Reference Grammar Chapters

  1. Lojban As We Mangle It In Lojbanistan: About This Book
  2. A Quick Tour of Lojban Grammar, With Diagrams
  3. The Hills Are Alive With The Sounds Of Lojban
  4. The Shape Of Words To Come: Lojban Morphology
  5. "Pretty Little Girls' School": The Structure Of Lojban selbri
  6. To Speak Of Many Things: The Lojban sumti
  7. Brevity Is The Soul Of Language: Pro-sumti And Pro-bridi
  8. Relative Clauses, Which Make sumti Even More Complicated
  9. To Boston Via The Road Go I, With An Excursion Into The Land Of Modals
  10. Imaginary Journeys: The Lojban Space/Time Tense System
  11. Events, Qualities, Quantities, And Other Vague Words: On Lojban Abstraction
  12. Dog House And White House: Determining lujvo Place Structures
  13. Oooh! Arrgh! Ugh! Yecch! Attitudinal and Emotional Indicators
  14. If Wishes Were Horses: The Lojban Connective System
  15. "No" Problems: On Lojban Negation
  16. "Who Did You Pass On The Road? Nobody": Lojban And Logic
  17. As Easy As A-B-C? The Lojban Letteral System And Its Uses
  18. lojbau mekso: Mathematical Expressions in Lojban
  19. Putting It All Together: Notes on the Structure of Lojban Texts
  20. A Catalogue of selma'o
  21. Formal Grammars
[Cartoon]

Chapter 11
Events, Qualities, Quantities, And Other Vague Words: On Lojban Abstraction

1. The syntax of abstraction

The purpose of the feature of Lojban known as ``abstraction'' is to provide a means for taking whole bridi and packaging them up, as it were, into simple selbri. Syntactically, abstractions are very simple and uniform; semantically, they are rich and complex, with few features in common between one variety of abstraction and another. We will begin by discussing syntax without regard to semantics; as a result, the notion of abstraction may seem unmotivated at first. Bear with this difficulty until Section 2.

An abstraction selbri is formed by taking a full bridi and preceding it by any cmavo of selma'o NU. There are twelve such cmavo; they are known as ``abstractors''. The bridi is closed by the elidable terminator ``kei'', of selma'o KEI. Thus, to change the bridi

1.1)  mi klama le zarci
    I go-to the store
into an abstraction using ``nu'', one of the members of selma'o NU, we change it into

1.2)  nu mi klama le zarci [kei]
    an-event-of my going-to the store
The bridi may be a simple selbri, or it may have associated sumti, as here. It is important to beware of eliding ``kei'' improperly, as many of the common uses of abstraction selbri involve following them with words that would appear to be part of the abstraction if ``kei'' had been elided.

(Technically, ``kei'' is never necessary, because the elidable terminator ``vau'' that closes every bridi can substitute for it; however, ``kei'' is specific to abstractions, and using it is almost always clearer.)

The grammatical uses of an abstraction selbri are exactly the same as those of a simple brivla. In particular, abstraction selbri may be used as observatives, as in Example 1.2, or used in tanru:

1.3)  la djan. cu nu sonci kei djica
    John is-an-(event-of being-a-soldier) type-of desirer.
    John wants to be a soldier.
Abstraction selbri may also be used in descriptions, preceded by ``le'' (or any other member of selma'o LE):
1.4)  la djan. cu djica le nu sonci [kei]
    John desires the event-of being-a-soldier.

We will most often use descriptions containing abstraction either at the end of a bridi, or just before the main selbri with its ``cu''; in either of these circumstances, ``kei'' can normally be elided.

The place structure of an abstraction selbri depends on the particular abstractor, and will be explained individually in the following sections.

Note: In glosses of bridi within abstractions, the grammatical form used in the English changes. Thus, in the gloss of Example 1.2 we see ``my going-to the store'' rather than ``I go-to the store''; likewise, in the glosses of Example 1.3 and Example 1.4 we see ``being-a-soldier'' rather than ``is-a-soldier''. This procedure reflects the desire for more understandable glosses, and does not indicate any change in the Lojban form. A bridi is a bridi, and undergoes no change when it is used as part of an abstraction selbri.

