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observative, a bare brisni that has no "terms + cu before the tail of the brisni.

In formal grammar observative is

  1. either "sentence = bridi-tail"
  2. or "sentence = [terms [CU #]] bridi-tail" where "terms" is resolved into one or more zo'e.

Quotes from CLL

Example 2.20.
unspecified-x1 is-beautiful to someone by some standard [literally]
Beautiful! It's beautiful!

Omitting the x1 adds emphasis to the selbri relation, which has become first in the sentence. This kind of sentence is termed an observative, because it is often used when someone first observes or takes note of the relationship, and wishes to quickly communicate it to someone else. Commonly understood English observatives include “Smoke!” upon seeing smoke or smelling the odor, or “Car!” to a person crossing the street who might be in danger. Any Lojban selbri can be used as an observative if no sumti appear before the selbri.

The word cu does not occur in an observative; cu is a separator, and there must be a sumti before the selbri that needs to be kept separate for cu to be used. With no sumti preceding the selbri, cu is not permitted. Short words like cu which serve grammatical functions are called cmavo in Lojban.

Example 9.4.
klama la bastn. la .atlantas. le dargu le karce
Look: a goer to Boston from Atlanta via the road using the car!

Such a bridi, with empty x1, is called an “observative”, because it usually calls on the listener to observe something in the environment which would belong in the x1 place. The [...] translation above shows this observative nature. Sometimes it is the relationship itself which the listener is asked to observe.

Example 9.31.
bloti teka'a la nu,IORK.
A boat from New York!
Example 10.151.
It burns!

the prudent Lojbanist will assume the meaning “Fire!”

Example 13.21.
.ii smacu
Eek! A mouse!

Example 13.21 shows an attitude-colored observative; the attitudinal modifies the situation described by the observative, namely the mouse that is causing the emotion. Lojban-speaking toddlers, if there ever are any, will probably use sentences like Example 13.21 a lot.

A bridi marked by za'a is based on perception or direct observation by the speaker. This use of “observe” is not connected with the Lojban “observative”, or bridi with the first sumti omitted. The latter has no explicit aspect, and could be a direct observation, a conclusion, an opinion, or other aspectual point of view.
A final use of giheks is to combine bridi-tails used as complete sentences, the Lojban observative:

Example 14.57.

klama le zarci gi'e dzukla le briju

Since x1 is omitted in both of the bridi underlying Example 14.57, this compound bridi does not necessarily imply that the goer and the walker are the same. Only the presence of an explicit x1 (other than zo'e, which is equivalent to omission) can force the goer and the walker to be identical.

Unofficial opinions

  • la xalbo:
    • If you erase from your mind all mention of the term "observative", your understanding of lojban will increase.
  • jezrax:
    • Some people seem to have been fooled, thinking that because this case is given a different name, it must follow a different rule than other cases. But in fact, the zo'es of an observative are filled in from context in exactly the same way that all other zo'es are filled. There is nothing special or different about observatives except for the name.