17.10. References to lerfu

The rules of Section 17.9 make it impossible to use unmarked lerfu words to refer to lerfu themselves. In the sentence:

Example 17.28. 

.abu cu lerfu
A   is-a-letteral.

the hearer would try to find what previous sumti .abu refers to. The solution to this problem makes use of the cmavo me'o of selma'o LI, which makes a lerfu string into a sumti representing that very string of lerfu. This use of me'o is a special case of its mathematical use, which is to introduce a mathematical expression used literally rather than for its value.

Example 17.29. 

me'o .abu cu lerfu

The-expression a is-a-letteral.

Now we can translate Example 17.1 into Lojban:

Example 17.30. 

dei vasru vo lerfu po'u me'o .ebu
this-sentence contains four letterals which-are the-expression e

This sentence contains four e s.

Since the Lojban sentence has only four e lerfu rather than fourteen, the translation is not a literal one – but Example 17.31 is a Lojban truth just as Example 17.1 is an English truth. Coincidentally, the colloquial English translation of Example 17.31 is also true!

The reader might be tempted to use quotation with luli'u instead of me'o, producing:

Example 17.31. 

lu .abu li'u cu lerfu
[quote] .abu [unquote]   is-a-letteral.

(The single-word quote zo cannot be used, because .abu is a compound cmavo.) But Example 17.31 is false, because it says:

Example 17.32. 

The word .abu is a letteral

which is not the case; rather, the thing symbolized by the word .abu is a letteral. In Lojban, that would be:

Example 17.33. 

la'e lu .abu li'u cu lerfu
The-referent-of [quote] .abu [unquote]   is-a-letteral.

which is correct.