Chapter 9: To Boston Via The Road Go I, With An Excursion Into The Land Of Modals

4. Conversion: SE

The following cmavo are discussed in this section:

se  SE  2nd place conversion
te  SE  3rd place conversion
ve  SE  4th place conversion
xe  SE  5th place conversion

So far we have seen ways to move sumti around within a bridi, but the actual place structure of the selbri has always remained untouched. The conversion cmavo of selma'o SE are incorporated within the selbri itself, and produce a new selbri (called a converted selbri) with a different place structure. In particular, after the application of any SE cmavo, the number and purposes of the places remain the same, but two of them have been exchanged, the x1 place and another. Which place has been exchanged with x1 depends on the cmavo chosen. Thus, for example, when “se” is used, the x1 place is swapped with the x2 place.

Note that the cmavo of SE begin with consecutive consonants in alphabetical order. There is no “1st place conversion” cmavo, because exchanging the x1 place with itself is a pointless maneuver.

Here are the place structures of “se klama”:

x1 is the destination of x2's going from x3 via x4 using x5
and “te klama”:
x1 is the origin and x2 the destination of x3 going via x4 using x5
and “ve klama”:
x1 is the route to x2 from x3 used by x4 going via x5
and “xe klama”:
x1 is the means in going to x2 from x3 via x4 employed by x5
Note that the place structure numbers in each case continue to be listed in the usual order, x1 to x5.

Consider the following pair of examples:

✥4.1  la bastn. cu se klama mi
Boston is-the-destination of-me.
Boston is my destination.
Boston is gone to by me.

✥4.2   fe la bastn. cu klama fa mi
x2 ⇔ Boston go x1=I.
To Boston go I.

✥4.1 and ✥4.2 mean the same thing, in the sense that there is a relationship of going with the speaker as the agent and Boston as the destination (and with unspecified origin, route, and means). Structurally, however, they are quite different. ✥4.1 has “la bastn.” in the x1 place and “mi” in the x2 place of the selbri “se klama”, and uses standard bridi order; ✥4.2 has “mi” in the x1 place and “la bastn.” in the x2 place of the selbri “klama”, and uses a non-standard order.

The most important use of conversion is in the construction of descriptions. A description is a sumti which begins with a cmavo of selma'o LA or LE, called the descriptor, and contains (in the simplest case) a selbri. We have already seen the descriptions “le dargu” and “le karce”. To this we could add:

✥4.3  le klama
the go-er, the one who goes

In every case, the description is about something which fits into the x1 place of the selbri. In order to get a description of a destination (that is, something fitting the x2 place of “klama”), we must convert the selbri to “se klama”, whose x1 place is a destination. The result is

✥4.4  le se klama
the destination gone to by someone

Likewise, we can create three more converted descriptions:

✥4.5  le te klama
the origin of someone's going

✥4.6   le ve klama
the route of someone's going

✥4.7   le xe klama
the means by which someone goes

✥4.6 does not mean “the route” plain and simple: that is “le pluta”, using a different selbri. It means a route that is used by someone for an act of “klama”; that is, a journey with origin and destination. A “road” on Mars, on which no one has traveled or is ever likely to, may be called “le pluta”, but it cannot be “le ve klama”, since there exists no one for whom it is “le ve klama be fo da” (the route taken in an actual journey by someone [da]).

When converting selbri that are more complex than a single brivla, it is important to realize that the scope of a SE cmavo is only the following brivla (or equivalent unit). In order to convert an entire tanru, it is necessary to enclose the tanru in “ke … ke'e” brackets:

✥4.8  mi se ke blanu zdani [ke'e] ti
I [2nd conversion] blue house this-thing

The place structure of “blanu zdani” (blue house) is the same as that of “zdani”, by the rule given in c9-§1. The place structure of “zdani” is:

x1 is a house/nest/lair/den for inhabitant x2

The place structure of “se ke blanu zdani [ke'e]” is therefore:

x1 is the inhabitant of the blue house (etc.) x2

Consequently, ✥4.8 means:

I am the inhabitant of the blue house which is this thing.

Conversion applied to only part of a tanru has subtler effects which are explained in Chapter 5.

It is grammatical to convert a selbri more than once with SE; later (inner) conversions are applied before earlier (outer) ones. For example, the place structure of “se te klama” is achieved by exchanging the x1 and x2 place of “te klama”, producing:

x1 is the destination and x2 is the origin of x3 going via x4 using x5

On the other hand, “te se klama” has a place structure derived from swapping the x1 and x3 places of “se klama”:

x1 is the origin of x2's going to x3 via x4 using x5
which is quite different. However, multiple conversions like this are never necessary. Arbitrary scrambling of places can be achieved more easily and far more intelligibly with FA tags, and only a single conversion is ever needed in a description.

(Although no one has made any real use of it, it is perhaps worth noting that compound conversions of the form “setese”, where the first and third cmavo are the same, effectively swap the two given places while leaving the others, including x1, alone: “setese” (or equivalently “tesete”) swap the x2 and x3 places, whereas “texete” (or “xetexe”) swap the x3 and x5 places.)