18.22. Four score and seven: a mekso problem

Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address begins with the words Four score and seven years ago. This section exhibits several different ways of saying the number four score and seven. (A score, for those not familiar with the term, is 20; it is analogous to a dozen for 12.) The trivial way:

Example 18.145. 

li bize
eight seven

Example 18.145 is mathematically correct, but sacrifices the spirit of the English words, which are intended to be complex and formal.

Example 18.146. 

li vo pi'i reno su'i ze
the-number four times twenty plus seven
4 × 20 + 7

Example 18.146 is also mathematically correct, but still misses something. Score is not a word for 20 in the same way that ten is a word for 10: it contains the implication of 20 objects. The original may be taken as short for Four score years and seven years ago. Thinking of a score as a twentysome rather than as 20 leads to:

Example 18.147. 

li mo'e voboi renomei
the-number [sumti-to-mex] four twentysomes
te'u su'i ze
[end-sumti-to-mex] plus seven

In Example 18.147, voboi renomei is a sumti signifying four things each of which are groups of twenty; the mo'e and te'u then make this sumti into a number in order to allow it to be the operand of su'i.

Another approach is to think of score as setting a representation base. There are remnants of base-20 arithmetic in some languages, notably French, in which 87 is quatre-vingt-sept, literally four-twenties-seven. (This fact makes the Gettysburg Address hard to translate into French!) If score is the representation base, then we have:

Example 18.148. 

li vo pi'e ze ju'u reno
the-number four ; seven base 20

Overall, Example 18.147 probably captures the flavor of the English best. Example 18.145 and Example 18.146 are too simple, and Example 18.148 is too tricky. Nevertheless, all four examples are good Lojban. Pedagogically, these examples illustrate the richness of lojbau mekso: anything that can be said at all, can probably be said in more than one way.