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This Group Is Now Moderated

Sorry for all the spam in this group lately! I've now switched to a moderated feed. I'm also a moderator of many of the Lojban email groups, so you know you can count on me for the same timely moderation I provide there. On the other hand, nobody posts here anymore! So I'm going to write a new blog post here soon!

Learning Lojban


I'm new here (obviously) and I'd like to learn lojban. I tried for a few days now to access the beginners book and course under, but I can't reach the server. Does anyone know when it will be accessible again? Or is there a mirror somewhere? Or another course? This is kind of frustrating ;-)

(Oh, forgot to mention that: I'm using a Mac, so I can't even use Parallel 2. Or is this Linux/Python version also suitable for Macs? )

Amber Diceless RPG, play by email, all are invited

Cmacis recently suggested that we should organize a Lojbanic RPG, using the Amber Diceless RPG system. I used to use that system many years ago & I'm a huge fan of the game and the world, so I've volunteered to be the game master. We've decided to structure it so that people with all different degrees of skill in Lojban will be able to play: Lojban will have a central role in-game, standing in for Thari, the language of Amber-- but because of the situation of the player characters, they will have varying degrees of knowledge in Thari, and some may know only a few words. Players will thus be able to choose characters whose in-game Thari ability matches their real-world Lojban ability. (We might even be able to interest some Amber folks in Lojban!)

The unique nature of the Amber world also makes it unusually suited to playing by email amongst people with different schedules and different amounts of time to participate. Different places in the world have vastly different timescales, so it's possible that if you are less engaged in the game your character could be somewhere where time is slower. The characters will all be relatives, siblings who grew up together and are now engaged in a grand drama over many worlds-- if any two players want to play a scene together, when they happen to be talking, they can do a scene from their characters' childhood (and forward it to me so that I can weave all the details people come up with about their characters' histories into what I describe about the present). Characters in Amber are often separated by great distances, pursuing individual quests & goals, but also have ways of coming into instant contact with each other. So there's a lot of ways to arrange roleplaying that's convenient for everyone.

Amber is a game of secrets. It's alright if you don't know anything about it; your character could be as ignorant about the true nature of this strange world as you are, and it would be a fun world to find out about in-game. Amber at its heart is a family drama. The characters are usually a family who have grown up together, and rivaled with each other. Their relative ability in four qualities, Psyche, Endurance, Strength & Warfare, is determined first by a point auction, and then by secret adjustments. You cannot win a fight by luck alone; a character with a higher score will almost always win in the end, so you must be sure to plan your encounters carefully, so that they fall upon your strengths. You also choose in secret what powers your character will have, and certain items with unique properties that could make the difference in critical moments. Amber is a game where you must hold some secrets, because surprise is often your only effective weapon.

Write me a note at if you're interested in playing. The first thing we'll do is probably a practice auction (it's possible to get carried away at the auction and get an unbalanced character, so I find it's usually best to do a practice round first). It's best to get in at the beginning if you want to play, since the more people in the auction the merrier. If later it turns out you don't want to participate as much, we can find a way to get your character out of the way for a while-- it's our game, and we'll do whatever's convenient for us.

.i mi gleki lo nu ba dracyselkei
.i ko ko kurji
mu'o mi'e .selkik.

lojbo finti

coi ro do .ui
mi'e .kiris.

.i ba'ase'i srera .y .u'iru'e

ni'o ba'o lo nu mi finti la .jbotcan. ku mi ta'e lojbo finti
.i mi mutce nelci la .lojban. e lo lojbo
.i za'a mutce se cilre
.i ji'a mi se cinri lo nu skami pruce ciska bo finti fi lo su'u lojbo ja lojbau

ni'o mi finti le clixra .i ri pu se cinri zo'e gi'e ri pu cilre sidju
.i ko zgana la'e zoi .url. .url.

ni'o mi minra me la .jbotcan. bo sabji lo'i la'o gy LRG/CLL gy ce la'o gy What is Lojban gy ce la'o gy L4B gy ki'u la'o gy gy ta'eru'e spofu

ni'o mi fendi la'o gy Lojban Reference Grammar gy
.i lo nu go'i cu pruce fi la'e zoi .url. .url.

ni'o la .lakmir. e mi pu finti la'e zoi .url. .url.
.i ai mi .e la .lakmir. zmadu simsa bo finti

ni'o .ai zmadu

ni'o .e'o ro ko cecmu finti gi'e tavla lo do se penmi fi la .lojban. u'i


ta'o .o'o ko klaku



Some mistakes:

In {ni'o mi finti le clixra .i ri pu se cinri zo'e gi'e ri pu cilre sidju} there is no need for the second {ri}.

{ki'u la'o gy gy ta'eru'e spofu} should be {ki'u lo su'u la'o gy gy ta'eru'e spofu}

I meant {ro ko}, not {ro do}.

