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Lojban with only cmavo: an Oulipian strategy


arj posts: 953

Yesterday, a (relative) beginner on #lojban complained that, while they had a fairly good grasp of the most common brivla, when a sentence contained a lot of cmavo it threw them off. I'm normally quite polite towards beginners (at least I hope I am!), but at that point, I couldn't resist the following bit of mischief:

<@Broca> u'i ma'a ka'e co'e pe bau tu'a dei .i je la balnol cu me lu je'e nai li'u

(Remove the "pe" to make it grammatical. Yes, even oldbies make mistakes like that.)

Lojban without brivla wasn't so hard, even though it involved some dreadful circumlocutions. Especially the concept of being confused/baffled was difficult to get across.

To which Adam responded:

< Eimi> vu'e nai dai .u'i sai

And the rest of the conversation went thus:

<@Broca> doi e bu mi a'i co'e bau ly se cau lo co'e poi by tu'a me zo ki'a .i ko go'i
(At this point, I'd finally figured out how to dispense of cmevla as well.)

< Eimi> je'e vi'o do'u .a'i sai
< Eimi> mau lo su'u co'e cu'u mi kei ku su'u co'e te cu'u mi kei te mau lo ni me la'e lo'u .a'i ro'e le'u
(Here, I understood Adam as using "co'e BAI" as a substitute for the selbri on which the BAI is based. Which is roughly how he explained it to the flabbergasted onlookers afterwards)

<@Broca> oi go'i ra'o
< Eimi> .u'i
< Eimi> to'u dai

While this was a humorously painful exercise in constrained writing, it shows that it is possible to express a lot using just cmavo, and sometimes even with a bridi structure, which flies in the face of what is taught to beginners: that selbri are often brivla.

I am reminded of the following passage in _What is Lojban?_: "One of the recurrent difficulties with all forms of Loglan, including Lojban, is the tendency to fill up the available space of structure words ... The phonological revisions made when Lojban split from Institute Loglan allowed for many more structure words, but once again the list has almost entirely filled." Similarly, Nick Nicholas' 1991 accusation of "chuck another cmavo on the barbie" reformitis on the part of some Lojbanists.

Can you think of any expression that cannot in principle be expressed without brivla or cmene? Or do you know any other forms of constrained writing (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Constrained_writing for examples) that are only possible in Lojban?

--
Arnt Richard Johansen http://arj.nvg.org/
I am often asked how radio works. Well, you see, telegraphy is like a
very long cat. You yank his tail in New York and he meows in Los
Angeles. Do you understand this? Now, radio is exactly the same, except
that there is no cat. --Attributed to Albert Einstein

 
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On Thu, Dec 4, 2008 at 7:18 PM, Arnt Richard Johansen wrote:
>
> Can you think of any expression that cannot in principle be expressed without brivla or cmene?

la'e me lo'u my i bu ny a bu ky a bu ky ny e bu le'u

> Or do you know any other forms of constrained writing (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Constrained_writing for examples) that are only possible in Lojban?

I did my translation of The Metamorphosis with the constraint of no
luvjo (but a single one slipped by):

mu'o mi'e xorxes

 
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> Can you think of any expression that cannot in principle be expressed
> without brivla or cmene? Or do you know any other forms of constrained
> writing (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Constrained_writing for examples)
> that are only possible in Lojban?

Yesterday, during a discussion of why {nu fanva da dunli} was a tanru,
instead of a parsefail, we moved into a discussion of unusual elision of
terminators. I think attempting to craft complicated Lojban without any
terminators (or {cu}) would be an interesting exercise. I came up with

mi lu mi nu finti zo'e troci ba cusku

but I'm sure there are a lot of other interesting things that could be done
in that area.
--
Adam Lopresto
http://cec.wustl.edu/~adam/

Has sensational journalism gone too far? Find out at eleven!
--Jon Stewart

 
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