Chapter 6
To Speak Of Many Things: The Lojban sumti

1. The five kinds of simple sumti

If you understand anything about Lojban, you know what a sumti is by now, right? An argument, one of those things that fills the places of simple Lojban sentences like:

1.1)   mi klama le zarci
       I go-to the market
In Example 1.1, “mi” and “le zarci” are the sumti. It is easy to see that these two sumti are not of the same kind: “mi” is a pro-sumti (the Lojban analogue of a pronoun) referring to the speaker, whereas “le zarci” is a description which refers to something described as being a market.

There are five kinds of simple sumti provided by Lojban:

descriptions like “le zarci”, which usually begin with a descriptor (called a “gadri” in Lojban) such as “le”;
pro-sumti, such as “mi”;
names, such as “la lojban.”, which usually begin with “la”;
quotations, which begin with “lu”, “le'u”, “zo”, or “zoi”;
pure numbers, which usually begin with “li”.

Here are a few examples of each kind of sumti:

1.2)   e'osai ko sarji la lojban.
       Please support Lojban!
Example 1.2 exhibits “ko”, a pro-sumti; and “la lojban.”, a name.
1.3)   mi cusku lu e'osai li'u le tcidu
       I express “Please!” to-the reader.
Example 1.3 exhibits “mi”, a pro-sumti; “lu e'osai li'u”, a quotation; and “le tcidu”, a description.
1.4)   ti mitre li ci
       This measures-in-meters the-number three.
       This is three meters long.
Example 1.4 exhibits “ti”, a pro-sumti; and “li ci”, a number.

Most of this chapter is about descriptions, as they have the most complicated syntax and usage. Some attention is also given to names, which are closely interwoven with descriptions. Pro-sumti, numbers, and quotations are described in more detail in Chapter 7, Chapter 18, and Chapter 19 respectively, so this chapter only gives summaries of their forms and uses. See Section 13 through Section 15 for these summaries.