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**[[#ch2|Chapter 2. Overview of Lojban Grammar]] was originally written by Bob LeChevalier in 1989, and updated in 1990 (incorporating content by John Cowan) and 2001.
**[[#ch3|Chapter 3. Diagrammed Summary of Lojban Grammar]] was originally written by Nora Tansky LeChevalier and Bob LeChevalier in 1990, and updated in 1992 and 2001.
**[[#ch4|Chapter 4. Linguistic Issues pertaining to Lojban]] is based on material originally contained in the '''la lojban. cu mo''' brochure; in ''Is Lojban Scientifically Interesting?'' originally written by Bob LeChevalier in 1992; and the paper ''Loglan and Lojban: A Linguist's Questions And An Amateur's Answers'' originally written by John Cowan in 1991, in response to Arnold M. Zwicky's review of James Cooke Brown's 1966 edition of ''Loglan 1''. (Zwicky's review was published in ''Language'' 45:2 (1969), pp. 444–457).)
*[[#ID_sect3|Part III]], finally, contains a few texts in Lojban, with parallel translation and glosses, to allow you to get a feel for how the language works.
**The glosses in this part were made using the program '''la jbofi'e''' by Richard Curnow.
====1. What is Lojban?====
Lojban (/LOZH-bahn/) is a constructed language. Originally called ‘Loglan’ by project founder Dr. James Cooke Brown, who started the language development in 1955, the goals for the language were first described in the article ''Loglan'' in ''Scientific American'', June 1960. Made well-known by that article and by occasional references in science fiction and computer publications, Loglan/Lojban has been built over four decades by dozens of workers and hundreds of supporters, led since 1987 by [[#ID_llg|The Logical Language Group.]].
There are many artificial languages, but Loglan/Lojban is a carefully constructed spoken language. It has been ''engineered'' to make it unique in several waysbuilt for over 50 years by dozens of workers and hundreds of supporters. The following are the main features of Lojban:*Lojban is designed to be used was created by people in communication with each othera committee, not by a single person and possibly in the future with computers.*Lojban is designed to be culturally neutraldriven forward by its live community as a whole.*Lojban 's grammar is based on the principles simpler than of logicmost natural spoken languages, but complex in its own unique way.*Lojban has is an unambiguous grammarexperiment in thought, as well: its users aim to see how its unique language structures affect thought and understanding.*Lojban has phonetic spellingallows the expression of tiny nuances in emotion, and sounds can be divided into using words in only one waycalled "attitudinals", which are essentially spoken emoticons.*Lojban is simple compared to natural languages; it is easy allows you to learncommunicate concisely without unnecessary or undesired details.*LojbanFor example, you don's 1350 root words can be easily combined t have to always think of what tense (past, present or future) to form use in a vocabulary of millions of wordsverb when it's already clear from context.*Lojban is regular; machine parsable, which allows potential new explorations in the rules fields of the language don't have exceptions.*Lojban attempts to remove restrictions on creative artificial intelligence and clear thought and communicationmachine translation.*Lojban has a variety of uses, ranging from creative to scientific, from theoretical to practicalis designed aiming at being neutral between cultures.
The following sections examine each of these points, while answering the questions most often asked about Lojban.
====4. Is Lojban a computer language?====
Lojban was designed as a ''human language'', and not as a computer language. It is therefore intended for use in conversation, reading, writing, and thinking. However, since Lojban can be processed by a computer much more easily than can a natural language, it is only a matter of time before Lojban-based computer applications are developed. Learning and using Lojban doesn't require you to know anything about computers or to talk like one.
It's also worth noting that expressions written in some programming languages can be easily converted to Lojban.
====5. How is Lojban written? How does it sound?====
Lojban has a smooth, rhythmic sound, somewhat like Italian. However, its consonants create a fullness and power found in Slavic languages like Russian, and the large number of vowel pairs impart a hint of Chinese, Polynesian, and other Oriental languages, though without the tones that make many of those languages difficult for others to learn.
