19.12. Parenthesis and metalinguistic commentary: TO, TOI, SEI

The following cmavo are discussed in this section:



open parenthesis



open editorial parenthesis



close parenthesis



metalinguistic bridi marker

The cmavo to and toi are discursive (non-mathematical) parentheses, for inserting parenthetical remarks. Any text whatsoever can go within the parentheses, and it is completely invisible to its context. It can, however, refer to the context by the use of sumka'i and brika'i: any that have been assigned in the context are still assigned in the parenthetical remarks, but the reverse is not true.

Example 19.67. 


Lisa, I want you to (Frank! Stop!) see this cat.

Example 19.67 implicitly redefines do within the parentheses: the listener is changed by doi .frank. When the context sentence resumes, however, the old listener, Lisa, is automatically restored.

There is another cmavo of selma'o TO: to'i. The difference between to and to'i is the difference between parentheses and square brackets in English prose. Remarks within to ... toi cmavo are implicitly by the same speaker, whereas remarks within to'i ... toi are implicitly by someone else, perhaps an editor:

Example 19.68. 

la .frank. cu cusku lu mi prami do to'i sa'a zo do sinxa la .djein. toi li'u

Frank says I love you [you = Jane]

The sa'a suffix is a discursive cmavo (of selma'o UI) meaning editorial insertion, and indicating that the marked word or construct (in this case, the entire bracketed remark) is not part of the quotation. It is required whenever the to'i ... toi remark is physically within quotation marks, at least when speaking to literal-minded listeners; the convention may be relaxed if no actual confusion results.

Note: The parser believes that parentheses are attached to the previous word or construct, because it treats them as syntactic equivalents of subscripts and other such so-called free modifiers. Semantically, however, parenthetical remarks are not necessarily attached either to what precedes them or what follows them.

The cmavo sei (of selma'o SEI) begins an embedded discursive bridi. Comments added with sei are called metalinguistic, because they are comments about the discourse itself rather than about the subject matter of the discourse. This sense of the term metalinguistic is used throughout this chapter, and is not to be confused with the sense language for expressing other languages.

When marked with sei, a metalinguistic utterance can be embedded in another utterance as a discursive. In this way, discursives which do not have cmavo assigned in selma'o UI can be expressed:

Example 19.69. 

la .frank. cu prami sei ri gleki la .djein.

Frank loves (he is happy) Jane.

Using the happiness attitudinal, ui, would imply that the speaker was happy. Instead, the speaker attributes happiness to Frank. It would probably be safe to elide the one who is happy, and say:

Example 19.70. 

la .frank. cu prami sei gleki la .djein.

Frank loves (he is happy) Jane.

The grammar of the bridi following sei has an unusual limitation: the sumti must either precede the selbri, or must be glued into the selbri with be and bei:

Example 19.71. 

la .frank. cu prami sei gleki be fa la .suzn. la .djein.

Frank loves (Susan is happy) Jane.

This restriction allows the terminator cmavo se'u to almost always be elided.

Since a discursive utterance is working at a higher level of abstraction than a non-discursive utterance, a non-discursive utterance cannot refer to a discursive utterance. Specifically, the various back-counting, reciprocal, and reflexive constructs in selma'o KOhA ignore the utterances at higher metalinguistic levels in determining their referent. It is possible, and sometimes necessary, to refer to lower metalinguistic levels. For example, the English he said in a conversation is metalinguistic. For this purpose, quotations are considered to be at a lower metalinguistic level than the surrounding context (a quoted text cannot refer to the statements of the one who quotes it), whereas parenthetical remarks are considered to be at a higher level than the context.

Lojban works differently from English in that the he said can be marked instead of the quotation. In Lojban, you can say:

Example 19.72. 


which literally claims that John uttered the quoted text. If the central claim is that John made the utterance, as is likely in conversation, this style is the most sensible. However, in written text which quotes a conversation, you don't want the he said or she said to be considered part of the conversation. If unmarked, it could mess up the anaphora counting. Instead, you can use:

Example 19.73. 

lumiklamalezarcisei sa'a

I go to the store, said John.

And of course other orders are possible:

Example 19.74. 

lu sei sa'a la .djan. cu cusku be dei mi klama le zarci

John said, I go to the store.

Example 19.75. 

lu mi klama sei sa'a la .djan. cu cusku le zarci

I go, John said, to the store.

Note the sa'a following each sei, marking the sei and its attached bridi as an editorial insert, not part of the quotation. In a more relaxed style, these sa'a cmavo would probably be dropped.

The elidable terminator for sei is se'u (of selma'o SEhU); it is rarely needed, except to separate a selbri within the sei comment from an immediately following selbri (or component) outside the comment.