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malglico is Lojban for damned English, and is the concise way for Lojbanists to indicate they consider an expression or construction to be a poor carry-over from English, which is either erroneous (grammatically or semantically), or conveys inappropriate cultural bias.


(The following is a static copy of [1], which see for updates.)

Malglico is a LojbanLanguage term, best translated as ****ing English, used to refer to uses of the LojbanLanguage which actually fit better with the EnglishLanguage and are obvious examples of rks... not tolerated by its speakers, as LojbanLanguage is trying o be a CulturallyNeutralLanguage. Malglico uses of it prevent such CulturalNeutrality.

  • I'm curious how much malglico is actually spotted by non-English-speakers? It wouldn't surprise me if it was just self-deprecation on the part of some particularly whiny Americans.
  • A question - are there similar terms for Lojban misuse in the style of other natural languages like French, or Japanese? I agree with the sentiment that a so-called neutral language is somewhat hypocritical if it singles out a particular natural language as singularly bad.
    • No instances have occurred, but when we get a more diverse population I'm sure they will. I find it unlikely that with (so far) an English speaking population with only one or two non-native EnglishLanguage speakers we'll see terms like malxurdo popping up, but it could happen later when native Urdu speakers learn lojban.
  • Actually, I would bet that by the time such words like malxurdo would begin to appear, malglico would evolve to a more general term: it currently means making faulty English in Lojban, and would probably evolve to mean making faulty Lojban, period. Then again, it's also possible to use malprenu, or some-such, as well.
  • la nitcion used "charmingly maldotco" to describe Zamenhof's style in writing Esperanto; of course, this is not a use within Lojban yet.
    • If it's charming, it's certainly not mabla. Maybe something like "charmingly dotydu'e" would be better.
  • I guess I'm questioning the need to associate incorrect Lojban with a specific native language. What benefit is it to tag something as MalGlico versus <Lojban for incorrect grammar> (genselsrera) ??
    • Bad grammar is a different thing entirely from trying to turn lojban into your native language. Since all of us speak English fluently (so far), MalGlico is the most common misuse. But people do misuse the grammar - but that happens in every language. In lojban, the grammar is so alien that malglico occurs, and it is worth remarking for one simple reason:
    • As a newbie, I did not understand what malglico was, and it took a long time to figure it out. Here it is nicely explained for us.
    • Bad grammar is common to every language. I know what bad grammar is. I did not know what malglico meant, we don't have it in English.
  • PeteHardie:
    • I still do not see why it is deemed necessary to have the pejorative contain the native language name. Why not just call it natural grammar or something that does not appear to condemn the specific natural language? It smacks of a political agenda to do otherwise.
  • A specifically English construction is malglico. A construction unique to Germanic languages has been dubbed malbrasmudotco. Natural Grammar would imply that these constructions are not unique to one language, but to all natural languages. This is patently false. If a malxurdo (see above) example and a malglico example of the same idea were seen side by side, they would look different, and we like to be specific. Yes, we do have a political agenda: Not showing any cultural bias. We have to point out the bias when it shows up before we can eliminate it entirely. And we have to say what it is.
  • Maintaining a separate culture is a common challenge to language communities nowadays, and complete isolationism is a path many take. It's a pity Lojban couldn't go some other way, though.
    • PeteHardie:
      • I guess I don't see the value of identifying the parent language of a misconstruction so specifically. It seems to veer too close to both an appearance of Lojban bias against specific mother tongues, and the syndrome of everything having a very specific name, but the remedy being the same - to restate the correct formation.
  • Isn't it a little odd that an language that prides itself on being culturally neutral is the only one I'm aware of that has an apparently common curse word dealing with people who speak the language poorly? (See NorJbo.) EnglishLanguage has terms like "Spanglish" and "Engrish", and I've heard my high school Spanish teacher refer to malglico-like constructions in Spanish as "anglicisms", but neither of them translate into anything that has to be bleeped. In fact, the popularity of "malglico" seems to completely negate the cultural neutrality of the language.
    • actually a deficiency of English that it has to be ****d. In Lojban it's not a swear word, but English is unable to express certain sentiments without cursing.
