Monthly Lojban Community Roundup — February 2017

Welcome back to the Monthly Lojban Community Roundup, where I dig through a month’s worth of material from IRC, the mailing list, Reddit, Facebook and Twitter, and present to you the news you do not want to miss. February 2017. Let’s go.

February 4 — la uakci strikes again with a nice Szymborska poem

This translation of a poem by Polish poet Wisława Szymborska had its world premier on February 4 when la uakci did a reading of it live on Mumble during one of our weekly voice chat sessions. Here it is, for the first time, for everyone to read. Thanks to la uakci for letting me publish it here.

pinka lo glexra

.i no da nunsla co malmau lo nu pensi
.i gunta fa lo ri nu bebna kei tai lo brife ke fange tsiju
pe bu’u lo foldi poi culno lo latna.i no da censa lo pensi
.i virnu nu pilno lo na’e krati cmene
je cu satci lanli je cu darlu co’u lo po’o nu tugni kei
je cu cilce jersi lo raktu te tavla
.i xregau fi lo se jinvi .i lau’u prane se nitcu
.i ca ge lo gusni donri gi lo manku nicte
cu jmaji lo sirji je lo cibjgatai je lo cukla
.i lo pagzu’e cu vrici lo ka lingeni je lo ka nanca
.i lo kanla cu gusni minra .i lo molmla cu carmi xunre
.i lo pendo lo pendo cu catra
.i lo panzi lo patfu cu to’e sinma
.i lo citno lo verba tunba se rai jai fanza

.i se jinvi frica lo grute
be lo se to’e curmi tricu pe lo datni
fa lo xunblabi zargu pe lo pixra ricfu karni
ge’u noi jicmu lo kucli claxu glexra
.i zdile cukta fa lo po’o pixra claxu
.i vrici fa ke po’o lo vajni jufra poi te tcitygau se pi’o lo degycalku ja lo pinsi

.i terpa tau lo xadytai
poi to’e vajni sampu
je poi jai jai va’o tarbi lo menli lo menli
.i na skicu xy fa ke ji’a la .kamasutras.

.i ca lo nu jmaji jikca kei lo tcati cu brebi’o vau po’o
.i lo prenu cu zutse je cu muvgau lo moklu
.i ro da voi ke’a po’o zukte lo ka jongau lo tuple lo tuple
.i pa ty. pencu lo loldi
.i pa ty. rapli muvdu fo lo vacri cukla
.i so’o po’o roi ku da sanli
je cu klama lo canko
.i ne’a lo canko korbi
cu catlu lo klaji

Keep ’em coming, doi la uakci!

February 7 — The Journalist

On February 7 a journalist payed the #lojban channel a visit saying they were writing about Lojban for a book. They were curious as to “whether [Lojban] is harder than natural languages to learn to speak at a comfortable fluent pace” and also “whether it’s true (as James Cooke Brown wanted to find out) that spending a lot of time learning and speaking Lojban makes people think more logically. I know there are no full studies of this, but what about anecdotally?” — interesting questions, and rather frequently asked.

Is Lojban harder to learn? Harder to speak at a fluent pace than natural languages? Is Lojban speakable at all? Opinions differ a little, but I’d say the majority opinion is that Lojban is very much speakable, probably no different from natural languages. Practically speaking there is a difference, of course: Lojban is still lacking in vocabulary, so that certain things are extremely hard to talk about fluently. But we do have weekly voice chats, and people are speaking with each other — without the help of a dictionary, and without using English.

Does learning and speaking Lojban make people think more logically? This is a more controversial question. Some people seem to get mad quickly when someone wonders out loud whether there might not be something to the Sapir–Whorf hypothesis after all. Nobody is claiming that a fluent Lojban speaker turns into a logic machine, or starts seeing the world like in the Matrix. But there are certain skills one has to study hard and master before one is able to truly appreciate and use Lojban fully, skills that are not needed (at least not to the same extent) in natural languages. I’m talking about scope. Lojban is logically unambiguous, you cannot ever say something whose scope can be interpreted in more than one way, no matter how strong the context. A skilled listener will understand the other, unintended, meaning when you mess up (and they will of course take pleasure in telling you that you got your scope wrong). From personal experience I can say that after focusing so hard on the topic of quantifier scope, negation scope, tense scope, metonymy, etc., I am now hyperaware of these things not only in Lojban, but in natural languages as well. Suddenly, ambiguities are everywhere, while non-lojbanic people don’t usually notice them. Like a bloodhound following a trail, all the possible (syntax) trees are seen at once, fully consciously, and you get to pick which one to follow (as the interpreter).

Is this phenomenon specific to studying Lojban? Probably not. Most likely, a person who works on English syntax all day, and logicians might very well experience a similar effect. But they do not get this as part of learning to speak a language. They do not have to be able to obey these strict and powerful scope rules while producing language themselves. Lojban, on the other hand, kills you if you do not know exactly what you want to say and what the logical structure of what you want to say is.

Let’s hope the journalist finishes the book about Lojban soon!

