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Lesson 3: Getting into Arguments

Lo Mipli Steti

1. Kie Le laldo brudi kiu Tu ridle ba hu
[Open parenthesis]The-one-that-seems-to be-an-older brother[Close parenthesis] You read something [from] what?
(Older brother speaking) What are you reading [from]?
2. (Le logcirna) Nahu tu pa nengoi. I ti logla bukcu
(The Loglan-learner) At-what-time you before come-in? [And]This is-a-Loglan book.
The beginning Loglanist: When did you get in? This is a Loglan book.
3. (bei) Ua. I ei le bukcu ga treci
(b) Oh. [And] is-it-true-that the book [predicate follows] is-interesting?
b: Oh. And is the book interesting?
4. (lei) Ia, levi bukcu ga treci. Ibuo letu bukcu
(l) Yes, the-here book [] is-interesting. And- however your book....
l: Yes,this book's interesting. But your book...
5. (bei) Irea beo tcure clesi. Ibuo ei tu feu saadja bei
(b) [And]-Of-course beta is-picture-without. [And]-However [?] you in-fact understand b?
b: Of course, it doesn't have pictures. But do you really understand it?
6. (lei) Ia. Ibuo hu gleca sanpa li, hasfa, lu
(l) Yes. [And]-However what is-an-English sign-for "hasfa"?
l: Yes. But what does "hasfa" mean in English?
7. (bei) Li, hasfa, lu logla sanpa lie gleca, house, gleca
(b) "Hasfa" is-a-Loglan sign-for [foreign text follows next Loglan word, which is used as a quotation mark][startquote] house [end quote]
b: "Hasfa" is Loglan for "house."

Lopo Lengu Klimao

This lesson covers two new types of arguments: descriptions and letter pronouns. We'll also look at another of Loglan's peculiarities -- spoken punctuation marks.


1. In Loglan we speak our punctuation marks, and kie and kiu are spoken parentheses. (See, however, Note 12) Parenthetical remarks are used to comment on a statement or give further information about it. Here, they identify the people speaking the dialog. You may use kie or (, and kiu or ) in writing, but you must say kie and kiu when speaking or reading either the word or the symbol aloud. When writing, pick either words or symbols and stick with them -- kie...) and (...kiu look weird in print.

A simpler form of identifying a speaker is the use of the free modifier hue, sometimes called a `reverse vocative' since instead of addressing a person, it informs by whom one is addressed. Like all free modifiers, it can be placed anywhere in a sentence, and is terminated by the pause/comma, gu, or colon, as in subsequent lessons. Hence this sentence could have been written as Hue le laldo brudi: Tu ridle ba hu Hue may be followed by an optional predicate (hue la Djan kraku: = 'John cried:', otherwise cutse is understood).

2. Le turns a predicate into an argument that refers to what someone/-thing appears to be: le lerci = 'the one(s) I mean which seems to be a letter [to...from...about...]'. Notice that this is a matter of appearance: it could be some study notes. You're just calling it a letter for purpose of discussion. Whether it is a letter is unimportant; the question is, can your audience locate it based on the term you use?

Note that le shuts off a predicate's blanks. Otherwise, you'd have to fill in every blank for such predicates, and you'd never finish a sentence! There are ways to turn the blanks back on, as we'll see later. Also keep in mind that Loglan doesn't force a singular/plural distinction; le lerci may refer to one or several letters. The only way to specify number is with a regular number or with a quantifier such as English many.

3. Hu is an interrogative argument. It asks for an argument for which some claim is true: Hu lerci 'What is there that is a letter?' (This does not ask for a definition, as 'What is a letter?' probably does.)

4. Remember from Lesson 2 that inflectors may be used prepositionally with arguments -- and hu is an argument! So nahu (usually written as one word) means 'at what time?, when?'. Vihu means 'at what place?', 'where?' We also have pahu 'before when?', vahu 'near where?', etc.

5. In Loglan, as in mathematics, arguments are often abbreviated to their first letter. (This avoids ambiguities such as "He told him what he said about him": Is the last "him" the first, the second, or perhaps some otherwise unmentioned male person?) Le brudi becomes bei, le logcirna becomes lei, and so on. This gives you 52 pronouns to play with, which should keep you out of trouble for a while. The letter-words are given in the introductory section; briefly, though, let's repeat how to make them here.

(Uppercase letters are usually reserved for names, as we'll see in the next lesson: thus le matma may be replaced by mei; la Matma however, should be replaced by Mai.

