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

9. Modal selbri

Consider the example:

✥9.1  mi tavla bau la lojban.
    bai tu'a la frank.
I speak in-language Lojban
    with-compeller some-property-of Frank.
I speak in Lojban, under compulsion by Frank.

✥9.1 has two modal sumti, using the modals “bau” and “bai”. Suppose we wanted to specify the language explicitly but be vague about who is doing the compelling. We can simplify ✥9.1 to:

✥9.2  mi tavla bau la lojban. bai [ku].
I speak in-language Lojban under-compulsion.

In ✥9.2, the elidable terminator “ku” has taken the place of the sumti which would normally follow “bai”. Alternatively, we could specify the one who compels but keep the language vague:

✥9.3  mi tavla bau [ku]
    bai tu'a la frank.
I speak in-some-language
    under-compulsion-by some-property-of Frank.

We are also free to move the modal-plus-“ku” around the bridi:

✥9.4  bau [ku] bai ku mi tavla
In-some-language under-compulsion I speak.

An alternative to using “ku” is to place the modal cmavo right before the selbri, following the “cu” which often appears there. When a modal is present, the “cu” is almost never necessary.

✥9.5  mi bai tavla bau la lojban.
I compelledly speak in-language Lojban.

In this use, the modal is like a tanru modifier semantically, although grammatically it is quite distinct. ✥9.5 is very similar in meaning to:

✥9.6  mi se bapli tavla bau la lojban.
I compelledly-speak in-language Lojban.

The “se” conversion is needed because “bapli tavla” would be a compeller type of speaker rather than a compelled (by someone) type of speaker, which is what a “bai tavla” is.

If the modal preceding a selbri is constructed using “fi'o”, then “fe'u” is required to prevent the main selbri and the modal selbri from colliding:

✥9.7  mi fi'o kanla fe'u viska do
I with-eye see you
I see you with my eye(s).

There are two other uses of modals. A modal can be attached to a pair of bridi-tails that have already been connected by a logical, non-logical, or modal connection (see Chapter 14 for more on logical and non-logical connections):

✥9.8  mi bai
    ke ge klama le zarci gi cadzu le bisli [ke'e]
I under-compulsion
    ( both go to-the market and walk on-the ice )
Under compulsion, I both go to the market
    and walk on the ice.

Here the “bai” is spread over both “klama le zarci” and “cadzu le bisli”, and the “ge … gi” represents the logical connection “both-and” between the two.

Similarly, a modal can be attached to multiple sentences that have been combined with “tu'e” and “tu'u”, which are explained in more detail in Chapter 19:

✥9.9  bai tu'e mi klama le zarci
    .i mi cadzu le bisli [tu'u]
Under-compulsion [start] I go to-the market.
    I walk on-the ice [end]

means the same thing as ✥9.8.

Note: Either BAI modals or “fi'o”-plus-selbri modals may correctly be used in any of the constructions discussed in this section.