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\chap{Oooh! Arrgh! Ugh! Yecch! Attitudinal and Emotional
\sect{What are attitudinal indicators?}
This chapter explains the various words that Lojban provides
for expressing attitude and related notions. In natural
languages, attitudes are usually expressed by the tone of voice
when speaking, and (very imperfectly) by punctuation when
writing. For example, the bare words
John is coming.
{\noindent}can be made, through tone of voice, to express the speaker's
feeling of happiness, pity, hope, surprise, or disbelief. These
fine points of tone cannot be expressed in writing. Attitudes
are also expressed with various sounds which show up in print
as oddly spelled words, such as the \q{Oooh!}, \q{Arrgh!},
\q{Ugh!}, and \q{Yecch!} in the title. These are part of the
English language; people born to other languages use a
different set; yet you won't find any of these words in a
In Lojban, everything that can be spoken can also be
written. Therefore, these tones of voice must be represented by
explicit words known as \q{attitudinal indicators}, or just
\q{attitudinals}. This rule seems awkward and clunky to
English-speakers at first, but is an essential part of the
Lojbanic way of doing things.
The simplest way to use attitudinal indicators is to place
them at the beginning of a text. In that case, they express the
speaker's prevailing attitude. Here are some examples,
correlated with the attitudes mentioned following \exref{13.1.1}:
.ui la djan klama\n
\optional{Whee!} John is coming!
.uu la djan klama\n
\optional{Alas!} John is coming.
.a'o la djan klama\n
\optional{Hopefully} John is coming.
.ue la djan klama\n
\optional{Wow!} John is coming!
.ianai la djan klama\n
\optional{Nonsense!} John is coming.
The primary Lojban attitudinals are all the cmavo of the form
VV or V'V: one of the few cases where cmavo have been
classified solely by their form. There are 39 of these cmavo:
all 25 possible vowel pairs of the form V'V, the four standard
diphthongs (\q{.ai}, \q{.au}, \q{.ei}, and \q{.oi}), and the
ten more diphthongs that are permitted only in these
attitudinal indicators and in names and borrowings (\q{.ia},
\q{.ie}, \q{.ii}, \q{.io}, \q{.iu}, \q{.ua}, \q{.ue}, \q{.ui},
\q{.uo}, and \q{.uu}). Note that each of these cmavo has a
period before it, marking the pause that is mandatory before
every word beginning with a vowel. Attitudinals, like most of
the other kinds of indicators described in this chapter, belong
to selma'o UI.
Attitudinals can also be compound cmavo, of the types
explained in Sections 4-8; \exref{13.1.6}
illustrates one such possibility, the compound attitudinal
\q{.ianai}. In attitudinals, \q{-nai} indicates polar negation:
the opposite of the simple attitudinal without the \q{-nai}.
Thus, as you might suppose, \q{.ia} expresses belief, since
\q{.ianai} expresses disbelief.
In addition to the attitudinals, there are other classes of
indicators: intensity markers, emotion categories, attitudinal
modifiers, observationals, and discursives. All of them are
grammatically equivalent, which is why they are treated
together in this chapter.
Every indicator behaves in more or less the same way with
respect to the grammar of the rest of the language. In general,
one or more indicators can be inserted at the beginning of an
utterance or after any word. Indicators at the beginning apply
to the whole utterance; otherwise, they apply to the word that
they follow. More details can be found in \hyperref[sec:13:9]{Section
Throughout this chapter, tables of indicators will be
written in four columns. The first column is the cmavo itself.
The second column is a corresponding English word, not
necessarily a literal translation. The fourth column represents
the opposite of the second column, and shows the approximate
meaning of the attitudinal when suffixed with \q{-nai}. The
third column, which is sometimes omitted, indicates a neutral
point between the second and fourth columns, and shows the
approximate meaning of the attitudinal when it is suffixed with
\q{-cu'i}. The cmavo \q{cu'i} belongs to selma'o CAI, and is
explained more fully in \sectref{13.4}.
One flaw that the English glosses are particularly subject
to is that in English it is often difficult to distinguish
between expressing your feelings and talking about them,
particularly with the limited resource of the written word. So
the gloss for \q{.ui} should not really be \q{happiness} but
some sound or tone that expresses happiness. However, there
aren't nearly enough of those that have unambiguous or obvious
meanings in English to go around for all the many, many
different emotions Lojban speakers can readily express.
Many indicators of CV'V form are loosely derived from
specific gismu. The gismu should be thought of as a memory
hook, not an equivalent of the cmavo. Such gismu are shown in
this chapter between square brackets, thus: [gismu].
\sect{Pure emotion indicators}
Attitudinals make no claim: they are expressions of
attitude, not of facts or alleged facts. As a result,
attitudinals themselves have no truth value, nor do they
directly affect the truth value of a bridi that they modify.
However, since emotional attitudes are carried in your mind,
they reflect reactions to that version of the world that the
mind is thinking about; this is seldom identical with the real
world. At times, we are thinking about our idealized version of
the real world; at other times we are thinking about a
potential world that might or might not ever exist.
Therefore, there are two groups of attitudinals in Lojban.
The \q{pure emotion indicators} express the way the speaker is
feeling, without direct reference to what else is said. These
indicators comprise the attitudinals which begin with \q{u} or
\q{o} and many of those beginning with \q{i}.
The cmavo beginning with \q{u} are simple emotions, which
represent the speaker's reaction to the world as it is, or as
it is perceived to be.
.ua discovery confusion
.u'a gain loss
.ue surprise no surprise expectation
.u'e wonder commonplace
.ui happiness unhappiness
.u'i amusement weariness
.uo completion incompleteness
.u'o courage timidity cowardice
.uu pity cruelty
.u'u repentance lack of regret innocence
Here are some typical uses of the \q{u} attitudinals:
.ua mi facki fi le mi mapku\n
\optional{Eureka!} I found my hat!\n
\T [emphasizes the discovery of the hat]
.u'a mi facki fi le mi mapku\n
\optional{Gain!} I found my hat!\n
\T [emphasizes the obtaining of the hat]
.ui mi facki fi le mi mapku\n
\optional{Yay!} I found my hat!\n
\T [emphasizes the feeling of happiness]
.uo mi facki fi le mi mapku\n
\optional{At last!} I found my hat!\n
\T [emphasizes that the finding is complete]
.uu do cortu\n
\optional{Pity!} You feel-pain.\n
\T [expresses speaker's sympathy]
.u'u do cortu\n
\optional{Repentance!} You feel-pain\n
\T [expresses that speaker feels guilty]
In \exref{13.2.4}, note that the attitudinal
\q{.uo} is translated by an English non-attitudinal phrase:
\q{At last!} It is common for the English equivalents of Lojban
attitudinals to be short phrases of this sort, with more or
less normal grammar, but actually expressions of emotion.
In particular, both \q{.uu} and \q{.u'u} can be translated
into English as \q{I'm sorry}; the difference between these two
attitudes frequently causes confusion among English-speakers
who use this phrase, leading to responses like ``Why are you
sorry? It's not your fault!''
It is important to realize that \q{.uu}, and indeed all
attitudinals, are meant to be used sincerely, not ironically.
In English, the exclamation \q{Pity!} is just as likely to be
ironically intended, but this usage does not extend to Lojban.
Lying with attitudinals is (normally) as inappropriate to
Lojban discourse as any other kind of lying: perhaps worse,
because misunderstood emotions can cause even greater problems
than misunderstood statements.
The following examples display the effects of \q{nai} and
\q{cu'i} when suffixed to an attitudinal:
.ue la djan. klama\n
\optional{Surprise!} John comes.
.uecu'i la djan. klama\n
\optional{Ho hum.} John comes.
.uenai la djan. klama\n
\optional{Expected!} John comes.
In \exref{13.2.9}, John's coming has been
anticipated by the speaker. In \exref{13.2.7}
and \exref{13.2.8}, no such anticipation has
been made, but in \exref{13.2.7} the
lack-of-anticipation goes no further --- in \exref{13.2.8}, it amounts to actual
It is not possible to firmly distinguish the pure emotion
words beginning with \q{o} or \q{i} from those beginning with
\q{u}, but in general they represent more complex, more
ambivalent, or more difficult emotions.
.o'a pride modesty shame
.o'e closeness detachment distance
.oi complaint/pain doing OK pleasure
.o'i caution boldness rashness
.o'o patience mere tolerance anger
.o'u relaxation composure stress
Here are some examples:
.oi la djan. klama\n
\optional{Complaint!} John is coming.
Here the speaker is distressed or discomfited over John's
coming. The word \q{.oi} is derived from the Yiddish word
\q{oy} of similar meaning. It is the only cmavo with a Yiddish
.o'onai la djan. klama\n
\optional{Anger!} John is coming!
Here the speaker feels anger over John's coming.
.o'i la djan. klama\n
\optional{Beware!} John is coming.
Here there is a sense of danger in John's arrival.
.o'ecu'i la djan. klama\n
\optional{Detachment!} John is coming.
.o'u la djan. klama\n
\optional{Phew!} John is coming.
In \exref{13.2.13} and \exref{13.2.14}, John's arrival is no problem:
in the former example, the speaker feels emotional distance
from the situation; in the latter example, John's coming is
actually a relief of some kind.
The pure emotion indicators beginning with \q{i} are those
which could not be fitted into the \q{u} or \q{o} groups
because there was a lack of room, so they are a mixed lot.
\q{.ia}, \q{.i'a}, \q{.ie}, and \q{.i'e} do not appear here, as
they belong in \sectref{13.3} instead.
.ii fear nervousness security
.i'i togetherness privacy
.io respect disrespect
.i'o appreciation envy
.iu love no love lost hatred
.i'u familiarity mystery
Here are some examples:
.ii smacu\n
\optional{Fear!} [Observative:] a-mouse\n
Eek! A mouse!
la djan. .iu klama\n
John \optional{love!} is coming.
la djan. .ionai klama\n
John \optional{disrespect!} is coming.
