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Lesson 4: Identity Without Crisis

Lo Mipli Steti

(John sees his friend Megan across a crowded room. She is talking to a younger woman.)

1. Hue la Djan: Hoi Megn! I loi! I ie ta?
Says the-one-called John: O/Hey Megan! And hello! What-is-another-name-for that-one?
John: Hey, Megan! Hi!  And who's that?
(The two exclamations and the question constitute one "utterance" by John (one paragraph in text) because they are connected by I.)
2. Hue la Megn: Loi! I ti bi la Palys. I la Palys, detra mi.
Says Megan: Hi! And this is-also-known-as Paula. [And] Paula is-a-daughter of-me.
Megan: Hi! This is Paula. Paula is my daughter.
3. Hue Dai: Ui! I tu he speni, Palys?
Says D: [pleasure] You how? are-experiencing, Palys?
John: My pleasure! How's it going, Paula?
4. Hue Pai: Mi...
...Hoi Matma, La Ditca!
Says P: I...
O Mother! [I observe] The-one-called Teacher!
Paula: I...
Hey Mother! It's teacher!

(These are three separate utterances, though all by a single speaker: an incomplete one to John, one to herself, one to her mother.)
5. Hue Dai: Ie?
Says D: Which [teacher]?
6. Hue Mai: Le la Palys, ditca. I dei bie la Famji Kerll.
Says M: The the-one-called Paula teacher. And [the teacher] is-also-known-as-one-of the-one-of-the-set-called Family Carroll.
Megan: Paula's teacher. She's one of the Carrolls.
7. Hue Dai: Ua, le ditca pe la Palys. I...
Says D: Oh, the teacher of Paula. And...
(Paula starts to leave and Megan interrupts John.)
8. Hue Mai: Palys!
...Loa, hoi Djan! I oa mi kingoi lemi detra!
Says M: Paula!
Bye, John! And it-is-necessary-that I go with my daughter!
Bye, John! I must go with my daughter.
(Megan's final speech consists of two utterances, one addressed to Paula, one to John.)

Lona Cninu Purda


WordsDefinitionClue words a daughter of...(daughter [DaTR])
kingoi...goes with/accompanies...[KINci GOdzI=with-go] a family with members...(Sp familia [FAMIlia]) [a] mother of...with father...(mama [MAMA]; maternal)
speni...experiences/spends... [an event or time](spend [SPENd])

Little Words

bi... is also known as/called...
bie... is also known as/called one of the set ...
hoiO/hey (A word used in calling someone by name)
ieWhich ...? Who? What is another name for ...?
lathe one I mean called ...
peof (A word indicating "possession" or general relationship.)
uiGood! (Attitudinal indicator expressing pleasure.)


Tu he speni How are you doing? (You are how experiencing [life]?)

Lopo Lengu Klimao

Loglan divides the world into claims (predicates) and the things those claims are about (arguments). Of these, only claims can be true or false. How can an argument, such as `the book' (le bukcu) be true or false? Can you prove it? Or disprove it? No. But claims at least theoretically can be proved or disproved. We'll see in a moment how important this is to understanding Loglan. There are three types of arguments in Loglan:

Again, arguments, including descriptions and names, are not claims. For that matter, claims aren't generally about descriptions, names, or variables; instead, claims involve the actual thing(s) the argument refers to. Le bukcu ga redro is not really a claim about a description, but about the thing described: the thing I think looks like a book.

Now the obvious question is, "Which thing do you mean?" People can usually figure out which thing you're talking about if you pick reasonably "clear" descriptions, and don't call a book-like thing "le tcaro", say. But before you or your audience can tell whether a claim is true or false, the identities of the arguments must be settled. So if I remark that the book is heavier than Paul (Le bukcu ga tidjo la Pal), you need to know which book and which Paul I'm talking about.

There are two ways to find out who's who and what's what. You can ask for a claim about the thing (Le bukcu he or La Pal, he) or you can ask for another name (Ie le bukcu or Ie la Pal). In the first case I might claim that the book-like thing I'm talking about is red (Le bukcu ga redro) and that the Paul I'm talking about is a learner (La Pal, cirna). In the second case I might say that Paul is also known as Paul Jones (La Pal, bi la Pal Djonz) or that he is the student we'd been talking about (La Pal, bi le cirna). Then you could figure out whether Le redro bukcu ga tidjo la Pal Djonz is true or false.