  • Current Mood

2 Small Questions

First, how does one create an account for and log into [la jbotcan]?

Second, I was just wondering how to say the equivalent of English "in order to..." or French "pour..." in Lojban.  Would one insert something like a sumti tcita into the bridi, and/or could one fill in a "under conditions..." slot?  If there was no such a slot already present in the bridi, what sumti tcita would be inserted for this reason?

Experiences/anecdotes of casual Lojban learners

A handful of my friends (some of which are Ivy League-level, some of which are average and some inbetween) got together on a weekly basis to try to learn Lojban. This failed, and I've noticed that the people who -do- learn Lojban tend to have very high levels of natural intelligence, to the point that they need to hear a concept once without elaboration and can cement that concept from there onward. Reading Lojban For Beginners (which really should be titled "Accelerated Lojban") felt that way--it was like reading a math textbook, because every concept would be stated maybe once or twice, sometimes awkwardly or (ironically) unclearly, and then left behind.

The pronunciation was extremely easy and many concepts made sense. However, even when we got to the 6th chapter it was still impossible to form basic sentences beyond "mi'e .persyn." In most languages, I can memorize vocabulary and fill in the grammatical blanks later... but in Lojban that's impossible. I have to learn the grammar before I learn the vocabulary. Whenever I've looked for Lojban flashcards, they seem to work like this: "x1 is x2 at x3" or something similar.

Additionally, having vocabulary made up from the vocabulary of other words seems like it would be a good idea, but in practice I'm not sure if having "prenu" as a combination of "person" and "ren" helped, -especially- not in the same way that interlingua's/Esperanto's/other European-biased loanwords help. I'm not sure what you can do to improve on this situation, however, and I'm sure you've debated the pros/cons of this vigorously. The vocabulary isn't nearly as much of an issue as the grammar.

And, yeah, back to the grammar. I found it extremely hard to discuss or explain concepts to other Lojban-learners, especially when the book will basically follow this format: "Okay, this is the [x]. For the logicians in the audience, you can basically consider this [y]. For the mathematicians in the audience, you can think of this as [z]." I think constructed languages are an inherently geeky thing to begin with, but those types of explanations struck me as totally out of touch with what constitutes a "beginner".

When we came across concepts that ended up being obstacles, it reminded me of learning math at a higher level, with little help. The concepts are explained in very few sources (I had to look up words like "selbri" and "sumti" on the Lojban wiki because the Lojban For Beginners definition was so unclear), this site is incredibly convoluted and impossible for the uninitiated to navigate (forget asking questions--none of the people in my circle have used a mailing list besides me), and we couldn't speak Lojban outside of our circle because everyone on this site seems to have picked the language up at rapid pace. I think the primary issue here is that most people who have learned Lojban so far at least seem to be extremely intelligent compared to the average person that may learn a language and so it's just expected that lots of things are absorbed at rapid pace (compared to how quickly the average college student absorbs them) and/or understood intuitively.

Finally, I'd like to say something about Lojban as an IAL. From what I know of the language so far, it looks like it would be the ideal IAL by a large margin, but the main issues I see facing it are its complexity and inaccessibility. I've read several discussions about this, and from what I understand Lojbanists usually excuse its complexity at the expense of giving IAL-status a second priority. I think that it's -much- better than Interlingua or Esperanto in that regard, which to me seem like "General European" languages; a somewhat questionable goal, because so many people in Europe speak common languages anyway. Lojban has the advantage of being an inherently better language--if its ease of learning was significant enough that it was comparable or better to a non-European student learning Interlingua or Esperanto, I think it would be a serious contender for the IAL.

lo milxe se fanva

coi doi jbopre
hello to lojban-people

.i le dei velsku cu se pilno bau
& this this-sentence-related forum is gets used in-language

da'i la gliban. po'o .eipei
hypothetically the English-Language only (should be?)

ji da'i la lojban. ji'a .eipei
and?-or?-neither? hypothetically the Lojban also (should be?)

.i ko jinvi fi la'e di'u pe'u
& you-imperative opine about referent-of last-sentence please

.i so'a jbopre poi tcidu cu na certu le nu lojbo tavla
& almost-all lojban-people who read are not expert-at an event Lojbanic talking

.i pe'i mu'i la'e di'u fanva .iepei
& i-think motivated-by referent-of last-sentence translate -- don't-you-agree?

.i mi milxe po'o fanva mu'i lo nu ctuca zo'o
& i mildly (only) translate motivated-by an event teaching ;)

mu'o mi'e la bret.

10 suggestions for the changes to the website

I read earlier that part of the reason the website hasn't changed is because no one has proposed any alternatives. I signed up for this group to do just that, but be warned: this will likely be an opinionated post and because (from what I understand) Lojban's website has operated in mostly the same fashion since the early 1990s this may seem a bit radical and/or rude, but I assure you that is not the case.