2. Event abstraction

The following cmavo is discussed in this section:

   nu  NU  event abstractor
The examples in
Section 1 made use of ``nu'' as the abstractor, and it is certainly the most common abstractor in Lojban text. Its purpose is to capture the event or state of the bridi considered as a whole. Do not confuse the ``le'' description built on a ``nu'' abstraction with ordinary descriptions based on ``le'' alone. The following sumti are quite distinct:
2.1)  le klama
    the comer, that which comes

2.2)   le se klama
    the destination

2.3)   le te klama
    the origin

2.4)   le ve klama
    the route

2.5)   le xe klama
    the means of transportation

2.6)   le nu klama
    the event of someone coming to somewhere
        from somewhere by some route using some means
Examples 2.1 through 2.5 are descriptions that isolate the five individual sumti places of the selbri ``klama''. Example 2.6 describes something associated with the bridi as a whole: the event of it.

In Lojban, the term ``event'' is divorced from its ordinary English sense of something that happens over a short period of time. The description:

2.7)  le nu mi vasxu
    the event-of my breathing
is an event which lasts for the whole of my life (under normal circumstances). On the other hand,

2.8)  le nu la djan. cinba la djein.
    the event-of John kissing Jane
is relatively brief by comparison (again, under normal circumstances).

We can see from Examples 2.6 through 2.8 that ellipsis of sumti is valid in the bridi of abstraction selbri, just as in the main bridi of a sentence. Any sumti may be ellipsized if the listener will be able to figure out from context what the proper value of it is, or else to recognize that the proper value is unimportant. It is extremely common for ``nu'' abstractions in descriptions to have the x1 place ellipsized:

2.9)  mi nelci le nu limna
    I like the event-of swimming.
    I like swimming.
is elliptical, and most probably means:
2.10)    mi nelci le nu mi limna
    I like the event-of I swim.

In the proper context, of course, Example 2.9 could refer to the event of somebody else swimming. Its English equivalent, ``I like swimming'', can't be interpreted as ``I like Frank's swimming''; this is a fundamental distinction between English and Lojban. In Lojban, an omitted sumti can mean whatever the context indicates that it should mean.

Note that the lack of an explicit NU cmavo in a sumti can sometimes hide an implicit abstraction. In the context of Example 2.10, the appearance of ``le se nelci'' (``that which is liked'') is in effect an abstraction:

2.11)    le se nelci cu cafne
    The liked-thing is-frequent.
    The thing which I like happens often.
which in this context means
My swimming happens often.

Event descriptions with ``le nu'' are commonly used to fill the ``under conditions...'' places, among others, of gismu and lujvo place structures:

2.12)    la lojban. cu frili mi
        le nu mi tadni [kei]
    Lojban is-easy for-me
        under-conditions-the event-of I study
    Lojban is easy for me when I study.
(The ``when'' of the English would also be appropriate for a construction involving a Lojban tense, but the Lojban sentence says more than that the studying is concurrent with the ease.)

The place structure of a ``nu'' abstraction selbri is simply:

x1 is an event of (the bridi)

3. Types of event abstractions

The following cmavo are discussed in this section:

   mu'e    NU  point-event abstractor
    pu'u    NU  process abstractor
    zu'o    NU  activity abstractor
    za'i    NU  state abstractor

Event abstractions with ``nu'' suffice to express all kinds of events, whether long, short, unique, repetitive, or whatever. Lojban also has more finely discriminating machinery for talking about events, however. There are four other abstractors of selma'o NU for talking about four specific types of events, or four ways of looking at the same event.

An event considered as a point in time is called a ``point-event'', or sometimes an ``achievement''. (This latter word should be divorced, in this context, from all connotations of success or triumph.) A point-event can be extended in duration, but it is still a point-event if it is thought of as unitary, having no internal structure. The abstractor ``mu'e'' means ``point-event-of'':

3.1)  le mu'e la djan. catra la djim. cu zekri
    the point-event-of (John kills Jim) is-a-crime
    John's killing Jim (considered as a point in time)
        is a crime.
An event considered as extended in time, and structured with a beginning, a middle containing one or more stages, and an end, is called a ``process''. The abstractor ``pu'u'' means ``process-of'':

3.2)  ca'o le pu'u le latmo balje'a
        cu porpi kei
        so'i je'atru cu selcatra
    [continuitive] the process-of( the Latin great-state
        breaking-up )
        many state-rulers were-killed
    During the fall of the Roman Empire,
        many Emperors were killed.
An event considered as extended in time and cyclic or repetitive is called an ``activity''. The abstractor ``zu'o'' means ``activity-of'':
3.3)  mi tatpi ri'a le zu'o mi plipe
    I am-tired because-of the activity-of (I jump)
    I am tired because I jump.
An event considered as something that is either happening or not happening, with sharp boundaries, is called a ``state''. The abstractor ``za'i'' means ``state-of'':