\exref{13.2.15} 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 \exref{13.2.15} a
\exref{13.2.16} and \exref{13.2.17} use attitudinals that follow
\q{la djan.} rather than being at the beginning of the
sentence. This form means that the attitude is attached to John
rather than the event of his coming; the speaker loves or
disrespects John specifically. Compare:
la djan. klama .iu\n
John is-coming \optional{love!}
{\noindent}where it is specifically the coming of John that inspires the
\exref{13.2.17} is a way of swearing at
John: you could translate it as ``That good-for-nothing John is
\sect{Propositional attitude indicators}
As mentioned at the beginning of \hyperref[sec:13:2]{Section
2}, attitudinals may be divided into two groups, the pure
emotion indicators explained in that section, and a contrasting
group which may be called the ``propositional attitude
indicators''. These indicators establish an internal,
hypothetical world which the speaker is reacting to, distinct
from the world as it really is. Thus we may be expressing our
attitude towards \q{what the world would be like if ...}, or
more directly stating our attitude towards making the potential
world a reality.
In general, the bridi paraphrases of pure emotions look (in
English) something like ``I'm going to the market, and I'm
happy about it''. The emotion is present with the subject of
the primary claim, but is logically independent of it.
Propositional attitudes, though, look more like ``I intend to
go to the market'', where the main claim is logically
subordinate to the intention: I am not claiming that I am
actually going to the market, but merely that I intend to.
There is no sharp distinction between attitudinals beginning
with \q{a} and those beginning with \q{e}; however, the
original intent (not entirely realized due to the need to cram
too many attitudes into too little space) was to make the
members of the \q{a}-series the purer, more attitudinal
realizers of a potential world, while the members of the
\q{e}-series were more ambivalent or complex about the
speaker's intention with regard to the predication. The
relationship between the \q{a}-series and the \q{e}-series is
similar to that between the \q{u}-series and the \q{o}-series,
respectively. A few propositional attitude indicators
overflowed into the \q{i}-series as well.
In fact, the entire distinction between pure emotions and
propositional attitudes is itself a bit shaky: \q{.u'u} can be
seen as a propositional attitude indicator meaning ``I regret
that ...'', and \q{a'e} (discussed below) can be seen as a pure
emotion meaning \q{I'm awake/aware}. The division of the
attitudinals into pure-emotion and propositional-attitude
classes in this chapter is mostly by way of explanation; it is
not intended to permit firm rulings on specific points.
Attitudinals are the part of Lojban most distant from the
\q{logical language} aspect.
Here is the list of propositional attitude indicators
grouped by initial letter, starting with those beginning with
.a'a attentive inattentive avoiding
.a'e alertness exhaustion
.ai intent indecision refusal
.a'i effort no real effort repose
.a'o hope despair
.au desire indifference reluctance
.a'u interest no interest repulsion
Some examples (of a parental kind):
.a'a do zgana le veltivni\n
\optional{attentive} you observe the television-receiver.\n
I'm noticing that you are watching the TV.
.a'enai do ranji bacru\n
\optional{exhaustion} you continuously utter.\n
I'm worn out by your continuous talking.
.ai mi benji do le ckana\n
\optional{intent} I transfer you to-the bed.\n
I'm putting you to bed.
.a'i mi ba gasnu\n
\T le nu do cikna binxo\n
\optional{effort} I [future] am-the-actor-in\n
\T the event-of you awake-ly become.\n
It'll be a real pain for me to wake you up.
.a'o mi kanryze'a\n
\T ca le bavlamdei\n
\optional{hope} I am-health-increased at-time\n
\T the future-adjacent-day.\n
I hope I feel better tomorrow!
.au mi sipna\n
\optional{desire} I sleep.\n
I want to sleep.
a'ucu'i do pante\n
\optional{no interest} you complain\n
I have no interest in your complaints.
(In a real-life situation, Examples 3.1-3.7 would also be
decorated by various pure emotion indicators, certainly
including \q{.oicai}, but probably also \q{.iucai}.)
Splitting off the attitude into an indicator allows the
regular bridi grammar to do what it does best: express the
relationships between concepts that are intended, desired,
hoped for, or whatever. Rephrasing these examples to express
the attitude as the main selbri would make for unacceptably
heavyweight grammar.
Here are the propositional attitude indicators beginning
with \q{e}, which stand roughly in the relation to those
beginning with \q{a} as the pure-emotion indicators beginning
with \q{o} do to those beginning with \q{u} --- they are more
complex or difficult:
.e'a permission prohibition
.e'e competence incompetence
.ei obligation freedom
.e'i constraint independence resistance to constraint
.e'o request negative request
.e'u suggestion no suggestion warning
More examples (after a good night's sleep):
.e'a do sazri le karce\n
\optional{permission} You drive the car.\n
Sure, you can drive the car.
e'e mi lifri tu'a do\n
\optional{competence} I experience something-related-to you\n
I feel up to dealing with you.
.ei mi tisna\n
\T le karce ctilyvau\n
\optional{obligation} I fill\n
\T the car-type-of petroleum-container.\n
I should fill the car's gas tank.
.e'o ko ko kurji\n
\optional{request} You-imperative of-you-imperative take-care.\n
Please take care of yourself!
.e'u do klama le panka\n
\optional{suggestion} You go to-the park.\n
I suggest going to the park.
Finally, the propositional attitude indicators beginning
with \q{i}, which are the overflow from the other sets:
.ia belief skepticism disbelief
.i'a acceptance blame
.ie agreement disagreement
.i'e approval non-approval disapproval
Still more examples (much, much later):
.ianai do pu pensi le nu tcica mi\n
\optional{disbelief} You [past] think the event-of deceiving me.\n
I can't believe you thought you could fool me.
do .i'anai na xruti do le zdani\n
You \optional{blame} did-not return you to-the house\n
I blame you for not coming home.
.ie mi na cusku\n
\T lu'e le tcika\n
\T be le nu xruti\n
\optional{agreement} I did-not express\n
\T a-symbol-for the time-of-day\n
\T of the event-of (you return)\n
It's true I didn't tell you when to come back.
.i'enai do .i'e zukte\n
\optional{disapproval} you [approval] act\n
I don't approve of what you did, but I approve of you.
\exref{13.3.16} illustrates the use of a
propositional attitude indicator, \q{i'e}, in both the usual
sense (at the beginning of the bridi) and as a pure emotion
(attached to \q{do}). The event expressed by the main bridi is
disapproved of by the speaker, but the referent of the sumti in
the $x_1$ place (namely the listener) is approved of.
To indicate that an attitudinal discussed in this section is
not meant to indicate a propositional attitude, the simplest
expedient is to split the attitudinal off into a separate
sentence. Thus, a version of \exref{13.3.8}
which actually claimed that the listener was or would be
driving the car might be:
do sazri le karce .i e'a\n
You drive the car. \optional{Permission}.\n
You're driving (or will drive) the car,\n
\T and that's fine.
\sect{Attitudes as scales}
In Lojban, all emotions and attitudes are scales. These
scales run from some extreme value (which we'll call
\q{positive}) to an opposite extreme (which we'll call
\q{negative}). In the tables above, we have seen three points
on the scale: \q{positive}, neutral, and \q{negative}. The
terms \q{positive} and \q{negative} are put into scare quotes
because they are loaded words when applied to emotions, and the
attitudinal system reflects this loading, which is a known
cultural bias. Only two of the \q{positive} words, namely
\q{.ii} (fear) and \q{.oi} (pain/complaint), represent emotions
commonly thought of as less \q{virtuous} in most cases than
their negative counterparts. But these two were felt to be
instinctive, distinct, and very powerful emotions that needed
to be expressible in a monosyllable when necessary, while their
counterparts are less commonly expressed.
(Why the overt bias? Because there are a lot of attitudinals
and they will be difficult to learn as an entire set. By
aligning our scales arbitrarily, we give the monosyllable
\q{nai} a useful meaning and make it easier for a novice to
recognize at least the positive or negative alignment of an
indicator, if not the specific word. Other choices considered
were \q{random} orientation, which would have unknown biases
and be difficult to learn, and orientation based on our guesses
as to which scale orientations made the most frequent usages
shorter, which would be biased in favor of American perceptions
of \q{usefulness}. If bias must exist in our indicator set, it
might as well be a known bias that eases learning, and in
addition might as well favor a harmonious and positive
In fact, though, each emotional scale has seven positions
defined, three \q{positive} ones (shown below on the left),
three \q{negative} ones (shown below on the right), and a
neutral one indicating that no particular attitude on this
scale is felt. The following chart indicates the seven
positions of the scale and the associated cmavo. All of these
cmavo, except \q{nai}, are in selma'o CAI.
cai sai ru'e cu'i nairu'e naisai naicai
[carmi] [tsali] [ruble] [cumki]
A scalar attitude is expressed by using the attitudinal word,
and then following it by the desired scalar intensity. The bias
creeps in because the \q{negative} emotions take the extra
syllable \q{nai} to indicate their negative position on the
axis, and thus require a bit more effort to express.
Much of this system is optional. You can express an attitude
without a scale indicator, if you don't want to stop and think
about how strongly you feel. Indeed, for most attitudinals,
we've found that either no scalar value is used, or \q{cai} is
used to indicate especially high intensity. Less often,
\q{ru'e} is used for a recognizably weak intensity, and
\q{cu'i} is used in response to the attitudinal question
\q{pei} (see \sectref{13.10}) to indicate that
the emotion is not felt.
The following shows the variations resulting from intensity
I ought to\n
(a non-specific obligation)
I shall/must\n
(an intense obligation or requirement, possibly\n
\T a formal one)
I should\n
(a strong obligation or necessity, possibly an\n
\T implied but not formal requirement)
I might\n
(a weak obligation --- in English often mixed\n
\T with permission and desire)
No matter\n
(no particular obligation)
I need not\n
(a non-obligation)
You can also utter a scale indicator without a specific
emotion. This is often used in the language: in order to
emphasize a point about which you feel strongly, you mark what
you are saying with the scale indicator \q{cai}. You could also
indicate that you don't care using \q{cu'i} by itself.
\sect{The space of emotions}
Each of the attitude scales constitutes an axis in a
multi-dimensional space. In effect, given our total so far of
39 scales, we have a 39-dimensional space. At any given time,
our emotions and attitudes are represented by a point in this
39-dimensional space, with the intensity indicators serving as
coordinates along each dimension. A complete attitudinal
inventory, should one decide to express it, would consist of
reading off each of the scale values for each of the emotions,
with the vector sum serving as a distinct single point, which
is our attitude.
