7.1. What are sumka'i and brika'i? What are they for?

Speakers of Lojban, like speakers of other languages, require mechanisms of abbreviation. If every time we referred to something, we had to express a complete description of it, life would be too short to say what we have to say. In English, we have words called pronouns which allow us to replace nouns or noun phrases with shorter terms. An English with no pronouns might look something like this:

Example 7.1. 

Speakers of Lojban, like speakers of other languages, require mechanisms of abbreviation. If every time speakers of Lojban referred to a thing to which speakers of Lojban refer, speakers of Lojban had to express a complete description of what speakers of Lojban referred to, life would be too short to say what speakers of Lojban have to say.


Speakers of this kind of English would get mightily sick of talking. Furthermore, there are uses of pronouns in English which are independent of abbreviation. There is all the difference in the world between:

Example 7.2. 

John picked up a stick and shook it.


and

Example 7.3. 

John picked up a stick and shook a stick.


Example 7.3 does not imply that the two sticks are necessarily the same, whereas Example 7.2 requires that they are.

In Lojban, we have sumti rather than nouns, so our equivalent of pronouns are called by the hybrid term sumka'i. A purely Lojban term would be sumti cmavo: all of the sumka'i are cmavo belonging to selma'o KOhA. In exactly the same way, Lojban has a group of cmavo (belonging to selma'o GOhA) which serve as selbri or full bridi. These may be called brika'i or bridi cmavo. This chapter explains the uses of all the members of selma'o KOhA and GOhA. They fall into a number of groups, known as series: thus, in selma'o KOhA, we have among others the mi-series, the ko'a-series, the da-series, and so on. In each section, a series of sumka'i is explained, and if there is a corresponding series of brika'i, it is explained and contrasted. Many sumka'i series don't have brika'i analogues, however.

A few technical terms: The term referent means the thing to which a sumka'i (by extension, a brika'i) refers. If the speaker of a sentence is James, then the referent of the word I is James. On the other hand, the term antecedent refers to a piece of language which a sumka'i (or brika'i) implicitly repeats. In

Example 7.4. 

John loves himself


the antecedent of himself is John; not the person, but a piece of text (a name, in this case). John, the person, would be the referent of himself. Not all sumka'i or brika'i have antecedents, but all of them have referents.