9.6. 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:

pilno x1 uses x2 as a tool for purpose x3

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. Example 9.27 may therefore be rewritten as:

Example 9.28. 


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:











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

Example 9.29. 


I am a traveling cosmetics salesperson for Avon.

(Example 9.29 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.)

Example 9.30. 


I am walking to Bradford.

Example 9.31. 


A boat from New York!

Example 9.32. 


You are running in circles.

Example 9.33. 


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 Section 9.1 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:

Example 9.34. 

lonanmube do'eleberticuklamaletcadu

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. Example 9.34 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 Section 9.1.