Chapter 5: “Pretty Little Girls' School”: The Structure Of Lojban selbri
13. Tenses and bridi negation
A bridi can have cmavo associated with it which specify the time, place, or mode of action. For example, in
✥13.1 mi pu klama le zarci I [past] go to-the market. I went to the market.
the cmavo “pu” specifies that the action of the speaker going to the market takes place in the past. Tenses are explained in full detail in Chapter 10. Tense is semantically a property of the entire bridi; however, the usual syntax for tenses attaches them at the front of the selbri, as in ✥13.1. There are alternative ways of expressing tense information as well. Modals, which are explained in Chapter 9, behave in the same way as tenses.
Similarly, a bridi may have the particle “na” (of selma'o NA) attached to the beginning of the selbri to negate the bridi. A negated bridi expresses what is false without saying anything about what is true. Do not confuse this usage with the scalar negation of c5-§12. For example:
✥13.2 la djonz. na pamoi cusku Jones (Not!) is-the-first speaker It is not true that Jones is the first speaker. Jones isn't the first speaker.
Jones may be the second speaker, or not a speaker at all; ✥13.2 doesn't say. There are other ways of expressing bridi negation as well; the topic is explained fully in Chapter 15.
Various combinations of tense and bridi negation cmavo are permitted. If both are expressed, either order is permissible with no change in meaning:
✥13.3 mi na pu klama le zarci mi pu na klama le zarci It is false that I went to the market. I didn't go to the market.
It is also possible to have more than one “na”, in which case pairs of “na” cmavo cancel out:
✥13.4 mi na na klama le zarci It is false that it is false that I go to the market. I go to the market.
It is even possible, though somewhat pointless, to have multiple “na” cmavo and tense cmavo mixed together, subject to the limitation that two adjacent tense cmavo will be understood as a compound tense, and must fit the grammar of tenses as explained in Chapter 10.
✥13.5 mi na pu na ca klama le zarci I [not] [past] [not] [present] go to-the market It is not the case that in the past it was not the case that in the present I went to the market. I didn't not go to the market. I went to the market.
Tense, modal, and negation cmavo can appear only at the beginning of the selbri. They cannot be embedded within it.