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Lojban logo
The artificial language Lojban (SAMPA ['loZban], official full name Lojban: a realization of Loglan) was created by the Logical Language Group in 1987 based on the earlier Loglan, with the intent to make the language more complete, usable, and freely available. The language itself shares many of the features and goals of Loglan; in particular:

While the initial goal of the Loglan project was to investigate the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis, the active Lojban community has additional goals for the language, including:

Table of contents
1 Lojban grammar
2 Lojban compared to the Loglan of TLI
3 The Lojban logo
4 External links and references

Lojban grammar

Lojban has three parts of speech: one (called brivla) for both common nouns and verbs, one (called cmene) for proper nouns, and another (called cmavo) for structural particles: articles, numerals, tense indicators and other such modifiers. The cmavo are further subdivided into selma'o, which are closer to the notion of parts of speech (e.g. UI includes interjections and discursives). There are no adjectives or adverbs in the sense that Indo-European languages have them. The articles inflect to indicate individual, mass, set, or typical element. Brivla do not inflect for tense, person, or number; tense is indicated by separate cmavo, but grammatical number is absent.

As befits a logical language, there is a large assortment of conjunctions. Logical conjunctions take different forms depending on whether they connect sumti (the equivalent of noun phrases), selbri (phrases that can serve as verbs; all brivla are selbri), parts of a tanru (a construct whose closest English equivalent is a string of nouns), or clauses in a sentence.

The typology is Subject Verb Object, with Subject Object Verb also common. Word formation is polysynthetic; many brivla (all of which, except for a handful of borrowings such as alga, have at least five letters) have one to three three-letter forms called rafsi which are used in making longer words. For example, gasnu means "to make something happen"; its rafsi -gau regularly forms compounds meaning "to cause...x", in which the agent is in the subject place of the new predicate.

Lojban has a positional case system, though this can be overridden by marking predicate arguments with explicit modal particles. For instance bramau means "is bigger than"; the bigger thing is in first position, and the smaller is second, and the measured property in the third. So mi bramau do le ka clani means "I am bigger than you in the property of height" or "I am taller than you"; but this could also be expressed as something like fi le ka clani fe do fa mi bramau, "In height, you are exceeded by me".

What a particular place means depends entirely on the brivla. For animals and plants the second place is the species, variety, breed, or other taxon; for verbs of measurement it is the numerical measurement, and a further place is the standard; for klama ("go" / "come") it is the destination.

Something of the flavor of Lojban (and Loglan) can be imparted by this lightbulb joke:

Q: How many Lojbanists does it take to change a broken light bulb?
A: Two: one to decide what to change it into, and one to figure out what kind of bulb emits broken light.
This makes use of two features of the language; first, the language attempts to eliminate polysemy, that is, having a word with more than one meaning. So while the English word "change" can mean "to transform into a different state", or "to replace", or even "small-denomination currency", Lojban has different words for each. In particular, the use of a brivla such as the word for "change" ("binxo") implies that all of its predicate places exist, so there must be something for it to change into. Another feature of the language is that it has no grammatical ambiguities such as appear in English phrases like "big dog catcher", which can mean either a big person who catches dogs or a person who catches big dogs. In Lojban, unless you clearly specify otherwise with cmavo, such modifiers always group left-to-right, so "big dog catcher" is a catcher of big dogs, and a "broken light bulb" is a bulb that emits broken light (you can also avoid the ambiguity by creating a new word, so "broken lightbulb" has the intended meaning).

Lojban compared to the Loglan of TLI

Note: Loglan is now a generic term that refers both to James Cooke Brown's Loglan, and all languages descended from it. Since the organization that Dr. Brown established, The Loglan Institute, still calls its language Loglan, it is necessary to state that we in this section are referring to the TLI language, instead of the entire family of languages.

The principal difference between Lojban and Loglan is one of lexicon. A Washington D.C. splinter group, which later formed The Logical Language Group, LLG, decided in 1986 to remake the entire vocabulary of Loglan in order to evade Dr. Brown's claim of copyright to the language. After a lengthy battle in court, his claim to copyright was ruled invalid. By then, though, the new vocabulary was already cemented as a part of the new language, which was called Lojban: A realization of Loglan by its supporters.

The closed set of five-letter words were the first part of the vocabulary to be remade. The words for Lojban were made by the same principles as those for Loglan, that is, candidate forms were chosen according to how many sounds they had in common with their equivalent in some of the most common spoken languages on Earth, which was then multiplied with the number of speakers of the languages with which the words had letters in common. The difference with the Lojban remake of the root words was that the weighting was updated to reflect more recent numbers of speakers for the languages. This resulted in word forms that had less sounds taken from English, and more sounds taken from Chinese. For instance, the Loglan word norma is equivalent to the Lojban word cnano, both meaning "normal".

Grammatical words were gradually added to Lojban as the grammatical description of the language was made.

Loglan and Lojban still have essentially the same grammars, and most of what is said in the typology section above, holds true for Loglan as well. Most simple, declarative sentences could be translated word by word between the two languages.

There are also many differences between the terminology used in English to talk about the two languages. In his writings, James Cooke Brown used many terms based on English, Latin and Greek, some of which were already established with a slightly different meaning. The Lojban camp, on the other hand, freely borrowed grammatical terms from Lojban itself. Thus, for what linguists would call roots or root words, loglanists say primitives or prims, and lojbanists say gismu. The lexeme of Loglan and selma'o of Lojban has nothing to do with the linguistic meaning of lexeme. It is really a kind of part of speech, a subdivision of the set of grammatical words, or particles, which by loglanists are called little words and by lojbanists cmavo. There is a grammatical construct in Loglan and Lojban that is called, respectively, metaphor and tanru; this is not really a metaphor per se, but a kind of modifier-modificand relationship of which a noun collocation is an example. A borrowed word in Loglan is simply called a borrowing, in English discussions of Lojban, the Lojban word fu'ivla is used. This is probably because in Lojban, unlike Loglan, a certain set of CV templates is reserved for borrowed words.

In the new phonology for Lojban, the consonant q and the vowel w was removed, and the consonant h was replaced by x. The consonant ' (apostrophe) was added with the value of IPA [h], but its distribution is such that it can appear only intervocally, and in discussions of the morphology and phonotactics, it is described not as a proper consonant, but a "voiceless glide". A rigid phonotactical system was made for Lojban, but Loglan does not seem to have had such a system.

The Lojban logo

The Lojban logo is the result of a poll of the members of the LLG, and is defined as a cartesian coordinate system superimposed on a Venn diagram. This definition does not mention color, but it is traditionally reproduced with the the coordinate system in red and the Venn diagram in blue.

While no official explanation of its symbolism exists, one might reasonably suppose that the Venn diagram stands for predicate logic, while the coordinate system represents rationality, mathematics and the natural sciences.

External links and references