6. The little word I is put at the beginning of a sentence to show that it's a follow-up to or continuation of the thought expressed in the preceding utterance. (This word may be omitted in English translations.) Note the difference between the following sentences:

The first sentence might answer the question, Ei ta bukcu? (In this case, there would probably be another No: No I no, ta bukcu.) The second might be a response to Ei ta lerci? The I keeps the no from affecting what follows by showing that a new sentence on the same topic has begun.

7. If the first argument of a predicate is a description, place an inflector (na, pa, fa, vi, va, or vu) in front of the predicate to show where it begins. If you don't want to be that specific, just use ga. (Ga isn't really an inflector; it's a punctuator which means in this case that the next word is the beginning of the predicate.) Thus you don't need a ga after mi in Mi fumna, but you do need it after matma in Le matma ga fumna. Otherwise you would produce an argument (Le matma fumna, the maternal woman ), not a claim.

8. When you put le in front of a predicate, you get an argument; this works (in simple cases) even if the predicate is tensed or located (le combines with the tense/location words): le + vi hasfa = levi hasfa ("the-here house": 'this house'). Similarly, lefa bukcu ('the future (or) upcoming book'), lepa ditca ('the former (ex-) teacher'). Remember that ga is not an inflector; *lega is meaningless. (In fact, it would mean the same thing as le alone.)

9. Discursive modifiers such as buo relate the present sentence to something which has already been said or implied. Thus, buo refers back to levi bukcu ga treci. Feu a few sentences later brings up the implication that the new Loglanist can understand the book lei is reading. Note that I tends to form compounds with discursive modifiers: one normally writes Ibuo and Ifeu, not I buo and I feu. As a general rule, whenever you encounter an ICVV-form word (I followed by a consonant and two vowels), you're looking at such a compound. To find out what it means, look up the -CVV part.

10. Possessive constructions often look like levi compounds, but the underlying structure is not the same. Possessives involve any kind of argument placed between le and its predicate (as before, le combines with Little Word arguments, such as mi, ta, and dei): lemi bukcu ('my book'), leta ditca ('that one's teacher'), lebei bukcu ('b's book').

11. Although bei was first assigned to the older brother (le laldo brudi) in the parenthetic labeling of this dialog, bei can still be used to replace lemi bukcu in the dialog itself; for the two contexts are completely separate. If, on the other hand, some b-initial description, such as le botci ‘the boy’, had come along earlier in the conversation, and one of the brothers had wished to refer to the boy again more briefly, then bei might already have been used by the time lemi bukcu came along. In that case bei could not be used unambiguously to refer to the least not in this conversation. In that case, beo, or lower-case beta, would have been available to the brothers. They could replace lemi bukcu with beo instead of bei; for -eo forms a backup set of Greek lower-case letter-words for replacing descriptions. Like the Latin ones, these Greek letter-words may either be spelled out or appear in text as letters.

12. Li and lu are spoken quotation marks. Like most Loglan punctuation marks, they are always spoken aloud and may be written as either words or marks in text. The exceptions are the end-of-sentence marks '!', '.', and '?'. These reflect the status of the sentence they end. Was it a question, an exclamation, or just a statement? In that sense, they too are "pronounced". Commas and colons are pronounced as gu, or by a pause. Everything beginning with li and ending with lu is an argument. Li and lu are used only for correct Loglan; anything else (English, incorrect Loglan, etc.) is quoted using lie (see Note 13). It's a good idea to pause twice inside a quotation (after li and before lu) just in case the Loglan you're quoting isn't quite correct. Though not strictly necessary for quoting correct Loglan, the pauses help a listener separate the quotes from the quotation.

13. Lie is used to quote everything but grammatical Loglan. (You could use it even then, but it's unnecessary.) Here's how it works: lie [marker word], [quoted material], [same marker word]. Lie tells your audience two things: First, a "foreign" quote is about to begin, and second, that the next Loglan word is going to act as the quotation mark. A pause follows the marker word, then comes the quote (which must not contain the marker word), followed by another pause and the marker word again. The reason the word must not occur inside the quoted string is of course that it would end the quote.

Generally, Logli use the first letter of the word for the language used in the quote to end the quote. For example, an English quote would begin with lie gei, and end with , gei (from gleca). I used gleca because gei is a word in English ('gay'), but gleca (*glesha) is not -- in fact, it doesn't begin any words in English, for that matter. So you're always safe using gleca -- unless, of course, you quote something like "Glesha is not an English word."

