19.5. Questions and answers

The following cmavo are discussed in this section:

xu

UI

truth question

ma

KOhA

sumti question

mo

GOhA

bridi question

xo

PA

number question

ji

A

sumti connective question

ge'i

GA

forethought connective question

gi'i

GIhA

bridi-tail connective question

gu'i

GUhA

tanru forethought connective question

je'i

JA

tanru connective question

pei

UI

attitude question

fi'a

FA

place structure question

cu'e

CUhE

tense/modal question

pau

UI

question premarker

Lojban questions are not at all like English questions. There are two basic types: truth questions, of the form Is it true that ..., and fill-in-the-blank questions. Truth questions are marked by preceding the bridi, or following any part of it specifically questioned, with the cmavo xu (of selma'o UI):

Example 19.13. 

xudoklamalozarci
[True-or-false?]Yougo-tothestore

Are you going to the store/Did you go to the store?


(Since the Lojban is tenseless, either colloquial translation might be correct.) Truth questions are further discussed in Section 19.1.

Fill-in-the-blank questions have a cmavo representing some Lojban word or phrase which is not known to the questioner, and which the answerer is to supply. There are a variety of cmavo belonging to different selma'o which provide different kinds of blanks.

Where a sumti is not known, a question may be formed with ma (of selma'o KOhA), which is a kind of sumka'i:

Example 19.14. 

maklamalozarci
[What-sumti?]goes-tothestore

Who is going to the store?


Of course, the ma need not be in the x1 place:

Example 19.15. 

doklamama
Yougo-to[what-sumti?]

Where are you going?


The answer is a simple sumti:

Example 19.16. 

lo zarci

The store.


A sumti, then, is a legal utterance, although it does not by itself constitute a bridi – it does not claim anything, but merely completes the open-ended claim of the previous bridi.

There can be two ma cmavo in a single question:

Example 19.17. 

ma klama ma

Who goes where?


and the answer would be two sumti, which are meant to fill in the two ma cmavo in order:

Example 19.18. 

milozarci
I,[to]-thestore.

An even more complex example, depending on the non-logical connective fa'u (of selma'o JOI), which is like the English and ... respectively:

Example 19.19. 

mafa'umaklamamafa'uma

Who and who goes where and where, -respectively?


An answer might be

Example 19.20. 

la.djan.la.marcas.lezarcilebriju
John,Marsha,thestore,theoffice.

John and Marsha go to the store and the office, respectively.


Questions to be answered with a selbri are expressed with mo of selma'o GOhA, which is a kind of brika'i:

Example 19.21. 

la.lojban.cumo
Lojban[what-selbri?]

What is Lojban? / What about Lojban? / What does Lojban do?


Here the answerer is to supply some predicate which is true of Lojban. Such questions are extremely open-ended, due to the enormous range of possible predicate answers. The answer might be just a selbri, or might be a full bridi, in which case the sumti in the answer override those provided by the questioner. To limit the range of a mo question, make it part of a tanru.

Questions about numbers are expressed with xo of selma'o PA:

Example 19.22. 

doviskaxoprenu
Yousaw[what-number?]persons.

How many people did you see?


The answer would be a simple number, another kind of non-bridi utterance:

Example 19.23. 

vomu
Forty-five.

Fill-in-the-blank questions may also be asked about: logical connectives (using cmavo ji of A, ge'i of GA, gi'i of GIhA, gu'i of GUhA, or je'i of JA, and receiving an ek, gihek, ijek, or ijoik as an answer) – see Section 19.1; attitudes (using pei of UI, and receiving an attitudinal as an answer) – see Section 19.1; place structures (using fi'a of FA, and receiving a cmavo of FA as an answer) – see Section 19.1; tenses and modals (using cu'e of CUhE, and receiving any tense or BAI cmavo as an answer) – see Section 19.1 and Chapter 19.

Questions can be marked by placing pau (of selma'o UI) before the question bridi. See Section 19.1 for details.

The full list of non-bridi utterances suitable as answers to questions is:

Where not needed for the expression of answers, most of these are made grammatical for pragmatic reasons: people will say them in conversation, and there is no reason to rule them out as ungrammatical merely because most of them are vague.