We've already seen quite a few lujvo, or compound words, in the exercises; but we haven't actually made any of our own yet. Lojban has strict rules for making lujvo; you can't just crunch words together like English brunch or edutainment, because this might result in a word which sounds like something else, falls apart or makes intelligent computers repeat "Does not compute" in a tinny voice and blow up in a cloud of blue smoke. However, one safe way of making acceptable lujvo is by using the conversion cmavo we've just looked at.

se dunda, as we've seen, means 'is given (by someone, to someone)'. We can turn this into a lujvo simply adding l to the se, to give seldunda. The new word comes complete with its own place-structure — which is, of course, the same as that of se dunda:

x1 is a gift from x2 to x3

If we want to say 'the gift', le seldunda is not really an improvement on le se dunda. However, most gismu have short combining forms (rafsi). These are never used on their own, only in lujvo. As it happens, dunda has two short forms: dud and du'a. We can't use dud, because that would give us a word ending in a consonant, and, as we know, only cmene can end in a consonant. (Some cmene do in fact use them for that reason.) The only candidate, then, is du'a, so 'the gift' is le seldu'a. (seldu'a has exactly the same place structure as seldunda.)

The same is true for the other conversion cmavo, though their corresponding rafsi don't all follow the same pattern:









So 'the recipient' is le terdu'a.

Note: You might wonder whether stela 'lock' was really important enough to have wrested the rafsi tel- away from te — given that xel-, after all, was successfully wrested away from xelso 'Greek'. The answer is, probably not; but after the Great rafsi Reallocation of 1993, it's really too late to do anything about it now. Consider it an endearing quirk of the language...

In this way you can expand on the gismu list dramatically, to give equivalents of common English words which are not included and, more interestingly, words which don't have equivalents in English. A lot of these are words you would probably never want to say, like terna'e 'x1 is the rule/logic by which proposition x2 contradicts/denies/refutes/negates proposition x3.' However, you sometimes find interesting and/or useful words which don't exist as single words in English. Here are a few of my own creations:

lo tertcu 

a purpose/activity for which something is needed (from nitcu 'need')

lo ternu'e 

a person to whom a promise is made (from nupre 'promise')

lo selvu'e 

a moral standard (from vrude 'be virtuous')

lo selte'a 

a scary thing (from terpa 'fear')

lo selcta 

something/someone that is looked at (from catlu 'look, examine')

lo selta'i 

something which wears you out (from tatpi 'be tired/fatigued')

lo veltu'i 

an area of agreement (from tugni 'agree with')

lo selzi'e 

something you are free to do (from zifre 'be free')

lo selxei 

an object of hate (from xebni 'hate')

lo selpa'i 

an object of devotion (from prami 'love, be devoted to')


This method will always give you an acceptable lujvo — except in one case. Lojban does not allow double consonants, because they are difficult to pronounce, and can be heard incorrectly as one consonant. This means that we can't have lujvo like vellu'i ('cleansing agent', from the x4 of lumci 'wash'). The way out of this problem is to put y between the two ls, giving us velylu'i.

In fact, if you see y in a Lojban word, it cannot be a gismu or a cmavo (with two exceptions we've already seen: .y. 'er...' and letters of the alphabet like .y'y. and dy.) Such a word can only be either a lujvo or a name (cmene). y was purposefully avoided in 'normal' Lojban words.