Connectives in tanru

tanru have been lurking in these lessons since Lesson 2 without a proper explanation; so before discussing connectives in tanru, it's worth looking at how tanru normally work.

As we've seen before, we can put two or more words into a selbri or sumti place. An example is the aforementioned 'Communist manifesto', le guntrusi'o selpeicku.

Note: Actually, I cheated a little here; since this is the title of a specific book, not just any old manifesto, it would be better to say la'e lu guntrusi'o selpeicku li'u "the-referent-of quote Communist Manifesto unquote" — but that would be tedious.

Let's start with a simpler example, though.

xunre cukta
[there is a] red [type-of] book

The first element of the tanru modifies or restricts the second element, in some unspecified way. What happens if there are three or more elements, though? Like many other features of Lojban grammar, tanru follow a left-grouping rule, which means that the element on the far left modifies the next one, then those two together modify the next, and so on. For example, in a careless moment I once described The Complete Lojban Language as le barda xunre cukta since it is, indeed, big and red. However, le barda xunre cukta does not mean this; it means "the {(big type-of red) type-of book}" and it is hard to imagine what "big type of red" would mean.

There are various ways to get out of the left-grouping rule when you need to; we'll see some in Lesson 14, but the simplest one here is to use a logical connective and say

le barda je xunre cukta
the {(big AND red) book}
The big red book.

To make a logical tanru connective, then, we simply add j to the vowel. Turning to Susan's tastes in men, we can say

la suzyn. cinynei ro xajmi ja melbi nanmu
Susan fancy all {(funny OR beautiful) man}
Susan fancies men who are funny or handsome (or both).


This sentence is still true even if Susan also likes men who are not funny or handsome. In natural language, social conventions means you wouldn't normally say such a sentence in that case, because it would be misleading. Lojban is stricter about these things, so you might want to add po'o 'only' (see Lesson 13), or use a relative clause: ro nanmu poi se cinynei la suzyn. cu xajmi ja melbi. We'll stick with the vaguer sentences here, though.

Let's say that Susan finds the qualities of humour and good looks attractive but incompatible — she fancies Woody Allen and Steven Seagal, but thinks a mixture of the two would be just too much. We would then say

la suzyn. cinynei ro xajmi jonai melbi nanmu
Susan fancy all {(funny EOR beautiful) man}
Susan fancies men who are either funny or handsome (but not both).

On the other hand, Jyoti is turned on by funny men, and doesn't care about their looks at all. Woody Allen would do fine, but Steven Seagal wouldn't stand a chance unless he could tell a few jokes (funnier than Schwarzenegger's, preferably.) What we need here is

la djiotis. cinynei ro xajmi ju melbi nanmu
Jyoti fancy all {(funny WON beautiful) man}
Jyoti fancies funny men, whether they are handsome or not.

As you'll remember from last lesson, this kind of connective is also used to connect sentences, placed next to .i. So if I wanted to say "Either Susan fancies funny men, or Susan fancies handsome men", I need only say

.i la suzyn. cinynei ro xajmi nanmu .ijonai la suzyn. cinynei ro melbi nanmu


Be careful not to confuse this kind of connection with sumti connectives. mi ba vitke le mi mamta .e le mi speni is not the same as mi ba vitke le mi mamta je speni. The first means that I will visit my mother and my spouse (probably on separate occasions). The second means that I will visit a person who is both my mother and my spouse, which implies that I have a really serious Oedipus complex.

On the other hand, joi (and the other 'non-logical' connectives, some of which we will see in later lessons) act as both sumti connectives and tanru connectives. Normally, Lojban grammar arranges things so that there is no real ambiguity between the two. However (for reasons a little too technical to go into here), if you use joi to join two sumti, and the first sumti is of the normal kind (article + selbri), you must terminate the sumti with ku. This is in order to make it explicit for any computers which might be listening that you are joining two distinct sumti, and not just two gismu inside the sumti tanru.

This means you can say loi jisra joi jdacu 'the juice-and-water-mixture'; but you have to say loi jisra ku joi loi djacu 'the juice and the water, considered together' — not loi jisra joi loi djacu.

The difficulty in understanding such usage of joi isn't restricted to computers, by the way. Many a human will be momentarily thrown by:

lo nu xamgu xunre joi lo crino



x1 is delicious/tasty/delightful to observer/sense x2 [person, or sensory activity]

Exercise 3

Translate the following from Lojban.

  1. la ranjit. pinxe loi vanju jonai birje

  2. la ranjit. pinxe loi vanju joi birje

  3. la natraj. barja je gusta

  4. da spuda ju danfu le preti

  5. la jan. klama je penmi je tavla la suzyn.

  6. ro prenu cu fengu naja xanka leka se xebni

  7. la ranjit. nelci loi kukte ja cpina

  8. mi bilga jenai kakne lenu mi klama le barja