Because there are no idioms to shorten expressions, a Lojban A text in English can be longer shorter than the corresponding colloquial English textits Lojban translation. The unambiguous linguistic structures that result are a major benefit that makes this worthwhile; and . Vice versa, a text in Lojban can be much shorter than its English translation. Lojban has constructions of its own that are rather more succinct than their equivalents in English (such as logic-specific formulations, and expressions of attitude).) Moreover, much of the disambiguating machinery of Lojban is optional; you use them only when you ''need'' to use them.
As an example of Lojban, Occam's Razor (“The simplest explanation is usually the best”) may be translated as:
{{mu|ro da poi ve ciksi cu so'eroi ke ganai saprai e roi traji lo ka ga nai sampu gi xagraizabna<br>/rowraw-dah poy ve SHEEK-see shoo sosaw-heh-roy keh trah-zhee loh kah GAH-nye SAHPSAHM-rye pooh ghee KHAHZAHB-gryenah/||All somethings whichEach of something that is-an-explanation - most times is-are explanations mostlymost-are in (if superlativelyis-simple then superlativelyis-goodfavourable).}}
The apostrophe is pronounced like a short, breathy ‘h’, and is used to clearly separate the two adjacent vowels for a listener, without requiring a pause between them.
====6. What kind of grammar does Lojban have?====
‘Grammar’ is a word with painful memories for many of us. But though Lojban grammar seems strange at first sight, it is actually quite simple. It is based on a system called predicate logic, which states that in any sentence you have a 'verb (''relationshipword'', '' ('selbrisni'selbri'' in Lojban) between one or more '''arguments''(' (''sumti'''). An argument can be a thing, event, quality or just about anything. To give an example, the English sentence  ''{{mu|Chris adores Pat'' .}}
has a relation ''adore'', between two arguments, ''Chris'' and ''Pat''. In Lojban this would be
{{mu|la .kris. cu prami la .pat.}}
or, if you prefer,
{{mu|la .kris. la pat. cu prami}}
(The full stops mean that you have to pause slightly to separate the words—anythingelseinLojbancanberuntogetherwithoutbeingmisunderstood).
Numbers and quantifiers are conceptually expanded from natural languages. ''Many'', ''enough'', ''too much'', ''a few'', and ''at least'' are among concepts that are expressed as numbers in Lojban. Thus “it costs $3.95” and “it costs too much” are grammatically identical, and one can talk of being “enough-th in line” for tickets to a sellout movie. Core concepts of logic, mathematics, and science are built into the root vocabulary. They enhance discussion of those topics, and are surprisingly useful in ordinary speech, too.
Predicate logic can express a wide variety of human thought; Lojban also has non-logical constructs that do not affect or obscure the logical structure, allowing communications that are not amenable to logical analysis. For example, Lojban has a full set of emotional indicators, which are similar to such interjections in English as ''Oh!'', ''Aha!'', and ''Wheee!'', but each has a specific meaning. Similarly, Lojban has indicators of the speaker's relationship to what is said (whether it is hearsay, direct observation, logical deduction, etc).) similar to those found in some Native American languages.
Lojban supports metalinguistic discussion about the sentences being spoken while remaining unambiguous. Lojban also supports a variety of ‘tense’ logic that allows one to be extremely specific about time and space (and space–time) relationships. A substantial portion of Lojban's grammar is designed to support unambiguous statement of mathematical expressions and relations in a manner compatible both with international usage and the rest of Lojban's grammar.
Lojban is ''not'' entirely unambiguous, of course; human beings occasionally desire to be ambiguous in their expressions. In Lojban, this ambiguity is limited to semantics, ''tanru'' metaphor, and intentional omission of information (ellipsis).
Semantic ambiguity results because words in natural languages represent families of concepts rather than individual meanings. These meanings often have only weak semantic relationships to each other (the English word ''run'' is a good example).) In addition, each individual's personal experiences provide emotional connotations to words. By providing a fresh, culturally-neutral start, Lojban attempts to minimize the transference of these associations as people learn the language. Most Lojban words do not much resemble corresponding words in other languages; the differences aid in making this fresh start possible.
