Chapter 8: Relative Clauses, Which Make sumti Even More Complicated

4. Multiple relative clauses: “zi'e”

zi'e    ZIhE        relative clause joiner

Sometimes it is necessary or useful to attach more than one relative clause to a sumti. This is made possible in Lojban by the cmavo “zi'e” (of selma'o ZIhE), which is used to join one or more relative clauses together into a single unit, thus making them apply to the same sumti. For example:

✥4.1  le gerku poi blabi zi'e poi batci le nanmu cu klama
The dog which is white and which bites the man goes.

The most usual translation of “zi'e” in English is “and”, but “zi'e” is not really a logical connective: unlike most of the true logical connectives (which are explained in Chapter 14), it cannot be converted into a logical connection between sentences.

It is perfectly correct to use “zi'e” to connect relative clauses of different kinds:

✥4.2  le gerku poi blabi zi'e noi
    le mi pendo cu ponse ke'a cu klama
The dog that-is( white) and incidentally-such-that(
    my friend owns IT) goes.
The dog that is white, which my friend owns,
    is going.

In ✥4.2, the restrictive clause “poi blabi” specifies which dog is referred to, but the incidental clause “noi le mi pendo cu ponse” is mere incidental information: the listener is supposed to already have identified the dog from the “poi blabi”. Of course, the meaning (though not necessarily the emphasis) is the same if the incidental clause appears first.

It is also possible to connect relative phrases with “zi'e”, or a relative phrase with a relative clause:

✥4.3  le botpi po mi zi'e poi blanu cu spofu
The bottle specific-to me and which-is blue is-broken.
My blue bottle is broken.

Note that if the colloquial translation of ✥4.3 were “My bottle, which is blue, is broken”, then “noi” rather than “poi” would have been correct in the Lojban version, since that version of the English implies that you do not need to know the bottle is blue. As written, ✥4.3 suggests that I probably have more than one bottle, and the one in question needs to be picked out as the blue one.

✥4.4  mi ba zutse le stizu pe mi
    zi'e po do zi'e poi xunre
I [future] sit-in the chair associated-with me and
    specific-to you and which-is red.
I will sit in my chair (really yours), the red one.

✥4.4 illustrates that more than two relative phrases or clauses can be connected with “zi'e”. It almost defies colloquial translation because of the very un-English contrast between “pe mi”, implying that the chair is temporarily connected with me, and “po do”, implying that the chair has a more permanent association with you. (Perhaps I am a guest in your house, in which case the chair would naturally be your property.)

Here is another example, mixing a relative phrase and two relative clauses, a restrictive one and a non-restrictive one:

✥4.5  mi ba citka le dembi pe mi
    zi'e poi cpana le mi palta
    zi'e noi do dunda ke'a mi
I [future] eat the beans associated-with me
    and which are-upon my plate
    and which-incidentally you gave IT to-me.
I'll eat my beans that are on my plate, the ones
    you gave me.