      • The people who translate the word could describe the undesirability of "mal-" any number of ways. The fact that they invariably choose TheFword, or at least words you can't say in school, reflects an overly emphatic attitude.
        • Quite simply, English cannot express pejoratives without swearing, except in specific cases which don't happen to include the name of the language.
          • Bad, pathetic, stupid, horrible, hateful, unwanted.
  • Sure, and I myself have used 'damned English' to translate malglico. Cf. Esperanto -acx-
  • And I think it's not good for the language, from a political standpoint, that it would make such a big fuss about anglicisms being "not tolerated by its speakers." Let's face it; if I'm someone who's at all nervous about learning a new language (which I'm not), or if I'm someone who's at all timid about experimenting with a new language around people who are fluent in it (which I totally am), why would I spend my time on a language where I perceive that I'll be cussed out if I make a mistake or fall back on features of my native language? It's probably quite an easy assumption to make, considering a lot of Lojban-related web pages I've visited in the last month have mentioned malglico in very visible places, almost always translating it with one curse word or another.
  • And I'd like to compare this to my timidity in other languages. I learned Spanish in high school for four years, which means I'm totally not fluent in it. High school language classes are the kind of environment where you get grades not by expressing thoughts or by being understood, but by getting grammatical nit-picks correct, so by the time I've grammar-checked "�Cuando llega el autob�s?", the bus has already arrived and left without me because I've been flipping through my dictionary. JapaneseLanguage, with its myriad rules of etiquette, had originally scared me, until people assured me that with my big round blue eyes I'd be forgiven for many breaches of etiquette on the grounds that I'm a Western barbarian and Japanese is pridefully difficult. And I'm probably more confident and competent speaking in French thanks to FrenchInAction, though I've had bad experiences at a French chatters' club where there was this one lady there who seemed to think I was the only one who was not allowed to fall back on English when I didn't know the French. And a few days ago I started exercising my EsperantoLanguage on IRC, consulting my dictionary almost as constantly as I was apologizing for wild guesses I made about things I didn't want to look up, but the people there were very nice. Probably because Esperanto colture seems to be very laid-back and welcoming. While I've occasionally read about points of grammar English-speakers have trouble with, I get the impression that berating English-speakers low on the learning curve isn't a part of Esperanto culture.
  • NickBensema:
    • As for how native English-speakers treat people who speak EnglishAsaSecondLanguage, that's probably a rich enough topic for another web page. But suffice it to say, my AmericanCulturalAssumption is that when I go to some other country and speak one of these other languages, if I do make a mistake, there will be some kind of Ladka effect and women will think I'm cute. Except in Lojbanistan, where if I commit the crime of malglico, I will be put in the stocks, and be forced to sew a giant lowercase "m" on all my clothing, and women will spit on me as they walk past. (See the book "Me Talk Pretty One Day" by David Sedaris)
      • p.s. What's Lojban for "AllYourBaseAreBelongToUs"?
        • ro ledo jicmu du le se ponse be mi'a has been suggested.
  • No, Nick, we don't get mad at poor lojban, I do just fine on the list and my lojban isn't the best. But MalGlico is frowned upon because it is the opposite of what lojban stands for. .i ti patfu mi means the same as .i ti du le mi patfu, but the most common form of MalGlico is saying the latter, which implies this is mathematically equal to my father. Quite simply, MalGlico typically encompasses a total disuse of the loj part of lojban. If you need to check the gismu list and stick to simple bridi, fine. but if you ignore the grammar, a throwback to your NativeLanguage, then we will politely explain how to say it better if you're new at it, an otherwise you will be advised to get out a nice asbestos suit.
  • And you know, friendliness to beginners is all well and good, but only works when you've got an established norm, and a community of fluent language speakers. In a language community as pathological (or if you prefer, non-prototypical) and fragile as Lojbanistan, this kind of vigilance does more good than harm. This is less of an issue in Esperanto, but still enough of one for Esperantists to warn against transference from other languages; there have been satires of Hungarisms in the early poems of such acknowledged Masters as Julio Baghy, for example. So the comparison of learning Lojban and learning Spanish is unfair, I'd say.