Now no one is going to ever utter a string of 100-odd
attitudinals to express their emotions. If asked, we normally
do not recognize more than one or two emotions at a time ---
usually the ones that are strongest or which most recently
changed in some significant way. But the scale system provides
some useful insights into a possible theory of emotion (which
might be testable using Lojban), and incidentally explains how
Lojbanists express compound emotions when they do recognize
The existence of 39 scales highlights the complexity of
emotion. We also aren't bound to the 39. There are modifiers
described in \sectref{13.6} that multiply the set
of scales by an order of magnitude. You can also have mixed
feelings on a scale, which might be expressed by \q{cu'i}, but
could also be expressed by using both the \q{positive} and
\q{negative} scale emotions at once. One expression of
\q{fortitude} might be \q{.ii.iinai} --- fear coupled with
Uttering one or more attitudinals to express an emotion
reflects several things. We will tend to utter emotions in
their immediate order of importance to us. We feel several
emotions at once, and our expression reflects these emotions
simultaneously, although their order of importance to us is
also revealing --- of our attitude towards our attitude, so to
speak. There is little analysis necessary; for those emotions
you feel, you express them; the \q{vector sum} naturally
expresses the result. This is vital to their nature as
attitudinals --- if you had to stop and think about them, or to
worry about grammar, they wouldn't be emotions but
People have proposed that attitudinals be expressed as bridi
just like everything else; but emotions aren't logical or
analytical --- saying \q{I'm awed} is not the same as saying
\q{Wow!!!}. The Lojban system is intended to give the effects
of an analytical system without the thought involved. Thus, you
can simply feel in Lojban.
A nice feature of this design is that you can be simple or
complex, and the system works the same way. The most immediate
benefit is in learning. You only need to learn a couple of the
scale words and a couple of attitude words, and you're ready to
express your emotions Lojbanically. As you learn more, you can
express your emotions more thoroughly and more precisely, but
even a limited vocabulary offers a broad range of
\sect{Emotional categories}
The Lojban attitudinal system was designed by starting with
a long list of English emotion words, far too many to fit into
the 39 available VV-form cmavo. To keep the number of cmavo
limited, the emotion words in the list were grouped together by
common features: each group was then assigned a separate cmavo.
This was like making tanru in reverse, and the result is a
collection of indicators that can be combined, like tanru, to
express very complex emotions. Some examples in a moment.
The most significant \q{common feature} we identified was
that the emotional words on the list could easily be broken
down into six major groups, each of which was assigned its own
ro'a social asocial antisocial
ro'e mental mindless
ro'i emotional denying emotion
ro'o physical denying physical
ro'u sexual sexual abstinence
re'e spiritual secular sacrilegious
Using these, we were able to assign \q{o'u} to mark a scale
of what we might call \q{generalized comfort}. When you are
comfortable, relaxed, satisfied, you express comfort with
\q{o'u}, possibly followed by a scale indicator to indicate how
comfortable you are. The six cmavo given above allow you to
turn this scale into six separate ones, should you wish.
For example, embarrassment is a social discomfort,
expressible as \q{.o'unairo'a}. Some emotions that we label
\q{stress} in English are expressed in Lojban with
\q{.o'unairo'i}. Physical distress can be expressed with
\q{.o'unairo'o}, which makes a nice groan if you say it with
feeling. Mental discomfort might be what you feel when you
don't know the answer to the test question, but feel that you
should. Most adults can recall some instance where we felt
sexual discomfort, \q{o'unairo'u}. Spiritual discomfort,
\q{o'unaire'e}, might be felt by a church-goer who has wandered
into the wrong kind of religious building.
Most of the time when expressing an emotion, you won't
categorize it with these words. Emotional expressions should be
quickly expressible without having to think about them.
However, we sometimes have mixed emotions within this set, as
for example emotional discomfort coupled with physical comfort
or vice versa.
Coupling these six words with our 39 attitude scales, each
of which has a positive and negative side, already gives you
far more emotional expression words than we have emotional
labels in English. Thus, you'll never see a Lojban-English
emotional dictionary that covers all the Lojban possibilities.
Some may be useless, but others convey emotions that probably
never had a word for them before, though many have felt them
(\q{.eiro'u}, for example --- look it up).
You can use scale markers and \q{nai} on these six category
words, and you can also use category words without specifying
the emotion. Thus, \q{I'm trying to concentrate} could be
expressed simply as \q{ro'e}, and if you are feeling
anti-social in some non-specific way, \q{ro'anai} will express
There is a mnemonic device for the six emotion categories,
based on moving your arms about. In the following table, your
hands begin above your head and move down your body in
ro'a hands above head social
ro'e hands on head intellectual
ro'i hands on heart emotional
ro'o hands on belly physical
ro'u hands on groin sexual
re'e hands moving around spiritual
The implicit metaphors \q{heart} for emotional and \q{belly}
for physical are not really Lojbanic, but they work fine for
\sect{Attitudinal modifiers}
The following cmavo are discussed in this section:
ga'i hauteur/rank equal rank meekness/lack of rank
le'o aggressive passive defensive
vu'e virtue (zabna) sin (mabla)
se'i self-orientation other-orientation
ri'e release restraint control
fu'i with help without help with opposition
easily with difficulty
be'u lack/need presence/satisfaction satiation
se'a self-sufficiency dependency
It turned out that, once we had devised the six emotion
categories, we also recognized some other commonalities among
emotions. These tended to fit nicely on scales of their own,
but generally tend not to be thought of as separate emotions.
Some of these are self-explanatory, some need to be placed in
context. Some of these tend to go well with only a few of the
attitudinals, others go with nearly all of them. To really
understand these modifiers, try to use them in combination with
one or two of the attitudinals found in \hyperref[sec:13:2]{Sections
2} and \hyperref[sec:13:3]{3}, and see what emotional pictures
you can build:
The cmavo \q{ga'i} expresses the scale used to indicate
condescension or polite deference; it is not respect in
general, which is \q{.io}. Whatever it is attached to is marked
as being below (for \q{ga'i}) or above (for \q{ga'inai}) the
speaker's rank or social position. Note that it is always the
referent, not the speaker or listener, who is so marked: in
order to mark the listener, the listener must appear in the
sentence, as with \q{doi ga'inai}, which can be appended to a
statement addressed to a social inferior.
ko ga'inai\n
\T nenri klama le mi zdani\n
you-imperative \optional{low-rank!}\n
\T enter-type-of come-to my house.\n
I would be honored if you would enter my residence.
Note that imperatives in Lojban need not be imperious!
Corresponding examples with \q{ga'icu'i} and \q{ga'inai}:
ko ga'icu'i\n
\T nenri klama le mi zdani\n
you-imperative \optional{equal-rank!}\n
\T enter-type-of come-to my house.\n
Come on in to my place.
ko ga'i\n
\T nenri klama le mi zdani\n
you-imperative \optional{high-rank!}\n
\T enter-type-of come-to my house.\n
You! Get inside!
Since \q{ga'i} expresses the relative rank of the speaker
and the referent, it does not make much sense to attach it to
\q{mi}, unless the speaker is using \q{mi} to refer to a group
(as in English \q{we}), or a past or future version of himself
with a different rank.
It is also possible to attach \q{ga'i} to a whole bridi, in
which case it expresses the speaker's superiority to the event
the bridi refers to:
ga'i le xarju pu citka\n
\optional{high-rank!} the pig [past] eats\n
The pig ate (which is an event beneath my notice).
When used without being attached to any bridi, \q{ga'i}
expresses the speaker's superiority to things in general, which
may represent an absolute social rank: \q{ga'icai} is an
appropriate opening word for an emperor's address from the
The cmavo \q{le'o} represents the scale of aggressiveness.
We seldom overtly recognize that we are feeling aggressive or
defensive, but perhaps in counseling sessions, a psychologist
might encourage someone to express these feelings on this
scale. And football teams could be urged on by their coach
using \q{ro'ole'o}. \q{le'o} is also useful in threats as an
alternative to \q{o'onai}, which expresses anger.
The cmavo \q{vu'e} represents ethical virtue or its absence.
An excess of almost any emotion is usually somewhat \q{sinful}
in the eyes of most ethical systems. On the other hand, we
often feel virtuous about our feelings --- what we call
righteous indignation might be \q{o'onaivu'e}. Note that this
is distinct from lack of guilt: \q{.u'unai}.
The cmavo \q{se'i} expresses the difference between selfish
and generous, for example (in combination with \q{.au}):
\optional{desire} [self]\n
I want it!
\optional{desire} [other]\n
I want you to have it!
In both cases, the English \q{it} is vague, reflecting the
absence of a bridi. \exref{13.7.5} and \exref{13.7.6} are pure expressions of attitude.
Analogously, \q{.uuse'i} is self-pity, whereas \q{.uuse'inai}
is pity for someone else.
The modifier \q{ri'e} indicates emotional release versus
emotional control. \q{I will not let him know how angry I am},
you say to yourself before entering the room. The Lojban is
much shorter:
.o'onai ri'enai\n
\optional{anger} [control]
On the other hand, \q{ri'e} can be used by itself to signal
an emotional outburst.
The cmavo \q{fu'i} may express a reason for feeling the way
we do, as opposed to a feeling in itself; but it is a reason
that is more emotionally determined than most. For example, it
could show the difference between the mental discomfort
mentioned in \sectref{13.6} when it is felt on an
easy test, as opposed to on a hard test. When someone gives you
a back massage, you could use \q{.o'ufu'i} to show appreciation
for the assistance in your comfort.
The cmavo \q{be'u} expresses, roughly speaking, whether the
emotion it modifies is in response to something you don't have
enough of, something you have enough of, or something you have
too much of. It is more or less the attitudinal equivalent of
the subjective quantifier cmavo \q{mo'a}, \q{rau}, and \q{du'e}
(these belong to selma'o PA, and are discussed in \chapref{18}). For example,
\optional{Yay!} [physical] [Enough!]
{\noindent}might be something you say after a large meal which you
Like all modifiers, \q{be'u} can be used alone:
le cukta be'u cu zvati ma\n
The book \optional{Needed!} is at-location [what sumti?]\n
Where's the book? --- I need it!
Lastly, the modifier \q{se'a} shows whether the feeling is
associated with self-sufficiency or with dependence on others.
\optional{I can!} [self-sufficient!]\n
I can do it all by myself!
{\noindent}is something a Lojban-speaking child might say. On the other
\optional{I can!} [dependent]\n
I can do it if you help me.
{\noindent}from the same child would indicate a (hopefully temporary) loss
of self- confidence. It is also possible to negate the \q{.e'e}
in \exref{13.7.7} and \exref{13.7.8}, leading to:
\optional{I can't} [self-sufficient]\n
I can't do it by myself!
