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So far we have been doing pretty well with the selbri we have had at hand. However, there is a finite amount of defined selbri out there, and in many cases the sumti places are not useful for what we had in mind. What if I want to say that I am translating using a computer? There is no place in the structure of fanva to specify what tool I translate with, since, most of the time, that is not necessary. Not to worry, this lesson is on how to add additional sumti places to the selbri.

Using fi'o..fe'u

The most basic way to add sumti places is with fi'o and fe'u. In between these two words goes a selbri, and following them goes a sumti (or an implicit zo'e, as we'll later see). The construct fi'o SELBRI fe'u is therefore called a sumtcita, meaning sumti-label, and it always "absorbs" the following sumti (if any). This following sumti is then considered to fill the x1 place of the selbri forming the sumtcita (and not any place of the main selbri from the bridi, as is the case with fa/fe/fi/fo/fu). One could say that, using a sumtcita, you import a sumti place from another selbri, and add it to the bridi being said.

While it is hard to grasp the process from reading about it, an example will perhaps show its actual simplicity:

fanva x1 translates text/utterance x2 to language x3 from language x4 with translation result x5.

gasnu x1 [person/agent] is an agentive cause of event x2; x1 does/brings about x2.

mukti x1 (action/event/state) motivates/is a motive/incentive for action/event x2, per volition of x3.

Sentence Possible translation
mi fanva ti fi'o se pilno {fe'u} lo skami I translate this with a computer.

The x2 of pilno, which is the x1 of se pilno, is a place structure for a tool being used by someone. This place structure is captured by fi'o SELBRI fe'u, added to the main selbri, and then filled by lo skami. The idea of sumtcita is sometimes expressed in English using the following translation: I translate this with-tool: a computer.

Here are a few more examples, this time using the words gasnu and mukti:

Sentence Possible translation
fi'o gasnu {fe'u} do mi vecnu lo skami You made me sell the computer.
fi'o mukti {fe'u} ma do ctuca For what motive do you teach? – Why do you teach?

A sumtcita can only absorb one sumti, which is always the following one. Alternatively, one can use the sumtcita construct by itself without sumti. In this case, you need to either put it before the selbri or terminate it with ku. This functions as if the sumtcita had the word zo'e as the sumti. Here are some examples:

Sentence Possible translation
fi'o mukti {fe'u} ku mi ctuca I teach for a reason.
mi fi'o gasnu fe'u vecnu lo skami Someone made me sell the computer.

Actually, fi'o..fe'u is not used very often despite its flexibility. In fact, fi'o..fe'u will not even be covered in exercises. Why are we teaching it then, you might ask? Well, it is required for understanding BAI.

Using BAI

BAI is a class of Lojban words, which in themselves act as sumtcita. They are used extremely often.

An example is mu'i, the BAI for mukti. Grammatically, mu'i is the same as fi'o mukti fe'u. Thus, the above examples could be reduced to:

Sentence Possible translation
mu'i ma do ctuca Why do you teach?
mu'i ku mi ctuca I teach for a reason.

The BAI for pilno and gasnu are pi'o and gau, respectively.

Here are the definitions:

pi'o pilno modal; 1st place used by...

mu'i mukti modal; 1st place because of motive...

gau gasnu modal; 1st place agent/actor case tag with active agent...

Using this knowledge, translate the following sentences from Lojban into English:

Sentence Possible translation
gau do mi vecnu lo skami You made me sell the computer.
mi fanva ti se pi'o lo skami I translate this with a computer.
mi tavla lo fanva be gau do I am talking to the one-who-you-made-translate. – I am talking to the one who translated because of you.

The last example shows how BAI can be used together with be. Indeed, be and bei can be used not only to bind sumti to selbri, but also to bind sumtcita to selbri.

Now, translate the following sentences from English into Lojban:

Sentence Possible translation
Someone made me sell the computer. mi gau vecnu lo skami
I am selling computers used by you. mi vecnu lo skami be pi'o do

Note that it is valid to join se and pi'o together as a single word, forming sepi'o, because both se and pi'o are cmavo (which we'll learn more about later). This is similar to how we joined se and du'u when studying abstractions. Indeed, it may be simpler to memorize the entire expression sepi'o as "using tool". Similarly, mu'i may be glossed as (one of the multiple, albeit related, meanings of) "because", and gau may be glossed as "with-agent"

There are around 60 BAI, and a lot of these are very useful indeed. Furthermore, BAI can also be converted with se and friends, as we saw for pi'o, which results in a great deal more BAI. We eventually intend to create a deck just for BAI. Stay tuned!


As usual, before proceeding to the next lesson, get some practice with interactive exercises – look for the "Practice" button nearby!

Beware that exercises loop indefinitely, so feel free to stop once you feel you've had enough. And be sure to revisit exercises on different days, to benefit from the spacing effect.

