This overview of Lojban will hopefully give you a good feel for the design and scope of the language. It serves as an introduction to learning the language; most of the special terminology used elsewhere is defined here. This overview is not complete, nor detailed; much is glossed over. To actually learn the language you must study the available reference or teaching materials.
The material following is divided up into the major facets of language description. These are:
the way the language is written
the way the language sounds
the structure of words
the meanings of words, sentences, and expressions
the ways in which words may be put together
For many special terms, we will give a definition, and then the Lojban word for the concept. The Lojban words are then used, to avoid confusion due to the various meanings of the English jargon words. The Lojban words are also what is used in other publications about the language.
omitting the letters h, q, and w. The three special characters are not punctuation:
' , . a b c d e f g i j k l m n o p r s t u v x y z
The period is an optional reminder to the reader, representing a mandatory pause dictated by the rules of the language. Such pauses can be of any duration, and are part of the morphology, or word formation rules, and not the grammar.
Lojban does not require capitalization of any word type, including proper names, and such capitalization is discouraged. Capital letters are used instead to indicate non-standard stress in pronunciation of Lojbanized names. Thus the English name Josephine, as normally pronounced, is Lojbanized as DJOsefin, pronounced /JO,seh,feen/. Without the capitalization, Lojban stress rules would force the /seh/ syllable to be stressed.
Lojban's alphabet and pronunciation rules bring about what is called audio-visual isomorphism. There is not only a unique symbol to represent each sound of Lojban, but also a single correct way to separate the sounds of continuous Lojban speech into words. Similarly, a Lojban text may be read off sound by sound, using pronunciation and stress rules, to form an unambiguous uttered expression. Spelling in Lojban is thus trivial to learn.