7.7. Indefinite pro-sumti and pro-bridi: the zo'e-series and the co'e-series

The following cmavo are discussed in this section:




the obvious value




the typical value




the nonexistent value




has the obvious relationship

The cmavo of the zo'e-series represent indefinite, unspecified sumti. The cmavo zo'e represents an elliptical value for this sumti place; it is the optional spoken place holder when a sumti is skipped without being specified. Note that the elliptical value is not always the typical value. The properties of ellipsis lead to an elliptical sumti being defined as whatever I want it to mean but haven't bothered to figure out, or figure out how to express.

The cmavo zu'i, on the other hand, represents the typical value for this place of this bridi:

Example 7.49. 

mi klama le bartu be le zdani
I go-to the outside of the house from
le nenri be le zdani zu'i zu'i
the inside of the house [by-typical-route] [by-typical-means]

In Example 7.49, the first zu'i probably means something like by the door, and the second zu'i probably means something like on foot, those being the typical route and means for leaving a house. On the other hand, if you are at the top of a high rise during a fire, neither zu'i is appropriate. It's also common to use zu'i in by standard places.

Finally, the cmavo zi'o represents a value which does not even exist. When a bridi fills one of its places with zi'o, what is really meant is that the selbri has a place which is irrelevant to the true relationship the speaker wishes to express. For example, the place structure of zbasu is:

actor x1 makes x2 from materials x3

Consider the sentence

Living things are made from cells.

This cannot be correctly expressed as:

Example 7.50. 

loi jmive cu se zbasu [zo'e] fi loi selci
The-mass-of living-things   is-made [by-something] from the-mass-of cells

because the zo'e, expressed or understood, in Example 7.50 indicates that there is still a maker in this relationship. We do not generally suppose, however, that someone makes living things from cells. The best answer is probably to find a different selbri, one which does not imply a maker: however, an alternative strategy is to use zi'o to eliminate the maker place:

Example 7.51. 

loi jmive cu
The-mass-of living-things  
se zbasu zi'o   loi selci
is-made [without-maker] from the-mass-of cells.

Note: The use of zi'o to block up, as it were, one place of a selbri actually creates a new selbri with a different place structure. Consider the following examples:

Example 7.52. 

mi zbasu le dinju   loi mudri
I make the building from some-of-the-mass-of wood.

I make the building out of wood.

Example 7.53. 

zi'o zbasu le dinju   loi mudri
[without-maker] makes the building from some-of-the-mass-of wood.

The building is made out of wood.

Example 7.54. 

mi zbasu zi'o   loi mudri
I make [without-thing-made] from some-of-the-mass-of wood.

I build using wood.

Example 7.55. 

mi zbasu le dinju zi'o
I make the building [without-material].

I make the building.

If Example 7.52 is true, then Example 7.53 through Example 7.55 must be true also. However, Example 7.51 does not correspond to any sentence with three regular (non- zi'o) sumti.

The pro-bridi co'e (which by itself constitutes the co'e-series of selma'o GOhA) represents the elliptical selbri. Lojban grammar does not allow the speaker to merely omit a selbri from a bridi, although any or all sumti may be freely omitted. Being vague about a relationship requires the use of co'e as a selbri place-holder:

Example 7.56. 

mi troci le nu mi co'e le vorme
I try the event-of my [doing-the-obvious-action] to-the door.

I try the door.

The English version means, and the Lojban version probably means, that I try to open the door, but the relationship of opening is not actually specified; the Lojbanic listener must guess it from context. Lojban, unlike English, makes it clear that there is an implicit action that is not being expressed.

The form of co'e was chosen to resemble zo'e; the cmavo do'e of selma'o BAI (see Section 9.6) also belongs to the same group of cmavo.

Note that do'i, of the di'u-series, is also a kind of indefinite pro-sumti: it is indefinite in referent, but is restricted to referring only to an utterance.