Chapter 9: To Boston Via The Road Go I, With An Excursion Into The Land Of Modals

6. Modal tags: BAI

There are certain selbri which seem particularly useful in constructing modal tags. In particular, “pilno” is one of them. The place structure of “pilno” is:

x1 uses tool x2
and almost any selbri which represents an action may need to specify a tool. Having to say “fi'o se pilno” frequently would make many Lojban sentences unnecessarily verbose and clunky, so an abbreviation is provided in the language design: the compound cmavo “sepi'o”.

Here “se” is used before a cmavo, namely “pi'o”, rather than before a brivla. The meaning of this cmavo, which belongs to selma'o BAI, is exactly the same as that of “fi'o pilno fe'u”. Since what we want is a tag based on “se pilno” rather than “pilno” — the tool, not the tool user — the grammar allows a BAI cmavo to be converted using a SE cmavo. ✥5.2 may therefore be rewritten as:

✥6.1  mi viska do sepi'o le zunle kanla
I see you with-tool: the left eye
I see you using my left eye.

The compound cmavo “sepi'o” is much shorter than “fi'o se pilno [fe'u]” and can be thought of as a single word meaning “with-tool”. The modal tag “pi'o”, with no “se”, similarly means “with-tool-user”, probably a less useful concept. Nevertheless, the parallelism with the place structure of “pilno” makes the additional syllable worthwhile.

Some BAI cmavo make sense with as well as without a SE cmavo; for example, “ka'a”, the BAI corresponding to the gismu “klama”, has five usable forms corresponding to the five places of “klama” respectively:

ka'a        with-goer
seka'a      with-destination
teka'a      with-origin
veka'a      with-route
xeka'a      with-means-of-transport

Any of these tags may be used to provide modal places for bridi, as in the following examples:

✥6.2  la .eivn. cu vecnu loi flira cinta ka'a mi
Avon sells a-mass-of face paint with-goer me.
I am a traveling cosmetics salesperson for Avon.

(✥6.2 may seem a bit strained, but it illustrates the way in which an existing selbri, “vecnu” in this case, may have a place added to it which might otherwise seem utterly unrelated.)

✥6.3  mi cadzu seka'a la bratfyd.
I walk with-destination Bradford.
I am walking to Bradford.

✥6.4   bloti teka'a la nu,IORK.
[Observative:] is-a-boat with-origin New York
A boat from New York!

✥6.5   do bajra veka'a lo djine
You run with-route a circle.
You are running in circles.

✥6.6   mi citka xeka'a le vinji
I eat with-means-of-transport the airplane.
I eat in the airplane.

There are sixty-odd cmavo of selma'o BAI, based on selected gismu that seemed useful in a variety of settings. The list is somewhat biased toward English, because many of the cmavo were selected on the basis of corresponding English prepositions and preposition compounds such as “with”, “without”, and “by means of”. The BAI cmavo, however, are far more precise than English prepositions, because their meanings are fixed by the place structures of the corresponding gismu.

All BAI cmavo have the form CV'V or CVV. Most of them are CV'V, where the C is the first consonant of the corresponding gismu and the two Vs are the two vowels of the gismu. The table in c9-§16 shows the exceptions.

There is one additional BAI cmavo that is not derived from a gismu: “do'e”. This cmavo is used when an extra place is needed, but it seems useful to be vague about the semantic implications of the extra place:

✥6.7  lo nanmu be do'e le berti cu klama le tcadu
Some man [related to] the north came to-the city.
A man of the north came to the city.

Here “le berti” is provided as a modal place of the selbri “nanmu”, but its exact significance is vague, and is paralleled in the colloquial translation by the vague English preposition “of”. ✥6.7 also illustrates a modal place bound into a selbri with “be”. This construction is useful when the selbri of a description requires a modal place; this and other uses of “be” are more fully explained in Chapter 5.