3.4)  le za'i mi jmive cu ckape do
    the state-of (I am-alive) is-dangerous-to you
    My being alive is dangerous to you.
The abstractors in Examples 3.1 through 3.4 could all have been replaced by ``nu'', with some loss of precision. Note that Lojban allows every sort of event to be viewed in any of these four ways:

the ``state of running'' begins when the runner starts and ends when the runner stops;
the ``activity of running'' consists of the cycle ``lift leg, step forward, drop leg, lift other leg...'' (each such cycle is a process, but the activity consists in the repetition of the cycle);
the ``process of running'' puts emphasis on the initial sprint, the steady speed, and the final slowdown;
the ``achievement of running'' is most alien to English, but sees the event of running as a single indivisible thing, like ``Pheidippides' run from Marathon to Athens'' (the original marathon).

Further information on types of events can be found in Section 12.

The four event type abstractors have the following place structures:

``mu'e'': x1 is a point event of (the bridi) ``pu'u'': x1 is a process of (the bridi) with stages x2 ``za'i'': x1 is a continuous state of (the bridi) being true ``zu'o'': x1 is an activity of (the bridi) consisting of repeated actions x2

4. Property abstractions

The following cmavo are discussed in this section:

   ka  NU  property abstractor
    ce'u    KOhA    

The things described by ``le nu'' descriptions (or, to put it another way, the things of which ``nu'' selbri may correctly be predicated) are only moderately ``abstract''. They are still closely tied to happenings in space and time. Properties, however, are much more ethereal. What is ``the property of being blue'', or ``the property of being a go-er''? They are what logicians call ``intensions''. If John has a heart, then ``the property of having a heart'' is an abstract object which, when applied to John, is true. In fact,

4.1)  la djan. cu se risna zo'e
    John has-as-heart something-unspecified.
    John has a heart.
has the same truth conditions as
4.2)  la djan. cu ckaji
        le ka se risna [zo'e] [kei]
    John has-the-property
        the property-of having-as-heart something.
    John has the property of having a heart.
(The English word ``have'' frequently appears in any discussion of Lojban properties: things are said to ``have'' properties, but this is not the same sense of ``have'' as in ``I have money'', which is possession.)

Property descriptions, like event descriptions, are often wanted to fill places in brivla place structures:

4.3)  do cnino mi
        le ka xunre [kei]
    You are-new to-me
        in-the-quality-of-the property-of being-red.
    You are new to me in redness.
(The English suffix ``-ness'' often signals a property abstraction, as does the suffix ``-ity''.)

We can also move the property description to the x1 place of Example 4.3, producing:

4.4)  le ka do xunre [kei] cu cnino mi
    The property-of your being-red is-new to me.
    Your redness is new to me.
It would be suitable to use Examples 4.3 and 4.4 to someone who has returned from the beach with a sunburn.

There are several different properties that can be extracted from a bridi, depending on which place of the bridi is ``understood'' as being specified externally. Thus:

4.5)  ka mi prami [zo'e] [kei]
    a-property-of me loving something-unspecified
is quite different from
4.6)  ka [zo'e] prami mi [kei]
    a-property-of something-unspecified loving me

In particular, sentences like Example 4.7 and Example 4.8 are quite different in meaning:

4.7)  la djan. cu zmadu la djordj. le ka mi prami
    John exceeds George in-the property-of (I love X)
    I love John more than I love George.

4.8)   la djan. cu zmadu la djordj. le ka prami mi
    John exceeds George in the property of (X loves me).
    John loves me more than George loves me.

The ``X'' used in the glosses of Examples 4.7 through 4.8 as a place-holder cannot be represented only by ellipsis in Lojban, because ellipsis means that there must be a specific value that can fill the ellipsis, as mentioned in Section 2. Instead, the cmavo ``ce'u'' of selma'o KOhA is employed when an explicit sumti is wanted. (The form ``X'' will be used in literal translations.)