\optional{I can't!} [dependent]\n
I can't do it if you insist on \q{helping} me!
Some of the emotional expressions may seem too complicated to
use. They might be for most circumstances. It is likely that
most combinations will never get used. But if one person uses
one of these expressions, another person can understand (as
unambiguously as the expresser intends) what emotion is being
expressed. Most probably as the system becomes well-known and
internalized by Lojban-speakers, particular attitudinal
combinations will come to be standard expressions (if not
cliches) of emotion.
\sect{Compound indicators}
The grammar of indicators is quite simple; almost all facets
are optional. You can combine indicators in any order, and they
are still grammatical. The presumed denotation is additive;
thus the whole is the sum of the parts regardless of the order
expressed, although the first expressed is presumed most
important to the speaker. Every possible string of UI cmavo has
some meaning.
Within a string of indicators, there will be conventions of
interpretation which amount to a kind of second-order grammar.
Each of the modifier words is presumed to modify an indicator
to the left, if there is one. (There is an ``unspecified
emotion'' word, \q{ge'e}, reserved to ensure that if you want
to express a modifier without a root emotion, it doesn't attach
to and modify a previous but distinct emotional
For example, \q{.ieru'e} expresses a weak positive value on
the scale of agreement: the speaker agrees (presumably with the
listener or with something else just stated), but with the
least possible degree of intensity. But \q{.ie ge'eru'e}
expresses agreement (at an unspecified level), followed by some
other unstated emotion which is felt at a weak level. A rough
English equivalent of \q{.ie ge'eru'e} might be ``I agree, but
...'' where the \q{but} is left hanging. (Again, attitudes
aren't always expressed in English by English
A scale variable similarly modifies the previous emotion
word. You put the scale word for a root emotion word before a
modifier, since the latter can have its own scale word. This
merely maximizes the amount of information expressible. For
example, \q{.oinaicu'i ro'ucai} expresses a feeling midway
between pain (\q{.oi}) and pleasure (\q{.oinai}) which is
intensely sexual (\q{ro'u}) in nature.
The cmavo \q{nai} is the most tightly bound modifier in the
language: it always negates exactly one word --- the preceding
one. Of all the words used in indicator constructs, \q{nai} is
the only one with any meaning outside the indicator system. If
you try to put an indicator between a non-indicator cmavo and
its \q{nai} negator, the \q{nai} will end up negating the last
word of the indicator. The result, though unambiguous, is not
what you want. For example,
mi .e .ui nai do\n
I and \optional{Yay!} [Not!] you
{\noindent}means \q{I and (unfortunately) you}, whereas
mi .e nai .ui do\n
I and \optional{Not!} [Yay!] you
{\noindent}means \q{I but (fortunately) not you}. Attitudinal \q{nai}
expresses a \q{scalar negation}, a concept explained in \chapref{15}; since every attitudinal word
implies exactly one scale, the effect of \q{nai} on each should
be obvious.
Thus, the complete internal grammar of UI is as follows,
with each listed part optionally present or absent without
affecting grammaticality, though it obviously would affect
\item[] attitudinal \q{nai} intensity-word \q{nai} modifier \q{nai} intensity-word \q{nai} (possibly repeated)
\q{ge'e}, the non-specific emotion word, functions as an
attitudinal. If multiple attitudes are being expressed at once,
then in the 2nd or greater position, either \q{ge'e} or a VV
word must be used to prevent any modifiers from modifying the
previous attitudinal.
\sect{The uses of indicators}
The behavior of indicators in the \q{outside grammar} is
nearly as simple as their internal structure. Indicator
groupings are identified immediately after the metalinguistic
erasers \q{si}, \q{sa}, and \q{su} and some, though not all,
kinds of quotations. The details of such interactions are
discussed in \chapref{19}.
A group of indicators may appear anywhere that a single
indicator may, except in those few situations (as in \q{zo}
quotation, explained in \chapref{19})
where compound cmavo may not be used.
At the beginning of a text, indicators modify everything
following them indefinitely: such a usage is taken as a raw
emotional expression, and we normally don't turn off our
emotions when we start and stop sentences. In every other place
in an utterance, the indicator (or group) attaches to the word
immediately to its left, and indicates that the attitude is
being expressed concerning the object or concept to which the
word refers.
If the word that an indicator (or group) attaches to is
itself a cmavo which governs a grammatical structure, then the
indicator construct pertains to the referent of the entire
structure. There is also a mechanism, discussed in \chapref{19}, for explicitly marking the
range of words to which an indicator applies.
More details about the uses of indicators, and the way they
interact with other specialized cmavo, are given in \chapref{19}. It is worth mentioning that
real-world interpretation is not necessarily consistent with
the formal scope rules. People generally express emotions when
they feel them, with only a minimum of grammatical constraint
on that expression; complexities of emotional expression are
seldom logically analyzable. Lojban attempts to provide a
systematic reference that could possibly be ingrained to an
instinctive level. However, it should always be assumed that
the referent of an indicator has some uncertainty.
For example, in cases of multiple indicators expressed
together, the combined form has some ambiguity of
interpretation. It is possible to interpret the second
indicator as expressing an attitude about the first, or to
interpret both as expressing attitudes about the common
referent. For example, in
mi pu tavla do .o'onai .oi\n
I \optional{past} talk-to you [Grrr!] [Oy!]
{\noindent}can be interpreted as expressing complaint about the anger, in
which case it means \q{Damn, I snapped at you}; or as
expressing both anger and complaint about the listener, in
which case it means \q{I told you, you pest!}
Similarly, an indicator after the final brivla of a tanru
may be taken to express an attitude about the particular brivla
placed there --- as the rules have it --- or about the entire
bridi which hinges on that brivla. Remembering that indicators
are supposedly direct expressions of emotion, this ambiguity is
Even if the scope rules given for indicators turn out to be
impractical or unintuitive for use in conversation, they are
still useful in written expression. There, where you can go
back and put in markers or move words around, the scope rules
can be used in lieu of elaborate nuances of body language and
intonation to convey the writer's intent.
\sect{Attitude questions; empathy; attitude contours}
The following cmavo are discussed in this section:
pei attitude question
dai empathy
bu'o start emotion continue emotion end emotion
You can ask someone how they are feeling with a normal bridi
sentence, but you will get a normal bridi answer in response,
one which may be true or false. Since the response to a
question about emotions is no more logical than the emotion
itself, this isn't appropriate.
The word \q{pei} is therefore reserved for attitude
questions. Asked by itself, it captures all of the denotation
of English \q{How are you?} coupled with \q{How do you feel?}
(which has a slightly different range of usage).
When asked in the context of discourse, \q{pei} acts like
other Lojban question words --- it requests the respondent to
\q{fill in the blank}, in this case with an appropriate
attitudinal describing the respondent's feeling about the
referent expression. As with other questions, plausibility is
polite; if you answer with an irrelevant UI cmavo, such as a
discursive, you are probably making fun of the questioner. (A
\q{ge'e}, however, is always in order --- you are not required
to answer emotionally. This is not the same as \q{.i'inai},
which is privacy as the reverse of conviviality.)
Most often, however, the asker will use \q{pei} as a place
holder for an intensity marker. (As a result, \q{pei} is placed
in selma'o CAI, although selma'o UI would have been almost as
appropriate. Grammatically, there is no difference between UI
and CAI.) Such usage corresponds to a whole range of idiomatic
usages in natural languages:
\optional{agreement} [question]\n
Do you agree?
\optional{belief} [spiritual] [question]\n
Are you a Believer?
\optional{intention} [question]\n
Are you going to do it?
\exref{13.10.3} might appear at the end of a
command, to which the response
\optional{intention} [maximal]
{\noindent}corresponds to \q{Aye! Aye!} (hence the choice of cmavo).
\optional{permission} [question]\n
Please, Mommy! Can I??
Additionally, when \q{pei} is used at the beginning of an
indicator construct, it asks specifically if that construct
reflects the attitude of the respondent, as in (asked of
someone who has been ill or in pain):
\optional{question} [comfort]\n
Are you comfortable?
\optional{question} [comfort] [neutral]\n
Are you no longer in pain?
\optional{question} [comfort] [strong]\n
Are you again healthy?
Empathy, which is not really an emotion, is expressed by the
indicator \q{dai}. (Don't confuse empathy with sympathy, which
is \q{.uuse'inai}.) Sometimes, as when telling a story, you
want to attribute emotion to someone else. You can of course
make a bridi claim that so-and-so felt such-and-such an
emotion, but you can also make use of the attitudinal system by
adding the indicator \q{dai}, which attributes the preceding
attitudinal to someone else --- exactly whom, must be
determined from context. You can also use \q{dai}
conversationally when you empathize, or feel someone else's
emotion as if it were your own:
\optional{pain!} [physical] [empathy]\n
Ouch, that must have hurt!
It is even possible to \q{empathize} with a non-living
le bloti .iidai .uu pu\n
\T klama le xasloi\n
the ship \optional{fear!} [empathy] [pity!] [past]\n
\T goes-to the ocean-floor\n
Fearfully the ship, poor thing, sank.
{\noindent}suggesting that the ship felt fear at its impending
destruction, and simultaneously reporting the speaker's pity
for it.
Both \q{pei} and \q{dai} represent exceptions to the normal
rule that attitudinals reflect the speaker's attitude.
Finally, we often want to report how our attitudes are
changing. If our attitude has not changed, we can just repeat
the attitudinal. (Therefore, \q{.ui .ui .ui} is not the same as
\q{.uicai}, but simply means that we are continuing to be
happy.) If we want to report that we are beginning to feel,
continuing to feel, or ceasing to feel an emotion, we can use
the attitudinal contour cmavo \q{bu'o}.
When attached to an attitudinal, \q{bu'o} means that you are
starting to have that attitude, \q{bu'ocu'i} that you are
continuing to have it, and \q{bu'onai} that you are ceasing to
have it. Some examples:
o'onai bu'o\n
\optional{anger!} [start emotion]\n
I'm getting angry!
.iu bu'onai .uinai\n
\optional{love!} [end emotion] [unhappiness!]\n
I don't love you any more; I'm sad.
Note the difference in effect between \exref{13.10.12} and:
mi ca ba'o prami do ja'e le nu\n
\T mi badri\n
I \optional{present} [cessitive] love you with-result the event-of\n
\T (I am-sad).\n
I no longer love you; therefore, I am sad.
