13.10. Attitude questions; empathy; attitude contours

The following cmavo are discussed in this section:


attitude question




start emotion

continue emotion

end emotion

You can ask someone how they are feeling with a normal bridi sentence, but you will get a normal bridi answer in response, one which may be true or false. Since the response to a question about emotions is no more logical than the emotion itself, this isn't appropriate.

The word pei is therefore reserved for attitude questions. Asked by itself, it captures all of the denotation of English How are you? coupled with How do you feel? (which has a slightly different range of usage).

When asked in the context of discourse, pei acts like other Lojban question words – it requests the respondent to fill in the blank, in this case with an appropriate attitudinal describing the respondent's feeling about the referent expression. As with other questions, plausibility is polite; if you answer with an irrelevant UI cmavo, such as a discursive, you are probably making fun of the questioner. (A ge'e, however, is always in order – you are not required to answer emotionally. This is not the same as .i'inai, which is privacy as the reverse of conviviality.)

Most often, however, the asker will use pei as a place holder for an intensity marker. (As a result, pei is placed in selma'o CAI, although selma'o UI would have been almost as appropriate. Grammatically, there is no difference between UI and CAI.) Such usage corresponds to a whole range of idiomatic usages in natural languages:

Example 13.64. 


Do you agree?

Example 13.65. 


Are you a Believer?

Example 13.66. 


Are you going to do it?

Example 13.66 might appear at the end of a command, to which the response

Example 13.67. 


corresponds to Aye! Aye! (hence the choice of cmavo).

Example 13.68. 


Please, Mommy! Can I??

Additionally, when pei is used at the beginning of an indicator construct, it asks specifically if that construct reflects the attitude of the respondent, as in (asked of someone who has been ill or in pain):

Example 13.69. 


Are you comfortable?

Example 13.70. 


Are you no longer in pain?

Example 13.71. 


Are you again healthy?

Empathy, which is not really an emotion, is expressed by the indicator dai. (Don't confuse empathy with sympathy, which is .uuse'inai.) Sometimes, as when telling a story, you want to attribute emotion to someone else. You can of course make a bridi claim that so-and-so felt such-and-such an emotion, but you can also make use of the attitudinal system by adding the indicator dai, which attributes the preceding attitudinal to someone else – exactly whom, must be determined from context. You can also use dai conversationally when you empathize, or feel someone else's emotion as if it were your own:

Example 13.72. 


Ouch, that must have hurt!

It is even possible to empathize with a non-living object:

Example 13.73. 

le bloti .iidai .uu pu klama le xasloi
The ship [fear-empathy] [pity!] [past] goes-to the ocean-floor.

Fearfully the ship, poor thing, sank.

suggesting that the ship felt fear at its impending destruction, and simultaneously reporting the speaker's pity for it.

Both pei and dai represent exceptions to the normal rule that attitudinals reflect the speaker's attitude.

Finally, we often want to report how our attitudes are changing. If our attitude has not changed, we can just repeat the attitudinal. (Therefore, .ui .ui .ui is not the same as .uicai, but simply means that we are continuing to be happy.) If we want to report that we are beginning to feel, continuing to feel, or ceasing to feel an emotion, we can use the attitudinal contour cmavo bu'o.

When attached to an attitudinal, bu'o means that you are starting to have that attitude, bu'ocu'i that you are continuing to have it, and bu'onai that you are ceasing to have it. Some examples:

Example 13.74. 

.o'onai bu'o
[Anger!] [start-emotion]

I'm getting angry!

Example 13.75. 

.iu bu'onai .uinai
[Love!] [end-emotion] [unhappiness!]

I don't love you any more; I'm sad.

Note the difference in effect between Example 13.75 and:

Example 13.76. 

mi ca ba'o prami do ja'e le nu mi badri
I [present] [cessitive] love you with-result the event-of (I am-sad).

I no longer love you; therefore, I am sad.

which is a straightforward bridi claim. Example 13.76 states that you have (or have had) certain emotions; Example 13.75 expresses those emotions directly.