12.5. Symmetrical and asymmetrical lujvo

A common pattern, perhaps the most common pattern, of lujvo-making creates what is called a symmetrical lujvo. A symmetrical lujvo is one based on a tanru interpretation such that the first place of the seltau is equivalent to the first place of the tertau: each component of the tanru characterizes the same object. As an illustration of this, consider the lujvo balsoi: it is intended to mean both great and a soldier- that is, great soldier, which is the interpretation we would tend to give its veljvo, banli sonci. The underlying gismu place structures are:

Example 12.11. 

banli b1 is great in property b2 by standard b3

sonci s1 is a soldier of army s2

In this case the s1 place of sonci is redundant, since it is equivalent to the b1 place of banli. Therefore the place structure of balsoi need not include places for both s1 and b1, as they refer to the same thing. So the place structure of balsoi is at most

Example 12.12. 

b1=s1 is a great soldier of army s2 in property b2 by standard b3

Some symmetrical veljvo have further equivalent places in addition to the respective first places. Consider the lujvo tinju'i, to listen (to hear attentively, to hear and pay attention). The place structures of the gismu tirna and jundi are:

Example 12.13. 

tirna t1 hears sound t2 against background noise t3

jundi j1 pays attention to j2

and the place structure of the lujvo is:

Example 12.14. 

j1=t1 listens to j2=t2 against background noise t3

Why so? Because not only is the j1 place (the one who pays attention) equivalent to the t1 place (the hearer), but the j2 place (the thing paid attention to) is equivalent to the t2 place (the thing heard).

A substantial minority of lujvo have the property that the first place of the seltau (gerku in this case) is equivalent to a place other than the first place of the tertau; such lujvo are said to be asymmetrical. (There is a deliberate parallel here with the terms asymmetrical tanru and symmetrical tanru used in Chapter 5.)

In principle any asymmetrical lujvo could be expressed as a symmetrical lujvo. Consider gerzda, discussed in Section 12.3, where we learned that the g1 place was equivalent to the z2 place. In order to get the places aligned, we could convert zdani to se zdani (or selzda when expressed as a lujvo). The place structure of selzda is

Example 12.15. 

s1 is housed by nest s2

and so the three-part lujvo gerselzda would have the place structure

Example 12.16. 

s1=g1 is a dog housed in nest s2 of dog breed g2

However, although gerselzda is a valid lujvo, it doesn't translate doghouse; its first place is the dog, not the doghouse. Furthermore, it is more complicated than necessary; gerzda is simpler than gerselzda.

From the reader's or listener's point of view, it may not always be obvious whether a newly met lujvo is symmetrical or asymmetrical, and if the latter, what kind of asymmetrical lujvo. If the place structure of the lujvo isn't given in a dictionary or elsewhere, then plausibility must be applied, just as in interpreting tanru.

The lujvo karcykla, for example, is based on karce klama, or car goer. The place structure of karce is:

Example 12.17. 

karce: ka1 is a car carrying ka2 propelled by ka3

A asymmetrical interpretation of karcykla that is strictly analogous to the place structure of gerzda, equating the kl2 (destination) and ka1 (car) places, would lead to the place structure

Example 12.18. 

kl1 goes to car kl2=ka1 which carries ka2 propelled by ka3 from origin kl3 via route kl4 by means of kl5

But in general we go about in cars, rather than going to cars, so a far more likely place structure treats the ka1 place as equivalent to the kl5 place, leading to

Example 12.19. 

kl1 goes to destination kl2 from origin kl3 via route kl4 by means of car kl5=ka1 carrying ka2 propelled by ka3.