|Lojban For Beginners — velcli befi la lojban. bei loi co'a cilre|
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When you address people by name, you usually do so to make it clear who out of a group you are talking to. We've already seen how to do that in Lojban: doi, followed by the name (without the name article, la.) So "Houston, we have a problem" ends up as
(sidestepping the slight illogicality of speaking to a single person in Houston but addressing a whole city.)
doi xustyn. mi'a se nabmi
Often, however, we address people in order to manage our conversations: to make someone pay attention to our turn; to butt in before it is our turn; to signal that a conversation is beginning or ending; and so on. We can also do this without using names, but instead by various context cues and all-purpose words. When you think about it, for example, OK does a lot of work for such a small word.
As we know, Lojban tends to be precise rather than vague. So when it comes to signalling what you want done with a conversation, Lojban doesn't play along with the usual natural language tricks of leaving it up to the principles of politeness and social convention to work out what's going on. Instead, it has explicit words for managing turns in a conversation, which can optionally be followed by the name of whoever you're bringing it to the attention of. Since all these words address someone, they are called vocatives (selma'o COI.)
Natural languages don't distinguish as carefully between these various contexts, except in fairly artificial contexts: for example, conversations over two-way radio, where it is impossible to talk over each other, or to negotiate whose turn it is to speak through subtle visual cues. (A less elaborate vocabulary is in place for IRC, its Internet equivalent.) This means that Lojban vocatives look a little like a CB enthusiast's nightmare, because the glosses you see for them come from this more explicit subset of English. But normal English has these kinds of words as well — they're just not as clearly distinguished, because context is usually relied on instead.
We've slipped some of these past you already, too.
mi'e is the word you use to introduce yourself: it's the only vocative followed by the speaker's name, rather than the addressee's. So mi'e .robin. means "I'm Robin" or "This is Robin speaking."
coi is the greeting word: it corresponds to "Hello", "Good morning", "Hi", "Wazzup?", and whatever else happens to be in vogue.
Conversely, co'o is the farewell word, corresponding to "Goodbye", "Farewell", "Yo Later Dude", and so on. Lojbanists signing off on e-mail often end with something like co'omi'e .robin. — this is equivalent to putting your name at the end of your email in English as a signature, and translates as "Goodbye; I'm Robin."
The other vocatives are not as common.
Two words similar to coi are ju'i 'Hey!', with which you draw someone's attention, and fi'i 'Welcome! At your service!', with which you offer hospitality or a service. (It's what you say to a visitor; you wouldn't say it over the phone, for instance, unless your addressee is calling from the airport and is on their way over.)
je'e corresponds to 'Roger!' in radio-speak, and 'right' or 'uh-uh' in normal English: it confirms that you've received a message. If you haven't, you say je'enai instead (of course); in normal English, that would be 'Beg your pardon?' or 'Huh?'.
In case you haven't received the message clearly, you can explicitly ask for the speaker to repeat whatever they said with ke'o.
Similarly, be'e signals a request to send a message ("Hello? Are you there?"), and re'i indicates that you are ready (Lojban bredi) to receive a message. (It's what you say when you pick up the phone — which in English also happens to be "Hello?", but in Italian is Pronto 'Ready!'.)
mu'o is what you say when you explicitly make it another speaker's turn to speak: it's the "Over!" of radio.
When it isn't your turn to speak, but you want to barge in anyway, you can say ta'a — though it probably won't make anyone any happier that you're interrupting.
nu'e introduces a promise; pe'u introduces a request, and so is fairly similar to the attitudinal .e'o.
vi'o acknowledges a request, and promises to carry it out: in radio talk this is "Wilco!", and in normal English "OK" or "All right, I will" (or for that matter, "Consider it done!")
You say "Thank you" with ki'e — to which the appropriate response is not fi'i ("You're welcome" doesn't mean you're being visited by some guests), but the simple acknowledgement je'e.
Finally, to close communication (radio's "Over and out!"), you can use fe'o. (This is what people actually should be putting at the end of their e-mails; but it's not as well-known a word as co'o)
Vocatives take names, sumti or selbri. The names come after an obligatory pause, to make sure any eavesdropping computers don't misconstrue the vocative as one long name. The sumti or selbri describes the addressee (e.g. co'o la mensi or co'o mensi "Goodbye, sister!".) If any of these are used, they normally don't need terminators after them. If you use the vocative on its own, however, you will need a terminator, because the things likeliest to follow the vocative in a sentence could easily be misconstrued as describing your addressee. The terminator for vocatives is do'u. For example,
coi do'u la suzyn. la ranjit. puzi cliva
Hello! Susan's just left Ranjeet.
coi la suzyn. la ranjit. puzi cliva
Hello, Susan! Ranjeet's just left.
Give the Lojban vocatives corresponding to the emphasised words in each of the following sentences. You may need to add nai to your vocatives. Beware of trick questions!