8.7. Relative clauses and complex sumti: vu'o

The following cmavo is discussed in this section:



relative clause attacher

Normally, relative clauses attach only to simple sumti or parts of sumti: sumka'i, names and descriptions, pure numbers, and quotations. An example of a relative clause attached to a pure number is:

Example 8.63. 


The irrational number pi

And here is an incidental relative clause attached to a quotation:

Example 8.64. 


I'm going to the market, which I'd said, is a sentence.

which may serve to identify the author of the quotation or some other relevant, but subsidiary, fact about it. All such relative clauses appear only after the simple sumti, never before it.

In addition, sumti with attached sumti qualifiers of selma'o LAhE or NAhE+BO (which are explained in detail in Section 8.1) can have a relative clause appearing after the qualifier and before the qualified sumti, as in:

Example 8.65. 


An old The Red Pony is in the far room.

Example 8.65 is a bit complex, and may need some picking apart. The quotation lu le xunre cmaxirma li'u means the string of words The Red Pony. If the la'e at the beginning of the sentence were omitted, Example 8.65 would claim that a certain string of words is in a room distant from the speaker. But obviously a string of words can't be in a room! The effect of the la'e is to modify the sumti so that it refers not to the words themselves, but to the referent of those words, a novel by John Steinbeck (presumably in Lojban translation). The particular copy of The Red Pony is identified by the restrictive relative clause. Example 8.65 means exactly the same as:

Example 8.66. 


and the two sentences can be considered stylistic variants. Note the required lu'u terminator, which prevents the relative clause from attaching to the quotation itself: we do not wish to refer to an old quotation!

Sometimes, however, it is important to make a relative clause apply to the whole of a more complex sumti, one which involves logical or non-logical connection (explained in Chapter 8). For example,

Example 8.67. 


Frank and George, who is a man, go to the house.

The incidental claim in Example 8.67 is not that Frank and George are men, but only that George is a man, because the incidental relative clause attaches only to la .djordj., the immediately preceding simple sumti.

To make a relative clause attach to both parts of the logically connected sumti in Example 8.67, a new cmavo is needed, vu'o (of selma'o VUhO). It is placed between the sumti and the relative clause, and extends the sphere of influence of that relative clause to the entire preceding sumti, including however many logical or non-logical connectives there may be.

Example 8.68. 

incidentally-whoare-men goto-thehouse.

Frank and George, who are men, go to the house.

The presence of vu'o here means that the relative clause noi nanmu extends to the entire logically connected sumti la .frank. e la .djordj.; in other words, both Frank and George are claimed to be men, as the colloquial translation shows.

English is able to resolve the distinction correctly in the case of Example 8.67 and Example 8.68 by making use of number: who is rather than who are. Lojban doesn't distinguish between singular and plural verbs: nanmu can mean is a man or are men, so another means is required. Furthermore, Lojban's mechanism works correctly in general: if nanmu (meaning is-a-man) were replaced with pu bajra (ran), English would have to make the distinction some other way:

Example 8.69. 

[past]runs) go-tothehouse.

Frank and George, who ran, go to the house.

Example 8.70. 

who[past]run go-tothehouse.

Frank and George, who ran, go to the house.

In spoken English, tone of voice would serve; in written English, one or both sentences would need rewriting.