Lojban Tutorial: Introduction


This course in Lojban is designed to give you
the minimum you need in order to communicate in Lojban and to understand
most of what you read with the help of a dictionary. It is not a
complete explanation of the Lojban language; for that you need to buy a
copy of John Cowan's The Complete
Lojban Language
, or download the reference
(which is almost the same). Unlike many constructed
languages, Lojban is not designed to be as simple as possible but as
complete as possible. Fortunately this does not mean that Lojban is
difficult to learn; the language is designed in modular way and you can
use as much or as little of the grammar as you like. So you will not
find any "power-Lojban" in this course, like termsets or

A few Lojban concepts

All the terms
used in the course are explained as they arise (I hope—if there's
anything you don't understand, please mail me). However, you may want
to take note of the following terms, since they are essential to Lojban
and will come up frequently in the lessons.

The simplest Lojban
sentence is called a bridi. This consists of a
selbri, which describes one or more sumti. In other languages a selbri would normally be a verb, and a sumti would be a noun, but this is not
always true. In logic a selbri is a "function" and a sumti is an
"argument", but you don't need to know that.

words come in two basic types. brivla are
content-words, like bajra (run), blanu (blue), robin. (Robin), bavlamdei (tomorrow) and so on. cmavo are structure-words like .e (and), do (you) or ta'o (by the way).

brivla come in a few varieties. The most important
are gismu, or root-words. These contain the most
basic and commonly-used concepts. For more specific or unusual concepts,
gismu can be merged to form lujvo, or compound words. fu'ivla are Lojban words adapted from other
languages; they are rarer, but can be useful when it is hard to make a
suitable lujvo (the same thing happens in
natural languages, of course; no one translates words like
"yoga", "kangaroo" or "spaghetti").
Finally there are cmene or names, which will be
the subject of Lesson 1. cmene can name people,
places or just about anything you want.

If any of the above seems confusing, don't worry—it's all explained
fully later. I've tried to keep technical terms—both Lojban and
English—to a minimum, so you won't have to wrestle with words like
"adverbial" or temci seltcita sumti ("tense-labelled sumti"—forget it!).

Before you start

This course is designed to stand on
it's own; you don't need any extra books, software or gadgets. However,
you might want to do a few things before you start:

  1. Download the gismu, cmavo and lujvo lists (you can then combine these into one file and use a "find" command to use them like a simple dictionary).
  2. If you're running DOS/Windows, you can download Logflash, a flashcard-type program for learning gismu.
  3. If you are one of those impatient types who want to see all the grammar at once, look at Diagrammed Summary of Lojban Grammar Forms
  4. If you're still not sure of what Lojban is all about, read my introductory essay.
  5. Subscribe to the Lojban list. This is a forum in both English and Lojban for discussing the language and presenting Lojban texts (translations, poems, stories, anything). The people there are also very helpful when it comes to newbie questions.
  6. Download the Lojban glosser. This is a really nice program which will translate all the words in any Lojban text into English.

Alternatively, forget all that and just go on to Lesson 1.

Created by rlpowell. Last Modification: Sunday 04 of September, 2005 05:45:01 GMT by rlpowell.