Therefore, an explicit equivalent of Example 4.7, with no ellipsis, is:

4.9)  la djan. cu zmadu la djordj. le ka mi prami ce'u
    John exceeds George in-the property-of (I love X).
and of Example 4.8 is:
4.10)    la djan. cu zmadu la djordj. le ka ce'u prami mi
    John exceeds George in-the property-of (X loves me).

This convention allows disambiguation of cases like:

4.11)    le ka [zo'e] dunda le xirma [zo'e] [kei]
    the property-of giving the horse
into
4.12)    le ka ce'u dunda le xirma
        [zo'e] [kei]
    the property-of (X is-a-giver of-the horse
        to someone-unspecified)
    the property of being a giver of the horse
which is the most natural interpretation of Example 4.11, versus
4.13)    le ka [zo'e] dunda
        le xirma ce'u [kei]
    the property-of (someone-unspecified
        is-a-giver of-the horse to X)
    the property of being one to whom the horse is given
which is also a possible interpretation.

It is also possible to have more than one ``ce'u'' in a ``ka'' abstraction, which transforms it from a property abstraction into a relationship abstraction, a resource of the language that has not yet been explored.

The place structure of ``ka'' abstraction selbri is simply:

x1 is a property of (the bridi)

5. Amount abstractions

The following cmavo is discussed in this section:

   ni  NU  amount abstraction

Amount abstractions are far more limited than event or property abstractions. They really make sense only if the selbri of the abstracted bridi is subject to measurement of some sort. Thus we can speak of:

5.1)  le ni le pixra cu blanu [kei]
    the amount-of (the picture being-blue)
    the amount of blueness in the picture
because ``blueness'' could be measured with a colorimeter or a similar device. However,
5.2)  le ni la djein. cu mamta [kei]
    the amount-of (Jane being-a-mother)
    the amount of Jane's mother-ness (?)
    the amount of mother-ness in Jane (?)
makes very little sense in either Lojban or English. We simply do not have any sort of measurement scale for being a mother.

Semantically, a sumti with ``le ni'' is a number; however, it cannot be treated grammatically as a quantifier in Lojban unless prefixed by the mathematical cmavo ``mo'e'':

5.3)  li pa vu'u mo'e
        le ni le pixra cu blanu [kei]
    the-number 1 minus the-operand
        the amount-of (the picture being-blue)
    1 - B, where B = blueness of the picture

Mathematical Lojban is beyond the scope of this chapter, and is explained more fully in Chapter 18.

There are contexts where either property or amount abstractions make sense, and in such constructions, amount abstractions can make use of ``ce'u'' just like property abstractors. Thus,

5.4)  le pixra cu cenba le ka ce'u blanu [kei]
    the picture varies in-the property-of (X is blue)
    The picture varies in being blue.
    The picture varies in blueness.
is not the same as
5.5)  le pixra cu cenba le ni ce'u blanu [kei]
    the picture varies in-the amount-of (X is blue)
    The picture varies in how blue it is.
    The picture varies in blueness.
Example 5.4 conveys that the blueness comes and goes, whereas Example 5.5 conveys that its quantity changes over time.

Whenever we talk of measurement of an amount, there is some sort of scale, and so the place structure of ``ni'' abstraction selbri is:

x1 is the amount of (the bridi) on scale x2
Note: the best way to express the x2 places of abstract sumti is to use something like ``le ni ... kei be''. See Example 9.5 for the use of this construction.

6. Truth-value abstraction: ``jei''

The ``blueness of the picture'' discussed in Section 5 refers to the measurable amount of blue pigment (or other source of blueness), not to the degree of truth of the claim that blueness is present. That abstraction is expressed in Lojban using ``jei'', which is closely related semantically to ``ni''. In the simplest cases, ``le jei'' produces not a number but a truth value:

6.1)  le jei li re su'i re du li vo [kei]
    the truth-value-of the-number 2 + 2 = the-number 4
    the truth of 2 + 2 being 4
is equivalent to ``truth'', and
6.2)  le jei li re su'i re du li mu [kei]
    the truth-value-of the-number 2 + 2 = the-number 5
    the truth of 2 + 2 being 5
is equivalent to ``falsehood''.

