(Originally appeared in Lognet 96/3)

Lopo Duible Le Meliu PA Leksemi (Exploring the PA Lexeme)

By William G. Gober, Jr.
With an endnote by James Jennings

Loi, logla stude: Back in 1993 or 1994, during one of our on-line Loglan discussions, somebody asked for a word meaning habitually, in a time-free sense. I pointed out that in Appendix A (the list of little words) of Loglan 1 he could find gua; it has relatives pua, nua, and fua, for habitually in the past, present, and future; I also mentioned a parallel series gia pia nia fia meaning continuously. His reply was to the effect, ‘Oh wow, I had no idea!’ Here was somebody who was trying to use Loglan who hadn’t even read Appendix A! And who probably hadn’t read Notebook 3, to learn of the treasures hidden there!

I knew then that I needed to write a column exploring the uses of the PA lexeme. Well, you’re (finally) reading it.

In LN92/3 I remarked about a proposed column topic, ‘Connectives aren’t a column...they’re a career!’ The PA lexeme is a vastly larger topic than the connectives; in fact, it’s open-ended in several directions. More than a career: it’s an immense, little-known domain that will take generations to explore, let alone tame. Consider this column a sketchy travelogue, a report from a trekker to the great Undiscovered Country of PA.


Starting the Exploration: A few of you—those who’ve been with us for at least four years, or who have read back-issues of Lognet—are thinking that I already wrote a column about the PA lexeme, in LN92/2. You’re right; but that column was mostly about how not to use PA words. This column explores what you can do with PA words, with emphasis on (i) uses that I feel the text of L1 doesn’t adequately explore, (ii) uses discussed in NB3 that don’t appear in L1 at all, and (iii) new words, introduced since L1 was published.

The PA lexeme is described on pp. 94–97 of Notebook 3, and in L1 on pp. 117–120, 200-202, and 288–298 (where the words in the lexeme are called “relative operators”). (Those of you with access to the World Wide Web can find an up-to-date list of the PA words (and everything else in Appendix A) on the Loglan Web site at http://www.halcyon.com/loglan/I urge you to check it out, if you can: more than a few little words have been added or changed in meaning since L1 was published....) To summarize, there are four series of PA–words: tense operators, such as pa, na, and fa; location (or locative) operators, such as vi, va, and vu; modal operators, such as sea, lia, and the others; and the causal operators, kou, moi, rau, soa, and their kin. (Ga is no longer a PA word.)

On pp. 292-293 of L1 we read:

Thus, each of the many relative operators of Loglan may be used in all three ways: (i) as a preposition to form sentence modifying phrases or clauses; (ii) as an adverb functioning as a free-floating sentence modifier; and (iii) as an inflector of the predicate....

Here are examples of the three contexts: (i) Mi titci pa la Rivkás I eat before Rebecca; (ii) Mi titci pa I eat/ate earlier; and (iii) Mi pa titci I ate. (Throughout this column, personal names in the Loglan examples are taken from the name’s original language, not from any later mangling of it used by another language. [Lo grada! hue le nu plumou tisra.])

What’s more, all three different uses of a PA word are intimately—and simply—related. A PA word is an inflector if it appears right before the sentence predicate; move it elsewhere in the sentence, and it becomes an adverb...with no real change in the meaning of the sentence. For example, (1) Le mrenu pa titci The man ate becomes (2) Le mrenu ga titci pa The man ate earlier. (Don’t forget to mark the sentence predicate in some fashion. (2') Le mrenu titci pa is a sentence fragment meaning The man eater, earlier.) And the adverbial PA word can be considered shorthand for the PA word, as a preposition, followed by some local designation. For example, (2) becomes (3) Le mrenu ga titci pa ti The man ate before this (the reference time). Usually the omitted designation is ti or ta, as in (3). But sometimes tio the latter situation or tao the former situation makes more sense: Mei pa mutce titci, e kou [tio] soircea He ate a lot, and causedly [because of eating so much] fell asleep (asleep-became). And in other cases...well, we’ll get to that. (See L1 pp. 171-173 for more about the demonstrative variables ti, tio, etc.)