Example sentences (6) and (7) are extremely important! You need to know how to ask 'How do you English/Loglan?' This is how: Hu gleca sanpa li, ..., lu? and Hu logla sanpa lie gleca, ..., gleca, respectively. Memorize these two sentences. (We will see later that single words are quoted with liu, a combination of li and lu: liu hasfa 'the word "house."' However, if distinguishing between and liu is too hard when you're actually speaking, go ahead and use Liu is just faster.)

Lopo Purmao(Word-making)

In the Introduction, I mentioned complexes. Complexes are predicate words made up of affixes, called djifoa ("join-forms"). There are two types of affixes: Long affixes are primitives whose final vowel has been changed to -y-, as mreny from mrenu, cirny from cirna, and logly from logla. Long affixes never end a word; use the regular form instead: loglycutse ("Loglan-say"). Short affixes are three-letter abbreviations of primitives. They may be CCV (MREnu), CVV (CIrnA), CVC (LOGla and CIRna) in form. Not all primitives have short affixes, and some, like cirna, have more than one. CVV affixes sometimes add -r for proper resolution (baormao, 'box-maker'), while CVC affixes sometimes add -y- to make the result more pronounceable (socysensi, 'social-science'). We'll explore these matters more fully in the lessons to come.

A complex, then, consists of djifoa, and it may end in a regular primitive, as in dicbukcu (' a textbook [teaching-book] on'). Djifoa give Loglan an ability not found in any other language I know of: Almost all complexes may be made longer or shorter, depending on the type of djifoa you use. So dicbukcu could also be ditcybukcu, ditcybuu, or dicbuu. All of these have essentially the same meaning. (Ditca also has the djifoa -dia- so you could also replace dic- with diar- in these examples.) As a general rule, length adds emphasis (ditcybuu textbook versus dicbukcu textbook). Shorter forms are also less formal, almost slangy -- and harder for a learner to understand! (Which would you rather figure out, ditcybukcu or dicbuu?) The moral is, always learn the metaphor (ditca bukcu "teach-book") behind the complex. Then you'll be able to recognize the variations. You may also want to ask, Lagfompli, eo ('Use long forms, please'.). The metaphor here is langa forma plizo `long-form-use'.

Lo Cninu Purda

To access Lesson 2 Vocabulary


WordDefinitionClue words
broda... is broken/inoperative/not working(broken [BROkn]) a brother of...through parents...(brother [BRyDr])
cirduo... practices ...[CIRna DUrzO = learn-do]
ckano ... is kind to...(kind [KAiNd])
ckela... is a school of community...(school [sKuL];Sp escuela [esKuELA])
ckozu... causes...under circumstances...(cause)
clesi... is without/less...(less [LES])
darli farther by distance...(far [fAR])
dicbukcu... is a textbook about ...[DItCa BUKCU = teach-book]
dirlu... loses/misplaces ...(lose [LUz])
djine joined [DJoIN])
djifoa a combining form context... ([DJIne FOrmA = join form])
grupa ... is a group of... (its defining set)(group [GRUP])
hasfa... is a house/domicile of ...(house [HAoS]; Sp. casa [kASA])
kenti a question (question [KwEsTIon])
kraku...cries/calls out to... (cry [KRy];
kukra... is faster amount...(quick [KUiK]; Sp. rápido [RApido])
lagfompli...uses long forms in... for reason...LAnGa FOrMa PLIzo = long-forms-use
laldo... is older amount...(old [oLD]) longer amount...(long [LoNG]; a letter to...from...about...(letter [LettER];
logcirna... learns Loglan from ...[LOGla CIRNA = Loglan-learn]
logli... is a Loglander/knows Loglan the mother father...(mama [MAtMA];
monza... is the morning of day...(morning [MOrNin])
mutce... is more extreme ...(much [MyTC]; Sp mucho [MUTCo])
nakso... fixes...for use/ [fiKS])
natli... is the night-time of day ...(nightly [NAiTLI])
nengoi... enters/goes into...from...[NENri GOdzI = in-go]
penso... think about...(pensive [PENSiv])
plizo...uses...for reason...(employ [emPLOy]; the answer to [REPly];
sackaa... departs/leaves...for...[SAtCi KAmlA = start-come]
sanpa... is a sign behavior...under circumstances...(sign [SAiN])
stolo... stays at...(stay [STei])
tcaberti...[TCAro BERTI = car-carry]
tcaro... is an automobile/car(car [kAR]; "chariot"]
tcure... is a picture [pikTCR]; Sp.pintura [pinTURa])
tedji... pays attention to...(attend [yTEnD])
torkrilu... is a bicycle[TO(R) KRILU = two-wheel]
treci... is interesting feature(s)...(interest [inTyREst])