{\noindent}which is a straightforward bridi claim. \exref{13.10.13} states that you have (or have
had) certain emotions; \exref{13.10.12}
expresses those emotions directly.
The following cmavo are discussed in this section:
ja'o I conclude
ca'e I define
ba'a I expect I experience I remember
su'a I generalize I particularize
ti'e I hear (hearsay)
ka'u I know by cultural means
se'o I know by internal experience
za'a I observe
pe'i I opine [pensi]
ru'a I postulate
ju'a I state [jufra]
Now we proceed from the attitudinal indicators and their
relatives to the other, semantically unrelated, categories of
indicators. The indicators known as \q{evidentials} show how
the speaker came to say the utterance; i.e. the source of the
information or the idea. Lojban's list of evidentials was
derived from lists describing several American Indian
languages. Evidentials are also essential to the constructed
language L\'{a}dan, designed by the linguist and novelist
Suzette Haden Elgin. L\'{a}dan's set of indicators was
drawn on extensively in developing the Lojban indicator system.
It is important to realize, however, that evidentials are
not some odd system used by some strange people who live at the
other end of nowhere: although their English equivalents aren't
single words, English-speakers have vivid notions of what
constitutes evidence, and of the different kinds of
Like the attitudinal indicators, the evidentials belong to
selma'o UI, and may be treated identically for grammatical
purposes. Most of them are not usually considered scalar in
nature, but a few have associated scales.
A bridi with an evidential in it becomes \q{indisputable},
in the sense that the speaker is saying ``how it is with him or
her'', which is beyond argument. Claims about one's own mental
states may be true or false, but are hardly subject to other
people's examination. If you say that you think, or perceive,
or postulate such-and-such a predication, who can contradict
you? Discourse that uses evidentials has therefore a different
rhetorical flavor than discourse that does not; arguments tend
to become what can be called dialogues or alternating
monologues, depending on your prejudices.
Evidentials are most often placed at the beginning of
sentences, and are often attached to the \q{.i} that separates
sentences in connected discourse. It is in the nature of an
evidential to affect the entire bridi in which it is placed:
like the propositional attitude indicators, they strongly
affect the claim made by the main bridi.
A bridi marked by \q{ja'o} is a conclusion by the speaker
based on other (stated or unstated) information or ideas. Rough
English equivalents of \q{ja'o} are \q{thus} and
A bridi marked by \q{ca'e} is true because the speaker says
so. In addition to definitions of words, \q{ca'e} is also
appropriate in what are called performatives, where the very
act of speaking the words makes them true. An English example
is \q{I now pronounce you husband and wife}, where the very act
of uttering the words makes the listeners into husband and
wife. A Lojban translation might be:
ca'e le re do cu simxu speni\n
\optional{I define!} The two of-you are-mutual spouses.
The three scale positions of \q{ba'a}, when attached to a
bridi, indicate that it is based on the speaker's view of the
real world. Thus \q{ba'a} means that the statement represents a
future event as anticipated by the speaker; \q{ba'acu'i}, a
present event as experienced by the speaker; \q{ba'anai}, a
past event as remembered by the speaker. It is accidental that
this scale runs from future to past instead of past to future.
ba'acu'i le tuple be mi cu se cortu\n
\optional{I experience!} The leg of me is-the-locus-of-pain.\n
My leg hurts.
A bridi marked by \q{su'a} is a generalization by the speaker
based on other (stated or unstated) information or ideas. The
difference between \q{su'a} and \q{ja'o} is that \q{ja'o}
suggests some sort of reasoning or deduction (not necessarily
rigorous), whereas \q{su'a} suggests some sort of induction or
pattern recognition from existing examples (not necessarily
The opposite point of the scale, \q{su'anai}, indicates
abduction, or drawing specific conclusions from general
premises or patterns.
This cmavo can also function as a discursive (see \sectref{13.12}), in which case \q{su'a} means
\q{abstractly} or \q{in general}, and \q{su'anai} means
\q{concretely} or \q{in particular}.
A bridi marked by \q{ti'e} is relayed information from some
source other than the speaker. There is no necessary
implication that the information was relayed via the speaker's
ears; what we read in a newspaper is an equally good example of
\q{ti'e}, unless we have personal knowledge of the content.
ti'e la .uengas cu zergau\n
\optional{I hear!} Wenga is-a-criminal-doer.\n
I hear that Wenga is a crook.
A bridi marked by \q{ka'u} is one held to be true in the
speaker's cultural context, as a matter of myth or custom, for
example. Such statements should be agreed on by a community of
people --- you cannot just make up your own cultural context
--- although \q{objectivity} in the sense of actual
correspondence with the facts is certainly not required.
On the other hand, \q{se'o} marks a bridi whose truth is
asserted by the speaker as a result of an internal experience
not directly available to others, such as a dream, vision, or
personal revelation. In some cultures, the line between
\q{ka'u} and \q{se'o} is fuzzy or even nonexistent.
A bridi marked by \q{za'a} is based on perception or direct
observation by the speaker. This use of \q{observe} is not
connected with the Lojban \q{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.
za'a do tatpi\n
\optional{I observe!} You are-tired.\n
I see you are tired.
A bridi marked by \q{pe'i} is the opinion of the speaker. The
form \q{pe'ipei} is common, meaning \q{Is this your opinion?}.
(Strictly, this should be \q{peipe'i}, in accordance with the
distinction explained in Examples 10.6-10.8, but since \q{pe'i}
is not really a scale, there is no real difference between the
two orders.)
pe'i la kartagos. .ei se daspo\n
\optional{I opine!} Carthage [obligation] is-destroyed.\n
In my opinion, Carthage should be destroyed.
A bridi marked by \q{ru'a} is an assumption made by the
speaker. This is similar to one possible use of \q{.e'u}.
ru'a doi livinston.\n
Dr. Livingstone, I presume?\n
\T (A rhetorical question: Stanley knew who he was.)
Finally, the evidential \q{ju'a} is used to avoid stating a
specific basis for a statement. It can also be used when the
basis for the speaker's statement is not covered by any other
evidential. For the most part, using \q{ju'a} is equivalent to
using no evidential at all, but in question form it can be
useful: \q{ju'apei} means ``What is the basis for your
statement?'' and serves as an evidential, as distinct from
emotional, question.
The term \q{discursive} is used for those members of selma'o
UI that provide structure to the discourse, and which show how
a given word or utterance relates to the whole discourse. To
express these concepts in regular bridi would involve extra
layers of nesting: rather than asserting that \q{I also came},
we would have to say ``I came; furthermore, the event of my
coming is an additional instance of the relationship expressed
by the previous sentence'', which is intolerably clumsy.
Typical English equivalents of discursives are words or phrases
like \q{however}, \q{summarizing}, \q{in conclusion}, and ``for
Discursives are not attitudinals: they express no particular
emotion. Rather, they are abbreviations for metalinguistic
claims that reference the sentence or text they are found
Discursives are most often used at the beginning of
sentences, often attached to the \q{.i} that separates
sentences in running discourse, but can (like all other
indicators) be attached to single words when it seems necessary
or useful.
The discursives discussed in this section are given in
groups, roughly organized by function. First, the ``consecutive
discourse'' group:
ku'i however/but/in contrast \optional{karbi}
ji'a additionally [jmina]
si'a similarly [simsa]
mi'u ditto [mintu]
po'o the only relevant case
These five discursives are mutually exclusive, and therefore
they are not usually considered as scales. The first four are
used in consecutive discourse. The first, \q{ku'i}, makes an
exception to the previous argument. The second, \q{ji'a}, adds
weight to the previous argument. The third, \q{si'a}, adds
quantity to the previous argument, enumerating an additional
example. The fourth, \q{mi'u}, adds a parallel case to the
previous argument, and can also be used in tables or the like
to show that something is being repeated from the previous
column. It is distinct from \q{go'i} (of selma'o GOhA,
discussed in \chapref{7}), which is a
non-discursive version of \q{ditto} that explicitly repeats the
claim of the previous bridi.
Lastly, \q{po'o} is used when there is no other comparable
case, and thus corresponds to some of the uses of \q{only}, a
word difficult to express in pure bridi form:
mi po'o darxi le mi tamne fo le nazbi\n
I \optional{only} hit my cousin at-locus the nose.\n
Only I (nobody else) hit my cousin on his nose.
mi darxi po'o le mi tamne fo le nazbi\n
I hit \optional{only} my cousin at-locus the nose.\n
I only hit my cousin on his nose\n
\T (I did nothing else to him).
mi darxi le mi tamne po'o fo le nazbi\n
I hit my cousin \optional{only} at-locus the nose.\n
I hit only my cousin on his nose (no one else).
mi darxi le mi tamne fo le nazbi po'o\n
I hit my cousin at-locus the nose \optional{only}.\n
I hit my cousin only on his nose (nowhere else).
Note that \q{only} can go before or after what it modifies in
English, but \q{po'o}, as an indicator, always comes afterward.
Next, the \q{commentary on words} group:
va'i in other words in the same words
ta'u expanding a tanru making a tanru
The discursives \q{va'i} and \q{ta'u} operate at the level of
words, rather than discourse proper, or if you like, they deal
with how things are said. An alternative English expression for
\q{va'i} is \q{rephrasing}; for \q{va'inai}, \q{repeating}.
Also compare \q{va'i} with \q{ke'u}, discussed below.
The cmavo \q{ta'u} is a discursive unique to Lojban; it
expresses the particularly Lojbanic device of tanru. Since
tanru are semantically ambiguous, they are subject to
misunderstanding. This ambiguity can be removed by expanding
the tanru into some semantically unambiguous structure, often
involving relative clauses or the introduction of additional
brivla. The discursive \q{ta'u} marks the transition from the
use of a brief but possibly confusing tanru to its fuller,
clearer expansion; the discursive \q{ta'unai} marks a
transition in the reverse direction.
Next, the \q{commentary on discourse} group:
li'a clearly/obviously obscurely
ba'u exaggeration accuracy understatement
zo'o humorously dully seriously
sa'e precisely speaking loosely speaking
to'u in brief in detail
do'a generously parsimoniously
sa'u simply elaborating
pa'e justice prejudice
je'u truly falsely
This group is used by the speaker to characterize the nature of
the discourse, so as to prevent misunderstanding. It is
well-known that listeners often fail to recognize a humorous
statement and take it seriously, or miss an exaggeration, or
try to read more into a statement than the speaker intends to
put there. In speech, the tone of voice often provides the
necessary cue, but the reader of ironic or understated or
imprecise discourse is often simply clueless. As with the
attitudinals, the use of these cmavo will seem fussy to new
Lojbanists, but it is important to remember that \q{zo'o}, for
example, is the equivalent of smiling while you speak, not the
equivalent of a flat declaration like ``What I'm about to say
is supposed to be funny.''
