13.7. Attitudinal modifiers

The following cmavo are discussed in this section:



hauteur; rank

equal rank

meekness; lack of rank







virtue (zabna)

sin (mabla)












with help; easily

without help

with opposition; with difficulty









It turned out that, once we had devised the six emotion categories, we also recognized some other commonalities among emotions. These tended to fit nicely on scales of their own, but generally tend not to be thought of as separate emotions. Some of these are self-explanatory, some need to be placed in context. Some of these tend to go well with only a few of the attitudinals, others go with nearly all of them. To really understand these modifiers, try to use them in combination with one or two of the attitudinals found in Section 13.2 and Section 13.3, and see what emotional pictures you can build:

The cmavo ga'i expresses the scale used to indicate condescension or polite deference; it is not respect in general, which is .io. Whatever it is attached to is marked as being below (for ga'i) or above (for ga'inai) the speaker's rank or social position. Note that it is always the referent, not the speaker or listener, who is so marked: in order to mark the listener, the listener must appear in the sentence, as with doi ga'inai, which can be appended to a statement addressed to a social superior.

Example 13.48. 

ko ga'inai nenri klama le mi zdani
You-imperative [low-rank!] enter-type-of come-to the of-me house.

I would be honored if you would enter my residence.

Note that imperatives in Lojban need not be imperious! Corresponding examples with ga'icu'i and ga'i:

Example 13.49. 

ko ga'icu'i nenri klama le mi zdani
You-imperative [equal-rank!] enter-type-of come-to the of-me house.

Come on in to my place.

Example 13.50. 

ko ga'i nenri klama le mi zdani
You-imperative [high-rank!] enter-type-of come-to the of-me house.

You! Get inside!

Since ga'i expresses the relative rank of the speaker and the referent, it does not make much sense to attach it to mi, unless the speaker is using mi to refer to a group (as in English we), or a past or future version of himself with a different rank.

It is also possible to attach ga'i to a whole bridi, in which case it expresses the speaker's superiority to the event the bridi refers to:

Example 13.51. 

ga'i le xarju pu citka
[High-rank!] the pig [past] eats.

The pig ate (which is an event beneath my notice).

When used without being attached to any bridi, ga'i expresses the speaker's superiority to things in general, which may represent an absolute social rank: ga'icai is an appropriate opening word for an emperor's address from the throne.

The cmavo le'o represents the scale of aggressiveness. We seldom overtly recognize that we are feeling aggressive or defensive, but perhaps in counseling sessions, a psychologist might encourage someone to express these feelings on this scale. And football teams could be urged on by their coach using ro'ole'o. le'o is also useful in threats as an alternative to o'onai, which expresses anger.

The cmavo vu'e represents ethical virtue or its absence. An excess of almost any emotion is usually somewhat sinful in the eyes of most ethical systems. On the other hand, we often feel virtuous about our feelings – what we call righteous indignation might be o'onaivu'e. Note that this is distinct from lack of guilt: .u'unai.

The cmavo se'i expresses the difference between selfishness and generosity, for example (in combination with .au):

Example 13.52. 


I want it!

Example 13.53. 


I want you to have it!

In both cases, the English it is vague, reflecting the absence of a bridi. Example 13.52 and Example 13.53 are pure expressions of attitude. Analogously, .uuse'i is self-pity, whereas .uuse'inai is pity for someone else.

The modifier ri'e indicates emotional release versus emotional control. I will not let him know how angry I am, you say to yourself before entering the room. The Lojban is much shorter:

Example 13.54. 

.o'onai ri'enai
[anger] [control]

On the other hand, ri'e can be used by itself to signal an emotional outburst.

The cmavo fu'i may express a reason for feeling the way we do, as opposed to a feeling in itself; but it is a reason that is more emotionally determined than most. For example, it could show the difference between the mental discomfort mentioned in Section 13.6 when it is felt on an easy test, as opposed to on a hard test. When someone gives you a back massage, you could use .o'ufu'i to show appreciation for the assistance in your comfort.

The cmavo be'u expresses, roughly speaking, whether the emotion it modifies is in response to something you don't have enough of, something you have enough of, or something you have too much of. It is more or less the attitudinal equivalent of the subjective quantifier cmavo mo'a, rau, and du'e (these belong to selma'o PA, and are discussed in Section 18.8). For example,

Example 13.55. 


might be something you say after a large meal which you enjoyed.

Like all modifiers, be'u can be used alone:

Example 13.56. 

le cukta be'u cu zvati ma
The book [Needed!] is-at-location [what-sumti?]

Where's the book? I need it!

Lastly, the modifier se'a shows whether the feeling is associated with self-sufficiency or with dependence on others.

Example 13.57. 


I can do it all by myself!

is something a Lojban-speaking child might say. On the other hand,

Example 13.58. 


I can do it if you help me.

from the same child would indicate a (hopefully temporary) loss of self-confidence. It is also possible to negate the e'e in Example 13.54 and Example 13.55, leading to:

Example 13.59. 


I can't do it if you insist on helping me!


Example 13.60. 


I can't do it by myself!

Some of the emotional expressions may seem too complicated to use. They might be for most circumstances. It is likely that most combinations will never get used. But if one person uses one of these expressions, another person can understand (as unambiguously as the expresser intends) what emotion is being expressed. Most probably as the system becomes well-known and internalized by Lojban-speakers, particular attitudinal combinations will come to be standard expressions (if not cliches) of emotion.