Chapter 5: “Pretty Little Girls' School”: The Structure Of Lojban selbri

14. Some types of asymmetrical tanru

This section and c5-§15 contain some example tanru classified into groups based on the type of relationship between the modifying seltau and the modified tertau. All the examples are paralleled by compounds actually observed in various natural languages. In the tables which follow, each group is preceded by a brief explanation of the relationship. The tables themselves contain a tanru, a literal gloss, an indication of the languages which exhibit a compound analogous to this tanru, and (for those tanru with no English parallel) a translation.

Here are the 3-letter abbreviations used for the various languages (it is presumed to be obvious whether a compound is found in English or not, so English is not explicitly noted):

Aba = Abazin Chi = Chinese Eng = English Ewe = Ewe Fin = Finnish Geo = Georgian Gua = Guarani Hop = Hopi Hun = Hungarian Imb = Imbabura Quechua Kar = Karaitic Kaz = Kazakh Kor = Korean Mon = Mongolian Qab = Qabardian Que = Quechua Rus = Russian Skt = Sanskrit Swe = Swedish Tur = Turkish Udm = Udmurt

Any lujvo or fu'ivla used in a group are glossed at the end of that group.

The tanru discussed in this section are asymmetrical tanru; that is, ones in which the order of the terms is fundamental to the meaning of the tanru. For example, “junla dadylsi”, or “clock pendulum”, is the kind of pendulum used in a clock, whereas “dadysli junla”, or “pendulum clock”, is the kind of clock that employs a pendulum. Most tanru are asymmetrical in this sense. Symmetrical tanru are discussed in c5-§15.

The tertau represents an action, and the seltau then represents the object of that action:

pinsi kilbra
pencil sharpener (Hun) zgike nunctu music instruction (Hun) mirli nunkalte deer hunting (Hun) finpe nunkalte fish hunting (Tur,Kor,Udm,Aba = fishing) smacu terkavbu mousetrap (Tur,Kor,Hun,Udm,Aba) zdani turni house ruler (Kar = host) zerle'a nunte'a thief fear (Skt = fear of thieves) cevni zekri god crime (Skt = offense against the gods) kilbra = sharp-apparatus nunctu = event-of-teaching nunkalte = event-of-hunting terkavbu = trap zerle'a = crime-taker nunte'a = event-of-fearing
The tertau represents a set, and the seltau the type of the elements contained in that set:
zdani lijgri
house row selci lamgri cell block karda mulgri card pack (Swe) rokci derxi stone heap (Swe) tadni girzu student group (Hun) remna girzu human-being group (Qab = group of people) cpumi'i lijgri tractor column (Qab) cevni jenmi god army (Skt) cevni prenu god folk (Skt) lijgri = line-group lamgri = adjacent-group mulgri = complete-group cpami'i = pull-machine
Conversely: the tertau is an element, and the seltau represents a set in which that element is contained. Implicitly, the meaning of the tertau is restricted from its usual general meaning to the specific meaning appropriate for elements in the given set. Note the opposition between “zdani linji” in the previous group, and “linji zdani” in this one, which shows why this kind of tanru is called “asymmetrical”.
carvi dirgo
raindrop (Tur,Kor,Hun,Udm,Aba) linji zdani row house
The seltau specifies an object and the tertau a component or detail of that object; the tanru as a whole refers to the detail, specifying that it is a detail of that whole and not some other.
junla dadysli
clock pendulum (Hun) purdi vorme garden door (Qab) purdi bitmu garden wall (Que) moklu skapi mouth skin (Imb = lips) nazbi kevna nose hole (Imb = nostril) karce xislu automobile wheel (Chi) jipci pimlu chicken feather (Chi) vinji rebla airplane tail (Chi) dadysli = hang-oscillator
Conversely: the seltau specifies a characteristic or important detail of the object described by the tertau; objects described by the tanru as a whole are differentiated from other similar objects by this detail.
pixra cukta
picture book kerfa silka hair silk (Kar = velvet) plise tapla apple cake (Tur) dadysli junla pendulum clock (Hun) dadysli = hang-oscillator
The tertau specifies a general class of object (a genus), and the seltau specifies a sub-class of that class (a species):
ckunu tricu
pine tree (Hun,Tur,Hop)
The tertau specifies an object of possession, and the seltau may specify the possessor (the possession may be intrinsic or otherwise). In English, these compounds have an explicit possessive element in them: “lion's mane”, “child's foot”, “noble's cow”.
cinfo kerfa
lion mane (Kor,Tur,Hun,Udm,Qab) verba jamfu child foot (Swe) nixli tuple girl leg (Swe) cinfo jamfu lion foot (Que) danlu skapi animal skin (Ewe) ralju zdani chief house (Ewe) jmive munje living world (Skt) nobli bakni noble cow (Skt) nolraitru ralju king chief (Skt = emperor) nolraitru = nobly-superlative-ruler
The tertau specifies a habitat, and the seltau specifies the inhabitant:
lanzu tumla
family land
The tertau specifies a causative agent, and the seltau specifies the effect of that cause:
kalselvi'i gapci
tear gas (Hun) terbi'a jurme disease germ (Tur) fenki litki crazy liquid (Hop = whisky) pinca litki urine liquid (Hop = beer) kalselvi'i = eye-excreted-thing terbi'a = disease
Conversely: the tertau specifies an effect, and the seltau specifies its cause.
djacu barna
water mark (Chi)
The tertau specifies an instrument, and the seltau specifies the purpose of that instrument:
taxfu dadgreku
garment rack (Chi) tergu'i ti'otci lamp shade (Chi) xirma zdani horse house (Chi = stall) nuzba tanbo news board (Chi = bulletin board) dadgreku = hang-frame tergu'i = source of illumination ti'otci = shadow-tool
More vaguely: the tertau specifies an instrument, and the seltau specifies the object of the purpose for which that instrument is used:
cpina rokci
pepper stone (Que = stone for grinding pepper) jamfu djacu foot water (Skt = water for washing the feet) grana mudri post wood (Skt = wood for making a post) moklu djacu mouth water (Hun = water for washing the mouth) lanme gerku sheep dog (dog for working sheep)
The tertau specifies a product from some source, and the seltau specifies the source of the product:
moklu djacu
mouth water (Aba,Qab = saliva) ractu mapku rabbit hat (Rus) jipci sovda chicken egg (Chi) sikcurnu silka silkworm silk (Chi) mlatu kalci cat feces (Chi) bifce lakse bee wax (Chi = beeswax) cribe rectu bear meat (Tur,Kor,Hun,Udm,Aba) solxrula grasu sunflower oil (Tur,Kor,Hun,Udm,Aba) bifce jisra bee juice (Hop = honey) tatru litki breast liquid (Hop = milk) kanla djacu eye water (Kor = tear) sikcurnu = silk-worm solxrula = solar-flower
Conversely: the tertau specifies the source of a product, and the seltau specifies the product:
silna jinto
salt well (Chi) kolme terkakpa coal mine (Chi) ctile jinto oil well (Chi) terkakpa = source of digging
The tertau specifies an object, and the seltau specifies the material from which the object is made. This case is especially interesting, because the referent of the tertau may normally be made from just one kind of material, which is then overridden in the tanru.
rokci cinfo
stone lion snime nanmu snow man (Hun) kliti cipni clay bird blaci kanla glass eye (Hun) blaci kanla glass eye (Que = spectacles) solji sicni gold coin (Tur) solji junla gold watch (Tur,Kor,Hun) solji djine gold ring (Udm,Aba,Que) rokci zdani stone house (Imb) mudri zdani wood house (Ewe = wooden house) rokci bitmu stone wall (Ewe) solji carce gold chariot (Skt) mudri xarci wood weapon (Skt = wooden weapon) cmaro'i dargu pebble road (Chi) sudysrasu cutci straw shoe (Chi) cmaro'i = small-rock sudysrasu = dry-grass

Note: the two senses of “blaci kanla” can be discriminated as:

