April 17, 2010
All I’ve shown you of Lojban is mainly logic: predictes, assertions… But we are not always in the mood of thinking that logical; that’s where the attitudinals enter the game.
In previous posts, I’ve talked about some kinds of words, like brivla and cmene; now is the time to talk about the other big group: cmavo. I’ve already used them; lo, le, mi… and they act as structure words. They do not need to have a particular meaning, though they modify what they have around. They can be recognized easely because (extracted from What is Lojban?):
- may be a single syllable
- never contain a consonant cluster of any type, whether or not y is counted
- end in a vowel
- need not be penultimately stressed, though they often are if they have more than one syllable
All cmavo display one of the following letter patterns, where C stands for a consonant, and V stands for a vowel:
A small group of cmavo are used to represent what we feel, in general, and in particular with what we say. This are called attitudinals (cnivla in lojban), and are can be found here. For example:
- .a’a: attentive.
- .ui: happy.
- .ue: surprise. :O
- .u’i: ammusement.
And many more…
I can use it alone, and they’ll describe how I’m feeling. For example, if I say just “.ui“, I’m happy
They are also useful combined with a bridi. If they are before the whole bridi, they’ll describe how you feel about the whole predicate. If I say:
.ui do klama
means that you’re coming (or going, or came, or going to come, or… well, you understand) and I’m happy about it.
If I put the attitudinal in the middle of a bridi, they modified the word (or valsi, in lojban) inmediatly before it. So, in the sentence:
do .ui klama
You’re coming, and I’m happy that YOU (and no other) are coming.
Combined with this attitudinals, we can use some attachments that can modify what the attitudinal means. For example, nai. This cmavo turns the last attitudinal into its opposite meaning. For example .uinai is the opposite of happiness, or sadness.
This emoticons are not there just for fun; one interesting way of learning the attitudinals is to start replacing everyday emoticons, for this new words. They claim that this attitudinals are really powerfull… so I’m going to try it and see if it’s true.
In fact, there is a page for Cniglic, that’s is a subset of Lojban. People there comment about some stuff (in English), and with attitudinals, write what they feel. You can visit here.
March 31, 2010
I’m reading again Lojban for Beginners, to continue with my study. I slowed down with my learnings with Smart.fm because all that vocabulary slips my mind. (I want to start writing, but without some things, like connectors or attitudinals, I can’t write anything I want.)
Of course, I can’t forget the most widely known conlang ever existed (as it was commented in the past post): Esperanto. It’s by far the conlang with the largest community. According to the wiki:
Total speakers Native: 200 to 2000 (1996, est.);
Fluent speakers: est. 100,000 to 2 million (in about 115 countries)
That’s just astonishing.
It was created in 1887 (!!!!) by L. L. Zamenhof, to be an international auxiliary language. He took many elements from the European languages (syntax, vocabulary, etc.) to develop it.
However, it’s criticized partially because of that: it’s not that culturally neutral, as it has not elements from oriental languages.
Of course, not every conlang was intended to be an international auxiliary language; some were invented as a scientific experiment (most of them based on the Sapir Whorf’s hypothesis). Lojban it’s one example, though it can be used as an auxiliary as well.
Sonja Elen Kisa is a linguist who developed Toki Pona (the funny yellow no-eyed guy there => it’s its logo), based on Taoist philosophy, trying to be as minimalist as possible. It has only 120 words, that represent simple concepts. It’s grammar is really simple (just a few rules), and more complex concepts can be achieved combining the basic words (for example, Toki means language and Pona, good). And is really easy to learn!
She has also designed Oou. The reason for developing it is unclear to me… it’s just insane. It has no consonants at all, and 11 vowels. It has only a few words (each one has several meanings), and a really strange alphabet. Here are some examples (with their corresponding meanings) extracted from its page:
*_ =!&_ ?
I take drugs.
I help drugs.
I eat trees.
You help trees.
I eat the sofa.
You help the sofa.
=_ ^^/~ ?
I love you.
You love me.
I love myself.
I avoid myself.
I avoid you.
I flatten myself.
I flatten you.
February 21, 2010
As the previous post had the largest and hardest part of lojban grammar, this one it’s going to have only a few sentences (bridi) as examples of what can we say.
