A Short Explanation of Lojban Attitudinals

When I began learning Lojban (many years ago) one of the things which I could not get my head around was the use of attitudinals. I'd like to address a few things which confused me:

Can attitudinals really only refer to the first-person of the sentence?
"What do you mean they only refer to the first person?! That doesn't make any sense!!" If that's how you're thinking, then think of it this way.

In English we have a lot of words which work the same way. One such example is "hmm," a sound representing contemplation. A Lojban equivalent of this would be "uanai," which means something like "not really getting it." So if we put "hmm" in a sentence, such as "Hmm, is this your cake?", which in Lojban would be "uanai. .i xu ti le do titnanba" there is no way we could say that the "hmm" is an expression of the listener's confusion.

Another example is trying to translate "are you happy?" When I began learning, I would have thought you would translate this as ".i xu do .ua", but this doesn't make any sense because the attitudinals don't apply to the second person!! What this sentence really means is "Is it you(I'm happy!)?", which would make sense if you heard somebody just won something and you're asking your friend happily if it was him.

Some of these emotions just don't make sense!
What do you mean they don't make sense!! Let's take a look again at English: like "hmm," English has a lot of fun sounds that express emotions or feelings. "Ahhh!" is non-word which expresses the speaker's being afraid (Lojban  .ii). "Harumph!" is an onomatopoeia which expresses exertion (Lojban a'i (to express exertion in a specific sense you would add a cmavo from UI4: a'ero'e = mental exertion; a'ero'u = sexual exertion, etc.).

There are many others which have obvious parallels, and many which do not. Take for instance "e'e". e'e means "competence," but is there a word or grunt in English which represents the speaker's sign of being confident?! If there is let me know! Lojban however does! So just like in English we have "hmm, harumph and ahh!" Lojban has a lot more - 39 in fact (which can be found here.) An example with e'e would be ".i e'e mi ma'ekla" Which means "(I'm competent!) I'm driving." or "Don't worry - I can drive!"

A general rule (with all languages): just because it doesn't have an English equivalent - doesn't mean it doesn't make sense!

Who honestly is going to use an attitudinal like a'ero'u in real life?!
Well the answer to that one is quite easy - a Lojbanist! From my personal experiences I've muttered attitudinals under my breath in appropriate situations. The other day I got out of bed in a good mood and shouted "UICAI!!!" (though such an expression is way too happy for just getting out of bed - it's more appropriate for winning the lottery.)

So what about a'ero'u? Think of this sentence: mi puzi gletu lo kanba a'ero'u. I'll leave the rest up to your imagination. What's important here is that the attitudinals are not just grunts - they give important first-personal background information as well! Now I know (as the listener) that it took a bit of sexual effort to get freaky with that goat!

Okay you win - where do I start?
http://www.lojban.org/tiki/Lojban+Mini-Lesson §14

ki'e do

No comments:

Post a Comment