Chapter 10: Imaginary Journeys: The Lojban Space/Time Tense System

25. Explicit magnitudes

It is a limitation of the VA and ZI system of specifying magnitudes that they can only prescribe vague magnitudes: small, medium, or large. In order to express both an origin point and an exact distance, the Lojban construction called a “termset” is employed. (Termsets are explained further in Chapter 14 and Chapter 16.) It is grammatical for a termset to be placed after a tense or modal tag rather than a sumti, which allows both the origin of the imaginary journey and its distance to be specified. Here is an example:

✥25.1    la frank. sanli zu'a nu'i la djordj.
    lu'a lo mitre
        be li mu [nu'u]
Frank stands [left] [start termset] George
    [quantity] a thing-measuring-in-meters
        the-number 5 [end termset].
Frank is standing five meters to the left of George.

Here the termset extends from the “nu'i” to the implicit “nu'u” at the end of the sentence, and includes the terms “la djordj.”, which is the unmarked origin point, and the tagged sumti “lo mitre be li mu”, which the cmavo “la'u” (of selma'o BAI, and meaning “with quantity”; see Chapter 9) marks as a quantity. Both terms are governed by the tag “zu'a”

It is not necessary to have both an origin point and an explicit magnitude: a termset may have only a single term in it. A less precise version of ✥25.1 is:

✥25.2    la frank. sanli zu'a nu'i lu'a
    lo mitre be li mu
Frank stands [left] [termset] [quantity]
    a thing-measuring-in-meters the-number 5.
Frank stands five meters to the left.