One thing to note about the PA words: they’re not necessary, but only a convenience...anything you can say with a PA word, you can say (albeit at greater length) with a predicate clause. On pages 3-16 of LN96/2, Professor Brown and James Jennings demonstrated this in spades. Vi can be replaced with a clause using nu sitfa or nenri; pa, na, and fa with pasko, nadzo, and futci, respectively; kou with ckozu; I leave it to you to map the other PA words to predicates. For example, we can restate Mei titci vi le supta m eats in the soup as Mei titci, ice le supta ga sitfa tio m eats, and the soup is the place of m’s eating. Similarly, Le nirli ga sucmi kou la Petros The girl swims because of Peter becomes La Petros, ckozu lepo nei sucmi Peter is the cause of n’s swimming. For ordinary purposes, any sane person would prefer the shorter form with the PA word to the predicate circumlocution. However, the circumlocution can be useful, if you need to turn everything in an utterance into predicates, in order to lay bare the utterance’s meaning...which is what Prof. Brown and James were doing.

By-Passing the Ga Deadend: Ga is not a member of the PA lexeme.

Sometimes people, including me at one time (to say nothing of the writer of NB3, soi crano), believe that it is. But this belief is mistaken. It’s an honest mistake. The PA words share an important and prominent job with ga: that of marking sentence predicates, as in Le botci ga corta. You can replace ga in that sentence with any PA word, and the resulting sentence has the same grammatical structure; it’s just more specific about time, or place, or cause, or mode. In this context, ga seems to a minimalist PA word.

But that’s the only job that PA words share with ga. Ga has one other job, which only it can perform: that of marking deferred subjects. And ga can’t do anything else that PA words can. You can’t use ga as a preposition or an adverb, nor can you compound it with other words. (Ordinarily, I would direct you to L1 for more on deferred subjects. But the relevant text repeatedly calls ga just another “tense operator” ...exactly the sort of confusion I’ve been talking about.)

In two paragraphs, I’ve completely covered what ga can and can’t do. The rest of this column will barely scratch the surface of what PA words can do. If the PA lexeme is a vast unexplored continent, then ga is a flower box in your back yard.

Finding a Purpose in the Lexeme: For years I wondered how to say things like She turned to face me; that is, how to talk, in general, about purpose. (What can I say? I’m a guy, it was beneath me to ask anyone about this.) Many predicates have a “purpose” place, but most don’t; and none of the modals has a meaning like for purpose... . So how to say it?

Turns out, there is no exact way to translate She turned to face me, because that sentence in English has several different meanings...some of which don’t discuss purpose at all.

Quite often an English sentence of the form He did A to do B can be restated as He did A and [then] did B. In this case, a simple connective is called for, perhaps with a tense word to make the sequence clear. Da pa trana, e[pa] fresea mi X turned (rotated) and [that was before X] faced (front-set) me.

That’s all well and good. But what if A not only happened before B, but was necessary for B? Finally I realized that the PA words I needed to say this weren’t either the modals or the tensors, but the causals. (1) Da pa trana, ekou (tio) fresea mi X turned and because (of that) faced me. Another causal, moi, combined with e-, gives us a way to say she did it deliberately: (2) Da pa trana, emoi fresea mi X turned, and, motivated to face me, did so. A third way uses moi prepositionally: (3) Da pa trana moi lepo fresea mi X turned in order to face me.

Be careful here. Sentence (2) says that she succeeded in facing me, while (3) does not make that claim. In (2), the two predicates trana and fresea mi are connected by e, and so they both must be true for the sentence to be true; in (3), the moi phrase simply modifies or comments on trana.

For more about PA words and connectives, see LN92/3 pp 10-12, and Sau La Keugru in LN93/4.

Continuous Habits Fill Space: Each of the three tense words has a variant that means continuously or continually. It’s formed by infixing -i-: pia nia fia. Each tense word also has a variant meaning habitually, formed by infixing -u-: pua nua fua. These two series of PA words give Loglan what in Greek, Russian, and other languages is called “aspect”. Loglan’s aspect system is broader, however, because it can be used in a time-free way as well, with gia and gua, based on ga (but see below).

Pia nia fia give a sense of filling time: pia means continuously before, until; nia throughout, during; fia continuously after, ever since. The three base locatives vi va vu have forms infixed with -i- that fill space: vii via viu, meaning throughout/filling a small place, ...a medium place, and ...a large place, respectively.

Unlike ga, gia and gua are members of the PA lexeme. In particular, they can be used adverbially: Mi clafo gia I laugh continually. They also form—what to call them?—“aspected” descriptions: Legua tsitoa The habitual thief. Quite recently, after much contentious searching, James Jennings and I discovered the prepositional uses for gia and gua lurking in a remote, treacherous semantic swamp. Tenderfeet are advised to avoid this area until the more skilled explorers have mapped it and blazed some trails through it.


