2.10. Description sumti

Often we wish to talk about things other than the speaker, the listener and things we can point to. Let's say I want to talk about a talker other than mi. What I want to talk about would naturally fit into the first place of tavla. Lojban, it turns out, has an operator that pulls this first place out of a selbri and converts it to a sumti called a description sumti. The description sumti lo tavla ku means a/the talker, and may be used wherever any sumti may be used.

For example,

Example 2.39. 

mi

tavla

do

lo tavla

[ku]


means the same as

Example 2.40. 

I talk to you about the talker


where the talker is presumably someone other than me, though not necessarily.

Similarly lo sutra tavla ku is the fast talker, and lo sutra te tavla ku is the fast subject of talk or the subject of fast talk. Which of these related meanings is understood will depend on the context in which the expression is used. The most plausible interpretation within the context will generally be assumed by a listener to be the intended one.

In many cases the word ku may be omitted. In particular, it is never necessary in a description at the end of a sentence, so:

Example 2.41. 

mi

tavla

do

lo tavla

I

talk-to

you

about-the talker


means exactly the same thing as Example 2.39.

There is a problem when we want to say The fast one is talking. The obvious translation lo sutra tavla turns out to mean the fast talker, and has no selbri at all. To solve this problem we can use the word cu, which so far has always been optional, in front of the selbri. Short words like lo and cu which serve grammatical functions are called cmavo in Lojban.

The word cu has no meaning, and exists only to mark the beginning of the selbri within the bridi, separating it from a previous sumti. It comes before any other part of the selbri, including other cmavo like se or te. Thus:

Example 2.42. 

lo sutra tavla

The fast talker


Example 2.43. 

lo sutra

cu

tavla

The fast one

-

is talking.


Example 2.44. 

lo sutra se tavla

The fast talked-to one


Example 2.45. 

lo sutra

cu

se tavla

The fast one

-

is talked to.


Consider the following more complex example, with two description sumti.

Example 2.46. 

mi

[cu]

tavla

lo vecnu

[ku]

lo blari'o

[ku]

I

-

talk-to

the seller

-

about the blue-green-thing.

-


The sumti lo vecnu contains the selbri vecnu, which has the seller in the x1 place, and uses it in this sentence to describe a seller that the speaker intends to mention, or sellers in general. The same holds for lo blari'o, with a selbri whose first sumti is something blue-green.

It is safe to omit both occurrences of ku in Example 2.46, and it is also safe to omit the cu.