A few additional English equivalents: for \q{sa'enai},
\q{roughly speaking} or \q{approximately speaking}; for
\q{sa'unai}, \q{furthermore}; for \q{to'u}, \q{in short} or
\q{skipping details}; for \q{do'a}, \q{broadly construed}; for
\q{do'anai} (as you might expect), \q{narrowly construed}.
The cmavo \q{pa'e} is used to claim (truly or falsely) that
one is being fair or just to all parties mentioned, whereas
\q{pa'enai} admits (or proclaims) a bias in favor of one
The scale of \q{je'u} and \q{je'unai} is a little different
from the others in the group. By default, we assume that people
speak the truth --- or at least, that if they are lying, they
will do their best to conceal it from us. So under what
circumstances would \q{je'unai} be used, or \q{je'u} be useful?
For one thing, \q{je'u} can be used to mark a tautology: a
sentence that is a truth of logic, like \q{All cats are cats.}
Its counterpart \q{je'unai} then serves to mark a logical
contradiction. In addition, \q{je'unai} can be used to express
one kind of sarcasm or irony, where the speaker pretends to
believe what he/she says, but actually wishes the listener to
infer a contrary opinion. Other forms of irony can be marked
with \q{zo'o} (humor) or \q{.ianai} (disbelief).
When used as a discursive, \q{su'a} (see \sectref{13.11}) belongs to this group.
Next, the \q{knowledge} group:
ju'o certainly uncertain certainly not
la'a probably improbably
These two discursives describe the speaker's state of knowledge
about the claim of the associated bridi. They are similar to
the propositional attitudes of \sectref{13.3}, as
they create a hypothetical world. We may be quite certain that
something is true, and label our bridi with \q{ju'o}; but it
may be false all the same.
Next, the \q{discourse management} group:
ta'o by the way returning to point
ra'u chiefly equally incidentally
mu'a for example omitting ex. end examples
zu'u on the one hand on the other hand
ke'u repeating continuing
da'i supposing in fact
This final group is used to perform what may be called
\q{managing the discourse}: providing reference points to help
the listener understand the flow from one sentence to the next.
Other English equivalents of \q{ta'onai} are \q{anyway},
\q{anyhow}, \q{in any case}, \q{in any event}, ``as I was
saying'', and \q{continuing}.
The scale of \q{ra'u} has to do with the importance of the
point being, or about to be, expressed: \q{ra'u} is the most
important point, \q{ra'ucu'i} is a point of equal importance,
and \q{ra'unai} is a lesser point. Other English equivalents of
\q{ra'u} are \q{above all} and \q{primarily}.
The cmavo \q{ke'u} is very similar to \q{va'i}, although
\q{ke'unai} and \q{va'inai} are quite different. Both \q{ke'u}
and \q{va'i} indicate that the same idea is going to be
expressed using different words, but the two cmavo differ in
emphasis. Using \q{ke'u} emphasizes that the content is the
same; using \q{va'i} emphasizes that the words are different.
Therefore, \q{ke'unai} shows that the content is new (and
therefore the words are also); \q{va'inai} shows that the words
are the same (and therefore so is the content). One English
equivalent of \q{ke'unai} is \q{furthermore}.
The discursive \q{da'i} marks the discourse as possibly
taking a non-real-world viewpoint (\q{Supposing that}, ``By
hypothesis''), whereas \q{da'inai} insists on the real-world
point of view (\q{In fact}, \q{In truth}, ``According to the
facts''). A common use of \q{da'i} is to distinguish
\T ganai da'i do viska le mi citno mensi\n
\T gi ju'o do djuno le du'u ri pazvau\n
If you \optional{hypothetical} see my young sister,\n
\T then [certain] you know that she is-pregnant.\n
If you were to see my younger sister,\n
\T you would certainly know she is pregnant.
\T ganai da'inai do viska le mi citno mensi\n
\T gi ju'o do djuno le du'u ri pazvau\n
If you \optional{factual} see my young sister,\n
\T then [certainty] you know that she is-pregnant.\n
If you saw my younger sister,\n
\T you would certainly know she is pregnant.
It is also perfectly correct to omit the discursive
altogether, and leave the context to indicate which
significance is meant. (Chinese always leaves this distinction
to the context: the Chinese sentence
ru<sup>2</sup>guo^3 ni^3 kan<sup>4</sup>dao^4 wo^3 mei<sup>4</sup>mei,\n
\T ni^3 yi<sup>2</sup>ding^4 zhi<sup>1</sup>dao^4 ta^1 huai<sup>2</sup>yun^4 le\n
if you see-arrive my younger-sister,\n
\T you certainly know she pregnant
{\noindent}is the equivalent of either \exref{13.12.5}
or \exref{13.12.6}.)
\sect{Miscellaneous indicators}
Some indicators do not fall neatly into the categories of
attitudinal, evidential, or discursive. This section discusses
the following miscellaneous indicators:
ki'a metalinguistic confusion
na'i metalinguistic negator
jo'a metalinguistic affirmer
li'o omitted text (quoted material)
sa'a material inserted by editor/narrator
xu true-false question
pau question premarker rhetorical question
pe'a figurative language literal language
bi'u new information old information
ge'e non-specific indicator
The cmavo \q{ki'a} is one of the most common of the
miscellaneous indicators. It expresses metalinguistic
confusion; i.e. confusion about what has been said, as opposed
to confusion not tied to the discourse (which is \q{.uanai}).
The confusion may be about the meaning of a word or of a
grammatical construct, or about the referent of a sumti. One of
the uses of English \q{which} corresponds to \q{ki'a}:
mi nelci le ctuca\n
.i le ki'a ctuca
I like the teacher\n
Which teacher?
Here, the second speaker does not understand the referent of
the sumti \q{le ctuca}, and so echoes back the sumti with the
confusion marker.
The metalinguistic negation cmavo \q{na'i} and its opposite
\q{jo'a} are explained in full in \chapref{15}. In general, \q{na'i} indicates that there is something
wrong with a piece of discourse: either an error, or a false
underlying assumption, or something else of the sort. The
discourse is invalid or inappropriate due to the marked word or
Similarly, \q{jo'a} marks something which looks wrong but is
in fact correct. These two cmavo constitute a scale, but are
kept apart for two reasons: \q{na'inai} means the same as
\q{jo'a}, but would be too confusing as an affirmation;
\q{jo'anai} means the same as \q{na'i}, but is too long to
serve as a convenient metalinguistic negator.
The next two cmavo are used to assist in quoting texts
written or spoken by others. It is often the case that we wish
to quote only part of a text, or to supply additional material
either by way of commentary or to make a fragmentary text
grammatical. The cmavo \q{li'o} serves the former function. It
indicates that words were omitted from the quotation. What
remains of the quotation must be grammatical, however, as
\q{li'o} does not serve any grammatical function. It cannot,
for example, take the place of a missing selbri in a bridi, or
supply the missing tail of a description sumti: \q{le li'o} in
isolation is not grammatical.
The cmavo \q{sa'a} indicates in a quotation that the marked
word or construct was not actually expressed, but is inserted
for editorial, narrative, or grammatical purposes. Strictly,
even a \q{li'o} should appear in the form \q{li'osa'a}, since
the \q{li'o} was not part of the original quotation. In
practice, this and other forms which are already associated
with metalinguistic expressions, such as \q{sei} (of selma'o
SEI) or \q{to'i} (of selma'o TO) need not be marked except
where confusion might result.
In the rare case that the quoted material already contains
one or more instances of \q{sa'a}, they can be changed to
The cmavo \q{xu} marks truth questions, which are discussed
in detail in \chapref{15}. In general,
\q{xu} may be translated \q{Is it true that ... ?} and
questions whether the attached bridi is true. When \q{xu} is
attached to a specific word or construct, it directs the focus
of the question to that word or construct.
Lojban question words, unlike those of English, frequently
do not stand at the beginning of the question. Placing the
cmavo \q{pau} at the beginning of a bridi helps the listener
realize that the bridi is a question, like the symbol at the
beginning of written Spanish questions that looks like an
upside-down question mark. The listener is then warned to watch
for the actual question word.
Although \q{pau} is grammatical in any location (like all
indicators), it is not really useful except at or near the
beginning of a bridi. Its scalar opposite, \q{paunai}, signals
that a bridi is not really a question despite its form. This is
what we call in English a rhetorical question: an example
appears in the English text near the beginning of \sectref{13.11}.
The cmavo \q{pe'a} is the indicator of figurative speech,
indicating that the previous word should be taken figuratively
rather than literally:
mi viska le blanu pe'a zdani\n
I see the blue \optional{figurative} house.\n
I see the \q{blue} house.
Here the house is not blue in the sense of color, but in
some other sense, whose meaning is entirely culturally
dependent. The use of \q{pe'a} unambiguously marks a cultural
reference: \q{blanu} in \exref{13.13.2} could
mean \q{sad} (as in English) or something completely
The negated form, \q{pe'anai}, indicates that what has been
said is to be interpreted literally, in the usual way for
Lojban; natural-language intuition is to be ignored.
Alone among the cmavo of selma'o UI, \q{pe'a} has a rafsi,
namely \q{pev}. This rafsi is used in forming figurative
(culturally dependent) lujvo, whose place structure need have
nothing to do with the place structure of the components. Thus
\q{risnyjelca} (heart burn) might have a place structure
\item[] $x_1$ is the heart of $x_2$, burning in atmosphere $x_3$ at temperature $x_4$
whereas \q{pevrisnyjelca}, explicitly marked as figurative,
might have the place structure:
\item[] $x_1$ is indigestion/heartburn suffered by $x_2$
which obviously has nothing to do with the places of either
\q{risna} or \q{jelca}.
