gismu as sumti

So far we've seen how a gismu can express a relationship between two or more cmene, so we can say things like

la bil. nelci la meilis.
Bill likes Mei Li

But cmene can only go so far (as the examples above must have proven!) Most things and people in world won't have names — or at least, not any names we are aware of. So if we don't happen to know Mei Li's name, how can we say "Bill likes the woman"? If we say la bil. nelci la ninmu, we mean that Bill likes someone whose name is Woman, which is not what we want. What we say, in fact, is

la bil. nelci le ninmu

What does le mean here? We have translated it into English as 'the', and like the and la, it is an article; but 'the' isn't quite what it means. The best way to think of it is 'the thing(s) I call'. la + cmene is like a permanent label (Bill is always Bill). le + gismu is more like a temporary label — I have something in mind, and choose to call it 'woman'. Probably she really is a woman, but with le this doesn't have to be so — we could be talking about a transvestite or a stone that looks a bit like a woman. There are other articles which can show that it's a real woman, or a typical woman or whatever, but we'll leave those alone for the time being.

One more word is sometimes necessary when using gismu as sumti — namely, cu. This doesn't carry any meaning, but separates the selbri from whatever comes before it. It's not necessary with cmene, because they can't run over into anything else. For the same reason, you don't need cu after mi (I/me/we), do (you, the person(s) I'm talking to) or any words like this ('pro-sumti', in Lojban jargon). But le ninmu klama does not mean "The woman goes". Two gismu next to each other form a compound selbri (or tanru), which means that ninmu and klama do get run together. The result is that that le ninmu klama means "The woman-type-of goer" (maybe a female traveller). What we say instead, to avoid this, is

le ninmu cu klama


cu does not mean 'is' (as in "The woman is going"). In fact it doesn't mean anything — it's just there to indicate that there's a selbri coming up.

Exercise 3

Add cu to the following Lojban sentences where necessary, then work out what they mean. For example, for le klama ninmu to make sense as a sentence, you need to add cu: le klama cu ninmu.

  1. la klaudias. dunda le cukta la bil.

  2. le karce sutra

  3. la kamIL. cukta

  4. mi fanva la kaMIL. la lojban

  5. le prenu sisti

  6. le ninmu cliva

  7. la .istanbul. barda

  8. mi tavla la mari,as.

  9. la meiris. pritu la meilis. mi

  10. le cipni vofli

  11. crino

  12. ninmu