When we give another name for something -- actually another argument for it -- we use bi. Note that bi is a special sort of predicate: though you can put ga and le in front of any real predicate, *ga bi and *le bi are meaningless. Also, utterances containing bi are not claims. They just link a pair of arguments, so that both are taken to refer to the same thing. Thus, La Pal, bi le cirna means that whenever I say la Pal, you could replace it with le cirna, and vice versa. The problem with all this is that in English, claims (with predicates) and identity sentences (with 'is') usually look the same. To tell the difference, you can ask whether the sentence is actually about a person or thing (a claim) or just about names (an identification).

A quick-and-dirty way to solve the problem is to look at what comes after the verb `is': `is a' usually marks a claim, while `is the' usually marks an identification:

Of course, in English you don't usually say Sally is A mother of Paula (La Selis, matma la Palys), though it's true if you think about it. After all, if Sally is Paula's mother, she must be a mother of Paula. We say `the' because Paula probably has only one mother.


1. La means `the one I'm thinking of who is called ...: ` Thus La Palys, means `the one I'm thinking of who is called Paula'. La is also used (like le) to make arguments (in this case, names) out of predicates: la Matma `the one I'm thinking of who is called Mother [of ... with father ...]'. (Like le, la turns off the predicate's blanks.)

When you use a term generally (usually with `the'), use le; when you use it as someone's name (or as part of it), use la. Ex. le ditca = `the teacher'; la Ditca [Smit] = `Teacher [Smith]'. As in English, titles precede personal names; in the same way the Carrolls [family] becomes la Famji Kerll.

2. Whenever you call anyone/-thing by name, replace la with hoi: Hoi Matma `Mother! ` Hoi Ditca (Djonz) `Teacher (Jones)!' Hoi Tun `Hey, you! ` (An -n has been added to tu to make it a name. This is how little words are turned into names.) As a rule of thumb, when you call someone's attention, you are using a name. You may translate Hoi into English by using either 'O' or 'Hey' or leave it untranslated..

3. Ie followed by an argument asks for the argument's identity (a name or designation): "Which one do you mean?" There are two ways to answer this question: first, with an identifying argument (Le la Palys, ditca), and second, with a sentence using bi (I ti bi la Palys).

4. Utterances with bi claim that two names or designations refer to the same person or thing: Mi bi la Palys = `I am also known as Paula i.e. You may replace the word "I" (when I use it) with the name "Paula".' You can also use ei to check an identification: Ei tu bi la Palys? `Are you the one called Paula?' This is short for constructions such as Ei li tu bi la Palys, lu tradu steti tu? `Is "You are Paula" a true sentence about you?' .

5. If a Loglan operator doesn't need to appear explicitly in a certain context -- if its meaning can be clearly inferred from that context -- it may be omitted. Thus you can say,

instead of

and still call the attention of Paul and Paula. But notice that you can't drop hoi when the name it precedes is a predicate, or when the attention-calling name follows another name. Thus in the following sentences, hoi is necessary:

Without the hois, the meanings would be sharply different:

6. When you call someone by name, use hoi, but when you call attention to someone, use la: Hoi Ditca! `Hey, Teacher!', when you want to speak to Teacher but use La Ditca! `There's Teacher! ` when you want to tell someone else that Teacher has arrived.(Both of these are different from Ba [vi] ditca! `There's a teacher [here]!') You could also say Le ditca! `It's the teacher (the one I mentioned)! `

7. Le la Palys, ditca is just a longer version of LePai ditca. Both are extensions of the lemi construction. Remember, le + an argument is possessive, and and variables, names, and descriptions are all arguments. Thus le le detra, ditca also works as a possessive but requires a comma after the description...for reasons we will study in the next lesson.

8. Bie means `is also known as one of the set...', and shares the grammar of bi; it is used to identify someone or something as a member of some set or group. Thus, the teacher is one of the Carrolls, a family John presumably knows.

9. Possessive constructions with full names or descriptions are often awkward, so the little word pe (`of') allows you to expand a description of, say, Monticello, from le la Tamys Dje'frsyn, hasfa to le hasfa pe la Tamys Dje'frsyn.

