16.7. Grouping of quantifiers

Let us consider a sentence containing two quantifier expressions neither of which is ro or su'o (remembering that su'o is implicit where no explicit quantifier is given):

Example 16.41. 

ci gerku cu batci re nanmu
Three dogs bite two men.

The question raised by Example 16.41 is, does each of the dogs bite the same two men, or is it possible that there are two different men per dog, for six men altogether? If the former interpretation is taken, the number of men involved is fixed at two; but if the latter, then the speaker has to be taken as saying that there might be any number of men between two and six inclusive. Let us transform Example 16.41 step by step as we did with Example 16.38:

Example 16.42. 

ci da poi gerku cu batci re de poi nanmu
Three Xes which are-dogs bite two Ys which are-men.

(Note that we need separate variables da and de, because of the rule that says each indefinite description gets a variable never used before or since.)

Example 16.43. 

ci da poi gerku ku'o re de poi nanmu zo'u
For-three Xes which are-dogs -, for-two Ys which are-men :
da batci de
X bites Y.

Here we see that indeed each of the dogs is said to bite two men, and it might be different men each time; a total of six biting events altogether.

How then are we to express the other interpretation, in which just two men are involved? We cannot just reverse the order of variables in the prenex to

Example 16.44. 

re de poi nanmu ku'o ci da poi gerku zo'u
For-two Ys which are-men -, for-three Xes which are-dogs, :
da batci de
X bites Y.

for although we have now limited the number of men to exactly two, we end up with an indeterminate number of dogs, from three to six. The distinction is called a scope distinction: in Example 16.42, ci gerku is said to have wider scope than re nanmu, and therefore precedes it in the prenex. In Example 16.44 the reverse is true.

The solution is to use a termset, which is a group of terms either joined by ce'e (of selma'o CEhE) between each term, or else surrounded by nu'i (of selma'o NUhI) on the front and nu'u (of selma'o NUhU) on the rear. Terms (which are either sumti or sumti prefixed by tense or modal tags) that are grouped into a termset are understood to have equal scope:

Example 16.45. 

ci gerku ce'e re nanmu cu batci
nu'i ci gerku re nanmu [nu'u] cu batci
Three dogs [plus] two men, bite.

which picks out two groups, one of three dogs and the other of two men, and says that every one of the dogs bites each of the men. The second Lojban version uses forethought; note that nu'u is an elidable terminator, and in this case can be freely elided.

What about descriptors, like ci lo gerku, le nanmu or re le ci mlatu? They too can be grouped in termsets, but usually need not be, except for the lo case which functions like the case without a descriptor. Unless an actual quantifier precedes it, le nanmu means ro le nanmu, as is explained in Section 6.7. Two sumti with ro quantifiers are independent of order, so:

Example 16.46. 

[ro] le ci gerku cu batci [ro] le re nanmu
[All-of] the three dogs bite [all-of] the two men.

means that each of the dogs specified bites each of the men specified, for six acts of biting altogether. However, if there is an explicit quantifier before le other than ro, the problems of this section reappear.