The Gau Outland: LN 90/1 on pp. 7-8 introduces gau as a “strong potentiality marker”. In summary, this is the problem it was intended to fix. A sentence such as Lo papre ga cabro can be translated as Paper burns or Paper is inflammable. The latter led some people to conclude that ga was a marker of potential, so that La Adám, ga nu cluva could be translated as Adam is lovable, even though no one has ever loved him, and the speaker expects that no one ever will. Ga is intended to handle what I call “conventional situations”, not outlandish ones like that.

Gau was created to handle the outlandish cases. La Adám, gau nu cluva Adam is potentially lovable is sensible, where the previous sentence was not. Conventionally, water doesn’t burn, and so Lo cutri ga cabro is not true, or at least, isn’t sensible; but fluorine will ignite water, so Lo cutri gau cabro is true and sensible.

But what else can gau do?

Clearly it will work as an adverb: Da sucmi gau She’s a swimmer—potentially. That puts it in the same league as gia. Then I played with gau for a few weeks and discovered a prepositional use for it...one that suggests that the word is best considered as a modal with a meaning like in the presence of/under [certain][rare or unheard of] conditions... . For example: Lo cutri gau lo fluro, cabro Water in the presence of fluorine will burn. Here’s a less extreme example from the Lognet column: Le hasfa ga blanu gau lepo ba pinduo hei lo metio The house could be blue if only somebody would paint it that way. Or, to comment on Adam’s love-life: Lee dreti pernu gau cluva Ama The right person (if such exists) would love him. (See Sau la Keugru in LN92/3 for the adoption of lee and its close relative laa. See LN90/3 for a change in using me+variable.)

I’ve translated gau with the English subjunctive because, well, that’s what often makes sense. My American Heritage Dictionary defines subjunctive as Of, relating to, or being a mood of a verb used in some languages for contingent or hypothetical action, action viewed subjectively, or grammatically subordinate statements. Gau deals with the contingent or hypothetical cases: the situation is contingent on something that the speaker considers plausible, but perhaps rare or unusual. What gau doesn’t handle is the subjective action: the situation that the speaker considers implausible, contrafactual, or imaginary...in other words, what Prof. Brown and James discussed on pages 3-16 of LN96/2.

The Greater PA: Besides gau, only one other word has been added to the PA lexeme: the modal mou greater than/to a greater degree than... (hijacked from the discursives). It’s adequately discussed in Sau la Keugru in LN92/3. I mention it here simply for completeness: it wouldn’t do for me to omit a PA word that’s new since L1 was published.

Big and Little, Near and Far: Loglan has more tense words than the familiar three fa na pa and kin, and more locatives than vi and its five cousins. Any PA word can receive a suffix from the set -zi -za -zu; L1 gives their meanings as a short interval, a medium interval, and a long interval, respectively.

Example: Lepo telclimao la Mars, fazu nurprati rineni terhybraonu The terraforming (Earth-like-making) of Mars will eventually (after a long time from now) cost (be-priced at) several-ten trillion-browns (terabrowns). (For those of you joining us late: the braonu is the currency unit of Loglandia.) Here are idiomatic translations for the nine “intervalized” base tense words; promise me that you’ll use the translations with care. Pazu long ago; paza recently; pazi just now; just a moment ago; nazu in this era; naza nowadays; nazi right now; fazu a long time from now, eventually; faza soon; fazi right away. The interval suffixes work the same way with the continuous and habitual tense words: La Sarás, puazu clujmi la Iason. Sarah was dating (love-meeting) Jason for ages.

In the case of the locatives, the suffixes refer to a small, medium, or large region, respectively. Vizi at/in this spot; vaza near this area; vuzu far from this region/large place.

To date, I haven’t seen the suffixes used with modals or causals, except in my own experiments for this column. They make perfect sense as a measure of remoteness or germaneness. For example: Mi durzo ti heazu tu I do it with-the-remote-help-of you, i.e., you help me, but not much (at least, in my estimation). Kouzi le solylitla mi pa klomao lomi menki (Immediately) Because of the sunlight, I closed my eyes, i.e., there were other causes, but the sunlight mattered most. They work with gau, too. Nei sucmi gauzi n could be(come) a swimmer (and it wouldn’t take much). Ama nu cluva leegauzu dreti pernu A is loved by the right person (in the remote case that such exists).


