Chapter 6. To Speak Of Many Things: The Lojban sumti

The picture for chapter 6

6.1. The five kinds of simple sumti

If you understand anything about Lojban, you know what a sumti is by now, right? An argument, one of those things that fills the places of simple Lojban sentences like:

Example 6.1. 

mi klama le zarci
I go-to the market

In Example 6.1, mi and le zarci are the sumti. It is easy to see that these two sumti are not of the same kind: mi is a pro-sumti (the Lojban analogue of a pronoun) referring to the speaker, whereas le zarci is a description which refers to something described as being a market.

There are five kinds of simple sumti provided by Lojban:

  1. descriptions like le zarci, which usually begin with a descriptor (called a gadri in Lojban) such as le;

  2. pro-sumti, such as mi;

  3. names, such as la lojban., which usually begin with la;

  4. quotations, which begin with lu, le'u, zo, or zoi;

  5. pure numbers, which usually begin with li.

Here are a few examples of each kind of sumti:

Example 6.2. 

e'osai ko sarji la lojban.
[request] [!] You [imperative] support that-named Lojban.

Please support Lojban!

Example 6.2 exhibits ko, a pro-sumti; and la lojban., a name.

Example 6.3. 

mi cusku lu e'osai li'u le tcidu
I express [quote] [request] [!] [unquote] to-the reader.

I express Please! to the reader.

Example 6.3 exhibits mi, a pro-sumti; lu e'osai li'u, a quotation; and le tcidu, a description.

Example 6.4. 

ti mitre li ci
This measures-in-meters the-number three.

This is three meters long.

Example 6.4 exhibits ti, a pro-sumti; and li ci, a number.

Most of this chapter is about descriptions, as they have the most complicated syntax and usage. Some attention is also given to names, which are closely interwoven with descriptions. Pro-sumti, numbers, and quotations are described in more detail in Chapter 7, Chapter 18, and Chapter 19 respectively, so this chapter only gives summaries of their forms and uses. See Section 6.13 through Section 6.15 for these summaries.