6.4. Quantified sumti

The following cmavo are discussed in this section:



all of/each of



at least (one of)

Quantifiers tell us how many: in the case of quantifiers with sumti, how many things we are talking about. In Lojban, quantifiers are expressed by numbers and mathematical expressions: a large topic discussed in some detail in Chapter 6. For the purposes of this chapter, a simplified treatment will suffice. Our examples will employ either the simple Lojban numbers pa, re, ci, vo, and mu, meaning one, two, three, four, five respectively, or else one of four special quantifiers, two of which are discussed in this section and listed above. These four quantifiers are important because every Lojban sumti has either one or two of them implicitly present in it – which one or two depends on the particular kind of sumti. There is more explanation of implicit quantifiers later in this section. (The other two quantifiers, piro and pisu'o, are explained in Section 6.1.)

Every Lojban sumti may optionally be preceded by an explicit quantifier. The purpose of this quantifier is to specify how many of the things referred to by the sumti are being talked about. Here are some simple examples contrasting sumti with and without explicit quantifiers:

Example 6.17. 


Example 6.18. 


The difference between Example 6.17 and Example 6.18 is the presence of the explicit quantifier re in the latter example. Although re by itself means two, when used as a quantifier it means two-of. Out of the group of listeners (the number of which isn't stated), two (we are not told which ones) are asserted to be walkers on the ice. Implicitly, the others (if any) are not walkers on the ice. In Lojban, you cannot say I own three shoes if in fact you own four shoes. Numbers need never be specified, but if they are specified they must be correct.

(This rule does not mean that there is no way to specify a number which is vague. The sentence

Example 6.19. 


is true if you own three shoes, or four, or indeed any larger number. More details on vague numbers appear in the discussion of mathematical expressions in Chapter 6.)

Now consider Example 6.17 again. How many of the listeners are claimed to walk on the ice? The answer turns out to be: all of them, however many that is. So Example 6.17 and Example 6.20:

Example 6.20. 


turn out to mean exactly the same thing. This is a safe strategy, because if one of my listeners doesn't turn out to be walking on the ice, I can safely claim that I didn't intend that person to be a listener! And in fact, all of the personal sumka'i such as mi and mi'o and ko obey the same rule. We say that personal sumka'i have a so-called implicit quantifier of ro (all). This just means that if no quantifier is given explicitly, the meaning is the same as if the implicit quantifier had been used.

Not all sumti have ro as the implicit quantifier, however. Consider the quotation in:

Example 6.21. 


I say, You walk on the ice.

What is the implicit quantifier of the quotation lu do cadzu le bisli li'u? Surely not ro. If ro were supplied explicitly, thus:

Example 6.22. 


the meaning would be something like I say every occurrence of the sentence 'You walk on the ice'. Of course I don't say every occurrence of it, only some occurrences. One might suppose that Example 6.21 means that I express exactly one occurrence, but it is more Lojbanic to leave the number unspecified, as with other sumti. We can say definitely, however, that I say it at least once.

The Lojban cmavo meaning at least is su'o, and if no ordinary number follows, su'o means at least once. (See Example 6.19 for the use of su'o with an ordinary number). Therefore, the explicitly quantified version of Example 6.21 is

Example 6.23. 


I say one or more instances of You walk on the ice.

I say You walk on the ice.

If an explicit ordinary number such as re were to appear, it would have to convey an exact expression, so

Example 6.24. 


means that I say the sentence exactly twice, neither more nor less.