series (repeats a previous bridi)
go'u GOhA go'i-series (repeats a long-ago bridi)
go'e GOhA go'i-series (repeats the last-but-one bridi)
go'o GOhA go'i-series (repeats a future bridi)
nei GOhA go'i-series (repeats the current bridi)
no'a GOhA go'i-series (repeats the next outer bridi)
ra'o RAhO anaphora update
The term "anaphora" literally means "repetition", but is used in
linguistics to refer to pronouns whose significance is the repetition of
earlier words, namely their antecedents. Lojban provides three pro-sumti
anaphora, "ri", "ra", and "ru"; and three corresponding pro-bridi anaphora,
"go'i", "go'a", and "go'u". These cmavo reveal the same vowel pattern as
the ti-series, but the "distances" referred to are not physical distances,
but distances from the anaphora to its antecedent.
The cmavo "ri" is the simplest of these; it has the same referent as the
last complete sumti appearing before the "ri":
6.1) la .alis. sipna le ri kumfa
Alice sleeps-in the of-[repeat last sumti] room.
Alice sleeps in her room.
The "ri" in Example 6.1 is equivalent to repeating the last sumti, which
is "la .alis.", so Example 6.1 is equivalent to:
6.2) la .alis. sipna le la .alis. kumfa
Alice sleeps-in the of-Alice room.
Alice sleeps in Alice's room.
Note that "ri" does not repeat "le ri kumfa", because that sumti is not
yet complete when "ri" appears. This prevents "ri" from getting entangled
in paradoxes of self-reference. (There are other ways to do that!)
Note also that sumti within other sumti, as in quotations, abstractions,
and the like, are counted in the order of their beginnings; thus the lower
level sumti comes before the higher level one that contains it.
Certain sumti are ignored by "ri"; specifically, most of the other cmavo
of KOhA. It is simpler to just repeat them directly:
6.3) mi prami mi
I love me.
I love myself.
However, the cmavo of the ti-series can be picked up by "ri", because
you might have changed what you are pointing at. Likewise, "ri" itself
can be referred to by a later "ri"; in fact, a string of "ri" cmavo with
no intervening sumti always all refer to the same thing:
6.4) la djan. viska le tricu
.i ri se jadni le ri jimca
John sees the tree.
[repeat last] is-adorned by the of-[repeat last] branch
John sees the tree. It is adorned by its branches.
Here the second "ri" has as antecedent the first "ri", which has as
antecedent "le tricu". All three refer to the same thing: a tree.
To refer to the next-to-last sumti, the third-from-last sumti, and so
on, "ri" may be subscripted (subscripts are explained elsewhere):
6.5) lo smuci .i lo forca .i la rik. pilno rixire
.i la .alis. pilno riximu
A spoon. A fork. Rick uses [repeat next-to-last].
Alice uses [repeat fifth-from-last].
Here "rixire", or "ri-sub-2", skips "la rik." to reach "lo forca". In
the same way, "riximu", or "ri-sub-5", skips "la .alis.", "rixire", "la
rik.", and "lo forca" to reach "lo smuci". As can clearly be seen, this
procedure is barely practicable in writing, and would break down totally
Therefore, the vaguer "ra" and "ru" are also provided. The cmavo "ra"
repeats a recently used sumti, and "ru" one that was further back in
the speech or text. The use of "ra" and "ru" forces the listener to guess
at the referent, but makes life easier for the speaker. Can "ra" refer to
the last sumti, like "ri"? The answer is no if "ri" has also been used.
If "ri" has not been used, then "ra" might be the last sumti. Likewise,
if "ra" has been used, then any use of "ru" would repeat a sumti earlier
than the one "ra" is repeating.
The meaning of "ri" must be determined every time it is used. Since "ra"
and "ru" are more vaguely defined, they may well retain the same meaning
for a while, but the listener cannot count on this behavior. To make a
permanent reference to something repeated by "ri", "ra", or "ru" use "goi"
and a ko'a-series cmavo:
6.6) mi klama le zarci .i ri goi ko'a ...
I go-to the store. [repeat sumti] also-known-as it1 ...
allows the store to be referred to henceforth as "ko'a" without ambiguity.
The cmavo "go'i", "go'a", and "go'u" follow exactly the same rules as
"ri", "ra", and "ru", except that they are pro-bridi, and therefore repeat
bridi, not sumti -- specifically, main sentence bridi. Any bridi that
are embedded within other bridi, such as relative clauses or abstractions,
are not counted. Like the cmavo of the broda-series, the cmavo of the
go'i-series copy all sumti with them. This makes "go'i" by itself
convenient for answering a question affirmatively, or for repeating
the last bridi, possibly with new sumti:
6.7) xu zo djan. cmene do .i go'i
[True-false?] "John" is-the-name of you? [repeat last bridi].