Lopo Purmao

CCV djifoa are always safe. Remember that. No complications, no exceptions. You can put them at the beginning, middle, and end of complexes. CCV djifoa are usually taken from the first three letters of a primitive (pli from PLIzo `use ...for...), though at times a letter or two will be skipped (dru from DiRlU `lose [object/property]'), and in a few cases letters have been reversed (flo from FOLma -ful, -ous).

-pli [PLIzo] use (a tool):
logpli [LOGla PLIzo = Loglan-use] ... uses Loglan in situation ...
-dru DiRlU lose (a quality):
kladydru [KLADa (Y) DiRlU = cloud-lose] (area) ... clears up, becomes uncloudy
-flo FO/Lma full of, having a lot of:
kladyflo [KLADa (Y) FO/Lma = cloud-full] (area) ... is cloudy

Lo Nurvia Logla

Va le ckela

Hue La Denys: Loi, Pal!
Hue La Pal: Loi, Denys! I tu he?
Hue Dai: Mi tarle. Ifeu mi torkrilu godzi ti. I le la Karl, tcaro ga broda.
Hue Pai: Uu ue! I...
(La Odris, e ba fadgoi.)
Loi, Odris I ta bi hu?
Hue Oma: Loi, Pal.
----------Loi, Denys.
----------I ti bi la Kicmu Ine's Del Ri,os, hoi Pal.
Hue Dai: Ui mi jmite tu, hoi Kicmu. I mi bi la Denys.
Hue Pai: Mi haijmi tu. I mi bi la Pal.
Hue Oma: Io no, la Denys, hapci.
Hue Pai: I Dai groci ia leDai brudi.
Hue Dai: I no, mi groci.
Hue Ima: Tu cnulogli, ei, hoi Denys?
Hue Pai: Ia. I la Karl, logli. Ibuo no, Kai helba Dai.
Hue Ima: I, ie la Karl?
Hue Pai: I la Karl, bi le brudi pe la Denys.
Hue Ima: Uu uo! I no, letu brudi ga logpli vi tu, ei?
Hue Dai: I Kai logpli ia. Ifeu, no la Karl, fatru mi. I la Pal, buo...
Hue Pai: Eo ckano, Denys. I tu tarle ze groci.
-------La Denys, pa torkrilu godzi feu ti
Hue Ima: Lena skati ia kladyflo. I tu fa crina! I eo mi tcaberti tu.
Hue Dai: Tao no fa nerbi, sia. I la Kai fa tcaberti mi.

(Le grupa ga nengoi le ckela. I, fa ta, gei zvokaa)

Hue Pai: Ui le skati na kladydru! Ifeu, no ba klada vi. I sei pa mutce kladyflo, e sei na kladycle.
Hue Dai: Ua ui!
-------La Karl! Isii le tcaro na nu nakso.

Lo Kenti

For the replies:

1. Ie la Kicmu?
2. Hu fatru la Denys?
3. Ei ba klada vi le ckela?
4. Ibuo le skati pa he?

Lo dupma kenti ('Trick question'):

Ei la Ine's, kicmu?

Lo Cninu Purda

To refresh your memory of the previous vocabulary


WordDefinitionClue words
cnulogli... is a beginning Loglanist[CNinU LOGLI = new-Loglanist]
crina ... is rained on by ... (rain [ReIN])
dupma...deceives/[DUPe] )
fadgoi...arrives at...from...[FAnDo GOdzI=end-go]
fatru ... troubles/annoys ... by [doing] ... (trouble) full of...(full [FuL])
groci... is angry/grouchy with ... about ... (grouchy[GRaOtCI])
haijmi happy to meet....[HApcI JMIte=happily meet]
hapci.. is happy about ... (happy [HAPI])
helba... helps ... to [do] ... (help [HELp])
jmite.. meets ... (meet [MIT])
kicmu... is a doctor treating ... for ... with ...(cure [KIUr])
klada... is a cloud in airmass ...(cloud [KLAoD])
kladycleis cloudless/free of clouds[KLADa[y]CLEsi=cloud-less]
kladydru.. clears up, becomes unclouded[KLADa (Y) DiRlU = cloud-lose]
kladyflo... is cloudy/full of clouds[KLADa (Y) FOLma = cloud-full]
logpli... uses Loglan in/by doing ...[LOGla PLIzo = Loglan-use] a/the sky at...(sky [SKAI])
socli... interacts socially with ... (socially [SOCyLI])
steti... is a sentence/statement/claim about ... made by ... in language ...[STEiT=state]
tarle... is tired from ...(tired [TAiRd]) heavier [ueiTI]
tradu... is true given truth-theory ...(true [TRU])
zvokaa... comes out of/emerges from ...[ZVOto KAmlA=out-come]
zvoto... is out/outside of ...(out [aOT])

Little Words

sii apparently, seemingly (free modifier) [SImcI]
uu Oh. (Attitudinal indicator expressing sorrow or regret.)


