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

9. sumti and bridi questions: “ma” and “mo”

The following cmavo are discussed in this section:

ma  KOhA            sumti question
mo  GOhA            bridi question

Lojban questions are more fully explained in Chapter 19, but “ma” and “mo” are listed in this chapter for completeness. The cmavo “ma” asks for a sumti to make the bridi true:

✥9.1  do klama ma
You go to-what-destination?
Where are you going?

The cmavo “mo”, on the other hand, asks for a selbri which makes the question bridi true. If the answer is a full bridi, then the arguments of the answer override the arguments in the question, in the same manner as the go'i-series cmavo. A simple example is:

✥9.2  do mo
What predicate is true as applied to you?
How are you?
What are you doing?
What are you?

✥9.3 is a truly pregnant question that will have several meanings depending on context.

(One thing it probably does not mean is “Who are you?” in the sense “What is your name/identity?”, which is better expressed by:

✥9.3  ma cmene do
What sumti is-the-name-of you?
What is your name?

or even

✥9.4  doi ma
O [what sumti?]

which uses the vocative “doi” to address someone, and simultaneously asks who the someone is.)

A further example of “mo”:

✥9.5  lo mo prenu cu darxi do
    .i barda
A [what selbri?] type-of person hit you?
    (Observative:) A big thing.
Which person hit you?  The big one.

When “ma” or “mo” is repeated, multiple questions are being asked simultaneously:

✥9.6  ma djuno ma
[what sumti] knows [what sumti]?
Who knows what?