11.2. Event abstraction

The following cmavo is discussed in this section:



event abstractor

The examples in Section 11.1 made use of nu as the abstractor, and it is certainly the most common abstractor in Lojban text. Its purpose is to capture the event or state of the bridi considered as a whole. Do not confuse the le description built on a nu abstraction with ordinary descriptions based on le alone. The following sumti are quite distinct:

Example 11.5. 

le klama

the comer, that which comes

Example 11.6. 

le se klama

the destination

Example 11.7. 

le te klama

the origin

Example 11.8. 

le ve klama

the route

Example 11.9. 

le xe klama

the means of transportation

Example 11.10. 

le nu klama

the event of someone coming to somewhere from somewhere by some route using some means

Example 11.5 through Example 11.9 are descriptions that isolate the five individual sumti places of the selbri klama. Example 11.10 describes something associated with the bridi as a whole: the event of it.

In Lojban, the term event is divorced from its ordinary English sense of something that happens over a short period of time. The description:

Example 11.11. 

le nu mi vasxu
the event-of my breathing

is an event which lasts for the whole of my life (under normal circumstances). On the other hand,

Example 11.12. 

le nu la djan. cinba la djein.
the event-of that-named John kissing that-named Jane

is relatively brief by comparison (again, under normal circumstances).

We can see from Example 11.10 through Example 11.12 that ellipsis of sumti is valid in the bridi of abstraction selbri, just as in the main bridi of a sentence. Any sumti may be ellipsized if the listener will be able to figure out from context what the proper value of it is, or else to recognize that the proper value is unimportant. It is extremely common for nu abstractions in descriptions to have the x1 place ellipsized:

Example 11.13. 

mi nelci le nu limna
I like the event-of swimming.

I like swimming.

is elliptical, and most probably means:

Example 11.14. 

mi nelci le nu mi limna
I like the event-of I swim.

In the proper context, of course, Example 11.13 could refer to the event of somebody else swimming. Its English equivalent, I like swimming, can't be interpreted as I like Frank's swimming; this is a fundamental distinction between English and Lojban. In Lojban, an omitted sumti can mean whatever the context indicates that it should mean.

Note that the lack of an explicit NU cmavo in a sumti can sometimes hide an implicit abstraction. In the context of Example 11.14, the appearance of le se nelci (that which is liked) is in effect an abstraction:

Example 11.15. 

le se nelci cu cafne
The liked-thing   is-frequent.

The thing which I like happens often.

which in this context means

My swimming happens often.

Event descriptions with le nu are commonly used to fill the under conditions... places, among others, of gismu and lujvo place structures:

Example 11.16. 

la lojban. cu frili   mi
That-named Lojban   is-easy-for me
  le nu mi tadni [kei]
under-conditions the event-of I study

Lojban is easy for me when I study.

(The when of the English would also be appropriate for a construction involving a Lojban tense, but the Lojban sentence says more than that the studying is concurrent with the ease.)

The place structure of a nu abstraction selbri is simply:

x1 is an event of (the bridi)