Indirect quotations

A phrase like "Ranjeet said 'Jyoti said "Hello" to me.'" can also be expressed in a rather more subtle way:

la ranjit. pu cusku le sedu'u la djiotis. pu rinsa ry.
Ranjeet past-express the-predicate Jyoti past-greet R
Ranjeet said that Jyoti greeted him.

What is this sedu'u? Well, to explain that, we have to go via du'u.

du'u is a tricky but very useful cmavo meaning, in logical terms, 'the proposition.' What this means in ordinary language is something like "the notion that x is true." Sorry, that wasn't really ordinary language. The closest equivalent in English is that, as in "Ranjeet knows that ...", or "Ranjeet thinks that ...". Here's an example of du'u used on its own:

la suzyn. na djuno le du'u la jan. cinynei ra
Susan doesn't know that Zhang fancies ('sexually-likes') her.

du'u belongs to selma'o (= se cmavo) NU, just like nu itself. This means you can use it grammatically wherever you use nu. In fact, du'u and nu are the two major kinds of abstractions in Lojban. Lojban can distinguish between abstractions pretty finely, but the main distinction is between things that can happen (events), which take nu, and things you can know (facts), which take du'u. The gismu definition usually tells you which abstraction type is normal for the word.

Note: By the way, most of the instances of nu in the final exercises of Lesson 5 and 6 should have been du'u. Sorry about the over-simplification — and please don't repeat it in your own Lojban from now on!

OK, but why is what Ranjeet said introduced with sedu'u rather than du'u? Basically, because Lojban is a stickler for details. What you know or remember or believe is a fact: something you hold inside your brain. What you say, however, is not something you hold inside your brain; instead, it is sounds which mean what you hold inside your brain. The distinction is subtle, but it is the kind of distinction Lojban insists on. (That's why it's a logical language, after all.) When you want to refer to something you say rather than something you think, Lojban uses sedu'u rather than du'u.

Note: The se in sedu'u is what you think it is. I'll explain what it's doing there next lesson.

Note: A jargon word you will occasionally see in talk about Lojban is reification. Don't be scared off: this piece of jargon actually helps! Reification is Latin for taking something, and turning it into an object, a thing. It's what it turns out both du'u and sedu'u do. These words take what was an event, an occurrence in the physical world, and turns it into a single object, a thing, which you can think, which you can discover, or which you can use in logic. (Or, in the case of sedu'u, which you can say.)

So Lojban has different words for that..., depending on what sort of thing is meant.

Tip: This insistence on detail — which can get even more involved for NU cmavo — is quite useful; but it seems to contradict what the previous lesson claimed, that Lojban grammar is your servant, not your master. It is an error to say nu when you mean du'u — though you will find it is a rather frequent error. But Lojban does allow you to embed bridi inside other bridi as abstractions, without specifying whether they are events, facts, utterances, qualities, or whatever. The magic cmavo to use in that case is su'u. So you can correctly say all three of:

  • mi nelci lesu'u mi dotco

  • mi djuno lesu'u mi dotco

  • mi cusku lesu'u mi dotco

Admittedly, su'u has not been much used to date; it is a fairly late addition to the language (as is du'u!), and people haven't got used to it yet. But if you can't be bothered specifying what kind of abstraction you're using, that's the word to use.

Exercise 4

Which of nu, du'u or sedu'u would you use to translate that in the folowing sentences?

  1. I claimed that Lojban is easy.

  2. I am frustrated that Lojban is easy.

  3. I agree that Lojban is easy.

  4. It is confusing that Lojban is easy.

  5. It was decided that Lojban should be easy.