Relative clauses

Nesting sumti within sumti goes a long way towards pinning down what exactly we mean; but it's not always going to work. If for example, I have two sisters, I can point out that they are mensi be mi until I'm blue in the face; but that won't go any further towards distinguishing one from the other. What I'd want to do instead is introduce a new bridi into the mix: the sister I'm talking about is the one who doesn't like Ricky Martin, say, or the one you saw at the restaurant last night. Similarly, if I'm talking about two different Pakistani restaurants, pointing out that the type of food they serve is Pakistani (gusta be loi kisto) doesn't go very far in differentiating them; pointing out the one which is north of town, or the one I eat curry at, does.

What I want, in other words, are relative clauses. In fact, they are what I've just used in English: phrases like who doesn't like Ricky Martin; [which] I eat curry at; and so on. These clauses contain a verb and nouns in English: they correspond to Lojban bridi, though they might be missing a word or two. What we need in Lojban is some way of connecting a bridi like this to a sumti — without necessarily the peculiarities of words like who and that.

Lojban allows this: you connect a relative clause — a bridi narrowing down what a sumti means — by using poi. And just as with nu and its relatives (those other words which nest bridi inside bridi in Lojban), you want a terminator to say "the relative clause is over, the rest of these words belong to the main bridi now." That terminator is ku'o.

So let's try this out. How would we say "You talked to my sister — the one who doesn't like Ricky Martin — about economics"? Let's take it by steps:

do pu tavla le mi mensi loi dinske
You talked to my sister about economics
le mi mensi na nelci la rikis.martin.
My sister does not like Ricky Martin
do pu tavla le mi mensi {poi le mi mensi na nelci la rikis.martin. ku'o} loi dinske
You talked to my sister who doesn't like Ricky Martin about economics

Notice that you needed the ku'o there, to keep the relative clause out of the hair of the main bridi. Otherwise, loi dinske would be a sumti of nelci and not tavla — which is not really what you want. Just as with nu and kei, though, Lojbanists will normally make sure they don't have to use ku'o, by little tricks like making sure the relative clause comes just before cu — which shuts every open clause down.

Here's another example:

mi klama le gusta be loi kisto
I go to the Pakistani restaurant
le gusta be loi kisto cu berti le tcadu
The Pakistani restaurant is north of town
mi klama lo gusta be loi kisto be'o {poi ra berti le tcadu}
I go to the Pakistani restaurant which is north of town