Is John your name? Yes.
6.8) mi klama le zarci .i do go'i
I go-to the store. You [repeat last bridi].
I go to the store. You, too.
Note that Example 6.8 means the same as Example 5.6, but without the
bother of assigning an actual broda-series word to the first bridi.
For long-term reference, "go'i cei broda" or the like would do the job,
analogously to "ri goi ko'a" in Example 6.6.
The remaining four cmavo of the go'i-series are provided for convenience
or for achieving special effects. The cmavo "go'e" means the same as
"go'ixire": it repeats the last bridi but one. This is useful in
6.9) A: mi klama le zarci
B: mi nelci le si'o mi go'i
A: do go'e
A: I go-to the store.
B: I like the concept-of I [repeat last bridi].
A: You [repeat last bridi but one].
A: I am going to the store.
B: I like the idea of my going.
A: You go, too.
Here B's sentence repeats A's within an abstraction: "le si'o mi go'i"
means "le si'o mi klama le zarci". Why must B use the word "mi" explicitly
to replace the x1 of "mi klama le zarci", even though it looks like "mi"
is replacing "mi"? Because B's "mi" is not the same as A's "mi". If
6.10) mi nelci le si'o go'i
that would mean:
I like the idea of your going to the store.
The repetition is not literally by words, but by concepts. Finally, A
repeats her own sentence, but with the x1 changed to "do", meaning B.
Descriptions based on go'i-series cmavo can be very useful for repeating
specific sumti of previous bridi:
6.11) mi klama le zarci
.i le go'i cu
cadzu le bisli
I go-to the store.
That-described-as-the-x1-place-of [repeat last bridi]
walks-on the ice.
I go to the store. I walk on the ice.
Here the "go'i" repeats "mi klama le zarci", and since "le" makes a
description from the x1 place, and the x1 place of this bridi is "mi",
"le go'i" means "mi".
The cmavo "go'o", "nei", and "no'a" have been little used. They repeat
respectively some future bridi, the current bridi, and the bridi that
encloses the current bridi ("no'a", unlike the other members of the go'i-
series, can repeat non-sentence bridi). Good English examples do not exist,
but here are a few contrived examples:
6.12) mi go'o .i do klama le zarci
I [repeat future bridi]. You go-to the store.
I too, as follows. You go to the store.
6.13) mi prami le nei
I love that-described-as-the-x1-place-of [repeats the current bridi]
I love x1-of-this-bridi
I love myself.
6.14) mi nelci le nu
le no'a cu limna
I like the event-of
that-described-as-the-x1-place-of [repeats outer bridi] swims.
I like the event-of my swimming.
I like me swimming.
I like swimming.
For those who believe they understand both anaphora and negation: What is
the meaning of
6.15) na nei
and how does it differ from
6.16) dei jitfa
Finally, "ra'o" is a cmavo that can be appended to any go'i-series cmavo,
or indeed any cmavo of selma'o GOhA, to signal that pro-sumti or pro-bridi
cmavo in the antecedent are to be repeated literally and reinterpreted in
their new context. Normally, any pro-sumti used within the antecedent of the
pro-bridi keep their meanings intact. In the presence of "ra'o", however,
their meanings must be reinterpreted with reference to the new environment.
If someone says to you:
6.17) mi ba lumci lemi karca
I will wash my car
you might reply either:
6.18) mi go'i
I will wash your car
6.19) mi go'i ra'o
I will wash my car.
The "ra'o" forces the second "mi" from the original bridi to mean the
new speaker rather than the former speaker. This means that "go'i ra'o"
would be an acceptable alternative to "do go'i" in B's statement in Example
7. Indefinite Pro-sumti And Pro-bridi: The zo'e-series And The co'e-series
zo'e KOhA zo'e-series the obvious value
zu'i KOhA zo'e-series the typical value
co'e GOhA the obvious relationship
The cmavo of the zo'e-series represent indefinite, unspecified sumti.
The cmavo "zo'e" represents an elliptical value for this sumti place; it isthe optional
spoken place holder when a sumti is skipped without being specified. Note
that the elliptical value is not always the typical value. The properties of
ellipsis lead to an elliptical sumti being defined as "whatever I want it to
be but haven't bothered to figure out or phrase out".
The cmavo "zu'i", on the other hand, represents the typical value for this
place of this bridi:
7.1) mi klama le bartu be le zdani
le nenri be le zdani
I go to-the outside of the house
from-the inside of the house
In Example 7.1, the first "zu'i" probably means something like "by the door",
and the second "zu'i" probably means something like "on foot", those being
the typical route and means for leaving a house. On the other hand,
if you are at the top of a high rise during a fire, neither "zu'i" is
Similarly, "co'e" (which is not part of any series; it has no close
relatives within selma'o GOhA) represents the elliptical selbri. Lojban
grammar does not allow the speaker to merely omit selbri, although any
sumti may be freely omitted: being vague about a relationship requires
the use of "co'e":
7.2) mi troci le nu mi co'e le vorme
I try the event-of my [doing-the-obvious-action] to-the door.
