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Lesson 1: Fill in the Blank

Lo Mipli Steti (Example Sentences)

(See the section on Pronunciation)

1. Mi mrenu
I am-a-man.
2. Tu humnu
You are-human.
3. Tu takna mi (ba)
You talkto-me (about-something).
4. Mi takna ba ti
I talk to-someone (about-this-one)
5. Mu godzi ta ti
You-and-I go to-that-one (from-this-one).
You and I go there from here.
6. Ei tu takna mi?
Is-it-the-case-that you talk to-me?
Do you talk to me?
7. Ia, mi takna
Certainly, I talk.
8. Ei tu pa takna?
Is-it-the-case-that you before talk[ed]?
Did you talk before?
9. No, mi pa takna
It's-not-the-case-that I before talk[ed].
(No,) I didn't talk before.
10. Tu favi takna
You will-here talk.
11. Ta he?
That is-/does-what?
What is that? What does that do?
12. Ta humnu
That is-human/is-a-human-being.
13. Ei ba vi bukcu?
Is-it-the-case-that something here is-a-book?
Is there a book here?
14. Ia, ba bukcu vi.
Certainly something is-a-book here.
Yes, there's a book here.

Lona Cninu Purda (New Words)

(See sections on Little Words and predicate words )


Word(Accented on second-to-last syllable)Clue words
bukcu... is a book about ... by author ...(book [BUK])
godzi... goes to ... from ... by/over route ...(go [GO])
humnu... is human/a human being(humanity[HiUMeNiti])
mrenu... is a man, an adult male human being(men [MEN];Sp hombre [oMbRE])
takna... talks to ... about ...(talk [TAK])

Little Words

mi I/me
tu you
mu you and I/me (a mixture of mi and tu)
ti this/these one(s) Note that these are used alone, not in front
ta that/those one(s) of another word, as in 'this book' or 'that doctor'.
ba something x

ia certainly [it's true that...]
ei is it the case that...?
he is/does what?
fa will, shall, after, later
na now
no it is not the case that...
pa before, earlier
vi here

Lopo Lengu Klimao (Language Explanations)

Predicates are at the heart of most Loglan utterances: they tell what is being done. In the first example sentence, I claim to be a man. In the second, I claim that you are human (I suppose you are).

Notice that predicates have blanks: '... is a man', '... is human', etc. The blanks are filled in with words called arguments. Each predicate is a blueprint of a complete sentence or thought. The predicate shows what is happening; the arguments indicate who or what is involved. If you stick with simple sentences, speaking Loglan is just a matter of filling in the blanks.


1. The form of Loglan predicate words doesn't change according to how you fill in the blanks. The verbs in the English translations of the predicates ('is, goes, gives, talks') are in the third person: 'he/she/it is/goes/gives/talks'. This is only how they are defined, however; humnu, for example, remains the same no matter how you fill in the blank:

2. While Loglan can make the singular/plural distinction, it often does not. In this it follows languages such as Chinese and Japanese. We won't cover the plural for several lessons, so you should have enough time to learn to think like a Logli rather than like an English-speaker. Of course, you may transfer your English speech habits to Loglan, but it is stylistically awkward to do so.

3. There is no noun/verb/adjective distinction in Loglan. Humnu means '... is human' (adjective) or '... is a human being' (noun). As far as Loglan is concerned, they are the same thing. Likewise takna means '... talks/is a talker to ... about ...'. This probably seems trivial to you now, but remember it: it is one of the basic differences between Loglan and English.

4. No prepositions are necessary. This is because you're just filling in the blanks. Takna means '... talks to ... about ...'; you don't have to say 'to' and 'about' in Loglan, because they are already included in the meaning of the predicate and stand outside of the blanks. This greatly simplifies Loglan. One of the hardest tasks for anyone learning a language is remembering which preposition to use.

5. Don't worry about filling in all the blanks (see sentences (3) and (4) at the beginning of the lesson). It's usually a good idea to do so, but if it would be awkward or too long -- or if you simply don't know what to put -- leave it out! Tu takna means simply 'You talk/are a talker'. If you do leave a blank, though, don't put anything else after it. Mi takna ... ti will be heard as Mi takna ti ...: 'I talk to this [person]'. Also, you will need to fill in the first blank; as we'll see in the next lesson, a predicate without its first argument is a command: Takna ('Talk!').

6. If you want to leave a blank and continue with the predicate (as in sentence (4)), you'll have to fill the blank with something, and that's just what the little word ba means: 'something' or 'someone'. So you could say Mi takna ba ti ('I talk to someone about this.'). There are four words in this series (ba, be, bo, bu), all mean 'someone' but usually different someones. Fill in the first blank with ba, the second with be, and so on. For example, if you're really in a vague mood, you can say Ba takna be bo: 'Someone talks to someone about someone/thing [else]'. Ba and kin are called non-designating variables because they don't refer to a specific person or thing, unlike mi, tu, mu, ti, and ta, which do refer to someone or something in particular.

Using ba is also an easy way to handle passive constructions: 'It is talked about' is equivalent to 'Someone talks to someone about it' (Ba takna be ti). We'll find a quicker way to do this in the next lesson.

7. Sticking ei in an utterance makes it a question: Ei tu takna mi? ('Are you talking to me?') Answer with No, It's not the case [that) or Ia ('Certainly it's true [that]'): (No,/Ia) mi takna tu '(It's not the case that/Certainly it's true that) I talk to you'. (Note: the comma after No makes the no apply to the whole sentence; without the comma, no would negate only the next word: No mi takna tu 'I'm not the one talking to you. For now, use the comma.)