However, not everything in life (or even in Lojban) is simply true or false. There are shades of gray even in truth value, and ``jei'' is Lojban's mechanism for indicating the shade of grey intended:

6.3)  mi ba jdice le jei
        la djordj. cu zekri gasnu [kei]
    I [future] decide the truth-value of
        (George being-a-(crime doer)).
    I will decide whether George is a criminal.
Example 6.3 does not imply that George is, or is not, definitely a criminal. Depending on the legal system I am using, I may make some intermediate decision. As a result, ``jei'' requires an x2 place analogous to that of ``ni'':
x1 is the truth value of (the bridi) under epistemology x2
Abstractions using ``jei'' are the mechanism for fuzzy logic in Lojban; the ``jei'' abstraction refers to a number between 0 and 1 inclusive (as distinct from ``ni'' abstractions, which are often on open-ended scales). The detailed conventions for using ``jei'' in fuzzy-logic contexts have not yet been established.

7. Predication/sentence abstraction

The following cmavo is discussed in this section:

   du'u    NU  predication abstraction
There are some selbri which demand an entire predication as a sumti; they make claims about some predication considered as a whole. Logicians call these the ``propositional attitudes'', and they include (in English) things like knowing, believing, learning, seeing, hearing, and the like. Consider the English sentence:

7.1)  I know that Frank is a fool.

How's that in Lojban? Let us try:

7.2)  mi djuno le nu la frank. cu bebna [kei]
    I know the event of Frank being a fool.
Not quite right. Events are actually or potentially physical, and can't be contained inside one's mind, except for events of thinking, feeling, and the like; Example 7.2 comes close to claiming that Frank's being-a-fool is purely a mental activity on the part of the speaker. (In fact, Example 7.2 is an instance of improperly marked ``sumti raising'', a concept discussed further in Section 10).

Try again:

7.3)  mi djuno le jei la frank. cu bebna [kei]
    I know the truth-value of Frank being a fool.

Closer. Example 7.3 says that I know whether or not Frank is a fool, but doesn't say that he is one, as Example 7.1 does. To catch that nuance, we must say:

7.4)  mi djuno le du'u la frank. cu bebna [kei]
    I know the predication that Frank is a fool.

Now we have it. Note that the implied assertion ``Frank is a fool'' is not a property of ``le du'u'' abstraction, but of ``djuno''; we can only know what is in fact true. (As a result, ``djuno'' like ``jei'' has a place for epistemology, which specifies how we know.) Example 7.5 has no such implied assertion:

7.5)  mi kucli le du'u la frank. cu bebna [kei]
    I am curious about whether Frank is a fool.
and here ``du'u'' could probably be replaced by ``jei'' without much change in meaning:

7.6)  mi kucli le jei la frank. cu bebna [kei]
    I am curious about how true it is
        that Frank is a fool.
As a matter of convenience rather than logical necessity, ``du'u'' has been given an x2 place, which is a sentence (piece of language) expressing the bridi:
x1 is the predication (the bridi), expressed in sentence x2
and ``le se du'u ...'' is very useful in filling places of selbri which refer to speaking, writing, or other linguistic behavior regarding bridi:

7.6.5)  la djan. cusku
        le se du'u
            la djordj. klama le zarci [kei]
    John expresses
        the sentence-expressing-that
            George goes-to the store
    John says that George goes to the store.
Example 7.6 differs from
7.7)  la djan cusku
        lu la djordj. klama le zarci li'u
    John expresses,
        quote, George goes to the store, unquote.
    John says ``George goes to the store''.
because Example 7.7 claims that John actually said the quoted words, whereas Example 7.6 claims only that he said some words or other which were to the same purpose.

``le se du'u'' is much the same as ``lu'e le du'u'', a symbol for the predication, but ``se du'u'' can be used as a selbri, whereas ``lu'e'' is ungrammatical in a selbri. (See Chapter 5 for a discussion of ``lu'e''.)

8. Indirect questions

The following cmavo is discussed in this section:

   kau UI  indirect question marker
There is an alternative type of sentence involving ``du'u'' and a selbri expressing a propositional attitude. In addition to sentences like
8.1)  I know that John went to the store.
we can also say things like

8.2)  I know who went to the store.
This form is called an ``indirect question'' in English because the embedded English sentence is a question: ``Who went to the store?'' A person who says Example 8.2 is claiming to know the answer to this question. Indirect questions can occur with many other English verbs as well: I can wonder, or doubt, or see, or hear, as well as know who went to the store.

