|Lojban For Beginners — velcli befi la lojban. bei loi co'a cilre|
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When there is no ce'u in the abstraction, there is some controversy as to how the ka-abstraction is to be interpreted. In many instances, the existence of a slot to be filled by ce'u is required by the definition of the bridi itself. For example, sisku leka pensi makes no sense, unless you are looking for a specific something that fits a ce'u slot in pensi.
For such instances, the location of ce'u is ambiguous, and The Complete Lojban Language mentions no convention having arisen, like with ke'a, on where it goes by default. The current default assumption is that ce'u here behaves like ke'a, and occupies the first empty place. This means that, while le ka xlura without ce'u can potentially mean both 'influence' and 'susceptibility', the default assumption is that it means 'influence', while le ka se xlura means 'susceptibility'. Likewise, le ka xendo can usually be assumed to mean le ka ce'u xendo 'the property of people being kind', and probably not le ka xendo fi ce'u 'the property of an action being something in which kindness is shown' (although that action is frequently what is meant in English by kindness.)
A more contentious issue is, whether this should hold for all ka-abstractions, wherever they may occur. For example, does mi tavla fi leka xendo mean the same thing as mi tavla fi leka ce'u xendo zo'e zo'e? Are you saying you are talking about kindness, as a property specifically applied to the person showing the kindness?
The majority view as of this writing is yes. This means that ka is treated the same, whether it appears as a sumti of sisku or tavla.
The catch is, when ka was originally invented, ce'u didn't exist yet. And the original definition of ka refers not to properties at all, but to qualities.
Property and quality are fairly abstract, as words of English go, so this may not seem to make any difference. However, the objection that has been raised is that ka shouldn't always be regarded as singling out one or two places. The quality of kindness, it is argued, does not single out the person being kind, or the person to whom the kindness is shown (which is what a property does.) Instead, it concentrates only on the selbri of the relationship: what it means to say that a relationship of kindness holds, whoever is involved in it.
This view is not universally held; at least some of the Lojbanists who think ka is all about being a property of something specific, think this notion is better expressed instead by si'o, the abstractor defined as 'idea, concept'.
Talk at this level of abstraction is not something you're likely to run into the moment you start using Lojban. It does explain, however, why you'll see property used a lot here, but quality a lot elsewhere. It may also explain why you will see some grown Lojbanists blanch at the sight of a ce'u...