1) The most immediate thing I notice are the three superfluous search bars on the top left. Yes, Lojban is a wiki, but Lojban is also an informative website representative of the LLG and the language as a whole. The wiki features should be off in a separate section of the site making themselves less apparent, because most of your views are from people who have no clue what Lojban is and no less than one minute's reading time to find out.

2) Main Menu: There's no reason why you need every drop down option exposed like that, but, more importantly, every menu item should be central and preferably on the top. Take this for example:

Every menu is a simple, clean button that makes for easy access. You can still keep everything, but you need to prioritize the information. Stuff like links to a Lojban song should be *very* deep into the page, whereas at the moment you have equal chance of stumbling across a Legend of Zelda translation of Lojban as you do the Lojban mailing list. Which brings me to another point:

3) Graphics. Not very complex ones, but still--the Lojban page is *very* uniform in its colors. Even, in its text-based glory, uses colors to make its links stand out from one another, and does the same. You can use colors and icons to separate key categories visually. A great example is the main page of Lojban's very own Matt Arnold.

4) The news doesn't look like it's actually news. That is, there's no visual indication that brings the user to it saying "this is news", it's just text like any other text.

5) Speaking of text, Lojban's website text is very large. Verdana size 12 or Times New Roman size 12 are eclipsed by the behemoth that is the current font.

6) "What is Lojban?" on the main page, followed by information about the LLG. Nearly every website has a very distinct "About" button, but if you must explain the language upfront, take notes from ubuntu and try not to go too deep into explaining what Lojban is on the page people immediately see. Save that for an in-depth page.

7) Livejournal and forum/mailing list meshed on the main page. Currently, the displaying the Livejournal posts makes the page enormous, and displaying the mailing list as a forum tricks the first-time viewer into thinking there is virtually no forum activity despite that mailing lists behave very differently. I'd say get vBulletin, get a "shoutbox" plugin which serves as a chat (but don't display this on the main page), and a "top 10" plugin for the main page (but display the font in tinier text than the main font--if you use size 12, make it size 10 or less) and then be done with it.

8) I'm not sure who updates the site, but it really looks bad to have News that hasn't been updated since a year ago. Even if it's really minor news, it's still activity. This gives the impression to someone that has never seen the language before that it's an obscure language spoken by a small group of geeks (note: I don't mean this offensively, I consider myself a geek as well) in their basement, and however accurate that impression may be, that doesn't mean that's the impression you have to give. Lojban is useful for not only science, but for law, and the impression you should try to achieve to balance both of these is that of a company like Mozilla or Ubuntu, which is still undeniably geeky yet able to work with stuffy professionals if need be.

9) Make donation and the fact that you're a non-profit more obvious, and allow donations to be done by a method other than PayPal. I would donate to Lojban if it were more like the donation system on Barack Obama's website, where I don't need to go through the hassle of PayPal to donate.

10) Finally, don't use tiki for every page. Simple web pages, though less 'open', would be more appropriate. As it is, the current tiki makes pages that should be simple and informative very convoluted.

Another Few Questions

 Two sets of questions in two days, not bad (I believe).  Can someone help me out with the following:

1.  Is "and/or" a single word in Lojban?  I guess it would be more like "and/xor", really.

2.  Does "and/(x)or/any combination of the following with the previous"  exist as a (shorter) word/phrase on Lojban?  It would be used something like:  The ball can be red, polka dotted, and/(x)or/any combination of the following with the previous flat.  That would mean that the ball can be red or red and polka dotted, or red and flat, or red and flat but not polka dotted, etc.  As opposed to it is either red, polka dotted, and flat or none of the previous (for "and") or it can only be red, flat, or polka dotted but not multiple of those options.  I probably won't really understand Lojban conjunctions (connectives?), so go easy on me.  :)

3.  In English I see a slight need for two/more "and"'s.  If I said "Joe, Jack, and Jill and John and Jerry are going to the park" it sounds as if they are going as a group, even if it might mean the actions are done seperately.  Both are technically the same, but seem slightly different to me.  One could use commas, but that can be distracting and difficult to read.  I write using "et" for each sub-group.  So that it is "Joe, Jack, et Jill and John et Jerry are going to the park" or "JJJ are going as one group and JJ are going as another".  How would this be expressed in Lojban?

4.  In Lojban, is there a difference between "can" (to be physically able to) and "may" ("to be allowed to")?  I would not think so, one just fills in the last place for the word (I have a hard time with the terminology, would it be gismu?) that means, roughly, "to be able".  I am too lazy to find that word right now, but I know there is one.  What would happen if that last place was not filled in.  Obviously it is slight ambiguous, although I do not believe too many would object.  How would it be interpreted "can" or "may"?

Thanks again, and probably soon to be "like normal".