Lesson plan

  • Lesson
    • Sumtcita
      • explain "fi'o" as part of motivation, but then focus entirely on BAI
  • New exercises


dunda x1 [donor] gives/donates gift/present x2 to recipient/beneficiary x3 [without payment/exchange]

pelxu x1 is yellow/golden [color adjective]

zdani x1 is a nest/house/lair/den/[home] of/for x2

tavla x1 talks/speaks to x2 about subject x3 in language x4

pendo x1 is/acts as a friend of/to x2 (experiencer); x2 befriends x1

prenu x1 is a person/people (noun) [not necessarily human]; x1 displays personality/a persona

mlatu x1 is a cat/[puss/pussy/kitten] [feline animal] of species/breed x2; (adjective:) x1 is feline

ctuca x1 teaches audience x2 ideas/methods/lore x3 (du'u) about subject(s) x4 by method x5 (event)

nelci x1 is fond of/likes/has a taste for x2 (object/state)

gerku x1 is a dog/canine/[bitch] of species/breed x2

melbi x1 is beautiful/pleasant to x2 in aspect x3 (ka) by aesthetic standard x4

sutra x1 is fast/swift/quick/hastes/rapid at doing/being/bringing about x2 (event/state)

lojbo x1 reflects [Loglandic]/Lojbanic language/culture/nationality/community in aspect x2

ciska x1 inscribes/writes x2 on display/storage medium x3 with writing implement x4; x1 is a scribe

djuno x1 knows fact(s) x2 (du'u) about subject x3 by epistemology x4

nupre x1 (agent) promises/commits/assures/threatens x2 (event/state) to x3 [beneficiary/victim]

cusku x1 (agent) expresses/says x2 (sedu'u/text/lu'e concept) for audience x3 via expressive medium x4

gleki x1 is happy/gay/merry/glad/gleeful about x2 (event/state)

citka x1 eats/ingests/consumes (transitive verb) x2

plise x1 is an apple [fruit] of species/strain x2

vecnu x1 [seller] sells/vends x2 [goods/service/commodity] to buyer x3 for amount/cost/expense x4

skami x1 is a computer for purpose x2

pilno x1 uses/employs x2 [tool, apparatus, machine, agent, acting entity, material] for purpose x3

cmene x1 (quoted word(s)) is a/the name/title/tag of x2 to/used-by namer/name-user x3 (person)

bangu x1 is a/the language/dialect used by x2 to express/communicate x3 (si'o/du'u, not quote)

fanva x1 translates text/utterance x2 to language x3 from language x4 with translation result x5

mukti x1 (action/event/state) motivates/is a motive/incentive for action/event x2, per volition of x3

gasnu x1 [person/agent] is an agentive cause of event x2; x1 does/brings about x2


mi pro-sumti: me/we the speaker(s)/author(s); identified by self-vocative

do pro-sumti: you listener(s); identified by vocative

ti pro-sumti: this here; immediate demonstrative it; indicated thing/place near speaker

ta pro-sumti: that there; nearby demonstrative it; indicated thing/place near listener

zo'e pro-sumti: an elliptical/unspecified value; has some value which makes bridi true

lo veridical descriptor: the one(s) that really is(are) ...

ku elidable terminator: end description, modal, or negator sumti; often elidable

fa sumti place tag: tag 1st sumti place

fe sumti place tag: tag 2nd sumti place

fi sumti place tag: tag 3rd sumti place

fo sumti place tag: tag 4th sumti place

fu sumti place tag: tag 5th sumti place

se 2nd conversion; switch 1st/2nd places

te 3rd conversion; switch 1st/3rd places

ve 4th conversion; switch 1st/4th places

xe 5th conversion; switch 1st/5th places

xu discursive: true-false question

ma pro-sumti: sumti question (what/who/how/why/etc.); appropriately fill in sumti blank

mo pro-bridi: bridi/selbri/brivla question

na bridi contradictory negator; scope is an entire bridi; logically negates in some cmavo compounds

go'i pro-bridi: preceding bridi; in answer to a yes/no question, repeats the claim, meaning yes

su'u abstractor: generalized abstractor (how); x1 is [bridi] as a non-specific abstraction of type x2

nu abstractor: generalized event abstractor; x1 is state/process/achievement/activity of [bridi]

du'u abstractor: predication/bridi abstractor; x1 is predication [bridi] expressed in sentence x2

sedu'u compound abstractor: sentence/equation abstract; x1 is text expressing [bridi] which is x2

kei elidable terminator: end abstraction bridi (often elidable)

vau elidable: end of sumti in simple bridi; in compound bridi, separates common trailing sumti

cu elidable marker: separates selbri from preceding sumti, allows preceding terminator elision

poi restrictive relative clause; attaches subordinate bridi with identifying information to a sumti

noi non-restrictive relative clause; attaches subordinate bridi with incidental information

ke'a pro-sumti: relativized sumti (object of relative clause)

ku'o elidable terminator: end NOI relative clause; always elidable, but preferred in complex clauses

be sumti link to attach sumti (default x2) to a selbri; used in descriptions

bei separates multiple linked sumti within a selbri; used in descriptions

be'o elidable terminator: end linked sumti in specified description

pi'o pilno modal, 1st place used by ...

mu'i mukti modal, 1st place because of motive ...

gau gasnu modal, 1st place agent/actor case tag with active agent ...


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