The uses of \q{bi'u} and \q{bi'unai} correspond to one of
the uses of the English articles \q{the} and \q{a/an}. An
English-speaker telling a story may begin with ``I saw a man
who ...''. Later in the story, the same man will be referred to
with the phrase \q{the man}. Lojban does not use its articles
in the same way: both \q{a man} and \q{the man} would be
translated \q{le nanmu}, since the speaker has in mind a
specific man. However, the first use might be marked ``le bi'u
nanmu'', to indicate that this is a new man, not mentioned
before. Later uses could correspondingly be tagged ``le bi'unai
Most of the time, the distinction between \q{bi'u} and
\q{bi'unai} need not be made, as the listener can infer the
right referent. However, if a different man were referred to
still later in the story, \q{le bi'u nanmu} would clearly show
that this man was different from the previous one.
Finally, the indicator \q{ge'e} has been discussed in \hyperref[sec:13:8]{Sections 8} and \hyperref[sec:13:10]{10}. It is used
to express an attitude which is not covered by the existing
set, or to avoid expressing any attitude.
Another use for \q{ge'e} is to explicitly avoid expressing
one's feeling on a given scale; in this use, it functions like
a member of selma'o CAI: \q{.iige'e} means roughly ``I'm not
telling whether I'm afraid or not.''
kau indirect question
This cmavo is explained in detail in \chapref{11}. It marks the word it is
attached to as the focus of an indirect question:
mi djuno le du'u\n
\T dakau klama le zarci\n
I know the statement-that\n
\T somebody \optional{ind. ?} goes to-the store.\n
I know who goes to the store.
\sect{Vocative scales}
\q{Vocatives} are words used to address someone directly;
they precede and mark a name used in direct address, just as
\q{la} (and the other members of selma'o LA) mark a name used
to refer to someone. The vocatives actually are indicators ---
in fact, discursives --- but the need to tie them to names and
other descriptions of listeners requires them to be separated
from selma'o UI. But like the cmavo of UI, the members of
selma'o COI can be \q{negated} with \q{nai} to get the opposite
part of the scale.
Because of the need for redundancy in noisy environments,
the Lojban design does not compress the vocatives into a
minimum number of scales. Doing so would make a non-redundant
\q{nai} too often vital to interpretation of a protocol signal,
as explained later in this section.
The grammar of vocatives is explained in \chapref{6}; but in brief, a vocative may
be followed by a name (without \q{la}), a description (without
\q{le} or its relatives), a complete sumti, or nothing at all
(if the addressee is obvious from the context). There is an
elidable terminator, \q{do'u} (of selma'o DOhU) which is almost
never required unless no name (or other indication of the
addressee) follows the vocative.
Using any vocative except \q{mi'e} (explained below)
implicitly defines the meaning of the pro-sumti \q{do}, as the
whole point of vocatives is to specify the listener, or at any
rate the desired listener --- even if the desired listener
isn't listening! We will use the terms \q{speaker} and
\q{listener} for clarity, although in written Lojban the
appropriate terms would be \q{writer} and \q{reader}.
In the following list of vocatives, the translations include
the symbol X. This represents the name (or identifying
description, or whatever) of the listener.
The cmavo \q{doi} is the general-purpose vocative. Unlike
the cmavo of selma'o COI, explained below, \q{doi} can precede
a name directly without an intervening pause. It is not
considered a scale, and \q{doinai} is not grammatical. In
general, \q{doi} needs no translation in English (we just use
names by themselves without any preceding word, although in
poetic styles we sometimes say \q{Oh X}, which is equivalent to
\q{doi}). One may attach an attitudinal to \q{doi} to express
various English vocatives. For example, \q{doi .io} means
\q{Sir/Madam!}, whereas \q{doi .ionai} means ``You
All members of selma'o COI require a pause when used
immediately before a name, in order to prevent the name from
absorbing the COI word. This is unlike selma'o DOI and LA,
which do not require pauses because the syllables of these
cmavo are not permitted to be embedded in a Lojban name. When
calling out to someone, this is fairly natural, anyway. ``Hey!
John!'' is thus a better translation of \q{ju'i .djan.} than
\q{Hey John!}. No pause is needed if the vocative reference is
something other than a name, as in the title of the Lojban
journal, \q{ju'i lobypli}.
(Alternatively, \q{doi} can be inserted between the COI
cmavo and the name, making a pause unnecessary: ``coi doi
coi greetings
\q{Hello, X}; \q{Greetings, X}; indicates a greeting to the
co'o partings
\q{Good-bye, X}; indicates parting from immediate company by
either the speaker or the listener. \q{coico'o} means
\q{greeting in passing}.
ju'i attention at ease ignore me/us
\q{Attention/Lo/Hark/Behold/Hey!/Listen, X}; indicates an
important communication that the listener should listen to.
nu'e promise release promise non-promise
\q{I promise, X}; indicates a promise to the listener. In some
contexts, \q{nu'e} may be prefixed to an oath or other formal
ta'a interruption
\q{I interrupt, X}, \q{I desire the floor, X}; a vocative
expression to (possibly) interrupt and claim the floor to make
a statement or expression. This can be used for both rude and
polite interruptions, although rude interruptions will probably
tend not to use a vocative at all. An appropriate response to
an interruption might be \q{re'i} (or \q{re'inai} to ignore the
pe'u request
\q{Please, X}; indicates a request to the listener. It is a
formal, non-attitudinal, equivalent of \q{.e'o} with a specific
recipient being addressed. On the other hand, \q{.e'o} may be
used when there is no specific listener, but merely a ``sense
of petition floating in the air'', as it were.
ki'e appreciation disappreciation
gratitude ingratitude
\q{Thank you, X}; indicates appreciation or gratitude toward
the listener. The usual response is \q{je'e}, but \q{fi'i} is
appropriate on rare occasions: see the explanation of \q{fi'i}.
fi'i welcome, unwelcome,
offering inhospitality
\q{At your service, X}; \q{Make yourself at home, X}; offers
hospitality (possibly in response to thanks, but not
necessarily) to the listener. Note that \q{fi'i} is NOT the
equivalent of American English \q{You're welcome} as a
mechanical response to \q{Thank you}; that is \q{je'e}, as
noted below.
be'e request to send
\q{Request to send to X}; indicates that the speaker wishes to
express something, and wishes to ensure that the listener is
listening. In a telephone conversation, can be used to request
the desired conversant(s). A more colloquial equivalent is
\q{Hello? Can I speak to X?}.
re'i ready to receive not ready
\q{Ready to receive, X}; indicates that the speaker is
attentive and awaiting communication from the listener. It can
be used instead of \q{mi'e} to respond when called to the
telephone. The negative form can be used to prevent the
listener from continuing to talk when the speaker is unable to
pay attention: it can be translated \q{Hold on!} or ``Just a
mu'o completion of utterance more to follow
\q{Over, X}; indicates that the speaker has completed the
current utterance and is ready to hear a response from the
listener. The negative form signals that the pause or
non-linguistic sound which follows does not represent the end
of the current utterance: more colloquially, ``I'm not done
je'e successful unsuccessful
receipt receipt
\q{Roger, X!}, \q{I understand}; acknowledges the successful
receipt of a communication from the listener. The negative form
indicates failure to receive correctly, and is usually followed
by \q{ke'o}. The colloquial English equivalents of \q{je'e} and
\q{je'enai} are the grunt typically written \q{uh-huh} and
\q{What?/Excuse me?}: \q{je'e} is also used to mean ``You're
welcome'' when that is a response to \q{Thank you}.
vi'o will comply will not comply
\q{Wilco, X}, \q{I understand and will comply}. Similar to
\q{je'e} but signals an intention (similar to \q{.ai}) to
comply with the other speaker's request. This cmavo is the main
way of saying \q{OK} in Lojban, in the usual sense of
\q{Agreed!}, although \q{.ie} carries some of the same meaning.
The negative form indicates that the message was received but
that you will not comply: a very colloquial version is ``No
ke'o please repeat no repeat needed
\q{What did you say, X?}; a request for repetition or
clarification due to unsuccessful receipt or understanding.
This is the vocative equivalent of \q{ki'a}, and is related to
\q{je'enai}. The negative form may be rendered ``Okay, already;
I get the point!''
fe'o end of communication not done
\q{Over and out, X}; indicates completion of statement(s) and
communication directed at the identified person(s). Used to
terminate a letter if a signature is not required because the
sender has already been identified (as in memos). The negative
form means \q{Wait, hold it, we're not done!} and differs from
\q{mu'onai} in that it means more exchanges are to follow,
rather than that the current exchange is incomplete.
Do not confuse \q{fe'o} with \q{fa'o} (selma'o FAhO) which
is a mechanical, extra-grammatical signal that a text is
complete. One may say \q{fe'o} to one participant of a
multi-way conversation and then go on speaking to the
mi'e self-identification non-identification
[cmavo: mi]
\q{And I am X}; a generalized self-vocative. Although
grammatically just like the other members of selma'o COI,
\q{mi'e} is quite different semantically. In particular, rather
than specifying the listener, the person whose name (or
description) follows \q{mi'e} is taken to be the speaker.
Therefore, using \q{mi'e} specifies the meaning of the
pro-sumti \q{mi}. It can be used to introduce oneself, to close
letters, or to identify oneself on the telephone.
This cmavo is often combined with other members of COI:
\q{fe'omi'e} would be an appropriate closing at the end of a
letter; \q{re'imi'e} would be a self-vocative used in delayed
responses, as when called to the phone, or possibly in a
roll-call. As long as the \q{mi'e} comes last, the following
name is that of the speaker; if another COI cmavo is last, the
following name is that of the listener. It is not possible to
name both speaker and listener in a single vocative expression,
but this fact is of no importance, because wherever one
vocative expression is grammatical, any number of consecutive
ones may appear.
The negative form denies an identity which someone else has
attributed to you; \q{mi'enai .djan.} means that you are saying
you are not John.
Many of the vocatives been listed with translations which
are drawn from radio use: \q{roger}, \q{wilco}, ``over and
out''. This form of translation does not mean that Lojban is a
language of CB enthusiasts, but rather that in most natural
languages these forms are so well handled by the context that
only in specific domains (like speaking on the radio) do they
need special words. In Lojban, dependence on the context can be
dangerous, as speaker and listener may not share the right
context, and so the vocatives provide a formal protocol for use
when it is appropriate. Other appropriate contexts include
computer communications and parliamentary procedure: in the
latter context, the protocol question \q{ta'apei} would mean
\q{Will the speaker yield?}
\sect{A sample dialogue}
The following dialogue in Lojban illustrates the uses of
attitudinals and protocol vocatives in conversation. The
phrases enclosed in \q{sei ... se'u} indicate the speaker of
each sentence.
la rik. .e la .alis. nerkla le kafybarja\n
Rick and Alice in-go to-the coffee-bar.\n
Rick and Alice go into the coffee bar.