Lojban's powerful ''tanru'' (combinations of ''selbri'' into novel concepts) and word-building features make it easy to make fine distinctions between concepts. This discourages the tendency for individual words to acquire families of meanings. Lojban's ''tanru'' metaphors are themselves ambiguous; they specify a relationship between concepts, but not what the relationship is. That relationship can be made explicit using unambiguous logical constructs if necessary, or can be left vague, as the speaker typically desires. Similarly, portions of the logical structure of a Lojban expression can be omitted, greatly simplifying the expression while causing some ambiguity. Unlike in the natural languages, though, this ambiguity is readily identified by a reader or listener. Thus all ambiguity in Lojban is constrained and recognizable, and can be clarified as necessary by further interaction.
You can learn the Lojban vocabulary using computer software. The Logical Language Group has computer-aided–teaching programs distributed under the name ''LogFlash'', with MS-DOS/Windows, Macintosh and Unix versions currently available. The software is based on flash-card teaching techniques, which are extremely efficient in helping you learn the vocabulary. Other computer software is available, including a parser and a glosser.
You can learn the Lojban grammar in several ways, including by studying the examples in our on-line text archives and mailing lists, and by going through the formal grammar description. (The formal grammars are available in two formats, ''YACC'' and simplified ''E-BNF'').)
An introduction to the grammar of Lojban will be found in [[#ID_sect2title|Technical Descriptions]] in the ''What is Lojban?'' booklet. There is also a set of introductory lessons available (these cover the basics of the language, but at a more leisurely pace): ''Lojban for Beginners'', by Robin Turner and Nick Nicholas. A complete grammatical description of Lojban, ''The Complete Lojban Language'' by John W. Cowan, was published by the Logical Language Group in 1997. This is an authoritative reference, and can be used as an aid to learning the advanced features of the language.
Most of the consonants are pronounced exactly as they are most commonly pronounced in English. The following gives English and Lojban examples for these.
'''Note: '''In the following examples, the English word and the Lojban word are the same where possible. (This was not possible for j).)
====== Unvoiced ======
The diphthongs in the second table are found in Lojban only when used as words by themselves, and in Lojbanized names. Those in the first table may be found anywhere.
Any other time these '''vowel pairs''' occur together in a single word, they must be kept separate in order to unambiguously distinguish the separate vowels from the diphthongs. The principle has been extended to all Lojban vowels for consistency, and all non-diphthong vowel pairs in a word are separated in print and in sound by an apostrophe ('), representing a short, breathy /h/ sound. (Say ''Oh hello'' quickly and without a pause between the words to get an English equivalent, in this case of Lojban o'e. Any voiceless non-Lojban sound may also be used).)
When the vowels occur together, one at the end of a word and the other at the beginning of the next word, the ' is not used to separate them. (Were it used, it would join them into a single word). Instead, a pause is mandatory between the two vowels. The pause may be extremely short (called a '''glottal stop''') as in the English ''he eats'', or may be longer. The pause is mandatory and thus may be inferred without writing it, but it is usually signalled to a reader with a period ().) before the word starting with a vowel.
A pause is also required after any Lojban name, which always ends in a consonant. (A “.” is written after the name to mark this, thus distinguishing names from other words without using capitalization).) Every vowel-initial Lojban word is thus preceded by a pause, and such words are usually spelled with a “.” at the beginning. There are a small number of other places where pauses are required to separate words. “.” may be used to mark the separation in these cases as well.
Lojban words of more than one syllable are stressed on the next-to-last, or '''penultimate''', syllable. (The apostrophe counts as a syllable break: blari'o is stressed as blaRI'o).) Syllables for which the vowel is y are not counted in determining penultimate stress, nor are syllables counted in which the letters l, m, n, or r occur in their syllabic forms, with no other vowel in the same syllable. (Thus, lobypli = LO,by,pli, .uacintn. = .UA,cin,tn., kat,rin. = KAT,r,in).) In Lojbanized names, a speaker may retain a semblance of native pronunciation of the name by stressing a non-penultimate syllable. In this case, capitalization is used to mark the abnormal stress, as in DJOsefin. ‘Josephine' in the example above.
