Unquotable cmavo compound gotcha

It is, of course, true that you cannot use zo to quote a cmavo compound such as ganai. Unfortunately, in rigorous, parseable Lojban, you cannot use lu...li'u either!

The problem is that, while zo quotes a single word, lu...li'u quotes a complete utterance. There is no middle ground for quoting an incomplete utterance which is longer than one word. Hence, just because ganai cannot stand alone, in order to quote it it has to be marked with the error quote lo'u...le'u even though there is nothing per se erroneous about it. Even the technically correct lu li'o ganai li'o li'u cannot be understood by the parser.

I am certain that in spoken Lojban among humans, lu ganai li'u and even zo ganai would be acceptable, but this is still a rather bothersome reason for a sentence not to parse. Perhaps an acceptable solution would be a parser which can gracefully bail out of an unparseable quote, and parse the rest of the sentence in which the quote occurs anyway.


.oicai bebna flalu jgena .i .ai .e'inairo'anai mi naljundi ja'e le za'i ba cfipu le do skami .i mi'e xod

Don't completely blame the grammar. It's your own fault for stubbornly learning the "normal" quotes as lu/li'u when you would be better advised to have learned, from the outset, to quote with lo'u/le'u unless you really, really know that what you're quoting is a complete and correct text. lo'u/le'u are not "error quotes" in that they indicate something is wrong with the quoted text, only in that they permit it. They probably are a better match for English quote-marks than lu/li'u. After all, we allow all sorts of ungrammaticalisms in quoted speech in stories and the like (especially if the speaker has an accent or dialect), and can't blame the author since it's the character (or even a reported other speaker) who made the words. I think this is more a case where usage may have decided, but decided wrong: lu/li'u should never have been the default quote-marks people think of.

Now, zo is another matter; that's a problem of getting so used to compound cmavo as to forget that they are distinct words. I can't blame people quite so much for that. Lojban as it is written and taught encourages that perception, and zo is too handy a word to eschew as lu/li'u should be. Maybe we overuse it, though, in teaching zo djan. cmene mi and that names can be more than one word long and then expecting people to realize that you can't say zo bil. klintn. cmene mi. Note that this isn't a problem of compound cmavo! This one is a matter of a too-well-learned fixed phrase. Compound cmavo, being more frequent, are even harder to remember. I suspect zo ganai will win as being acceptable in usage, at least in speech (it is reasonable to hold written text, especially books as opposed to correspondence, to a higher standard). Doesn't mean I like it, but it will likely happen. --mi'e mark.

Ganai is written and thought of as one word. zo ganai, therefore, ought to be allowed. Since I do not like selma'o, I did not realize nai was it's own word, as I had not paid attention to mentions of selma'o NAI, until I looked it up after reading this page. That zo ganai is impermissable is not properly a gotcha, it is a flaw in the language. - mi'e. kreig.daniyl.

Do you dislike pronouns and prepositions, as well? I don't dislike the actual se cmavo - they are inevitable - but saying "Well, let's call all the attitudinals UI and then let's call xu an attitudinal" is just foolish, IMHO. The x2 of cmavo should be filled by a statement of what the cmavo is there for, NOT a meaningless thing like BAI when in actual meaning it may have nothing to do with bai.

  • If you're refusing to learn selma'o, you're refusing to learn Lojban grammar, and if you're refusing to learn Lojban grammar, you're refusing to learn Lojban. And until you come up with a novel and usable name (in Lojban) for every single selma'o, I'm going to stick with the past decade of usage, thank you very much. — nitcion.
    • I spoke English just fine before I had heard of adjectives. Personally, I feel that the x2 of cmavo should be filled by what the cmavo does, not by a name that may or may not have anything to do with it. - mi'e. kreig.daniyl.
      • x2 of cmavo is the syntactic class. It groups the words by how they are used, not by what they mean. x3 of cmavo is for the meaning. --mi'e xorxes

It is a flaw in the teaching of the language more than the language itself. ganai is not and never was a single word. You have yourself to blame for ever thinking it was. Well, yourself and the books that teach it that way. Just because compound cmavo are written that way doesn't mean they are.

This is starting to really annoy me; the statements along the lines of "x is inherently unnatural and will not survive in spoken lojban, so we should just junk it now." (Though I'm probably as bad an offender as anyone else. :-) Think of a group of English speakers learning Latin from grammar books. No doubt after 5 years of trying, they would still make mistakes when not being careful concerning cases and conclude that cases are "inherently unnatural, and will be the first thing dropped in the spoken language". How do we know whether something is unnatural before we have made an attempt to learn it? If something truly is unnatural, then no amount of practice will make it work; on the other hand, if something can be natural, we're not going to achive fluency with it by writing it off when we have problems at the beginning. In short, calling some feature of Lojban "unnatural" only serves doom it before trying. Considering the large number of complex and purely grammatical rules that exist in the world's languages, I highly doubt that naturally remembering to say "lo'u ganai le'u" is impossible. — Adam

Exactly. It's only "unnatural" because we mistakenly learned it wrong at the outset. If we had paid more attention and learned lo'u/le'u as the more common quotes, and learned "ga nai" as two words, well, we'd have no complaints. You might argue that it is actually helpful to learn ganai as one word, but that's neither here nor there: it's just what you chanced to learn it as that seems to have made the difference.

mo'u le nu mi tcidu la cukta kei mi tugni do'o le du'u zo lo'u xamgu .i mi'e xod

... Well, a good thing I'm reading this. This applies to me directly, so while I will not teach lo'u instead of lu, I will now teach lo'u as well as lu, and introduce them in the same chapter. (And since the lessons are still editable, people, please let me know if you don't like something.) — nitcion. Glad to be of assistance --mark

Created by admin. Last Modification: Friday 30 of November, 2001 12:31:04 GMT by admin.