Chapter 4: The Shape Of Words To Come: Lojban Morphology
Lojbanized names, called “cmene”, are very much like their counterparts in other languages. They are labels applied to things (or people) to stand for them in descriptions or in direct address. They may convey meaning in themselves, but do not necessarily do so.
Because names are often highly personal and individual, Lojban attempts to allow native language names to be used with a minimum of modification. The requirement that the Lojban speech stream be unambiguously analyzable, however, means that most names must be modified somewhat when they are Lojbanized. Here are a few examples of English names and possible Lojban equivalents:
✥8.1 djim. Jim
✥8.2 djein. Jane
✥8.3 .arnold. Arnold
✥8.4 pit. Pete
✥8.5 katrinas. Katrina
✥8.6 kat,r,in. Catherine
(Note that syllabic “r” is skipped in determining the stressed syllable, so ✥8.6 is stressed on the “ka”.)
✥8.7 katis. Cathy
✥8.8 keit. Kate
Names may have almost any form, but always end in a consonant, and are followed by a pause. They are penultimately stressed, unless unusual stress is marked with capitalization. A name may have multiple parts, each ending with a consonant and pause, or the parts may be combined into a single word with no pause. For example,
✥8.9 djan. djonz.
are both valid Lojbanizations of “John Jones”.
The final arbiter of the correct form of a name is the person doing the naming, although most cultures grant people the right to determine how they want their own name to be spelled and pronounced. The English name “Mary” can thus be Lojbanized as “meris.”, “maris.”, “meiris.”, “merix.”, or even “marys.”. The last alternative is not pronounced much like its English equivalent, but may be desirable to someone who values spelling over pronunciation. The final consonant need not be an “s”; there must, however, be some Lojban consonant at the end.
Names are not permitted to have the sequences “la”, “lai”, or “doi” embedded in them, unless the sequence is immediately preceded by a consonant. These minor restrictions are due to the fact that all Lojban cmene embedded in a speech stream will be preceded by one of these words or by a pause. With one of these words embedded, the cmene might break up into valid Lojban words followed by a shorter cmene. However, break-up cannot happen after a consonant, because that would imply that the word before the “la”, or whatever, ended in a consonant without pause, which is impossible.
For example, the invalid name “laplas.” would look like the Lojban words “la plas.”, and “ilanas.” would be misunderstood as “.i la nas.”. However, “nederlants.” cannot be misheard as “neder lants.”, because “neder” with no following pause is not a possible Lojban word.
There are close alternatives to these forbidden sequences that can be used in Lojbanizing names, such as “ly”, “lei”, and “dai” or “do'i”, that do not cause these problems.
Lojban cmene are identifiable as word forms by the following characteristics:
- They must end in one or more consonants. There are no rules about how many consonants may appear in a cluster in cmene, provided that each consonant pair (whether standing by itself, or as part of a larger cluster) is a permissible pair.
- They may contain the letter y as a normal, non-hyphenating vowel. They are the only kind of Lojban word that may contain the two diphthongs “iy” and “uy”.
- They are always followed in speech by a pause after the final consonant, written as “.”.
- They may be stressed on any syllable; if this syllable is not the penultimate one, it must be capitalized when writing. Neither names nor words that begin sentences are capitalized in Lojban, so this is the only use of capital letters.
✥8.11 pav. the One from the cmavo “pa”, with rafsi “pav”, meaning “one”
✥8.12 sol. the Sun from the gismu “solri”, meaning “solar”, or actually “pertaining to the Sun”
✥8.13 ralj. Chief (as a title) from the gismu “ralju”, meaning “principal”.
✥8.14 nol. Lord/Lady from the gismu “nobli”, with rafsi “nol”, meaning “noble”.
To Lojbanize a name from the various natural languages, apply the following rules:
- Eliminate double consonants and silent letters.
- Add a final “s” or “n” (or some other consonant that sounds good) if the name ends in a vowel.
- Convert all sounds to their closest Lojban equivalents.
- If possible and acceptable, shift the stress to the penultimate (next-to-the-last) syllable. Use commas and capitalization in written Lojban when it is necessary to preserve non-standard syllabication or stress. Do not capitalize names otherwise.
- If the name contains an impermissible consonant pair, insert a vowel between the consonants: “y” is recommended.
- No cmene may have the syllables “la”, “lai”, or “doi” in them, unless immediately preceded by a consonant. If these combinations are present, they must be converted to something else. Possible substitutions include “ly”, “ly'i”, and “dai” or “do'i”, respectively.
- Change double consonants other than “cc” to single consonants.
- Change “cc” before a front vowel to “kc”, but otherwise to “k”.
- Change “c” before a back vowel and final “c” to “k”.
- Change “ng” before a consonant (other than “h”) and final “ng” to “n”.
- Change “x” to “z” initially, but otherwise to “ks”.
- Change “pn” to “n” initially.
- Change final “ie” and “ii” to “i”.
- Make the following idiosyncratic substitutions:
- aa a ae e ch k ee i eigh ei ew u igh ai oo u ou u ow au ph f q k sc sk w u y i
- However, the diphthong substitutions should not be done if the two vowels are in two different syllables.
- Change “h” between two vowels to “”', but otherwise remove it completely. If preservation of the “h” seems essential, change it to “x” instead.
- Place “”' between any remaining vowel pairs that do not form Lojban diphthongs.
- Some further examples of Lojbanized names are:
English “Mary” meris. or meiris. English “Smith” smit. English “Jones” djonz. English “John” djan. or jan. (American) or djon. or jon. (British) English “Alice” .alis. English “Elise” .eLIS. English “Johnson” djansn. English “William” .uiliam. or .uil,iam. English “Brown” braun. English “Charles” tcarlz. French “Charles” carl. French “De Gaulle” dyGOL. German “Heinrich” xainrix. Spanish “Joaquin” xuaKIN. Russian “Svetlana” sfietlanys. Russian “Khrushchev” xrucTCOF. Hindi “Krishna” kricnas. Polish “Lech Walesa” lex. va,uensas. Spanish “Don Quixote” don. kicotes. or modern Spanish: don. kixotes. or Mexican dialect: don. ki'otes. Chinese “Mao Zedong” maudzydyn. Japanese “Fujiko” fudjikos. or fujikos.