I try the door.
This probably means that I try to open the door, but the relationship
of opening is not actually specified; the listener must guess it from
8. Reflexive Pro-sumti: The vo'a-series
vo'a KOhA vo'a-series x1 of this bridi
vo'e KOhA vo'a-series x2 of this bridi
vo'i KOhA vo'a-series x3 of this bridi
vo'o KOhA vo'a-series x4 of this bridi
vo'u KOhA vo'a-series x5 of this bridi
These cmavo refer to the other places of the same bridi; the five of them
represent up to five places. The same vo'a-series cmavo mean different
things in different bridi. Examples:
8.1) mi lumci vo'a
I wash myself
8.2) mi klama le zarci vo'e
I go to the store from itself [by some route unspecified].
To refer to places of neighboring bridi, constructions like "le se go'i ku"
do the job: this refers to the 2nd place of the previous main bridi.
9. Sumti And Bridi Questions: ma and mo
ma KOhA sumti question
mo GOhA bridi question
Lojban questions are more fully explained elsewhere, but "ma" and "mo"
are listed in this paper for completeness. The cmavo "ma" asks for a sumti
to make the bridi true:
9.1) do klama ma
You go to-what-destination?
Where are you going?
The cmavo "mo" , on the other hand, asks for a selbri which makes the
question bridi true. If the answer is a full bridi, then the arguments
of the answer override the arguments in the question.
9.2) do mo
What predicate is true as applied to you?
How are you?
What are you doing?
Example 9.3 is a truly pregnant question that will have several meanings
depending on context.
9.3) lo mo prenu cu darxi do .i barda
A [what selbri?] type-of person hit you? (Observative:) A big thing.
Which person hit you? The big one.
When "ma" or "mo" is repeated, multiple questions are being asked:
9.4) ma djuno ma
[what sumti] knows [what sumti]?
Who knows what?
10. Relativized Pro-sumti: ke'a
ke'a KOhA relativized sumti
This pro-sumti is used in relative clauses to indicate how the sumti being
relativized fits within the clause. Example:
10.1) mi catlu lo mlatu
poi [zo'e] zbasu
I see a cat such-that
the-thing-being-relativized [the cat]
I see a cat made of plastic.
If "ke'a" were omitted from Example 10.1, it might be confused with:
10.2) mi catlu lo mlatu poi [ke'a]
zbasu lei slasi
I see a cat such-that the-thing-being-relativized [the cat]
makes a-mass-of plastic
I see a cat that makes plastic.
Note that "ke'a" is used only with relative clauses, and not with other
embedded bridi such as abstract descriptions. In the case of relative
clauses within relative clauses, "ke'a" may be subscripted to make the
difference clear (see Section 6).
11. Bound Variable Pro-sumti And Pro-bridi: The da-series And The bu'a-series
da KOhA da-series something-1
de KOhA da-series something-2
di KOhA da-series something-3
bu'a GOhA bu'a-series some-predicate-1
bu'e GOhA bu'a-series some-predicate-2
bu'i GOhA bu'a-series some-predicate-3
Bound variables belong to the predicate-logic part of Lojban, and are
listed here for completeness only. Their semantics is explained elsewhere.
It is worth mentioning that the Lojban translation of Example 1.2 is:
11.1) la djan. cu lafti da poi grana gi'e desygau da
John raised something-1 which-is-a stick and shake-did something-1
John picked up a stick and shook it.
12. The Identity Predicate: du
The cmavo "du" has the place structure:
x1 is identical with x2, x3, ...
and appears in selma'o GOhA for reasons of convenience: it is not a
pro-bridi. "du" serves as mathematical "=", and outside mathematical
contexts is used for defining or identifying. Mathematical examples may be
The main difference between
12.1) ko'a du le nanmu
it-1 is-identical-to the man
12.2) ko'a mintu le nanmu
it-1 is-the-same-as the man
is this defining nature. Example 12.1 presumes that the speaker is
responding to a request for information about what "ko'a" refers to, or that
the speaker in some way feels the need to define "ko'a" for later reference.
Bridi with "du" are identity sentence, somewhat metalinguistically saying
that all attached sumti are representations for the same referent. There
may be any number of sumti associated with "du", and all are said to be
Example 12.2, however, predicates; it is used to make a claim about the
identity of "ko'a", which presumably has been defined previously.
Note: "du" historically is derived from "dunli", but "dunli" has a 3rd
place which "du" lacks.