But first, some random vocabulary I’m going to use:
- klama: x1 comes/goes to destination x2 from origin x3 via route x4 using means/vehicle x5.
- blanu: x1 is blue.
- bloti: x1 is a boat/ship/vessel [vehicle] for carrying x2, propelled by x3.
- karce: x1 is a car/automobile/truck/van (a wheeled motor vehicle) for carrying x2, propelled by x3.
klama has 5 sumti to fill, but it’s not necessary to fill them all; like in this sentence:
mi klama lo zdani
Meaning “I go (or come) to a house“. The bridi doesn’t specify which house, when this happens (if I’m going right now, or I did it in the past, or if I’ll go); it’s open for interpretation, as well as the unfilled sumti (it isn’t specified from where I’m going, which route I am taking or how I’m).
If I want to specify I’m going by car, I have to use x5, but x3 and x4 has to be left blank. I have several ways for doing this:
- mi klama lo zdani zo’e zo’e lo karce
- mi klama lo zdani fu lo karce
- lo karce ku xe te klama lo zdani mi
The first one use the word zo’e, which is used to specify the sumti is left blank. The second tags lo karce with fu, that specifies the following sumti is the fifth (fa does the same but for x1, fe for x2, and so). The third is just some sick and unnatural way (no one would say that that way — it’s just for educational reasons); te and xe modifies the selbri and switches the places of the sumti. (For more information about this, you can read the section Conversion (“se-word brivla”) in this chapter of “What is Lojban?“.)
What about giving more information of one of the sumti? There are lots of ways; I don’t know all them yet.
Imagine I’m going in a blue boat instead of a car (it would be really cool…). Then, I’d say:
mi klama lo zdani zo’e lo blanu bloti
blanu modifies bloti, making a tanru, which is formed when two or more gismu are next each other.
I don’t know what you think, but I think I’ve learned enough to “evolve“. I understand the basis of Lojban grammar, I know many words, and I can introduce myself (.i mi’e leos.). I chose a dolphin to be my new level!
February 16, 2010
I’ve just came back from San Martin de los Andes, after a few days of relax!
Learning the grammar of a language is always dreadful (sometimes even in our first language). However, Lojban seems to be easier than natural languages.
(Only for those who studied logic, like myself, in Computer Science.) Lojban is based in predicate calculus. If you don’t know it, or you don’t remember it, it’s something like this:
Suppose that we want to say: “It’s my house” . In predicate calculus, we have to create a predicate named house (or the name we want) with an arity of two (for programmers: this ones are like arguments in a function or a procedure). In this two slots, we are going to place the two elements that are related with a relationship called house; “it” and “me” (the one who owns and lives in the house):house(it,me)
The order of the elements it’s important, so we have to decide the role of the elements in each slot. In the example, the first slot refers which is the house in the relationship, and the second, who lives there.
In Lojban, the assertion can be said like:
ti zdani mi
- ti: It (or the thing I’m talking about, perhaps even pointing).
- zdani: Without getting deeper, a house.
- mi: me (pretty much the same).
zdani is the predicate (or selbri) in this sentence (or bridi), and the other two are the arguments (or sumti).
The selbri can have from 1 to 5 arguments, but they don’t need to be always filled. For each word (or gismu), each sumti has their meaning. For example, for zdani, according to the Lojban Dictionary:
zdani [zda] gismu
x1 is a nest/house/lair/den/[home] of/for x2 .
X1 and X2 are the two sumti that can be filled, as I did.
This is what I see can be complicated from this language: remember the vocabulary, and also the meaning of the arguments. Luckily, they seem to have a pattern, and it’s not necessary to know them all always:
- The first place is often the person or thing who does something or is something (in Lojban there is no grammatical difference between ‘doing’ and ‘being’).
- If someone or something has something done to them, he/she/it is usually in the second place.
- to places (destinations) nearly always come before from places (origins).
- Less-used places come towards the end. These tend to be things like ‘by standard’, ‘by means’ or ‘made of’.
(Extracted from Lojban for Beginners.)
This might be the hardest post until now, but it’s has the basis of the language. It’s not the intention to learn reading this blog, but I explain a few things to show my development, to show it’s not that hard and to help myself in the process of learning. To learn, you can read the books or ask for help in the IRC channel; they’ve been really kind with me .
January 29, 2010
First of all, I’m going to explain some other things about the blog.
