13. Miscellaneous indicators

Some indicators do not fall neatly into the categories of attitudinal, evidential, or discursive. This section discusses the following miscellaneous indicators:

     ki'a    metalinguistic confusion
     na'i    metalinguistic negator
     jo'a    metalinguistic affirmer
     li'o    omitted text (quoted material)
     sa'a    material inserted by editor/narrator
     xu      true-false question
     pau     question premarker                      rhetorical question
     pe'a    figurative language                     literal language
     bi'u    new information                         old information
     ge'e    non-specific indicator

The cmavo “ki'a” is one of the most common of the miscellaneous indicators. It expresses metalinguistic confusion; i.e. confusion about what has been said, as opposed to confusion not tied to the discourse (which is “.uanai”). The confusion may be about the meaning of a word or of a grammatical construct, or about the referent of a sumti. One of the uses of English “which” corresponds to “ki'a”:

13.1)  mi nelci le ctuca
       .i le ki'a ctuca

       I like the teacher
       Which teacher?
Here, the second speaker does not understand the referent of the sumti “le ctuca”, and so echoes back the sumti with the confusion marker.

The metalinguistic negation cmavo “na'i” and its opposite “jo'a” are explained in full in Chapter 15. In general, “na'i” indicates that there is something wrong with a piece of discourse: either an error, or a false underlying assumption, or something else of the sort. The discourse is invalid or inappropriate due to the marked word or construct.

Similarly, “jo'a” marks something which looks wrong but is in fact correct. These two cmavo constitute a scale, but are kept apart for two reasons: “na'inai” means the same as “jo'a”, but would be too confusing as an affirmation; “jo'anai” means the same as “na'i”, but is too long to serve as a convenient metalinguistic negator.

The next two cmavo are used to assist in quoting texts written or spoken by others. It is often the case that we wish to quote only part of a text, or to supply additional material either by way of commentary or to make a fragmentary text grammatical. The cmavo “li'o” serves the former function. It indicates that words were omitted from the quotation. What remains of the quotation must be grammatical, however, as “li'o” does not serve any grammatical function. It cannot, for example, take the place of a missing selbri in a bridi, or supply the missing tail of a description sumti: “le li'o” in isolation is not grammatical.

The cmavo “sa'a” indicates in a quotation that the marked word or construct was not actually expressed, but is inserted for editorial, narrative, or grammatical purposes. Strictly, even a “li'o” should appear in the form “li'osa'a”, since the “li'o” was not part of the original quotation. In practice, this and other forms which are already associated with metalinguistic expressions, such as “sei” (of selma'o SEI) or “to'i” (of selma'o TO) need not be marked except where confusion might result.

In the rare case that the quoted material already contains one or more instances of “sa'a”, they can be changed to “sa'asa'a”.

The cmavo “xu” marks truth questions, which are discussed in detail in Chapter 15. In general, “xu” may be translated “Is it true that ... ?” and questions whether the attached bridi is true. When “xu” is attached to a specific word or construct, it directs the focus of the question to that word or construct.

Lojban question words, unlike those of English, frequently do not stand at the beginning of the question. Placing the cmavo “pau” at the beginning of a bridi helps the listener realize that the bridi is a question, like the symbol at the beginning of written Spanish questions that looks like an upside-down question mark. The listener is then warned to watch for the actual question word.

Although “pau” is grammatical in any location (like all indicators), it is not really useful except at or near the beginning of a bridi. Its scalar opposite, “paunai”, signals that a bridi is not really a question despite its form. This is what we call in English a rhetorical question: an example appears in the English text near the beginning of Section 11.

The cmavo “pe'a” is the indicator of figurative speech, indicating that the previous word should be taken figuratively rather than literally:

13.2)  mi viska le blanu pe'a zdani
       I see the blue [figurative] house.
       I see the “blue” house.
Here the house is not blue in the sense of color, but in some other sense, whose meaning is entirely culturally dependent. The use of “pe'a” unambiguously marks a cultural reference: “blanu” in Example 13.2 could mean “sad” (as in English) or something completely different.

The negated form, “pe'anai”, indicates that what has been said is to be interpreted literally, in the usual way for Lojban; natural-language intuition is to be ignored.

Alone among the cmavo of selma'o UI, “pe'a” has a rafsi, namely “pev”. This rafsi is used in forming figurative (culturally dependent) lujvo, whose place structure need have nothing to do with the place structure of the components. Thus “risnyjelca” (heart burn) might have a place structure like:

       x1 is the heart of x2, burning in atmosphere x3 at temperature x4
whereas “pevrisnyjelca”, explicitly marked as figurative, might have the place structure:
      x1 is indigestion/heartburn suffered by x2
which obviously has nothing to do with the places of either “risna” or “jelca”.

The uses of “bi'u” and “bi'unai” correspond to one of the uses of the English articles “the” and “a/an”. An English-speaker telling a story may begin with “I saw a man who ...”. Later in the story, the same man will be referred to with the phrase “the man”. Lojban does not use its articles in the same way: both “a man” and “the man” would be translated “le nanmu”, since the speaker has in mind a specific man. However, the first use might be marked “le bi'u nanmu”, to indicate that this is a new man, not mentioned before. Later uses could correspondingly be tagged “le bi'unai nanmu”.

Most of the time, the distinction between “bi'u” and “bi'unai” need not be made, as the listener can infer the right referent. However, if a different man were referred to still later in the story, “le bi'u nanmu” would clearly show that this man was different from the previous one.

Finally, the indicator “ge'e” has been discussed in Sections 8 and 10. It is used to express an attitude which is not covered by the existing set, or to avoid expressing any attitude.

Another use for “ge'e” is to explicitly avoid expressing one’s feeling on a given scale; in this use, it functions like a member of selma'o CAI: “.iige'e” means roughly “I’m not telling whether I’m afraid or not.”

       kau             indirect question

This cmavo is explained in detail in Chapter 11. It marks the word it is attached to as the focus of an indirect question:

13.3)  mi djuno le du'u dakau klama le zarci
       I know the statement-that somebody [indirect ?] goes to-the store.
       I know who goes to the store.