February 9 — Ben Goertzel talks about Lojban

OpenCog‘s Ben Goertzel gave a talk on Lojban as a machine interlingua, the recording of which went up on Youtube on February 9. It’s a long video, but you might find it interesting to see that there are people outside of the main Lojban community that see potential in Lojban and try to do serious work with it. I recommend watching the video to get an idea of what they are trying to do.

February 10 — Lojban World Map

Reddit user Dotevo made a Lojban map of the countries of the world. What struck me the most about this map is the utter lack of regularity in the names of the countries.

China is listed as jugygu’e (simple lujvo), the Czech Republic gets tcesk. zei gubyseltru (a weird mix), Thailand is just tais, and the lojbanization of Belgium turns out to be beldjym (the English pronunciation of the country!). What a mess!

But since we are on the topic of Lojban maps, I’d like to remind everyone that we have a world map of Lojbanists around the globe. If you haven’t already, mark your position on the map.

February 13 — Paroles, paroles, paroles

Words, words, words.

We don’t have them. This time it’s about names for biological organisms.

On February 13 an IRC user named solpahi said:

I’d like to have a community-wide fundamental discussion about the creation of vocabulary for biological organisms (animals, plants, …).


The present situation is chaotic. Some organisms have Latin-derived (Linnaean) names, some other ones are taken more or less directly from European languages, sometimes non-European. Then there are those that are lujvo, either created as a calque, or based on something else. Some organisms got their own gismu, though usually a gismu covers a big range of organisms, and disambiguating via lujvo is hard. Some organisms are blessed (or cursed?) with both a fu’ivla and a lujvo, but of course most organisms, even common ones, have no brivla at all. (Note that when I say organisms, I’m talking not only about species, but also about higher taxonomic ranks.)

There are, fortunately and unfortunately, many possible ways out of this misery, but not a single one of them is clearly better than the rest, which makes this whole situation very hard to deal with. The options include:

  • Everything gets whatever kind of word is most readily available. If another language has a word that can be borrowed without having to switch letters around or add new ones, take the word as is. When no such word can be found, try something else, like switching letters around, or maybe making a lujvo. Or maybe a stage-3 fu’ivla. Whatever the particular borrowing offers is good enough.
    • Pros: Chaos, I mean, variation. It doesn’t get boring when everything is different and there are no predictable patterns. You can never be sure what kind of word a given organism will have. The suspense!
    • Cons: Chaos. This is what we currently have. Yes, I am biased against this option. That’s the whole reason why I’m even writing this section.
  • Everything gets a lujvo, based on the organism’s most striking features or traits that are specific to it.
    • Pros: Potentially beautiful.
    • Cons: Very hard to realize. There are just too many organisms, and sooner or later the lujvo candidates would get in each other’s way. There would frequently be multiple organisms for which a given lujvo would be appropriate, but only one of them could get it, leaving the other one with no choice but to find a less optimal alternative.
  • Everything gets a fu’ivla.
    • But which stage? 3 or 4? As a reminder, stage-3 fu’ivla are the ones that have a gismu head and then the imported word is attached to the head. To make sure it all doesn’t fall apart, a crunchy -r- hyphen is inserted between the head and the imported bit. Example: cipn-r-pika — a magpie (hyphens inserted only for clarity, you don’t normally write them). Stage-4 fu’ivla on the other hand do not have a head. Rather, they are any brivla that isn’t gismu, lujvo or stage-3 fu’ivla. There are many different stage-4 shapes, some examples are: akcolotiaxolotl, albatroalbatross, artropodaarthropoduargalidingo, ulmuelm.
      • Stage-3 pros: The most flexible option if one is to make brivla. Due to the -r- hyphen, the word is automatically guaranteed a cluster and the borrowed bit therefore needn’t contain any clusters, making it easier to borrow things directly without too much deformation.
      • Stage-3 cons: The mandatory fu’ivla head adds a hefty two syllables to every word. Some people don’t like the crunchiness of stage-3 fu’ivla, though there is a proposal to allow an -y- between head and -r- hyphen, making it a heck of a lot easier to pronounce. Stage-3 fu’ivla are also the only words where the base part is not the rightmost part of a word, making it somewhat un-lojban-like compared to lujvo. Then again, borrowings are borrowings, they take something that isn’t Lojban and import it, so maybe this weirdness isn’t so bad.
      • Stage-4 pros: Many different shapes, so it doesn’t have to get boring.
      • Stage-4 cons: Despite the many shapes, one is still often forced to modify the borrowing before it conforms to brivla morphology. Some foreign words simply do not have any consonant clusters. In such cases, the only option is to either add consonants somewhere or to flip letters around so that two consonants end up side by side. And when the borrowing is monosyllabic, well then you have to summon an entire new syllable out of nowhere. Some people do not like this and turn to option 1 where they choose other methods whenever a direct stage-4 isn’t possible.
  • Everything gets a cmevla based on its Linnean name.
    • Pros: Easy, because cmevla do not need to contain clusters to be valid. cmevla strings also let you create full species names, like Hypsibius dujardini, which is harder to achieve with any other method.
    • Cons: They’d be cmevla. cmevla are no fun to pronounce.
  • Everything gets both a Linnean-based brivla or cmevla as well as a lujvo, where the Linnean one is considered formal or scientific, while the lujvo is considered the colloquial alternative.
    • This is a combination of some of the other bullet points, pros and cons apply likewise. Mostly this method would just mean twice the work, but maybe for twice the fun (afterall, we want a rich language).
  • Last resort: Randomly generated brivla. What could be more culturally neutral?