Could you please analyze

.i ti patfu mi

This is-the-father-of me.

This is my father.


.i ti du le mi patfu

This is-equal-to the my father.

This is my father.

in *detail*, so that those lojban ignorant readers (like me) are able to understand what this is all about.


patfu: x1 is a father of x2; x1 begets/sires/acts paternal towards x2; not necessarily biological

ti: this, as in the thing I'm pointing to.

mi: I, me - See LojbanicPronouns

le: an article describing what the speaker has in mind, and is roughly equivalent to English the.

le patfu: something which can fill the x1 place of patfu (and which is something the speaker and presumably the listener has in mind.)

le mi patfu: Like le patfu, but it also claims that the speaker (mi) is associated with the father.

du: is connotes a mathematical 'is-equal-to' (specifies different ways to refer to the same thing.)

ti patfu mi puts ti into the first place of patfu and mi into the second place.

ti du le mi patfu means this = my father (the father associated with me), saying that both ti and le mi patfu refer to the same thing.

Since ti patfu mi means this is a father of me, it is non-lojbanic to rely on du for is when this is not necessary.

That depends on what your definition of 'is' is. - Bill Clinton

(.i is the word used to separate sentences, and is not required at the beginning of a text.)

The two sentences aren't strictly equivalent, but they can probably both be used in the same way, since we normally only have one father, and we're normally only associated with the one that is "ours". The second sentence mimics the grammatical structure of EnglishLanguage, is wordier, and is less exact (since the exact relationship between "mi" and the father in question isn't specified). It also uses the word "du", which is often considered inherently MalGlico outside of logic and math contexts.

(Lojban for father is patfu, not pafta, as originally written.)

To cut a long story short:

  • ti patfu mi: This fathers me
  • ti du le patfu be mi: This equals to the father of me

The first is good Lojban, and alien to English. The second is closer to English, and somewhat silly as Lojban. It is characterised as a beginner's mistake, and justly hounded.

(A nonpejorative word is glijbo for this sort of sub-lobykai usage.

In fact, the word malglico itself is rather "malglico", to my way

of thinking. It's a glicykai mabla jboselsku, after all...)

(end static copy)

ti du le mi patfu is excessively wordy, thus missing out on the sweet elegance of the place structures. That's not the clearest example of malglico I have seen. Do you consider the "Soon her eye fell on a little glass box" line a clearer example? If so, we should mention that on the C2 wiki.

Esperanto isn't trying to create a culture-free environment in the face of overwhelming, dare I say hegemonic pressures from outside. We are. And without a hard line against lapses, Lojban will become Longlish very soon. However, I am probably notorious by now for complaining about what I interpret as a newbie-hostile environment, created by what seems to be obsessive perfectionism in grammar and uncooperative interpretations of texts. We should all strive to be the best we can, but I think that advanced language skills require a phase in the beginning where errors are made freely. If errors are inhibited the student does not feel comfortable passing through that phase, and after all there are so many equally interesting and more relaxed pastimes available. If the Lojban folks flame and the Esperanto folks encourage, we are filtering out all but the thickest-skinned, most dedicated freaks that come stumbling in. We seem to end up with people who, whether or not they know the language well enough to discuss with it, enjoy nothing so much as discussing Lojban grammar.


Correcting someone is not the same as flaming. If people aren't corrected, the road to good language use will be much harder. Also, I have yet to see someone say "please don't correct me; I'm just beginning."

I recommend you check out the Klingon mailing list some time. Some are gentle with beginners, some not --- but all firmly insist on correctness. Beginners' posts are prefixed with KLBG, and are to be first responded to by the list's Beginners' Grammarian; then they're open season. (Jumping in to correct a beginner is regarded as breach of etiquette.) Yes, you can guess who I am

How obnoxiously hierarchically Klingon!

Oh my god! Its the Klingon Fairy!

.i do ka'e ckasu .i ku'i le bangrtlingana mriste ciste cu jai snada gi'e mapti lo cnino ke runti bangu poi na djica lenu lei cnino cilre cu xlaxlura ke'a .i do na ba'o cipra ledu'u na'e snada tu'a ji'a la lojban. .i ji'a leka lidne noi mabla fi do cu se milxyri'a lenu leka ce'u cfacilre genpre cu cenba

When getting acquainted to Lojban, I got the (right!) idea of the term {malglico} prior to knowing the exact meaning of {mabla}, so I never have been associating it with depreciatory terms like "f... English" or "da...English" (so common - and apparently so "existential" - a term for a global language representing western civilization).

As I understand it - following tsali's comprehensive iscussion of the concept, with examples - {malglico} is *not* bringing into Lojban a specific natlang view, but to *sin* against the grammatical nature (structure etc.) of this new conlang. Since the main part of Lojbanists being native English speakers, anglicisms are quite natural and of no greater harm (don't think that most of them are at all aware of this fact) as long as the very nature of Lojban isn't violated. The Anglo-American world (like the British language community) always has been an "isolated" one, to a degree that, idiomatically, there's hardly a connection to (non-English) European languages (even Hungarian, Finnish etc. are idiomatically more related and closer to other European languages than to English/American). This could be dangerous for the character of Lojban and it's claim for cultural "neutrality" (don't like the word, though).

Lojban should be open to all cultural influences - and at the same time preserve its own specific character!

Also, I don't think that coining new expressions for e.g. "university" or "health" in the good sense of Latin would be unlojbanic or {malylatmo}: This, for instance, was done by very scholarly Hungarian linguists who created "egyetem" and "eg�szs�g" - expressing the idea of "one-ness"/universitas and "whole-ness"/integritas. Nor would it be an expression following the idea of Mandarin "da xue" - great knowledge. But it surely would if those coinages - McDonald-like - were modelled by only one big-big language: malglico! -mu'o mi'e .aulun.

As a side note on that, English health is actually the time-altered form of wholeness from back when that was something like wholth.

This is very interesting (will look for it in my etymologic sources).