Determining place structure

If all these places sound a bit daunting, don't worry — you don't have to memorise all of them (in fact nobody does). There are a few cases where it's worth learning the place structure to avoid misunderstanding, but usually you can guess place structures using context and a few rules of thumb.

  1. The first place is often the person or thing who does something or is something (in Lojban there is no grammatical difference between 'doing' and 'being').

  2. If someone or something has something done to them, he/she/it is usually in the second place.

  3. to places (destinations) nearly always come before from places (origins).

  4. Less-used places come towards the end. These tend to be things like 'by standard', 'by means' or 'made of'.

The general idea is that the places which are most likely to be filled come first. You don't have to use all the available places, and any unfilled places at the end are simply missed out.

Exercise 2

Try to guess the place structure of the following gismu. You probably won't get them all, but you should be able to guess the most important ones. Think of what needs to be in the sentence for it to make sense, then add anything you think would be useful. For example, with klama, you need to know who's coming and going, and although you could in theory say "Julie goes," it would be pretty meaningless if you didn't add where she goes to. Where she starts her journey, the route she takes and what transport she uses are progressively less important, so they occupy the third, fourth and fifth places.

  1. karce – car

  2. nelci – like, is fond of

  3. cmene – name

  4. sutra – fast, quick

  5. crino – green

  6. sisti – stop, cease

  7. prenu – person

  8. cmima – member, belongs to

  9. barda – big

  10. cusku – say, express

  11. tavla – talk, chat

Note: What the place structure for gismu should be is often enough an involved philosophical issue. Place structures were debated exhaustively in the early '90s, and the current place structures (finalised in 1994) are not really open for negotiation any more.