As I do not have the answer to this problem, I want everyone to think about this, and share their ideas. If you know something, let me know that you know so I know.

February 14 — The Return of Jbotcan

jbotcan, the Lojban image board, is back and is now running on the same server as the main website. The board used to be gone for a while, and then it got infested with spam, but it’s all good now, so head over there and start posting.

February 19 — Daxx remixes Tensaĭa

For me this was another highlight this month. Daxx, who I had never heard of before, posted an announcement on reddit saying:

Here, I present a cover of the song “tensaia” by Djemynai; the beat is sped up by 20 BPM.

Listen to the remixed track. It’s really good.

If you aren’t familiar with the original by Djemynai, look here.

February 26 — Freqency List Generator

Robin announced on the mailing list that he’d created a frequency list generator that takes the corpus data from and generates a frequency list for you in the format of your choice. Head over to the GitHub page to instructions on how to run the program. Thanks, Robin!

February 26 — Green stars do not exist

la jelca had a nice surprise in store for us, translating a short story from the Esperanto book Ne Ekzistas Verdaj Steloj. I don’t want to spoil anything, so please read it yourself.

.i di’e me «la’au na zasti fa lo crino tarci li’u» noi se finti la’o gy. Liven Dek gy. bau lo sperybauni’o ko’a fenki senva

— .i mi na terpa lo nu morsi .i ki’u bo mi ba ca’o viska do
.i ko’e klaku je cu prami mlisa’e se pi’o lo xance lo mebri be ko’a
— .i mi binxo lo tarci — sei ko’a senva ranji
— .i tarci — sei ko’e rapli
— .i ju’o mi binxo lo tarci — sei ko’a xusra — te zu’e lo nu zgana badysoi lo do zdani ca ro nicte
— .i .ua nai tarci — sei poi’o’a se cfipu ko’e za’u re’u rapli
— .i je mi ba ka’e viska do fau lo nu do tolcanci lo canko
.i «lu .i lo tarci zo’u .ua nai ta’i ma mi ba zvafa’i do fau lo nu do menre lo so’i tarci li’u» sei ko’e pensku
.i je tai lo nu ko’a tirna lo se pensi kei ko’a mliba’u di’e
— .i relpi’i tarci
— .i relpi’i tarci — sei ko’e to’e sanji rapli
— .i go’i je cu crino — sei ko’a jmina pu lo nu mrobi’o

ni’o ca ro nicte ko’e denpa zgana lo tsani .i ku’i pu ze’u cilre lo du’u na zasti fa lo crino tarci .i je ca ro nicte bu’u lo purdi ni’a lo cilce rozgu pa cmalu mlatu co xekri cu smaji denpa lo nu ko’e tolcanci ku je cu stodi zgana lo canko lo banli kanla co jmive ri’ojme

I really enjoyed this translation. The style is understandable and clear and the story comes across effectively.

February 2017 — The IRC Top 10

This is the graph you never knew you wanted. The top 10 most active #lojban IRC users of February 2017. Didn’t make it in? Try again next month!


If this isn’t incentive enough to get on IRC and hit that return key a bunch then I don’t know what is.

And with that I shall release you into March. Go make it a good third month.

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5 thoughts on “Monthly Lojban Community Roundup — February 2017

  1. coi ki’e sai jajgau
    .i pu za lo jeftu be li ji’i pa cu tolcri so’i zabna pemci pe la .cim .i .ai sai fanva ca lo .olskybau nunctu sisisisi
    .i ta’o ma mukti lo nu na pilno lo glico panra be zo mi lo ka mlauca do .i la uakci cu tsali se cizra
    ―mu’o mi’e uy


    1. .u’i ca lo nunctu

      .i lo nu pa roi skuna zo solpa’i je nai zo mi cu se mukti lo nu xalbo je cu pacna lo nu zdile .i ko na se cizra .i ku’i ko kancu zo mi .i li’a zmadu zo solpa’i lo ka lo nu ciska ce’u cu cafne

      .i ui so’i zabna pemci do se zvafa’i .i mi denpa fau lo nu zankanpe


  2. .u’i .oi ru’e mi pu na sanji lo nu mi traji lo ka cusku xo kau da ku lo lojbo .irci ca lo prula’i masti
    .i ta’o za’a do na pu mlauca lo zi’evla poi simsa lo fu’ivla poi klesi tu’a li ci ku’o je noi zo cpipika mupli .i xamgu tu’a lo zi’evla tarmi va’o lo nu no zunsna gunma cu pagbu lo vlakra
    mi’e la .ilmen. mu’o


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