To express indirect questions in Lojban, we use a ``le du'u'' abstraction, but rather than using a question word like ``who'' (``ma'' in Lojban), we use any word that will fit grammatically and mark it with the suffix particle ``kau''. This cmavo belongs to selma'o UI, so grammatically it can appear anywhere. The simplest Lojban translation of Example 8.2 is therefore:

8.3)  mi djuno le du'u
        makau pu klama le zarci
    I know the predication-of
        X [indirect question] [past] going to the store.
In Example 8.3, we have chosen to use ``ma'' as the word marked by ``kau''. In fact, any other sumti would have done as well: ``zo'e'' or ``da'' or even ``la djan.''. Using ``la djan.'' would suggest that it was John who I knew had gone to the store, however:
8.4)  mi djuno le du'u
        la djan. kau pu
            klama le zarci
    I know the predication-of/fact-that
        John [indirect question] [past]
            going to the store.
    I know who went to the store, namely John.
    I know that it was John who went to the store.

Using one of the indefinite pro-sumti such as ``ma'', ``zo'e'', or ``da'' does not suggest any particular value.

Why does Lojban require the ``kau'' marker, rather than using ``ma'' as English and Chinese and many other languages do? Because ``ma'' always signals a direct question, and so

8.5)  mi djuno le du'u
        ma pu klama le zarci
    I know the predication-of
        [what sumti?] [past] goes-to the store
means
8.6)  Who is it that I know goes to the store?
It is actually not necessary to use ``le du'u'' and ``kau'' at all if the indirect question involves a sumti; there is generally a paraphrase of the type:
8.7)  mi djuno fi le pu klama be le zarci
    I know about the [past] goer to-the store.
    I know something about the one who went to the store
        (namely, his identity).
because the x3 place of ``djuno'' is the subject of knowledge, as opposed to the fact that is known. But when the questioned point is not a sumti, but (say) a logical connection, then there is no good alternative to ``kau'':
8.8)  mi ba zgana le du'u
        la djan. jikau la djordj.
            cu zvati le panka
    I [future] observe the predication-of/fact-that
        John [connective indirect question] George
            is-at the park.
    I will see whether John or George (or both)
        is at the park.

In addition, Example 8.7 is only a loose paraphrase of Example 8.3, because it is left to the listener's insight to realize that what is known about the goer-to-the-store is his identity rather than some other of his attributes.

9. Minor abstraction types

The following cmavo are discussed in this section:

   li'i    NU  experience abstractor
    si'o    NU  concept abstractor
    su'u    NU  general abstractor
There are three more abstractors in Lojban, all of them little used so far. The abstractor ``li'i'' expresses experience:
9.1)  mi morji le li'i mi verba
    I remember the experience-of (my being-a-child)
The abstractor ``si'o'' expresses a mental image, a concept, an idea:
9.2)  mi nelci le si'o la lojban. cu mulno
    I enjoy the concept-of Lojban being-complete.
Finally, the abstractor ``su'u'' is a vague abstractor, whose meaning must be grasped from context:

9.3)  ko zgana le su'u
        le ci smacu cu bajra
    you [imperative] observe the abstract-nature-of
        the three mice running
    See how the three mice run!
All three of these abstractors have an x2 place. An experience requires an experiencer, so the place structure of ``li'i'' is:
x1 is the experience of (the bridi) as experienced by x2
Similarly, an idea requires a mind to hold it, so the place structure of ``si'o'' is:
x1 is the idea/concept of (the bridi) in the mind of x2
Finally, there needs to be some way of specifying just what sort of abstraction ``su'u'' is representing, so its place structure is:
x1 is an abstract nature of (the bridi) of type x2
The x2 place of ``su'u'' allows it to serve as a substitute for any of the other abstractors, or as a template for creating new ones. For example,
9.4)  le nu mi klama
    the event-of my going
can be paraphrased as
9.5)  le su'u mi klama kei be lo fasnu
    the abstract-nature-of (my going) of-type an event
and there is a book whose title might be rendered in Lojban as:

9.6)  le su'u la .iecuas. kuctra
        selcatra kei
        be lo sao'rdzifa'a
        ke nalmatma'e sutyterjvi
    the abstract-nature-of (Jesus is-an-intersect-shape
        type-of-killed-one)
        of-type a slope-low-direction
        type-of non-motor-vehicle speed-competition
    The Crucifixion of Jesus Considered As A
        Downhill Bicycle Race

Note the importance of using ``kei'' after ``su'u'' when the x2 of ``su'u'' (or any other abstractor) is being specified; otherwise, the ``be lo'' ends up inside the abstraction bridi.

