Attitude isn't the only meaning UI cmavo convey. Another subclass of UI cmavo (UI3: discursives) carry information about how a particular word or phrase fits in with everything else you're saying.

We've seen one such cmavo already: ku'i, which means 'but, however'. This means that whatever it is attached to contrasts with what you've been saying. It usually applies to a whole sentence (so normally you'll see it next to .i), but it can apply to a single word: .abu na.e ku'i by. is the proper Lojban for "Not A, but B."

The flipside to ku'i is ji'a 'additionally, also' (which we saw in passing last lesson.) This means that whatever it is attached to adds on to what you've been saying. Again, this can apply to individual words, as well as sentences:

.i .ai mi venfu do doi melbi .e ji'a le do cmalu gerku
I'll get you, my pretty — and your little dog, too!

In some cases, there is nothing to either contrast or add to what you've said, because what you've said is the unique relevant case. In that context, you would use only in English. Because only is somewhat clumsy to express in terms of pure logic, Lojban allows another discursive as its equivalent: po'o. So "Only cats like catnip" is in Lojban

loi mlatu po'o cu nelci loi spati be la'o ly. Nepeta cataria ly. (Nepeta cataria being the Linnaean name for catnip I had to go look up online.)

If you wanted to say that something is not the only applicable case, then of course you'd say po'onai.

There are several more discursives, but you won't seem them all that often. Some to watch out for, though, include:


exaggeration – accuracy – understatement


precisely speaking – loosely speaking


certainly – uncertain – certainly not


probably – improbably


by the way – returning to the subject


on the one hand – on the other hand

There are two more UI cmavo that will come in handy. da'i means 'hypothetically'; it points out that what you are saying is a hypothesis, rather than fact. This is how you distinguish between hypothetical and non-hypothetical kinds of if:

.i da'i do zvati le nu la rikis.martin. tigni .inaja do tirna la'o sy. La Vida Loca sy.
If you had gone to the Ricky Martin concert, then you would have heard La Vida Loca.

.i da'inai do zvati le nu la rikis.martin. tigni .inaja do tirna la'o sy. La Vida Loca sy.
If you did go to the Ricky Martin concert, then you must have heard La Vida Loca.

ki'a, finally, is a cmavo you want to make your friend. ki'a is Lojban for 'Huh?' When you don't understand what someone has just said — whether because you don't get what they were referring to, or you don't know the word, or the grammar confused you — you can repeat the word or phrase you didn't get, and add ki'a as a plaintive request for clarification (so it's even better than Huh?, because you can point out exactly what made you say Huh?):

.i mi puzi te vencu lo matcrflokati
.i matcrflokati ki'a
"I just bought a flokati [rug]."
"Flokati? Huh?"

Exercise 2

Give the Lojban discursives corresponding to the emphasised words in each of the following sentences.

Note: This exercise relies heavily on a particular variant of idiomatic American English. (Since the equivalents of discursives, and attitudinals in general, are among the features of language that tend to be idiomatic, this is hard to avoid.) If you're not familiar with the idiom, don't worry about this exercise; you'll get plenty of practice with discursives once you start using Lojban conversationally, anyway.

  1. The Eiffel Tower is, like, 20 miles tall or something.

  2. Say this guy goes up to you and goes, "Dude, your fly's undone." That'd be, like, so embarrassing!

  3. So, anyway, I see this dude, and he's like, all "I'm just hanging with my friends, you know what I'm saying?". And I'm, like, "Hellooo? There's, like, nobody else here!"

  4. So, like, here you've got this dude who's, like, totally grody, scoping me out. And then there's Tiffany walking by in the other direction. Plus she's got Tracy and Shannon with her. And she totally walks two feet away from me acting like, "Do I know you?" Like, bogus to the max!

(You may attain Lojban divinity status if, on some future date, you come back to this scintillating little anecdote and translate in to Lojban. Like, totally.)