It is not mandatory to mark stress and pause in writing in Lojban, except for word separation according to the rules above. There is no mandatory intonation, like the rising tone that always accompanies an English question. Lojban equivalents of English intonations are expressed as spoken (and written) words, and may be adequately communicated even in a monotone voice. Such intonation, and pauses for phrasing, are then totally at the speaker's discretion for ease in speaking or being understood, and carry no meaning of their own.
==== Grammar ====
Lojban's grammar is defined by a set of rules that have been tested to be unambiguous using computers. Grammatical unambiguity means that in a grammatical expression, each word has exactly one grammatical interpretation, and that within the expression the words relate grammatically to each other in exactly one way. (By comparison, in the English ''Time flies like an arrow'', each of the first three words has at least two grammatical meanings, and each possible combination results in a different grammatical structure for the sentence).)
The '''machine grammar''' is the set of computer-tested rules that describes, and is the standard for, ‘correct Lojban'. If a Lojban speaker follows those rules exactly, the expression will be grammatically unambiguous. If the rules are not followed, ambiguity may exist. Ambiguity does not make communication impossible, of course. Every speaker on Earth speaks an ambiguous language. But Lojbanists strive for accuracy in Lojban grammatical usage, and thereby for grammatically unambiguous communication. (Semantic ambiguity, as we have seen, is another matter).)
It is important to note that new Lojbanists will not be able to speak ‘perfectly' when first learning Lojban. In fact, you may never speak perfectly in ‘natural' Lojban conversation, even though you achieve fluency in the language. No English speaker always speaks textbook English in natural conversation; Lojban speakers will also make grammatical errors when talking quickly. Lojbanists will, however, be able to speak or write unambiguously ''if they are careful'', which is difficult if not impossible with a natural language.
Two of the places of the ''selbri'' in x3, briju, have also been elliptically omitted, and this is expressed in the more exact translation of the example.
Note that in the two ''tanru'' in example (2), sutra klama and blanu zdani, each of the four ''brivla''may be a self-contained ''selbri'' unit as well, having its own ''sumti'' attached to it (using the ''cmavo'' be). The place structure of the ''final'' component of a ''tanru'' (klama and zdani, respectively) becomes the place structure of the ''tanru'' as a whole, and hence the place structure of the higher level ''bridi'' structure. (The place structure of klama thus becomes the place structure of the sentence, while the place structure of zdani becomes the place structure of the x2 ''sumti'').)
====== Place structures ======
As described above, the simplest form of ''selbri'' is a ''brivla''. The place structure of the ''brivla'' is used as the place structure of the ''bridi''. Various modifications can be made to the ''brivla'' and its place structure using ''cmavo''. These include ways to treat a single ''selbri'' as a state, an event, an activity, a property, an amount, etc. For example, jetnu, a ''selbri'' expressing that x1 is true, becomes the basis for ka jetnu, a ''selbri'' expressing the ''property'' of truth.
Place structures of a ''selbri'' can undergo ‘conversion', which is simply a reordering of the ''sumti'' places. Since the listener's attention is usually focussed on the first and/or the last ''sumti'' expressed in the ''bridi'', this has a significant effect in relative emphasis, somewhat like the ‘passive voice' of English (e.g. ''The man was bitten by the dog.'' vs. ''The dog bit the man'').)
As shown in example (2) above, ''tanru'' can also be ''selbri''. These ''tanru'' can be composed of simple ''brivla'', ''brivla'' modified by the techniques referred to above, or simpler ''tanru''. ''tanru'' themselves can also be modified by the above techniques.
All of the possible modifications to ''selbri'' are optional semantic components, including tense. (Time and location, and combinations of the two, can be incorporated as tenses in the ''selbri'').) With tense unspecified, examples (1) and (2) might be intended as past, present, or future tense; the context determines how the sentence should be interpreted.
===== sumti =====
''sumti'' can be compared to the ‘subject' and ‘object' of English grammar; the value of the first (x1) ''sumti'' place resembles the English ‘subject'; the other ''sumti'' are like direct or indirect ‘objects'.