- As I’m self-teaching me, I’m going to show my level of understanding by a series of avatars representing my current state. That’s the funny dog in the column right there =>. I’ll be creating the future states with their correspondent avatar, as I feel I’m evolving, and put all of them in a kind of time line in the Evolution page.
- I’m trying to establish empirically how much time is needed to learn lojban and speak more or less fluidly. It’s not going to be really accurate, because I obviously have other occupations.
The timeline will start the 20th of January, as is the day I started.
- I’m and I’ll be using lots of information, texts and multimedia that I didn’t create (e.g. the funny i eat stuff dog), but that are in the public domain (e.g. Creative Commons). The authors only ask us to give them the attribution of their own work; I think it’s a more than a fair price.
I did my share in the Attributions page. The rest of the things that aren’t there, are mine.
- This blog is under Creative Commons as well, so feel free to use whatever you want however you want, as long as you say it’s mine, don’t use it for commercial purposes, and maintain the work open in the same or similar licence .
Enough… let’s get down to work.
I started reading “What is lojban?“. In the first chapter, it shows the alphabet used; Roman letters and 3 symbols, which are:
' , . a b c d e f g i j k l m n o p r s t u v x y z
“The three symbols are not punctuation.” That’s odd…
- The apostrophe represents a specific sound, similar to the English /h/.
- The period is an optional reminder to the reader, representing a mandatory pause dictated by the rules of the language. Such pauses can be of any duration, and are part of the morphology, or word formation rules, and not the grammar.
- The comma is used to indicate a syllable break within a word, generally one that is not obvious to the reader.
(This list is extracted from the book.)
Now is when we can see that this language has “phonetic spelling, and unambiguous resolution of sounds into words”.I’m not going to copy the list of letters and their spelling; you can find it in the book.
Right now, I’m having some troubles with the c, because I forget it’s actually more like a sh . The x it’s also troubling, but it’s just about punishing myself very hard when I mis-spell them .
January 25, 2010
A few days ago a friend of mine said something about some language called Lojban. I was talking (or writing, on my Facebook wall) about how James Cameron’s Avatar language (na’vi) is actually artificial. My friend claimed that this language was much more interesting to us (Computer Science’s students) because “its grammar is bassed in predicate calculus!!!”.
With my friend Google, I found more info about this. First of all, the official Lojban Site. The design wasn’t really great… but some facts of this language were. I’ve selected the ones that moved me (copy-pasted from that page):
- Lojban is designed to be used by people in communication with each other, and possibly in the future with computers.
- Lojban has an unambiguous grammar, which is based on the principles of logic.
- Lojban has phonetic spelling, and unambiguous resolution of sounds into words.
- Lojban is simple compared to natural languages; it is easy to learn.
- Lojban’s 1300 root words can be easily combined to form a vocabulary of millions of words.
- Lojban is regular; the rules of the language are without exception.
- Lojban is designed to be culturally neutral.
- Lojban has a variety of uses, ranging from the creative to the scientific, from the theoretical to the practical.
Well… it wasn’t really a selection…
I’ve been always interested in learning another language. As you may have read in About me, I’m Argentinian, so English is my second language (sorry if you’ve already noticed that :s). German, French, Italian, Japanese… they all were interesting (and potentially useful) possibilities, but I couldn’t afford the amount of time to learn one.
So why would I start learning a language that very few people speaks? Well… first, I am really interested in artificial languages (I will get deeper in this in a future post); second, this particular one seems to have all I (and I think everyone too) wish in a language I’m starting to learn (all the points up there). And finally, they claim it’s easy to learn. I’ve read in a forum somewhere that an enthusiast learner was speaking Lojban very fluidly about 6 months after starting. That’s fast…
And what about this blog? Well, I intend to post my progresses in learning. They claim it’s easy, so I’ll be supposedly showing advances in no time. In a week, perhaps I could post here some of my first sentences…
In 3 months, translate a short story…
In 6 months, help the community developing a software…
In a year, be THE PRESIDENT OF LOJBANISTAN!!!!!! MUAJAJA…
Mmm… I’ve let myself be carried away by the emotion.
More seriously, this will be my journal of my adventure in this new territory, checking if it’s true is easy, hoping it will help other people who are interested too, and, even if I fail, help to make this language known.
Let’s get started!