Ui mi jmite tu and Mi haijmi tu are alternative ways of saying 'How do you do?''or 'Pleased to meet you!' in Loglan: the first expresses happiness about the encounter, the other claims it.


Del Ri,os Del Rio; the comma between i and o keeps them from being pronounced together (as "dell-ryos"). Ri,os is pronounced REE-os, as in the original Spanish. (See the section on pronunciation)

Summary: Lesson 4

1. There are two kinds of statements in Loglan: predications and identifications. Predications tell what something is or does; identifications tell which thing you're talking about by linking two designations.

2. The two identity-linking words are bi and bie: asi bi bei simply means that in what is being said or written at the moment, a and b refer to the same person or thing -- they may be used interchangeably. Bie identifies something as a member of a group or set: American authors, British books, planets in the solar system, etc.

3. Ta bi hu asks for an identification of ta. The answer may be a complete sentence with bi or bie, or just the alternative designation: La Selis, bi hu 'Sally is who?' may be answered with either La Selis, bi le ditca 'Sally is the teacher' or just le ditca.

4. La signals a name, that is, `the one I mean called .... `. La may precede either a regular name (all of which end in consonants. as Djan (`John') and Selis (`Sally')do, or a predicate (la Ditca `Teacher').

5. Hoi is generally followed by a name: Hoi Ditca `Hey/O Teacher! ` Use hoi when you're calling someone by name; exclamations (La Ditca `[It's] Teacher!' Le ditca `It's the teacher!') use regular arguments. Hoi may usually be omitted before regular names (those that end in a consonant), but not before predicates used as names.

6. There are two ways to show possession (or just general relationship): le [argument] [predicate], where [argument] is related to le [predicate]: lePai ditca `P's teacher'; le la Palys, ditca `Paula's teacher'; and [argument1] pe [argument2], where pe works like English of: le ditca pe Pai/la Palys `the teacher of P/Paula'

Lopo Notlensea Cirduo

1. Loi! I mi bi la Djim. I ie tu? Hi! I'm Jim. Who are you?
2. Mi bi la Meris. I ie la Djim? I'm Mary. Which Jim are you?
3. La Djim Rid. I ei tu bie la Brrn? Jim Reed. Are you one of the Byrnes?
4. No. I mi bi la Meris Paoll. I ei tu ditca vi? No, I'm Mary Powell. Do you teach here?
5. No. I mi kicmu. I ei tu ditca? No, I'm a doctor. Do you teach?
6. I mi ditca helba.I'm a teacher's assistant [teach-help].
7. I tu helba hu.And who[m] do you help?
8. I mi helba la Fum Frenklyn.I help Ms. [Fum] Franklin.
9. Ua, tu bi le helba pe la Fum Frenklyn. I ao mi takna tu lemi detra. I dei bi la Teris.Oh , you're the assistant of Ms. Franklin. I'd like to talk to you about my daughter. She's Terry.
10. Uu. I tu takna le la Teris, ditca oe. I'm sorry, you should talk to Terry's teacher.

Lo Retpi

1.Who is Doctor? La Ine's Del Ri,os, bi la Kicmu.
2.Who is bothering Dennis? La Pal, fatru la Denys.
3.Are there clouds around the school?(Is it cloudy there?) No. I no, ba na klada vi [le ckela]. (A more elegant answer would be No. I ba vi klada no na. We'll return to such constructions in Lesson 14.)
4.But how was it [before]?Ba pa klada vi [le ckela].
Lo dupma kenti Trick question:
Is Ine's a doctor? Iu. I Ima bi la Kicmu. Ibuo ii no, Ima kicmu feu. I don't know. She's called "Doctor". But perhaps she's not a doctor in fact.

Last Updated:October 7,1996