But as the discussion of ''bridi'' above will have indicated, this is only an analogy. ''sumti'' are not inherently singular or plural: number is one of those semantic components mentioned above that is not always relevant to communication, so number is optional in Lojban. Thus, example (2) could have been translated as ''We quickly go/come/went/came (etc).) to the blue houses of those called John.'' If this is plausible given the context, but is not the meaning intended, the speaker must add some of the optional semantic information like tense and number, to ensure that the listener can understand the intended meaning. There are several ways to specify number when this is important to the speaker; the numerically unambiguous equivalent of the English plural ''people'' would be: le su'ore prenu (‘the at-least-two persons').
There are a large variety of constructs usable as ''sumti'', beyond what we have already seen. Only the most important will be mentioned here. These include:
===== selsku =====
The set of possible Lojbanic expressions is called selsku. Lojban has a grammar for multiple sentences tied together as narrative text, or as a conversation; the unambiguous Lojban grammar supports an indefinite string of Lojban paragraphs of arbitrary length. Using the rules of this grammar, multiple speakers can use, define, and redefine pro-''sumti''. Paragraphs, chapters, and even books can be separately distinguished: each can be numbered or titled distinctly. One can express logical and non-logical connectives over multi-sentence scope. (This is the essence of a set of instructions—a sequence of closely-related sentences).) Complex sets of suppositions can be expressed, as well as long chains of reasoning based on logical deduction. In short, the possibilities of Lojban grammatical expression are endless.
=== Chapter 3. Diagrammed Summary of Lojban Grammar ===
(Other Lojban spelling variations are possible for names imported from other languages).)
===== Some words used to indicate selbri relations =====
| colspan="2" style="border:none;padding:0in;"| ''I sell this-thing/these-things to that-buyer/those-buyers.'' (The price is obvious or unimportant).)
Usually, more than one ''sumti'' will be placed before the ''selbri'' for style or for emphasis on the ''sumti'' displaced from their normal position. (Native speakers of languages other than English may prefer such orders).)
===== Observatives =====
===== True/false (yes/no) questions (the word xu) =====
xu question sentence (Is-it-true-that..).):
The special use of the apostrophe, period, capitalization and commas is outlined in [[#ID_overviewtitle|Overview of Lojban ]][[#ID_overviewtitle|Grammar]].
'''Tip: '''Some optional conventions allow certain punctuation symbols to appear to clarify printed text, making it easier to read. (Such punctuation is not considered part of the standard Lojban orthography, and is not accepted by all Lojbanists).) These punctuation symbols ''always'' appear in conjunction with the printed word representing that punctuation symbol, rather than replacing it. Thus a xu question may be marked with a question mark immediately after the xu (or immediately before the xu, possibly inverted, as in Spanish). Other questions may similarly be marked with a question mark after the word indicating the question—''not'' at the end of the sentence. There are words that may be associated with exclamation points, start of quotation (represented by «) and end of quotation (»). For example:
.i xu? do klama
| colspan="6" style="border:none;padding:0in;"| ''You talk about this (to someone, in some language).)''
| style="border:none;padding:0in;"| ''I talk about Lojban in Lojban (to someone unspecified).)''
| style="border:none;padding:0in;"| You (imp).)
| style="border:none;padding:0in;"| &nbsp;
| style="border:none;padding:0in;"| talk
| style="border:none;padding:0in;"| to-you (imp).)
| style="border:none;padding:0in;"|
In some sentence positions, bajra might be interpreted as the ‘verb' ''to run''<nowiki>; in other positions, as the ‘noun' or ‘adjective' </nowiki>''running''. In le ''sumti''<nowiki> [ku]</nowiki>, described in the preceding section, it represents the ‘noun' interpretation of its x1 ''sumti'' place: ‘runner'. (Some English words, like ''cook'', have similar properties, but the analogy is weak).)
====== brivla ======
| colspan="5" style="border:none;padding:0in;"| ''You (imperative) talk to the quick-goer. (Talk to the quick-goer).)''
| colspan="2" style="border:none;padding:0in;"| ''The talker to the one who is beautiful to me goes. (The person talking to the one I think is beautiful, goes).)''
| style="border:none;padding:0in;"| ''The beautiful-to-me talker-to-Ann sells this. (The one I think is beautiful who is talking to Ann, sells this).)''
| colspan="6" style="border:none;padding:0in;"| ''I talk before you.'' (I talked before you even existed).)