Alliances Among the PA: These forms are venerable: nafa, pana, fapa, and their ilk appeared in the 1960 Scientific American article about Loglan and have been with the language ever since. Unfortunately, the SA article—and, as far as I can tell, any material before NB3—will mislead you. The reason: sometime in the early ’80s, these words were reversed.

Believe NB3; believe the Loglan Online Dictionary (LOD); believe what I tell you here. Napa means has been (the present perfect tense) or already; fana means will at that time; pafa means was going to or would later, as in Tu pa kinci ba ji pafa nu tsimormao. You were with someone who was later murdered (criminally-killed). (LN 92/3 page 9 is wrong: fapa should’ve been pafa. I was misled by outdated reference materials....) I remember how these compounds work in this fashion: the first part establishes a subsidiary reference time, and the second part locates the discussed event with respect to that subsidiary time. For example, fapa means in the future’s past, or before the future event, or simply will have [been]: Mei titci fapa lepo soircea. m will have eaten before falling asleep.

So what are these compounds, used adverbially, short for? The last example in the previous paragraph is a good one to analyze. Let’s re-arrange it a bit, for clarity: Mei fa soircea, ize pa tio mei fa titci. m will fall asleep, and-connectedly before this-event m will eat. (Notice that the Loglan says only that m eats before m will fall asleep; it doesn’t say when m eats relative to now.) In other words, fapa is short for fa ti pa tio after this (the reference time), before this-mentioned/implied-event. In general, PA1+PA2 is equivalent to something like PA1 ti PA2 tio...because these compound tenses are about how two events are ordered in time. And as for the prepositional uses of these compounds, fapa da is short for fa ti pa da.

PA+PA compounds are like the PA lexeme itself: not necessary, but handy to have around at times.

(Some of my fellow explorers have observed that the prepositional meaning of a PA word used as an adverb seems to be, well, ad hoc. I would argue for “context dependent”, but the observation is still correct: we need more rigor in interpreting the adverbial PA words. Watch for further reports from the explorers in the Keugru; or better yet, get out there and help them explore.)

LOD contains a wide variety of compound locatives; I invite those of you who have LOD to investigate them on your own. Of course, Loglan’s grammar permits compounds of any PA words; compounds involving the modals and causals have hardly been tried at all...and frankly, my head swims at the thought of analyzing soatie, let alone finding a use for it! These I leave to future explorers.


Quantifying the PA: Until recently, I’d seen this capability discussed only in NB3 p. 95, and for just one sentence there! Then I saw it used, without explanation, in LN96/2 pp. 15-16, where I suspect it mystified many readers. I’m talking about, of course, NI+PA compounds. You can combine any number with any PA word, and the results can be pretty amazing.

Ravi Everywhere. Rana Always or Forever. Nivi Nowhere. Nina Never.

Hovi In how many places? Hona At how many times? Hokou For how many causes?

Runa Often enough or At enough times.

Rinacerivi At some times and in some places or now and then.

Raba clivi sitona, Men Bond, hue la Blofelt. Every-x is-alive at-most-two-times, Man Bond, said Blofeld. (One lives but twice, Mr. Bond, said Blofeld.) (Rabe anyone (or one of its siblings) is the preferred subject for sentences that are generalizations. E.g., the English You have to crawl before you can walk could be translated Rabo ia beldygoi pa lopo bo dzoru. Anyone/Everyone, certainly, crawls (belly-goes) before he/she/it/they walk(s).

Mi vizka mei sunua ra serdei. I see m habitually at least every Sunday.

Nepazu Once long ago. This is a possible translation of the idiomatic English expression Once upon a time. Another possibility is Vucepazu Far away and long ago.

Le gartua vepa sao kòutóu, dio le cninu grabragai. The officials (govern-worker) nine times kowtowed to the new emperor (great-monarch). This shows a NI+PA compound, vepa. It also shows the use of sao, a new word introduced in LN92/3; it makes a predicate of the following non-Loglan word—in this case, the Chinese kòutóu—just as lao makes a name of a foreign phrase; the following pause is obligatory. I marked the emperor with the case tag dio Recipients, because sao kòutóu, being Chinese, has no established place structure in Loglan.

What is ravi short for? A NI+PA compound used adverbially is short for a prepositional phrase with a non-designating variable...ba or one of its siblings. In all such cases, ‘NI+PA’ is equivalent to ‘PA NI+ba’: ravi everywhere is equivalent to vi raba in all places...which makes perfect sense.