.i sei la rik. cusku se'u\n
\T ta'a ro zvati be ti\n
\T mi baza speni ti .iu\n
\optional{Comment} Rick says, [end-comment]\n
\T [Interrupt] all at this-place,\n
\T I [future] [medium] am-spouse-to this-one [love].\n
Rick said, ``Sorry to break in, everybody.\n
\T Pretty soon I'm getting married\n
\T to my love here.''
.i sei la djordj. cusku se'u\n
\T a'o ko gleki doi ma\n
\optional{Comment} George says, [end-comment]\n
\T [Hope] [You-imperative] are-happy, O [who?].\n
George said, \q{I hope you'll be happy, um, ...?}
.i sei la pam. cusku se'u\n
\T pe'u .alis.\n
\T xu mi ba terfriti\n
\T le nunspenybi'o\n
\optional{Comment} Pam says,\n
\T [Please] Alice, [end-comment]\n
\T [Is it true?] I [future] receive-offer-of\n
\T the event-of-spouse-becoming?\n
Pam said, ``Please, Alice, am I going to be\n
\T invited to the wedding?''
.i sei la mark. cusku se'u\n
\T coi baza speni\n
\T a'o le re do lifri\n
\T le ka xamgu\n
\optional{Comment} Mark says, [end-comment]\n
\T [Greetings] [future] [medium] spouse(s),\n
\T [Hope] the two of-you experience\n
\T the-property-of being-happy\n
Mark said, ``Hello, spouses-to-be. I hope both of\n
\T you will be very happy.''
.i sei la rik. cusku se'u\n
\T mi'e .rik. doi terpreti\n
\optional{Comment} Rick says, [end-comment]\n
\T [I am] Rick, O questioners.\n
Rick said, ``My name is Rick, for those of you who\n
\T want to know.''
.i sei la .alis. cusku se'u\n
\T nu'e .pam. .o'ero'i\n
\T do ba zvati\n
\optional{Comment} Alice says, [end-comment]\n
\T [Promise-to] Pam, [closeness] [emotional]\n
\T you [future] are-at.\n
Alice said, \q{I promise you'll be there, Pam honey.}
.i sei la fred. cusku se'u\n
\T .uinaicairo'i\n
\T mi ji'a prami la .alis.\n
\T fe'o .rik.\n
\optional{Comment} Fred says, [end-comment]\n
\T [Happy] [not] [emphatic] [emotional]\n
\T I [additionally] love Alice.\n
\T [Over and out to] Rick.\n
\q{I love Alice too,} said Fred miserably. ``Have a\n
\T nice life, Rick.''
.i la fred. cliva\n
Fred leaves.\n
And he left.
.i sei la rik. cusku se'u\n
\T fi'i ro zvati\n
\T ko pinxe pa ckafi\n
\T fi'o pleji mi\n
\optional{Comment} Rick says, [end-comment]\n
\T [Welcome-to] all at-place,\n
\T [You-imperative] drink one coffee\n
\T with-payer me.\n
Rick said, raising his voice, ``A cup of coffee\n
\T for the house, on me.''
.i sei la pam. cusku se'u\n
\T be'e selfu\n
\optional{Comment} Pam says, [end-comment]\n
\T [Request to speak to] server.\n
Pam said, \q{Waiter!}
.i sei le selfu cu cusku se'u\n
\T re'i \optional{end-comment}\n
[Comment] The server says,\n
\T [Ready to receive].\n
The waiter replied, \q{May I help you?}
.i sei la pam. cusku se'u\n
\T e'o ko selfu\n
\T le traji xamgu ckafi\n
\T le baza speni\n
\T fi'o selpleji mi\n
\optional{Comment} Pam says, [end-comment]\n
\T [Petition] [You-imperative] serve\n
\T the (superlatively good) coffee\n
\T to-the [future] [medium] spouse\n
\T with-payment me.\n
Pam said, ``One Jamaica Blue for the lovebirds here,\n
\T on my tab.''
.i sei le selfu cucusku se'u\n
\T vi'o\n
\optional{Comment} The server says, [end-comment]\n
\T [Will comply].\n
\q{Gotcha}, said the waiter.
.i sei la rik. cusku se'u\n
\T ki'e .pam.\n
\optional{Comment} Rick says, [end-comment]\n
\T [Thanks O] Pam.\n
\q{Thanks, Pam}, said Rick.
.i sei la pam. cusku se'u\n
\T je'e\n
\optional{Comment} Pam says, [end-comment]\n
\T [Acknowledge].\n
\q{Sure}, said Pam.
.i sei la djan. cusku se'u\n
\T .y. mi .y. mutce spopa .y.\n
\T le nu le speni si .y.\n
\T ba speni .y. .y.\n
\T su .yyyyyy. mu'o\n
\optional{Comment} John says, [end-comment]\n
\T [Uh] I [uh] very [nonexistent gismu] [uh]\n
\T the event-of the spouse [erase] [uh]\n
\T [future] spouse [uh] [uh]\n
\T [erase all] [uh] [over]\n
John said, ``I, er, a lotta, uh, marriage,\n
\T upcoming marriage, .... Oh, forget it.\n
\T Er, later.''
.i sei la djordj. cusku se'u\n
\T ke'o .djan. zo'o\n
\optional{Comment} George says, [end-comment]\n
\T [Repeat O] John [humor].\n
\q{How's that again, John?} said George.
.i sei la pam. cusku se'u\n
\T ju'i .djordj.\n
\T .e'unai le kabri bazi farlu\n
\optional{Comment} Pam says, [end-comment]\n
\T [Attention] George,\n
\T [Warning] the cup [future] [short] falls\n
\q{George, watch out!} said Pam. \q{The cup's falling!}
.i le kabri cu je'a farlu\n
The cup indeed falls.\n
The cup fell.
.i sei la djan. cusku se'u\n
\T e'o doi djordj. zo'o rapygau\n
\optional{Comment} John says, [end-comment]\n
\T [Petition] O George [humor] repeat-cause.\n
John said, \q{Try that again, George!}
.i sei la djordj. cusku se'u\n
\T co'o ro zvati pe secau la djan. ga'i\n
\optional{Comment} George says, [end-comment]\n
\T [Partings] all at-place without John [superiority]\n
\q{Goodbye to all of you,} said George sneeringly,\n
\T \q{except John.}
.i la djordj. cliva\n
George leaves.\n
George left.
\sect{Tentative conclusion}
The exact ramifications of the indicator system in actual
usage are unknown. There has never been anything like it in
natural language before. The system provides great potential
for emotional expression and transcription, from which
significant Sapir-Whorf effects can be anticipated. When
communicating across cultural boundaries, where different
indicators are often used for the same emotion, accidental
offense can be avoided. If we ever ran into an alien race, a
culturally neutral language of emotion could be vital. (A
classic example, taken from the science fiction of Larry Niven,
is to imagine speaking Lojban to the carnivorous warriors
called Kzinti, noting that a human smile bares the teeth, and
could be seen as an intent to attack.) And for communicating
emotions to computers, when we cannot identify all of the
signals involved in subliminal human communication (things like
body language are also cultural), a system like this is
We have tried to err on the side of overkill. There are
distinctions possible in this system that no one may care to
make in any culture. But it was deemed more neutral to
overspecify and let usage decide, than to choose a limited set
and constrain emotional expression. For circumstances in which
even the current indicator set is not enough, it is possible
using the cmavo \q{sei}, explained in \chapref{19}, to create metalinguistic
comments that act like indicators.
We envision an evolutionary development. At this point, the
system is little more than a mental toy. Many of you who read
this will try playing around with various combinations of
indicators, trying to figure out what emotions they express and
when the expressions might be useful. You may even find an
expression for which there currently is no good English word
and start using it. Why not, if it helps you express your
There will be a couple dozen of these used pretty much
universally -- mostly just simple attitudinals with, at most,
intensity markers. These are the ones that will quickly be
expressed at the subconscious level. But every Lojbanist who
plays with the list will bring in a couple of new words. Poets
will paint emotional pictures, and people who identify with
those pictures will use the words so created for their own
Just as a library of tanru is built up, so will a library of
attitudes be built. Unlike the tanru, though, the emotional
expressions are built on some fairly nebulous root emotions ---
words that cannot be defined with the precision of the gismu.
The emotion words of Lojban will very quickly take on a life of
their own, and the outline given here will evolve into a true
system of emotions.
There are several theories as to the nature of emotion, and
they change from year to year as we learn more about ourselves.
Whether or not Lojban's additive/scalar emotional model is an
accurate model for human emotions, it does support the
linguistic needs for expressing those emotions. Researchers may
learn more about the nature of human emotions by exploring the
use of the system by Lojban speakers. They also may be able to
use the Lojban system as a means for more clearly recording
The full list of scales and attitudes will probably not be
used until someone speaks the language from birth. Until then,
people will use the attitudes that are important to them. In
this way, we counter cultural bias --- if a culture is prone to
recognizing and/or expressing certain emotions more than
others, its members will use only those out of the enormous set
available. If a culture hides certain emotions, its members
simply won't express them.
Perhaps native Lojban speakers will be more expressively
clear about their emotions than others. Perhaps they will feel
some emotions more strongly than others in ways that can be
correlated with the word choices; any difference from the norms
of other cultures could be significant. Psychologists have
devised elaborate tests for measuring attitudes and
personality; this may be the easiest area in which to detect
any systematic cultural effect of the type sought to confirm
Sapir-Whorf, simply because we already have tools in existence
to test it. Because Lojban is unique among languages in having
such extensive and expressive indicators, it is likely that a
Sapir-Whorf effect will occur and will be recognized.
It is unlikely that we will know the true potential of a
system like this one until and unless we have children raised
entirely in a multi-cultural Lojban-speaking environment. We
learn too many cultural habits in the realm of emotional
communication \q{at our mother's knee}. Such children will have
a Lojban system that has stronger reinforcement than any
typical culture system. The second generation of such children,
then, could be said to be the start of a true Lojbanic
We shouldn't need to wait that long to detect significant
effects. Emotion is so basic to our lives that even a small
change or improvement in emotional communication would have
immediately noticeable effects. Perhaps it will be the case
that the most important contribution of our ``logical
language'' will be in the non-logical realm of emotion!
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