10. Lojban sumti raising

The following cmavo are discussed in this section:

   tu'a    LAhE    an abstraction involving
    jai JAI abstraction conversion
It is sometimes inconvenient, in a situation where an abstract description is logically required, to express the abstraction. In English we can say:
10.1)    I try to open the door.
which in Lojban is:
10.2)    mi troci le nu
        [mi] gasnu le nu
            le vorme cu karbi'o
    I try the event-of
        (I am-agent-in the event-of
            (the door open-becomes)).
which has an abstract description within an abstract description, quite a complex structure. In English (but not in all other languages), we may also say:

10.3)    I try the door.
where it is understood that what I try is actually not the door itself, but the act of opening it. The same simplification can be done in Lojban, but it must be marked explicitly using a cmavo. The relevant cmavo is ``tu'a'', which belongs to selma'o LAhE. The Lojban equivalent of Example 10.3 is:
10.4)    mi troci tu'a le vorme
    I try some-action-to-do-with the door.
The term ``sumti-raising'', as in the title of this section, signifies that a sumti which logically belongs within an abstraction (or even within an abstraction which is itself inside an intermediate abstraction) is ``raised'' to the main bridi level. This transformation from Example 10.2 to Example 10.4 loses information: nothing except convention tells us what the abstraction was.

Using ``tu'a'' is a kind of laziness: it makes speaking easier at the possible expense of clarity for the listener. The speaker must be prepared for the listener to respond something like:

10.5)    tu'a le vorme lu'u ki'a
    something-to-do-with the door [terminator] [confusion!]
which indicates that ``tu'a le vorme'' cannot be understood. (The terminator for ``tu'a'' is ``lu'u'', and is used in Example 10.5 to make clear just what is being questioned: the sumti-raising, rather than the word ``vorme'' as such.) An example of a confusing raised sumti might be:
10.6)    tu'a la djan. cu cafne
    something-to-do-with John frequently-occurs

This must mean that something which John does, or which happens to John, occurs frequently: but without more context there is no way to figure out what. Note that without the ``tu'a'', Example 10.6 would mean that John considered as an event frequently occurs --- in other words, that John has some sort of on-and-off existence! Normally we do not think of people as events in English, but the x1 place of ``cafne'' is an event, and if something that does not seem to be an event is put there, the Lojbanic listener will attempt to construe it as one. (Of course, this analysis assumes that ``djan.'' is the name of a person, and not the name of some event.)

Logically, a counterpart of some sort is needed to ``tu'a'' which transposes an abstract sumti into a concrete one. This is achieved at the selbri level by the cmavo ``jai'' (of selma'o JAI). This cmavo has more than one function, discussed in Chapter 9 and Chapter 11; for the purposes of this chapter, it operates as a conversion of selbri, similarly to the cmavo of selma'o SE. This conversion changes

10.7)    tu'a mi rinka
        le nu do morsi
    something-to-do-with me causes
        the event-of you are-dead
    My action causes your death.
into
10.8)    mi jai rinka le nu do morsi
    I am-associated-with causing the event-of your death.
    I cause your death.

In English, the subject of ``cause'' can either be the actual cause (an event), or else the agent of the cause (a person, typically); not so in Lojban, where the x1 of ``rinka'' is always an event. Example 10.7 and Example 10.8 look equally convenient (or inconvenient), but in making descriptions, Example 10.8 can be altered to:

10.9)    le jai rinka
        be le nu do morsi
    that-which-is associated-with causing
        (the event-of your death)
    the one who caused your death
because ``jai'' modifies the selbri and can be incorporated into the description --- not so for ``tu'a''.

The weakness of ``jai'' used in descriptions in this way is that it does not specify which argument of the implicit abstraction is being raised into the x1 place of the description selbri. One can be more specific by using the modal form of ``jai'' explained in Chapter 9:

10.10)  le jai gau rinka
        be le nu do morsi
    that-which-is agent-in causing
        (the event-of your death)

12. Event-type abstractors and event contour tenses

This section is a logical continuation of Section 3.

There exists a relationship between the four types of events explained in Section 3 and the event contour tense cmavo of selma'o ZAhO. The specific cmavo of NU and of ZAhO are mutually interdefining; the ZAhO contours were chosen to fit the needs of the NU event types and vice versa. Event contours are explained in full in Chapter 10, and only summarized here.

