5. Non-veridical relative clauses: “voi”

     voi     NOI                 non-veridical relative clause introducer

There is another member of selma'o NOI which serves to introduce a third kind of relative clause: “voi”. Relative clauses introduced by “voi” are restrictive, like those introduced by “poi”. However, there is a fundamental difference between “poi” and “voi” relative clauses. A “poi” relative clause is said to be veridical, in the same sense that a description using “lo” or “loi” is: it is essential to the interpretation that the bridi actually be true. For example:

5.1)   le gerku poi blabi cu klama
       The dog which is-white goes.
it must actually be true that the dog is white, or the sentence constitutes a miscommunication. If there is a white dog and a brown dog, and the speaker uses “le gerku poi blabi” to refer to the brown dog, then the listener will not understand correctly. However,
5.2)   le gerku voi blabi cu klama
       The dog which-I-describe-as white goes.
puts the listener on notice that the dog in question may not actually meet objective standards (whatever they are) for being white: only the speaker can say exactly what is meant by the term. In this way, “voi” is like “le”; the speaker’s intention determines the meaning.

As a result, the following two sentences

5.3)   le nanmu cu ninmu
       That-which-I-describe-as a-man is-a-woman.
       The “guy” is actually a gal.

5.4)   ti voi nanmu cu ninmu
       This-thing which-I-describe-as a-man is-a-woman.
mean essentially the same thing (except that Example 5.4 involves pointing thanks to the use of “ti”, whereas Example 5.3 doesn’t), and neither one is self-contradictory: it is perfectly all right to describe something as a man (although perhaps confusing to the listener) even if it actually is a woman.