Chapter 7: Brevity Is The Soul Of Language: Pro-sumti And Pro-bridi

5. Assignable pro-sumti and pro-bridi: the ko'a-series and the broda-series

The following cmavo and gismu are discussed in this section:

ko'a    KOhA    ko'a-series it-1
ko'e    KOhA    ko'a-series it-2
ko'i    KOhA    ko'a-series it-3
ko'o    KOhA    ko'a-series it-4
ko'u    KOhA    ko'a-series it-5
fo'a    KOhA    ko'a-series it-6
fo'e    KOhA    ko'a-series it-7
fo'i    KOhA    ko'a-series it-8
fo'o    KOhA    ko'a-series it-9
fo'u    KOhA    ko'a-series it-10
broda   BRIVLA  broda-series    is-thing-1
brode   BRIVLA  broda-series    is-thing-2
brodi   BRIVLA  broda-series    is-thing-3
brodo   BRIVLA  broda-series    is-thing-4
brodu   BRIVLA  broda-series    is-thing-5
goi GOI         pro-sumti assignment
cei CEI         pro-bridi assignment

The discussion of personal pro-sumti in c7-§2 may have seemed incomplete. In English, the personal pronouns include not only “I” and “you” but also “he”, “she”, “it”, and “they”. Lojban does have equivalents of this latter group: in fact, it has more of them than English does. However, they are organized and used very differently.

There are ten cmavo in the ko'a-series, and they may be assigned freely to any sumti whatsoever. The English word “he” can refer only to males, “she” only to females (and ships and a few other things), “it” only to inanimate things, and “they” only to plurals; the cmavo of the ko'a-series have no restrictions at all. Therefore, it is almost impossible to guess from the context what ko'a-series cmavo might refer to if they are just used freely:

✥5.1  la .alis. klama le zarci .i ko'a blanu
Alice goes-to the store.  It-1 is-blue.

The English gloss “it-1”, plus knowledge about the real world, would tend to make English-speakers believe that “ko'a” refers to the store; in other words, that its antecedent is “le zarci”. To a Lojbanist, however, “la .alis.” is just as likely an antecedent, in which case ✥5.1 means that Alice, not the store, is blue.

To avoid this pitfall, Lojban employs special syntax, using the cmavo “goi”:

✥5.2  la .alis. klama le zarci
    .i ko'a goi la .alis. cu blanu
Alice goes-to the store.
    It-1, also-known-as Alice, is-blue.

Syntactically, “goi la .alis.” is a relative phrase (relative phrases are explained in Chapter 8). Semantically, it says that “ko'a” and “la .alis.” refer to the same thing, and furthermore that this is true because “ko'a” is being defined as meaning “la .alis.”. It is equally correct to say:

✥5.3  la .alis. klama le zarci
    .i la .alis. goi ko'a cu blanu
Alice goes-to the store.
    Alice, also-known-as it-1, is-blue.

in other words, “goi” is symmetrical. There is a terminator, “ge'u” (of selma'o GEhU), which is almost always elidable. The details are in Chapter 8.

The afterthought form of “goi” shown in ✥5.2 and ✥5.3 is probably most common in speech, where we do not know until part way through our utterance that we will want to refer to Alice again. In writing, though, “ko'a” may be assigned at the point where Alice is first mentioned. An example of this forethought form of “goi” is:

✥5.4  la .alis. goi ko'a klama le zarci
    .i ko'a cu blanu
Alice, also-known-as it-1, goes-to the store.
    It-1 is-blue.

Again, “ko'a goi la .alis.” would have been entirely acceptable in ✥5.4. This last form is reminiscent of legal jargon: “The party of the first part, hereafter known as Buyer, … ”.

Just as the ko'a-series of pro-sumti allows a substitute for a sumti which is long or complex, or which for some other reason we do not want to repeat, so the broda-series of pro-bridi allows a substitute for a selbri or even a whole bridi:

✥5.5  ti slasi je mlatu bo cidja lante gacri cei broda
    .i le crino broda cu barda
    .i le xunre broda cu cmalu
These are plastic cat-food can covers, or thingies.
    The green thingy is large.
    The red thingy is small.

The pro-bridi “broda” has as its antecedent the selbri “slasi je mlatu bo cidja lante gacri”. The cmavo “cei” performs the role of “goi” in assigning “broda” to this long phrase, and “broda” can then be used just like any other brivla. (In fact, “broda” and its relatives actually are brivla: they are gismu in morphology, although they behave exactly like the members of selma'o GOhA. The reasons for using gismu rather than cmavo are buried in the Loglan Project's history.)

Note that pro-bridi are so called because, even though they have the grammar of selbri, their antecedents are whole bridi. In the following rather contrived example, the antecedent of “brode” is the whole bridi “mi klama le zarci”:

✥5.6  mi klama cei brode le zarci .i do brode
I go-to (which-is claim-1) the store.  You claim-1
I go to the store.  You, too.

In the second bridi, “do brode” means “do klama le zarci”, because “brode” carries the x2 sumti of “mi klama le zarci” along with it. It also potentially carries the x1 sumti as well, but the explicit x1 sumti “do” overrides the “mi” of the antecedent bridi. (Similarly, any tense or negation that is present in the antecedent is also carried, and can be overridden by explicit tense or negation cmavo on the pro-bridi.) These rules hold for all pro-bridi that have antecedents.

Another use of “broda” and its relatives, without assignment, is as “sample gismu”:

✥5.7  broda ke brode brodi
a thing-1 type of ( thing-2 type-of thing-3 )

represents an abstract pattern, a certain kind of tanru. (Historically, this use was the original one.)

As is explained in Chapter 17, the words for Lojban letters, belonging to selma'o BY and certain related selma'o, are also usable as assignable pro-sumti. The main difference between letter pro-sumti and ko'a-series pro-sumti is that, in the absence of an explicit assignment, letters are taken to refer to the most recent name or description sumti beginning with the same letter:

✥5.8  mi viska le gerku .i gy. cusku zo arf.
I see the dog.  D expresses the-word “Arf!”.

The Lojban word “gerku” begins with “g”, so the antecedent of “gy.”, the cmavo for the letter “g”, must be “le gerku”. In the English translation, we use the same principle to refer to the dog as “D”. Of course, in case of ambiguity, “goi” can be used to make an explicit assignment.

Furthermore, “goi” can even be used to assign a name:

✥5.9  le ninmu goi la sam. cu klama le zarci
The woman also-known-as Sam goes to-the store.
The woman, whom I'll call Sam, goes to the store.

This usage does not imply that the woman's name is Sam, or even that the speaker usually calls the woman “Sam”. “Sam” is simply a name chosen, as if at random, for use in the current context only.