Little Words

bei the lowercase letter b
beo the lowercase Greek letter beta.
buo however, in contrast to what has been said (free modifier)[BUfpO = opposite]
feuin fact, indeed, actually (free modifier) [FEkto=fact]
ga [indicates that the predicate is about to begin.
hu who?/what? (interrogative argument)
hueIn reported conversation, indicates the speaker. The entire hue expression is a free modifier
I And (begins a follow-up sentence)
kie( The left parenthesis.
kiu) The right parenthesis.
le the one I mean which seems to ....
lei the lowercase letter l.
li" (Left quotation mark.)
lieUsed for quoting non-Loglan words.
liuUsed for quoting a single word
lu" (Right quotation mark.)
reaof course, clearly, obviously (free modifier)[fREnA = in front of].
siathanks (free modifier).
tiothat situation (the one that has been mentioned).

Lo Nurvia Logla (Visible Loglan)

(The vocabulary follows the reading; translations are given (Insert refs later) and answers to Lo Kenti

(bei) Ua, le cirna ga tedji ridle. I tu ridle hu?
(lei) Levi bukcu.
(bei) Irea uo! I ta he bukcu?
(lei) Bei treci.
(bei) Tu logli ia penso! I ei bei logla bukcu?
(lei) Ua! I ia, bei logla bukcu
(bei) I bei dicbukcu, fei.
(lei) Ia. I oa mi godzi na. I lemi cirna grupa fa takna cirduo na lena natli vi le ckela. I eo mi plizo letu tcaro.
(bei) Oi Ibuo tei broda.
(lei) Ue. I hu pa ckozu tio. I no, tei broda na lena monza
(bei) Ei tu pa dirlu letu torkrilu?
(lei) No. Ibuo le ckela ga mutce darli.
(bei) Ae mi tcaberti tu ti fa.
(lei) Ae ia!
(bei) Rea oi tu stolo ti. I ae mi fa kukra nakso le tcaro.
(lei) Ue ei? I sia, oe no. I mi oa sackaa na. I eo tcaberti ckano mi fa! I loa!

Lo Kenti (Questions)

1. Lei ridle hu?
2. Lei he ridle?
3. Ei beo treci lei?
4. Nahu le cirna grupa fa cirduo. I vihu?
5. Le tcaro ga he?
6. Ei lei fa plizo le tcaro. I lei plizo hu?

Summary: Lesson 3

1. Hu asks for an argument which will correctly complete an utterance.

2. I indicates that you've started a new sentence on the same topic, not necessarily by the same speaker.

3 You can abbreviate descriptive arguments to their first letter.

4 Le turns a predicate into an argument meaning the one(s) which seems to + [the meaning of the predicate]. It turns off the predicate's blanks in the process.

5. Le + an inflector (na, vi, etc.) produces a tensed or located description.

6. Le + an argument (followed by a predicate) creates a possessive description, in which [argument] is related somehow to the one identified by [predicate].

7. When the first argument of a predicate begins with le, use an inflector or ga to mark the beginning of the predicate.

Lopo Notlensea Cirduo

(This section will be a bit shorter from now on, because part of its goal -- to provide sample texts and exercises -- is now achieved by Lo Nurvia Logla and Lo Kenti.)

1. Eo mi lagfompli?Please, may I use long forms?
---Oi Yes [you may].
2. Mi ao djifoa plizo.I want to use affixes. [djifoa use]
3. Nahu tu sackaa?When are you leaving?
4. Na lefa natli.At the-future [probably tomorrow] night.
5. Vihu ba bukcu?Where is there a book?
6. Ba vi mi bukcu.There's a book by me.
7. Le bukcu ga he treci?How interesting is the book?
8. Bei mutce treci.It's very interesting.
9. Ei letu lerci ga treci?Is your letter interesting?
10. No. Ibuo lei djipoNo, but it's important.

Lo Retpi (The Answers)

Lo Kenti

1. What is l reading?
Lei ridle levi bukcu (Or le logla bukcu or le dicbukcu)
2. How is l reading?
Lei tedji ridle
3. Does b (the book) interest l?
Ia, beo treci lei
4. When will the learning group practise? And where?
Gei fa cirduo na lena natli vi le ckela
5. What/how is the car?
Le tcaro ga broda
6. Will l use the car? What will l use?
No. I no, lei plizo tei. I lei plizo lelei torkrilu

Last Updated:Thursday, November 2, 1995