Chapter 19: Putting It All Together: Notes on the Structure of Lojban Texts

9. Quotations: LU, LIhU, LOhU, LEhU

The following cmavo are discussed in this section:

lu  LU  begin quotation
li'u    LIhU    end quotation
lo'u    LOhU    begin error quotation
le'u    LEhU    end error quotation

Grammatically, quotations are very simple in Lojban: all of them are sumti, and they all mean something like “the piece of text here quoted”:

✥9.1  mi pu cusku lu mi'e djan [li'u]
I [past] express [quote] I-am John [unquote]
I said, “I'm John”.

But in fact there are four different flavors of quotation in the language, involving six cmavo of six different selma'o. This being the case, quotation deserves some elaboration.

The simplest kind of quotation, exhibited in ✥9.1, uses the cmavo “lu” (of selma'o LU) as the opening quotation mark, and the cmavo “li'u” (of selma'o LIhU) as the closing quotation mark. The text between “lu” and “li'u” must be a valid, parseable Lojban text. If the quotation is ungrammatical, so is the surrounding expression. The cmavo “li'u” is technically an elidable terminator, but it's almost never possible to elide it except at the end of text.

The cmavo “lo'u” (of selma'o LOhU) and “le'u” (of selma'o LEhU) are used to surround a quotation that is not necessarily grammatical Lojban. However, the text must consist of morphologically correct Lojban words (as defined in Chapter 4), so that the “le'u” can be picked out reliably. The words need not be meaningful, but they must be recognizable as cmavo, brivla, or cmene. Quotation with “lo'u” is essential to quoting ungrammatical Lojban for teaching in the language, the equivalent of the * that is used in English to mark such errors:

✥9.2  lo'u mi du do du la djan. le'u
    na tergerna la lojban.
[quote] mi du do du la djan. [unquote]
    is-not a-grammatical-structure-in Lojban.

✥9.2 is grammatical even though the embedded quotation is not. Similarly, “lo'u” quotation can quote fragments of a text which themselves do not constitute grammatical utterances:

✥9.3  lu le mlatu cu viska le finpe li'u zo'u
    lo'u viska le le'u
    cu selbasti .ei
    lo'u viska lo le'u
[quote] le mlatu cu viska le finpe [unquote] :
    [quote] viska le [unquote]
    is-replaced-by [obligation!]
    [quote] viska lo [unquote].
In the sentence “le mlatu viska le finpe”,
    “viska le” should be replaced by “viska lo”.

Note the topic-comment formulation (c19-§4) and the indicator applying to the selbri only (c19-§8). Neither “viska le” nor “viska lo” is a valid Lojban utterance, and both require “lo'u” quotation.

Additionally, pro-sumti or pro-bridi in the quoting sentence can refer to words appearing in the quoted sentence when “lu ... li'u” is used, but not when “lo'u … le'u” is used:

✥9.4  la tcarlis. cusku lu le ninmu cu morsi li'u
    .iku'i ri jmive
Charlie says [quote] the woman is-dead [unquote].
    However, the-last-mentioned is-alive.
Charlie says “The woman is dead”, but she is alive.

In ✥9.4, “ri” is a pro-sumti which refers to the most recent previous sumti, namely “le ninmu”. Compare:

✥9.5  la tcarlis. cusku lo'u le ninmu cu morsi le'u
    .iku'i ri jmive
Charlie says [quote] le ninmu cu morsi [unquote].
    However, the-last-mentioned is-alive.
Charlie says “le ninmu cu morsi”, but he is alive.

In ✥9.5, “ri” cannot refer to the referent of the alleged sumti “le ninmu”, because “le ninmu cu morsi” is a mere uninterpreted sequence of Lojban words. Instead, “ri” ends up referring to the referent of the sumti “la tcarlis.”, and so it is Charlie who is alive.

The metalinguistic erasers “si”, “sa”, and “su”, discussed in c19-§13, do not operate in text between “lo'u” and “le'u”. Since the first “le'u” terminates a “lo'u” quotation, it is not directly possible to have a “lo'u” quotation within another “lo'u” quotation. However, it is possible for a “le'u” to occur within a “lo'u ... le'u” quotation by preceding it with the cmavo “zo”, discussed in c19-§10. Note that “le'u” is not an elidable terminator; it is required.