Questions in Lojban are very easy to learn, and they come in two kinds: fill in the blank, and true/false questions. Let's begin with the true-false question kind – that's pretty overcomeable, since it only involves one word, xu.
The word xu transforms the whole sentence into a question, asking whether it is true or not.
|xu do dunda lo zdani ku||Did you donate the house?|
|xu do nelci lo gerku ku||Do you like dogs?|
|xu do tavla lo ctuca ku||Did you talk to the instructor?|
In the previous sentences, xu was placed right at the beginning. But this is not required: xu may go anywhere in a sentence, and it gives emphasis to the preceding word (or construct). When placed right at the beginning of a sentence, it is understood to come right after .i. And since .i is responsible for initiating the sentence, emphasis goes to the whole sentence (or, alternatively, to nowhere in particular).
|.i xu do dunda lo zdani ku||Did you donate the house?||no particular emphasis|
|xu do dunda lo zdani ku||Did you donate the house?||no particular emphasis|
|do xu dunda lo zdani ku||Did you donate the house?||emphasis on "you" – was it really you, and not someone else?|
|do dunda xu lo zdani ku||Did you donate the house?||emphasis on "donate" – did you really donate the house, instead of doing something else with it? Like... selling it?|
|do dunda lo xu zdani ku||Did you donate the house?||emphasis on "the house" – was it really the house, and not something else?|
|do dunda lo zdani ku xu||Did you donate the house?||emphasis on "the house" – was it really the house, and not something else?|
To answer a true/false question, you just repeat the selbri (possibly negated).
|dunda||donated – Yes, I donated the house.|
|na dunda||not donated – No, I did not donate the house.|
Negation is a complex subject, and we will learn more about it in a future lesson. For now, just stick with na, which roughly means "It is not true that (...)".
na bridi contradictory negator; scope is an entire bridi.
Also, there is another way of answering a true/false question, which is to use the word go'i.
|go'i||donated – Yes, I donated the house.|
|na go'i||not donated – No, I did not donate the house.|
The word go'i just repeats the previous bridi, and hence these two approaches that we saw are equivalent.
go'i pro-bridi: preceding bridi; in answer to a yes/no question, repeats the claim, meaning yes.
Fill in the blank questions
The other kind of question is "fill in the blank". Here, you ask for the question word to be replaced with a construct that would make the bridi correct. There are several of these words, depending on what you are asking about. The most frequently used are ma, for sumti questions, and mo, for selbri questions.
To ask about a sumti, you just place the question word ma where you want your answer. For example, do dunda ma mi asks the listener to reply with the sumti that would correctly fill the x2, that is, the gift.
|do dunda ma mi||What did you give to me?|
|do ctuca fi ma||What did you teach?|
|do tavla fo ma||What language are you talking in?|
Similarly, to ask about a selbri, you just place the question word mo where you want your answer. For example, do mo means "What are you doing?" (or "What/Who are you?"), to which one could reply tavla ("I am talking"), or prenu ("I am a person").
|do mo||What are you doing? / What are you?|
|mi mo do||What did I do to you?|
|do mi mo||What are you doing to me?|
Since tone of voice or sentence structure does not reveal whether a sentence is a question or not, one better not miss the question word. Therefore, since people tend to focus more on words in the beginning or at the end of sentences, it's usually worthwhile to re-order the sentence so that the question words are at those places.
It's now time for you to attempt a few more translations. You will need the following new word:
djuno x1 knows fact(s) x2 are true about x3 by epistemology x4.
Translate the following sentences from Lojban into English:
|do ciska ma||What did you write?|
|do djuno fi lo mlatu ku xu||Do you know about cats?|
|ma ciska fi ta||Who wrote there?|
|lo gerku ku mo do||What did the dog do to you?|
Now, translate the following sentences from English into Lojban:
|Who likes cats?||ma nelci lo mlatu ku|
|What is the scribe doing?||lo ciska ku mo|
|What do you know about dogs?||do djuno ma lo gerku ku|
|Is the instructor writing?||xu lo ctuca ku ciska|
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.
- Questions (xu, ma, mo)
- Also explain how to answer questions (including "go'i" for "xu" questions)
- This will not be covered in exercises, though.
- New exercises
- Choose "ma" vs "mo" (OK)
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
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
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