In addition to numbers (and their associated questions), this lesson has entered the dangerous waters of Lojban articles. Lojban articles may seem difficult at first, but they are perfectly logical. In fact it's probably because they are logical that people have problems with them to start off with — you have to learn to think in a slightly different way. For the curious, here are the main articles and article-like words:


that named


that described


that which really is


the number

(lu is not an article, it's a quotation mark!)


the referent of (not really an article, as it takes a full sumti or pro-sumti, as in la'edi'u, what the last sentence refers to, as opposed to di'u, the actual words of the last sentence.)


the stereotypical


the typical


the mass named


the mass described


the mass which really is


the set named


the set described


the set which really is

(Sets turn out to be pretty useful in Lojban, as we'll see towards the end of this course.)

We also looked briefly at lu'o, which turns a set into a mass, and lu'a, which turns a mass into a set of individuals ('group' and 'ungroup'). Strictly speaking, these aren't articles, though.

If all this looks terribly complicated, don't be discouraged! As you can see, these articles are all really variants on la, le and lo, which are normally all you will need. My personal advice (not official Lojban policy!) is when in doubt, use le. This is because the only time le is completely wrong is with a cmene (which needs la, of course). If you use le where another article would be more appropriate, you may not express yourself as clearly as you wanted, but at least you will not be talking ungrammatical nonsense, like you would if you said der Frau in German, or the two womans in English.