Chapter 2: A Quick Tour of Lojban Grammar, With Diagrams

5. Some simple Lojban bridi

Let's look at a simple Lojban bridi. The place structure of the gismu “tavla” is

✥5.1  x1 talks to x2 about x3 in language
x4

where the “x”es with following numbers represent the various arguments that could be inserted at the given positions in the English sentence. For example:

✥5.2  John talks to Sam about engineering
in Lojban.

has “John” in the x1 place, “Sam” in the x2 place, “engineering” in the x3 place, and “Lojban” in the x4 place, and could be paraphrased:

✥5.3  Talking is going on,
      with speaker John
      and listener Sam
      and subject matter engineering
      and language Lojban.

The Lojban bridi corresponding to ✥5.1 will have the form

✥5.4  x1 [cu] tavla x2 x3 x4
  --      ===== -- -- --

The word “cu” serves as a separator between any preceding sumti and the selbri. It can often be omitted, as in the following examples.

✥5.5  mi tavla do zo'e zo'e
  -- ===== -- ---- ----
  I talk to you about something in some language.

✥5.6   do tavla mi ta zo'e
  -- ===== -- -- ----
  You talk to me about that thing in a language.

✥5.7   mi tavla zo'e tu ti
  -- ===== ---- -- --
  I talk to someone about that thing yonder
      in this language.

( ✥5.7 is a bit unusual, as there is no easy way to point to a language; one might point to a copy of this book, and hope the meaning gets across!)

When there are one or more occurrences of the cmavo “zo'e” at the end of a bridi, they may be omitted, a process called “ellipsis”. ✥5.5 and ✥5.6 may be expressed thus:

✥5.8  mi tavla do
  -- ===== --
  I talk to you (about something in some language).

✥5.9   do tavla mi ta
  -- ===== -- --
  You talk to me about that thing (in some language).

Note that ✥5.7 is not subject to ellipsis by this direct method, as the “zo'e” in it is not at the end of the bridi.