Chapter 5: “Pretty Little Girls' School”: The Structure Of Lojban selbri

10. selbri based on sumti: “me”

The following cmavo are discussed in this section:

me  ME  changes sumti to simple selbri
me'u    MEhU    terminator for “me”

A sumti can be made into a simple selbri by preceding it with “me” (of selma'o ME) and following it with the elidable terminator “me'u” (of selma'o MEhU). This makes a selbri with the place structure

x1 is one of the referents of “[the sumti]”
which is true of the thing, or things, that are the referents of the sumti, and not of anything else. For example, consider the sumti

✥10.1    le ci nolraitru
the three noblest-governors
the three kings

If these are understood to be the Three Kings of Christian tradition, who arrive every year on January 6, then we may say:

✥10.2    la BALtazar. cu me le ci nolraitru
Balthazar is one-of-the-referents-of “the three kings”.
Balthazar is one of the three kings.

and likewise

✥10.3    la kaspar. cu me le ci nolraitru
Caspar is one of the three kings.


✥10.4    la melxi,or. cu me le ci nolraitru
Melchior is one of the three kings.

If the sumti refers to a single object, then the effect of “me” is much like that of “du”:

✥10.5    do du la djan.
You are-identical-with the-one-called “John”.
You are John.

means the same as

✥10.6    do me la djan.
You are-the-referent-of “the-one-called `John”'.
You are John.

It is common to use “me” selbri, especially those based on name sumti using “la”, as seltau. For example:

✥10.7    ta me lai kraislr. [me'u] karce
That (is-a-referent of “the-mass-called `Chrysler”') car.
That is a Chrysler car.

The elidable terminator “me'u” can usually be omitted. It is absolutely required only if the “me” selbri is being used in an indefinite description (a type of sumti explained in Chapter 6), and if the indefinite description is followed by a relative clause (explained in Chapter 8) or a sumti logical connective (explained in Chapter 14). Without a “me'u”, the relative clause or logical connective would appear to belong to the sumti embedded in the “me” expression. Here is a contrasting pair of sentences:

✥10.8    re me le ci nolraitru .e la djan. [me'u] cu blabi
Two of the group “the three kings and John” are white.

✥10.9 re me le ci nolraitru me'u .e la djan. cu blabi
Two of the three kings, and John, are white.

In ✥10.8 the “me” selbri covers the three kings plus John, and the indefinite description picks out two of them that are said to be white: we cannot say which two. In ✥10.9, though, the “me” selbri covers only the three kings: two of them are said to be white, and so is John.

Finally, here is another example requiring “me'u”:

✥10.10  ta me la'e le se cusku be do me'u cukta
That  is-a-(what-you-said) type of book.
That is the kind of book you were talking about.

There are other sentences where either “me'u” or some other elidable terminator must be expressed:

✥10.11  le me le ci nolraitru [ku] me'u nunsalci
the (the three kings) type-of-event-of-celebrating
the Three Kings celebration

requires either “ku” or “me'u” to be explicit, and (as with “be'o” in c5-§7) the “me'u” leaves no doubt which cmavo it is paired with.