8.7. Possessive sumti

In Example 8.15 through Example 8.17, the sumti le mi karce appears, glossed as my car. Although it might not seem so, this sumti actually contains a relative phrase. When a sumti appears between a descriptor and its description selbri, it is actually a pe relative phrase. So

Example 8.59. 

le mi karce cu xunre
  My car   is-red.


Example 8.60. 

le pe mi karce cu xunre
The (associated-with me) car   is-red.

mean exactly the same thing. Furthermore, since there are no special considerations of quantifiers here,

Example 8.61. 

le karce pe mi cu xunre
The car associated-with me   is-red.

means the same thing as well. A sumti like the one in Example 8.59 is called a possessive sumti. Of course, it does not really indicate possession in the sense of ownership, but like pe relative phrases, indicates only weak association; you can say le mi karce even if you've only borrowed it for the night. (In English, my car usually means le karce po mi, but we do not have the same sense of possession in my seat on the bus; Lojban simply makes the weaker sense the standard one.) The inner sumti, mi in Example 8.59, is correspondingly called the possessor sumti.

Historically, possessive sumti existed before any other kind of relative phrase or clause, and were retained when the machinery of relative phrases and clauses as detailed in this chapter so far was slowly built up. When preposed relative clauses of the Example 8.60 type were devised, possessive sumti were most easily viewed as a special case of them.

Although any sumti, however complex, can appear in a full-fledged relative phrase, only simple sumti can appear as possessor sumti, without a pe. Roughly speaking, the legal possessor sumti are: pro-sumti, quotations, names and descriptions, and numbers. In addition, the possessor sumti may not be preceded by a quantifier, as such a form would be interpreted as the unusual descriptor + quantifier + sumti type of description. All these sumti forms are explained in full in Chapter 6.

Here is an example of a description used in a possessive sumti:

Example 8.62. 

le   le nanmu ku karce cu blanu
The (associated-with the man ) car   is-blue.

The man's car is blue.

Note the explicit ku at the end of the possessor sumti, which prevents the selbri of the possessor sumti from merging with the selbri of the main description sumti. Because of the need for this ku, the most common kind of possessor sumti are pro-sumti, especially personal pro-sumti, which require no elidable terminator. Descriptions are more likely to be attached with relative phrases.

And here is a number used as a possessor sumti:

Example 8.63. 

le li mu jdice se bende
The of-the-number five judging team-member

Juror number 5

which is not quite the same as the fifth juror; it simply indicates a weak association between the particular juror and the number 5.

A possessive sumti may also have regular relative clauses attached to it. This would need no comment if it were not for the following special rule: a relative clause immediately following the possessor sumti is understood to affect the possessor sumti, not the possessive. For example:

Example 8.64. 

le mi noi sipna vau karce cu na klama
The of-me incidentally-which-( is-sleeping ) car   isn't going.

means that my car isn't going; the incidental claim of noi sipna applies to me, not my car, however. If I wanted to say that the car is sleeping (whatever that might mean) I would need:

Example 8.65. 

le mi karce poi sipna cu na klama
The of-me car which sleeps   isn't going.

Note that Example 8.64 uses vau rather than ku'o at the end of the relative clause: this terminator ends every simple bridi and is almost always elidable; in this case, though, it is a syllable shorter than the equally valid alternative, ku'o.