Changing Places

We've seen that if we don't need all the places (and we rarely do), then we can miss out the unnecessary ones at the end of the bridi. We can also miss out the first place if it is obvious (just as in Spanish). However, it sometimes happens that we want places at the end, but not all the ones in the middle. There are a number of ways to get round this problem.

One way is to fill the unnecessary places with zo'e, which means 'something not important'. So la suzyn. klama la paris. la berlin. zo'e le karce tells us that Susan goes to Paris from Berlin by car, but we're not interested in the route she takes. In fact zo'e is always implied, even if we don't say it. If someone says klama, what they actually mean is

zo'e klama zo'e zo'e zo'e zo'e

but it would be pretty silly to say all that.

Note: A bridi containing only a selbri, and no sumti, has a special kind of role in Lojban. Such bridi are called observatives, and their job is to make a simple observation that something is there or is going on, without going into the details of who or what is involved. So fagri means just "Fire!", not "My house is on fire" or "The salmon was poached over a gently lapping campfire." Similarly, karce means "Car!", and not "This is a natural gas powered 2001 sedan Hyundai car, featuring fuzzy dice and a 'Free Brobdignag!' bumper sticker".

Observatives are as simple as baby talk — which is no surprise, since that's what they were modelled on. Note that observatives are still normal Lojban selbri; in particular, they don't make any distinction between verb and noun. So klama means not "Go!" (we'll find out how to say that next lesson), but "Goes!" or "Goer!" — more idiomatically, "Look! Someone's going!" And there is no real difference between klama "Look! Someone's going!" and karce "Look! A car!"

Most people don't want more than one zo'e in a sentence (though there's nothing to stop you using as many as you like). A more popular way to play around with places is to use the place tags fa, fe, fi, fo and fu. These mark a sumti as being associated with a certain place of the selbri, no matter where it comes in the sentence: fa introduces what would normally be the first place, fe the second place, and so on. For example, in

la suzyn. klama fu le karce
Susan goes in the car / Susan goes by car

fu marks le karce as the fifth place of klama (the means of transport). Without fu, the sentence would mean "Susan goes to the car."

After a place introduced with a place tag, any trailing places follow it in numbering. So in

la suzyn. klama fo la .uacintyn. le karce
Susan goes via Washington by car

la .uacintyn. is the fourth place of klama, and le karce is understood as the place following the fourth place — i.e. the fifth place.

With place tags you can also swap places around. For example,

fe le cukta cu dunda fi la klaudias.
The book was given to Claudia.

(The book — le cukta — is the second place of dunda, what is given; Claudia — la klaudias. — is the third place of dunda, the recipient.)

Again, you probably don't want to overdo place tags, or you'll end up counting on your fingers (although they're very popular in Lojban poetry — place tags, that is, not fingers.)

A final way to change places is conversion, which actually swaps the places round in the selbri — but we'll leave that for another lesson. There are no rules for which method you use, and you can use them in any way you want, so long as the person you're talking to understands.



x1 is English/pertains to English-speaking culture in aspect x2


x1 is a quantity of/is made of/contains rock/stone of type/composition x2 from location x3


x1 is measured in major-money-units (dollar/yuan/ruble) as x2 (quantity), monetary system x3

Exercise 4

Reorder the sumti with place tags in these Lojban sentences so that no place tags are necessary, and the sumti appear in their expected places. Insert zo'e where necessary. For example: fi la .iulias. cu pritu fa le karcele karce cu pritu zo'e la .iulias.

  1. fo le cukta cu cusku fe le glico fi le prenu

  2. fi mi vecnu fa do le karce

  3. fu la .Odisis. cu fanva fi le glico fa la fits.djerald.

  4. mi vecnu fo le rupnu

  5. fi le rokci cu kabri

  6. fi la lojban. fo la lojban. tavla fa do