blaci kanla bo tarmi
glass (eye shape) = glass eye blaci kanla bo sidju glass (eye helper) = spectacles
The tertau specifies a typical object used to measure a quantity and the seltau specifies something measured. The tanru as a whole refers to a given quantity of the thing being measured. English does not have compounds of this form, as a rule.
tumla spisa
land piece (Tur = piece of land) tcati kabri tea cup (Kor,Aba = cup of tea) nanba spisa bread piece (Kor = piece of bread) bukpu spisa cloth piece (Udm,Aba = piece of cloth) djacu calkyguzme water calabash (Ewe = calabash of water) calkyguzme = shell-fruit, calabash
The tertau specifies an object with certain implicit properties, and the seltau overrides one of those implicit properties:
kensa bloti
spaceship bakni verba cattle child (Ewe = calf)
The seltau specifies a whole, and the tertau specifies a part which normally is associated with a different whole. The tanru then refers to a part of the seltau which stands in the same relationship to the whole seltau as the tertau stands to its typical whole.
kosta degji
coat finger (Hun = coat sleeve) denci genja tooth root (Imb) tricu stedu tree head (Imb = treetop)
The tertau specifies the producer of a certain product, and the seltau specifies the product. In this way, the tanru as a whole distinguishes its referents from other referents of the tertau which do not produce the product.
silka curnu
silkworm (Tur,Hun,Aba)
The tertau specifies an object, and the seltau specifies another object which has a characteristic property. The tanru as a whole refers to those referents of the tertau which possess the property.
sonci manti
soldier ant ninmu bakni woman cattle (Imb = cow) mamta degji mother finger (Imb = thumb) cifnu degji baby finger (Imb = pinky) pacraistu zdani hell house (Skt) fagri dapma fire curse (Skt = curse destructive as fire) pacraistu = evil-superlative-site
As a particular case (when the property is that of resemblance): the seltau specifies an object which the referent of the tanru resembles.
grutrceraso jbama
cherry bomb solji kerfa gold hair (Hun = golden hair) kanla djacu eye water (Kar = spring) bakni rokci bull stone (Mon = boulder) grutrceraso = fu'ivla for “cherry” based on Linnean name sorprema'e = many-person-vehicle
The seltau specifies a place, and the tertau an object characteristically located in or at that place.
ckana boxfo
bed sheet (Chi) mrostu mojysu'a tomb monument (Chi = tombstone) jubme tergusni table lamp (Chi) foldi smacu field mouse (Chi) briju ci'ajbu office desk (Chi) rirxe xirma river horse (Chi = hippopotamus) xamsi gerku sea dog (Chi = seal) cagyce'u zdani village house (Skt) mrostu = dead-site mojysu'a = remember-structure ci'ajbu = write-table cagyce'u = farm-community
Specifically: the tertau is a place where the seltau is sold or made available to the public.
cidja barja
food bar (Chi = restaurant) cukta barja book bar (Chi = library)
The seltau specifies the locus of application of the tertau.
kanla velmikce
eye medicine (Chi) jgalu grasu nail oil (Chi = nail polish) denci pesxu tooth paste (Chi) velmikce = treatment used by doctor
The tertau specifies an implement used in the activity denoted by the seltau.
me la pinpan. bolci
Ping-Pong ball (Chi)
The tertau specifies a protective device against the undesirable features of the referent of the seltau.
carvi mapku
rain cap (Chi) carvi taxfu rain garment (Chi = raincoat) vindu firgai poison mask (Chi = gas mask) firgai = face-cover
The tertau specifies a container characteristically used to hold the referent of the seltau.
cukta vasru
book vessel (Chi = satchel) vanju kabri wine cup (Chi) spatrkoka lanka coca basket (Que) djacu calkyzme water calabash (Ewe) rismi dakli rice bag (Ewe,Chi) tcati kabri tea cup (Chi) ladru botpi milk bottle (Chi) rismi patxu rice pot (Chi) festi lante trash can (Chi) bifce zdani bee house (Kor = beehive) cladakyxa'i zdani sword house (Kor = sheath) manti zdani ant nest (Gua = anthill) spatrkoka = fu'ivla for “coca” calkyzme = shell-fruit, calabash cladakyxa'i = (long-knife)-weapon
The seltau specifies the characteristic time of the event specified by the tertau.
vensa djedi
spring day (Chi) crisa citsi summer season (Chi) cerni bumru morning fog (Chi) critu lunra autumn moon (Chi) dunra nicte winter night (Chi) nicte ckule night school (Chi)
The seltau specifies a source of energy for the referent of the tertau.
dikca tergusni
electric lamp (Chi) ratni nejni atom energy (Chi) brife molki windmill (Tur,Kor,Hun,Udm,Aba) tergusni = illumination-source
Finally, some tanru which don't fall into any of the above categories.
ladru denci
milk tooth (Tur,Hun,Udm,Qab) kanla denci eye tooth

It is clear that “tooth” is being specified, and that “milk” and “eye” act as modifiers. However, the relationship between “ladru” and “denci” is something like “tooth which one has when one is drinking milk from one's mother”, a relationship certainly present nowhere except in this particular concept. As for “kanla denci”, the relationship is not only not present on the surface, it is hardly possible to formulate it at all.