The purpose of ZAhO cmavo is to represent the natural portions of an event, such as the beginning, the middle, and the end. They fall into several groups:

The cmavo ``pu'o'', ``ca'o'', and ``ba'o'' represent spans of time: before an event begins, while it is going on, and after it is over, respectively.
The cmavo ``co'a'', ``de'a'', ``di'a'', and ``co'u'' represent points of time: the start of an event, the temporary stopping of an event, the resumption of an event after a stop, and the end of an event, respectively. Not all events can have breaks in them, in which case ``de'a'' and ``di'a'' do not apply.
The cmavo ``mo'u'' and ``za'o'' correspond to ``co'u'' and ``ba'o'' respectively, in the case of those events which have a natural ending point that may not be the same as the actual ending point: ``mo'u'' refers to the natural ending point, and ``za'o'' to the time between the natural ending point and the actual ending point (the ``excessive'' or ``superfective'' part of the event).
The cmavo ``co'i'' represents an entire event considered as a point-event or achievement.
All these cmavo are applicable to events seen as processes and abstracted with ``pu'u''. Only processes have enough internal structure to make all these points and spans of time meaningful.

For events seen as states and abstracted with ``za'i'', the meaningful event contours are the spans ``pu'o'', ``ca'o'', and ``ba'o''; the starting and ending points ``co'a'' and ``co'u'', and the achievement contour ``co'i''. States do not have natural endings distinct from their actual ending. (It is an open question whether states can be stopped and resumed.)

For events seen as activities and abstracted with ``zu'o'', the meaningful event contours are the spans ``pu'o'', ``ca'o'', and ``ba'o'', and the achievement contour ``co'i''. Because activities are inherently cyclic and repetitive, the beginning and ending points are not well-defined: you do not know whether an activity has truly begun until it begins to repeat.

For events seen as point-events and abstracted with ``mu'e'', the meaningful event contours are the spans ``pu'o'' and ``ba'o'' but not ``ca'o'' (a point-event has no duration), and the achievement contour ``co'i''.

Note that the parts of events are themselves events, and may be treated as such. The points in time may be seen as ``mu'e'' point-events; the spans of time may constitute processes or activities. Therefore, Lojban allows us to express processes within processes, activities within states, and many other complicated abstract things.

13. Abstractor connection

An abstractor may be replaced by two or more abstractors joined by logical or non-logical connectives. Connectives are explained in detail in Chapter 14. The connection can be expanded to one between two bridi which differ only in abstraction marker. Example 13.1 and Example 13.2 are equivalent in meaning:

13.1)    le ka la frank. ciska cu xlali
        .ije le ni la frank. ciska cu xlali
    The quality-of Frank's writing is bad,
        and the quantity of Frank's writing is bad.

13.2) le ka je ni la frank. ciska cu xlali
    The quality and quantity of Frank's writing is bad.

This feature of Lojban has hardly ever been used, and nobody knows what uses it may eventually have.

14. Table of abstractors

The following table gives each abstractor, an English gloss for it, a Lojban gismu which is connected with it (more or less remotely: the associations between abstractors and gismu are meant more as memory hooks than for any kind of inference), the rafsi associated with it, and (on the following line) its place structure.

nu event of    fasnu       nun
        x1 is an event of (the bridi)
ka  property of ckaji       kam
        x1 is a property of (the bridi)
ni  amount of   klani       nil
        x1 is an amount of (the bridi)
            measured on scale x2
jei truth-value of  jetnu       jez
        x1 is a truth-value of (the bridi)
            under epistemology x2
li'i    experience of   lifri       liz
        x1 is an experience of (the bridi)
            to experiencer x2
si'o    idea of     sidbo       siz
        x1 is an idea/concept of (the bridi)
            in the mind of x2
du'u    predication of  -----       dum
        x1 is the bridi (the bridi)
            expressed by sentence x2
su'u    abstraction of  sucta       sus
        x1 is an abstract nature of (the bridi)
za'i    state of    zasti       zam
        x1 is a state of (the bridi)
zu'o    activity of zukte       zum
        x1 is an activity of (the bridi)
pu'u    process of  pruce       pup
        x1 is a process of (the bridi)
mu'e    point-event of  mulno       mub
        x1 is a point-event/achievement
            of (the bridi)

Last modified: Mon Jun 27 23:12:04 PDT 2005

Please contact us with any comments, suggestions or concerns.