Although you can put ei anywhere in a sentence, most Logli place it at the beginning.

8. Tense is optional in Loglan, as it is in several other languages. If you don't specify when something happens, it's assumed that it either has happened, is happening, or will happen, or is just generally true. To be more specific, put na ('now'), pa ('before, past, previously'), or fa ('after, future, later') in front of the predicate:

You can tell where something happens, as well as when. The little words vi ('here'), va ('there'), vu ('yonder, over there, far away') work like the tense words:

(The last two sentences may seem unreasonable: How can I now be speaking anywhere but here? Even ignoring the possibility of a recording or voice transmission, the sentences are still understandable, because there is no indication of time. It may be that I did talk there or will talk there.)

Words like pa, na, fa, and va, vi, vu are called inflectors. Like ei, they can go anywhere in the sentence, though for now you should put them either in front of the predicate or at the end of the sentence (Mi takna na/vi or Mi takna na/vi). You can mix time and space words in any order, though if you place two or more side by side, you should write them as a single word. Example sentence (10) could also be Tu vifa takna or Tu takna favi. The slight difference in emphasis between vifa and favi is hard to convey in English.

9. He asks for a claim about something: Ta he? 'Make a claim about what that is or does.' Although it looks like a Little Word, not a predicate word, he is grammatically a predicate; you can do anything with it that you can do with any other predicate word. Note: Tu he? ('What are you?') is often used for 'How are you?' In first meetings, however, it could easily mean 'What do you do (for a living)?'

In the next lesson, you'll find out how to give orders and express your attitudes. (Ui 'Whee!)

Summary: Lesson 1

1. Predicates make claims about the world. They are like patterns for complete sentences with blanks for the people/objects referred to.
2. Arguments fill in a predicate's blanks.
3. There is no noun/adjective/verb distinction in Loglan. Other obligatory features of English, such as plural forms, may be avoided.
4. You don't have to fill in all of a predicate's blanks, but you must not have other arguments after an unfilled blank. You can skip a blank by filling it with one of the non-designating variables ba, be, bo, or bu.
5. An utterance is made into a question by putting one of the interrogatives like ei or he in it. Ei asks whether the embedding statement is true or not.
6. He is an interrogative predicate, acting as a blank for you to fill in with a regular predicate.
7. You may specify when the claim is true by using pa (past), na (present), or fa (future) either before the predicate or at the end of the sentence. You may say where it is true with vi ('here'), va ('there'), or vu ('yonder'). These words are called inflectors. When you use inflectors side by side, write them as a single word.

Lo Cninu Purda

(This is a list of all the vocabulary you have encountered in this lesson, including both the new words and the ones given at the beginning.)


WordDefinitionClue words
bukcu... is a book about ... by author ...(book [BUK])
cirna... learns subject ... from source ... (learn [lRN])
ditca... teaches subject ... to ... (teach[tITC])
durzo... does ... to ... (do [DU])
fumna ... is a woman (woman[uUMN]; feminine [FeMiNin])
godzi... goes to ... from ... over route ...(go [GO])
humnu... is human/a human being(human [HiUMN])
madzo... makes ... from material(s) ... (made[MeiD])
mrenu... is a man, an adult male human being(men [MEN]; Sphombre [oMbRE])
ridle ... reads ... from/in/on ... (a book, sign, etc.)(read [RID]; legible [LEdjibl])
takna... talks to ... about ...(talk [TAK])

Little Words

mi I/me
tu you
mu you and I/me (a mixture of mi and tu)
ti this/these one(s) Note that these are used alone, not in front
ta that/those one(s) of another word, as in this book or that doctor.
ba/be/bo/bu something x/y/z/w

ia certainly [it's true that...]
ei is it the case that...?
he is/does what?
fa will, shall, after, later
na now
no it is not the case that
pa before, earlier
va there (by you)
vi here (by me)
vu yonder, over there, far away (not by either of us)

Lopo Notlensea Cirduo (Translation Exercises)

Cover the right column with a card; when you're through translating into English, go back and translate into Loglan. (If you have an above-average memory, and this seems too easy, try switching after 10.)

1.Mi mrenu.I'm a man.
2.Ei tu fumna?Are you a woman?
3. Mu humnu.We are human.
4. Mi ditca ti tu.I teach this to you.
5. Ei tu pa cirna ti?Did you learn this?
6. No, mi fa takna ba ta.I won't talk to anyone about that.
7. Ba madzo be ti. Someone makes something out of this.
8. Mi fa durzo ti.I will do this.
9. Ei tu na ridle ti?Are you now reading this?
10. Ia mi ridle da.Certainly, I read it.
11. Ei tu ditca?Are you a teacher?
12. No, mi ditca.It is not the case that I'm a teacher.
13. Tu he? What are you?
14. Mi cirna.I'm a learner/student.
15. Ei ba ditca vu?Is there a teacher over there?
16. No, ba ditca vu.No, there isn't a teacher over there.
17. Mi ridle ta fa. I [will] read that later.
18. Ta he? What is that?
19. Da bukcu.[It's] A book.
20. Ei ta bukcu tu?Is that a book about you?
21. Ti bukcu ba mi.This is a book about something by me.

Last Updated:Saturday, October 5, 1996