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

13. Pro-sumti summary

The Lojban pro-sumti are the cmavo of selma'o KOhA. They fall into several classes: personal, definable, quantificational, reflexive, back-counting, indefinite, demonstrative, metalinguistic, relative, question. More details are given in Chapter 7; this section mostly duplicates information found there, but adds material on the implicit quantifier of each pro-sumti.

The following examples illustrate each of the classes. Unless otherwise noted below, the implicit quantification for pro-sumti is “ro” (all). In the case of pro-sumti which refer to other sumti, the “ro” signifies “all of those referred to by the other sumti”: thus it is possible to restrict, but not to extend, the quantification of the other sumti.

Personal pro-sumti (“mi”, “do”, “mi'o”, “mi'a”, “ma'a”, “do'o”, “ko”) refer to the speaker or the listener or both, with or without third parties:

✥13.1    mi prami do
I love you.

The personal pro-sumti may be interpreted in context as either representing individuals or masses, so the implicit quantifier may be “pisu'o” rather than “ro”: in particular, “mi'o”, “mi'a”, “ma'a”, and “do'o” specifically represent mass combinations of the individuals (you and I, I and others, you and I and others, you and others) that make them up.

Definable pro-sumti (“ko'a”, “ko'e”, “ko'i”, “ko'o”, “ko'u”, “fo'a”, “fo'e”, “fo'i”, “fo'o”, “fo'u”) refer to whatever the speaker has explicitly made them refer to. This reference is accomplished with “goi” (of selma'o GOI), which means “defined-as”.

✥13.2    le cribe goi ko'a cu xekri
    .i ko'a citka le smacu
The bear defined-as it-1 is-black.
    It-1 eats the mouse.

Quantificational pro-sumti (“da”, “de”, “di”) are used as variables in bridi involving predicate logic:

✥13.3    ro da poi prenu
    cu prami pa de poi finpe
All somethings-1 which-are persons
    love one something-2 which-is a-fish.
All persons love a fish (each his/her own).

(This is not the same as “All persons love a certain fish”; the difference between the two is one of quantifier order.) The implicit quantification rules for quantificational pro-sumti are particular to them, and are discussed in detail in Chapter 16. Roughly speaking, the quantifier is “su'o” (at least one) when the pro-sumti is first used, and “ro” (all) thereafter.

Reflexive pro-sumti (“vo'a”, “vo'e”, “vo'i”, “vo'o”, “vo'u”) refer to the same referents as sumti filling other places in the same bridi, with the effect that the same thing is referred to twice:

✥13.4    le cribe cu batci vo'a
The bear bites what-is-in-the-x1-place.
The bear bites itself.

Back-counting pro-sumti (“ri”, “ra”, “ru”) refer to the referents of previous sumti counted backwards from the pro-sumti:

✥13.5    mi klama la frankfurt. ri
I go to-Frankfurt from-the-referent-of-the-last-sumti
I go from Frankfurt to Frankfurt (by some unstated route).

Indefinite pro-sumti (“zo'e”, “zu'i”, “zi'o”) refer to something which is unspecified:

✥13.6    mi klama la frankfurt. zo'e zo'e zo'e
I go to-Frankfurt from-unspecified via-unspecified

The implicit quantifier for indefinite pro-sumti is, well, indefinite. It might be “ro” (all) or “su'o” (at least one) or conceivably even “no” (none), though “no” would require a very odd context indeed.

Demonstrative pro-sumti (“ti”, “ta”, “tu”) refer to things pointed at by the speaker, or when pointing is not possible, to things near or far from the speaker:

✥13.7    ko muvgau ti ta tu
you [imperative] move this-thing from-that-nearby-place
Move this from there to over there!

Metalinguistic pro-sumti (“di'u”, “de'u”, “da'u”, “di'e”, “de'e”, “da'e”, “dei”, “do'i”) refer to spoken or written utterances, either preceding, following, or the same as the current utterance.

✥13.8    li re su'i re du li vo
    .i la'e di'u jetnu
The-number two plus two equals the-number four.
    The-referent-of the-previous-utterance is-true.

The implicit quantifier for metalinguistic pro-sumti is “su'o” (at least one), because they are considered analogous to “lo” descriptions: they refer to things which really are previous, current, or following utterances.

The relative pro-sumti (“ke'a”) is used within relative clauses (see Chapter 8 for a discussion of relative clauses) to refer to whatever sumti the relative clause is attached to.

✥13.9    mi viska le mlatu ku
    poi zo'e zbasu ke'a
    loi slasi
I see the cat(s)
    such-that something-unspecified makes it/them (the cats)
    from-a-mass-of plastic.
I see the cat(s) made of plastic.

The question pro-sumti (“ma”) is used to ask questions which request the listener to supply a sumti which will make the question into a truth:

✥13.10  do klama ma
You go to-what-sumti?
Where are you going?

The implicit quantifier for the question pro-sumti is “su'o” (at least one), because the listener is only being asked to supply a single answer, not all correct answers.

In addition, sequences of lerfu words (of selma'o BY and related selma'o) can also be used as definable pro-sumti.