Chapter 6: To Speak Of Many Things: The Lojban sumti

12. Lojban names

Names have been used freely as sumti throughout this chapter without too much explanation. The time for the explanation has now come.

First of all, there are two different kinds of things usually called “names” when talking about Lojban. The naming predicates of c6-§2 are just ordinary predicates which are being used in a special sense. In addition, though, there is a class of Lojban words which are used only to name things: these can be recognized by the fact that they end in a consonant followed by a pause. Some examples:

✥12.1    djan. meris. djein. .alis.
John.  Mary.  Jane.  Alice.

(Note that “.alis.” begins as well as ends with a pause, because all Lojban words beginning with a vowel must be preceded by a pause. See Chapter 4 for more information.)

Names of this kind have two basic uses in Lojban: when used in a vocative phrase (see c6-§11) they indicate who the listener is or should be. When used with a descriptor of selma'o LA, namely “la”, “lai”, or “la'i”, they form sumti which refer to the persons or things known by the name.

✥12.2    la djonz. klama le zarci
Jones goes to-the store.
The Joneses go to-the store.

✥12.3    lai djonz. klama le zarci
The-mass-of Joneses go to-the store.
The Joneses go to the store.

In ✥12.2, the significance is that all the persons (perhaps only one) I mean to refer to by the name “djonz.” are going to the store. In ✥12.3, the Joneses are massified, and only some part of them needs to be going. Of course, by “djonz.” I can mean whomever I want: that person need not use the name “djonz.” at all.

The sumti in ✥12.2 and ✥12.3 operate exactly like the similar uses of “la” and “lai” in Examples 2.5 and 3.6 respectively. The only difference is that these descriptors are followed by Lojban name-words. And in fact, the only difference between descriptors of selma'o LA (these three) and of selma'o LE (all the other descriptors) is that the former can be followed by name-words, whereas the latter cannot.

There are certain limitations on the form of name-words in Lojban. In particular, they cannot contain the letter-sequences (or sound-sequences) “la”, “lai”, or “doi” unless a consonant immediately precedes within the name. Reciprocally, every name not preceded by “la”, “lai”, “la'i”, or “doi” must be preceded by a pause instead:

✥12.4    coi .djan.
Hello, John.

✥12.5 zo .djan. cmene mi
The-word “John” is-the-name-of me.
My name is John.

In ✥12.4 and ✥12.5, “.djan.” appears with a pause before it as well as after it, because the preceding word is not one of the four special cases. These rules force names to always be separable from the general word-stream.

Unless some other rule prevents it (such as the rule that “zo” is always followed by a single word, which is quoted), multiple names may appear wherever one name is permitted, each with its terminating pause:

✥12.6    doi djan. pol. djonz.
    le bloti cu klama fi la niuport. niuz.
John Paul Jones,
    the boat comes (to somewhere) from Newport News.

A name may not contain any consonant combination that is illegal in Lojban words generally: the “impermissible consonant clusters” of Lojban morphology (explained in Chapter 3). Thus “djeimz.” is not a valid version of “James” (because “mz” is invalid): “djeimyz” will suffice. Similarly, “la” may be replaced by “ly”, “lai” by “ly'i”, “doi” by “do'i” or “dai”. Here are a few examples:

English name        invalid Lojban name valid Lojban names

Doyle           *doi,l          do'il or dai,l
Lyra            *lairas         ly'iras
Lottie (American pron.) *latis          LYtis. or lotis.

Names may be borrowed from other languages or created arbitrarily. Another common practice is to use one or more rafsi, arranged to end with a consonant, to form a name: thus the rafsi “loj-” for “logji” (logical) and “ban-” for “bangu” (language) unite to form the name of this language:

✥12.7    lojban.

When borrowing names from another language which end in a vowel, or when turning a Lojban brivla (all of which end in vowels) into a name, the vowel may be removed or an arbitrary consonant added. It is common (but not required) to use the consonants “s” or “n” when borrowing vowel-final names from English; speakers of other languages may wish to use other consonant endings.

The implicit quantifier for name sumti of the form “la” followed by a name is “su'o”, just as for “la” followed by a selbri.