Modal tags proper can also be used to add new ''sumti'' places to a ''selbri'': e.g. secau (without ..).), mu'i (motivational because ..).), du'o (according to ..).)
(Lojban has other ‘because' modal tags for asking a variety of different ‘why?' questions).)
====== sumti relative phrases (“sumti pe modifier-sumti [ge'u]”) ======
| colspan="4" style="border:none;padding:0in;"| ''The book of mine.'' (Even if you are holding it, it is still my book. But I also could give it to you, making it no longer my book).)
| colspan="4" style="border:none;padding:0in;"| ''The arm of mine.'' (It is intrinsically ''my'' arm; it cannot be given away, even if cut off).)
| style="border:none;padding:0in;"| ''The earlier/former/past runner talked/talks.'' (Since Lojban tense is optional, we don't know when she talked—but we do know when she ran).)
===== Attachments to selbri =====
====== Tensed or adverbial bridi relationships ======
Immediately after cu and before a ''selbri'', you can have a modal. (The modal being there may make cu redundant, since modals cannot be absorbed into ''tanru'', so they cannot be conflated with the ''selbri''itself).) Such modals serve as an equivalent to English tenses and adverbs. In Lojban, tense is completely optional. If unspecified, tense is picked up from context.
| colspan="5" style="border:none;padding:0in;"| ''I eat the cake-XOR-spaghetti. (I eat something that was either cake or spaghetti—though not both).)''
| colspan="6" style="border:none;padding:0in;"| ''I am if–shopkeeper-of–then–seller-of the butterflies. (If I own a butterfly shop, then I sell butterflies).)''
(The ku before the joi in the latter example ''cannot'' be left out due to the ambiguity resolution rules invoked in the definition of Lojban).)
==== Brief glossary of Lojban words used in these examples ====
Where a little more universality is desired, the word to be borrowed must be Lojbanized into one of several permitted forms. A ''rafsi'' is then attached to the beginning of the Lojbanized form, using an r or l to ensure that the resulting word doesn't fall apart. The result is a Stage 3 ''fu'ivla'' such as cidjrspageti, a true ''brivla'' (predicate word) rather than a phrase.
The ''rafsi'' used in a Stage 3 ''fu'ivla'' categorizes or limits its meaning; otherwise a word having several different jargon meanings in other languages would require the word-inventor to choose which single meaning should be assigned to the ''fu'ivla''. (''fu'ivla'', like other ''brivla'', are not permitted to have more than one definition).) Stage 3 borrowings are at present the most common kind of ''fu'ivla''.
Finally, Stage 4 ''fu'ivla'' do not have any ''rafsi'' classifier, and are used where a ''fu'ivla'' has become so common or so important that it must be made as short as possible. The Stage 4 ''fu'ivla'' for ‘spaghetti' is spageti<nowiki>; however, most Stage 4 words require a much greater distortion of the original form of the word. Stage 4 </nowiki>''fu'ivla'' have to pass several careful morphological tests to eliminate confusion with existing words and phrases, and cannot easily be devised during conversation.
There is no proven claim that the Lojban word-making algorithm has any meaningful correlation with learnability of the words. Informal ‘engineering tests' were conducted early in the Loglan Project, leading to the selection of the current algorithm, but these tests have never been documented or subjected to review. The Logical Language Group has proposed formal tests of the algorithm, and has instrumented its vocabulary teaching software to allow data to be gathered that can confirm or refute this hypothesis. Gathering this data may incidentally provide insights into the vocabulary learning process, enabling Lojban to serve as a test bed for research in second language acquisition.
In any event, the word-making algorithm used for Lojban has the clear benefit of ensuring that phonemes occur in the language in rough proportion to their occurrence in the source natural languages, and in patterns and orders similar to those in the source languages. (Thus the first syllable of Lojban ''gismu'' most frequently ends in /n/, reflecting the high frequency of syllable-ending /n/ in Chinese).) The result is a language that is much more pleasant-sounding than, for example, randomly chosen phoneme strings, while having at least some claim to being free of the European cultural bias found in the roots of most other constructed languages.