To date, most of the use of NI+PA compounds has been in “quantified tenses”, e.g., nena, even though the compounds can be formed with any PA word, as my examples have shown. This is because the quantified tenses are the most obvious use of this feature. Some other possible compounds aren’t so obviously useful: for example, I can’t think what tohea really means, or how to use it. I’ve noticed, though, that ni+PA always makes sense, at least as an adverb or inflector: nikou for no cause, without cause; nihea without help; Ama nigau nu cluva A is lovable under no plausible conditions.

Don’t confuse ni+PA with the corresponding no+PA compound: they have quite different meanings. For example nivi is equivalent to vi niba and means nowhere, in no place; novi is equivalent to no vi ti and so means not in this place, not here, elsewhere. Contrast nomoi despite motive with nimoi no motive, without motive; nona not now with nina zero times, never; notie without (some particular tool or means) with nitie with/by no means at all.

In case you can’t tell, I’m enthralled by quantified PA words.

A Questionable Part of the Lexeme: L1 on pp. 314-317 discusses “relative interrogatives”. which is to say, PA+hu compounds. I want to amplify the discussion there by reminding you that you can form these compounds with any PA word.

In particular, the modals: Tiehu? How? With what tool or means? Duohu? How?By what method? Heahu? How? With whose help? Coihu? How? According to what rule or authority? Liahu? How? In what manner? Like what or whom?

Other such compounds work equally well. Vuhu? Far from where? Piahu? Until what time? Gauzuhu, Ama nu cluva? What (extraordinary measures) will it take for A to be loved?

PA-Words Rarely Glimpsed: As I was starting to write this column, Lognet 96/2 arrived. It contained two major articles about how to implement the subjunctive mood in Loglan. All the proposals in both articles require new PA words, nine words per article; it’s easy to imagine that the Keugru will eventually adopt up to a dozen new PA words as a result of these proposals. So quite by coincidence, while I wrote this column that explores the PA lexeme, in the distance there was a rumbling from the first major expansion of the lexeme since 1989!

But this column is still useful. Everything in it is true with respect to the current members of the lexeme. Furthermore, any new inhabitants will have to conform to the customs of the country, so everything in the column is true with respect to any future additions to the lexeme.

For example, let’s see what can be done with three proposed words from the articles: tiu under sufficient conditions..; sio necessarily/certainly, given that..; and mia under the imaginary/contrafactual conditions... Lemia bragai The would-be king. Tiuhu tu prutu le grunu uu le curtua? What is a sufficient condition for you to protest the grain (that sorry stuff!) to the safety-workers? Ama nisio nu cluva. A is loved necessarily under no conditions. Or Nothing will necessarily make A be loved.

That’s my report on my explorations. Now you get out there and start exploring the PA lexeme; and let the rest of us know what you find!

—Hue BGG


Hue Djeimz Djeninz [the signature can come at the beginning as well as at the end of signed message]: Bill Gober ended his column on Exploring the PA Lexeme with the entreaty, ‘Now you get out there and start exploring the PA lexeme...’ In that vein...

Suppose you belonged to an alien race that had no direct sense of time, but it could understand cause and effect. Then you could only say that Y was in the future of X if X was (or could have been) a cause of Y. If you spoke Loglan, you wouldn’t use pa and fa, you would use nukou and kou.

Mi kou sucmi. I, caused by something here, swim. (I will swim.)

Mi nukou sucmi. I, causing something here, swim. (I swam.)

The curious thing is, such a people would find it much easier to understand Einstein’s Special Theory of Relativity since in that realm you can only tell for certain that X occurs before Y if you can send a light signal from X to Y. If light isn’t fast enough to get there, then different observers can have different opinions about which came first.

Given all that, what is the equivalent of pafa?

Mi ?nukoukou sucmi. I, causing something here, will cause something such that, I swim. (I will have swum.)

The problem, uu, is that LIP won’t allow me to compound the kous that way. It requires a comma.

Mi nukou, kou sucmi. (?)

And then the nukou is a free modifier of Mi rather than an adverbial. I’m afraid that my race of alien Einsteins wouldn’t care much for Loglan, soi crano. [Surely we could fix up a special LIP for them, soi spopa!—JCB] —Hue JJ


Copyright © 1996 by The Loglan Institute. All rights reserved.