'''17. What is the process by which the ''gismu'' were devised? What are some examples of the process and its results?'''
An appropriate term was chosen from each of the six languages used in the process: Chinese, English, Hindi, Spanish, Russian, Arabic. (Natural language forms below are given in this order, labeled by single letters).) In some cases, two different terms from one or another language were used, to see which would have the higher score. The terms were then converted to Lojban phonology, with the affricates reduced to their corresponding fricatives, to avoid a false match between the stop segment of a source-language affricate and a Lojban stop. Morphological affixes were removed, also to avoid false matches.
To score a candidate ''gismu'', it was compared with each of the six source-language words to produce six raw scores. The raw score for a particular source word is roughly the number of letters it has in common (in the same order) with the candidate ''gismu''. (If there are two or fewer letters in common, special rules apply).) The raw score was then divided by the length of the source-language word, and multiplied by a weight reflecting the relative number of speakers of the source language at the time the candidate ''gismu'' was devised. The sum of the six adjusted scores is the final score for that candidate ''gismu'', typically expressed as a percentage.
For example, the candidate mamta for ‘mother' was built from the following six source words, in Lojbanized form: C ''ma'', E ''mam'', H ''mata'', S ''mam'', R ''mat'', A ''am''. (The English forms are based on American English pronunciation and lexis).) The raw scores are 2, 3, 4, 3, 3, and 2 respectively, leading to a final score of 100%. Given the metrics of Lojban design, this word cannot be improved on!
At the other end of the spectrum is ciblu, the Lojban ''gismu'' for ‘blood'. The source words here were C ''ciue'', E ''blad'', H ''rakt'', S ''sangr'', R ''krof'', A ''dam''. The raw scores are 3, 2, 0, 0, 0, 0 respectively; the adjusted scores are 0.27, 0.105, 0, 0, 0, 0; and the final score is 37.5%. This is quite low, since it reflects only the Chinese and English sources, but was still superior to all other possibilities devised.
Lojban could also be used to study language acquisition. Take even a few children during the critical period of language learning and teach them this artificial language (at the same time as they learn their traditional language). Do they become truly bilingual? If they are as fluently communicative in the artificial language as they are in their natural language, then the artificial language is a suitable model of language; it becomes as real a language as any other. In that case, ''any'' theory of language that cannot encompass the features of the artificial language is inadequate. You could perform a series of experiments with ever more exotic artificial languages (obviously you would need new speakers for each test). Sooner or later, either the model breaks, and the artificial language is no longer acquirable by children or communicative as a language; or the theory breaks, and you've learned where to look for improvements in the theory.
With only natural languages, you have to devise theories based on the available data, and then look in other natural languages for confirmation or refutation. But this isn't the optimal kind of experimentation, because you really cannot plan the experiment or control the variables. (The other language may have the same apparent feature through a totally different process that you won't recognize, because you aren't looking for it).)
Lojban has a feature that is designed to explore a less-understood aspect of language—the direct expression of emotion. Lojban allows expressive communication of emotions in words without suprasegmental features such as intonation. This is presumably unlike all natural languages, though not entirely, as many languages have a limited set of indicators of attitude in the form of interjections. Can human beings manipulate the symbols of emotion, in the same way they manipulate the comparable symbols of non-emotional expression? There is a whole range of experimental questions raised by this design element, probably the most ‘unnatural' element of Lojban's design.
The pronunciation guide that appeared in the Overview is intended for speakers of North American English. This more complete pronunciation guide uses the International Phonetic Alphabet, and comparison with the other five source languages of Lojban, in order to be useful outside North America.
Rather than concentrate on precise phonetic targets, Lojban phonemes have a range of allowed pronunciations, although there are preferred variants (given first in the IPA chart below).) The intent is to allow speakers to be understood unambiguously, rather than to devise a specific Lojban "accent". Where no word has been given to illustrate the pronunciation of a Lojban phoneme in a language, no phoneme in that language is close enough to serve as an equivalent.
=== International Phonetic Alphabet ===
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