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Loglan, the logical language
The name Loglan, in this context, refers to the logical language that James Cooke Brown first started to develop in the 1950s. Loglan forms an example of a logical language because the developers based the language on predicate logic which forms a way of defining logical relationships. However, for practical purposes, you could view the language as an example of a fill the blanks language as each of the main type of words used in Loglan effectively form an incomplete sentence where you fill in the blanks to complete the meaning. For example, the Loglan word meaning to see, vizka, has three blanks and forms the sentence x sees y against background z as in mi vizka tu meaning I see you (you don't have to use all the blanks in loglan).
Loglan could form a future auxiliary language as it has a number of advantages over natural languages and languages such as Esperanto.
- Loglan has a set of consistent rules - no exceptions
- Consistent spelling (the base words come in either CVCCV or CCVCV form (where C stands for "consonant" and V for "vowel")).
- Simpler rule set. Loglan has about 200 rules, far less than a natural language.
- A defined way to grow so any additions follow a set of rules as the language grows and develops. So, once you know Loglan, your knowledge doesn't get out dated as the language changes.
- Simpler grammar. No nouns, adverbs, imperfect forms, etc to learn.
Table of Contents
- Chapter 1 - Overview of Loglan
- Chapter 2 - Putting Things Together - Forming Sentences
- Chapter 3 - The Power of Little Words
- Chapter 4 - Using Loglan
Chapter 1 - Overview of Loglan
You construct a sentence in Loglan from three groups of words:
- Predicates - the main words of Loglan
- Arguments - used to fill the blanks
- Little words - control words
You use predicates to form the main subject of a sentence. If fact, you can view a predicate words as an incomplete sentence. Just fill in the blanks to say what you want to say. Each predicate word has from one to five blanks to fill in.
Predicates come in three main forms.
- Base words
- Compound words
- Loan words
These form the main set of words used in Loglan. They have a constant spelling; either CVCCV form or CCVCV form. They all end in a vowel and they all have only one meaning each.
NB. The letters x, y and z represent the blanks.
- vizka - x sees y against background z
- hasfa - x is the house of y
- tarci - x is a star of galaxy y
- fundi - x likes y more than z
- takna - x talks to y about z
- cnida - x needs y for z
- clika - x is similar to x in feature z
- tcaro - x is a motorised vehicle
- jmite - x meets y
- zvoto - x is outside of y
The base words in Loglan number about 1 500. To say more you can use two or more base words to make a metaphor. If you think others can use the metaphor you can combine the words to make a new word. Each base word has a combining form which you can use to construct more complex words.
- fagctu - ash. Constructed from fagro (fire) and ctuda (excrement); fagro ctuda. The word fagro has the combining form fag and ctuda the combining form of ctu so the metaphor fagro ctuda becomes the word fagctu.
- bamfoa - sphere. Constructed from balma (ball) and forma (form / shape); balma forma. The word balma has the combining form bam and forma the combining form of foa so the metaphor balma forma becomes the word bamfoa.
- trigru - forest / wood. Constructed from tricu (tree) and grupa (group); tricu grupa. The word tricu has the combining form tri and grupa the combining form of gru so the metaphor tricu grupa becomes the word trigru.
When using Loglan you try to use Loglan word to construct a metaphor for a new idea of concept. However, you might not have the opportunity to do that at all time such as when an idea or concept has a close relationship to one group of people. In such cases, Loglan allows borrowing but with certain rules.
- proteini - x is a protein of type y
- cerkopithekui - x is a cercopithecus (a primate) of that genus
These form a set of words that you use to fill in the blanks of the predicates. They form the objects or agents that you talk about. Arguments come in three forms:
We use a little word to tell the difference between a name and a normal predicate word used as an argument; either le or la. The little word le means the one I call and the the little word la means the one that actually is. The word 'le' then forms a prefix for a description and the little word la forms a prefix for a name.
Names in Loglan come in two types:
- Proper Names
- Predicate Names
All proper names end in a consonant and can have any number of letters. We can use predicates as names if we use the little word la first. As predicates together form a metaphor we use the little word gu to show where the name ends and the main predicate of the sentence starts.
- Frans - France
- Sol - Sun
- Romas - Rome
- la farfu - father / dad
- la ratcu - Rat
Predicates as arguments
You can use predicates words as arguments to the main predicate of a sentence to form the object or agent of a predicate. To do so, you need to add the little word le to show that the you mean the one I call and then use the little word gu to show when the argument predicate comes to an end and the main sentence predicate begins.
- le nirli gu tcatro - the girl is driving (a vehicle)
- le farfu gu kamla - the father comes
- le hasfa gu redro - the house is red
- le prano mrenu gu goztsefui - the running man is late
Little words as arguments
Loglan has a number of little words that you can use for common occurring actors or objects.
- tu - you
- ti - this
- toi - that ( the last mentioned remark)
- da - he / she / it
Little words form a type of control word for sentences. You can use them to form brackets, add time and place or add additional information to a sentence. You can also use some little words for common words you might use such as me, it or numbers.
- mi - me / I / myself
- gu - a separator between predicates / a right boundary marker
- to - the number two
- rau - ... because of reason ...
- e - and
Chapter 2 - Putting Things Together - Forming Sentences
You build a proper sentence in Loglan around a predicate word. You then fill what blanks you need and then add any additional information using little words.
(vizka = x sees y against background z)
- mi vizka tu - I see you (main predicate = vizka)
- tu vizka mi - You see me (main predicate = vizka)
- mi ridle ba le bukcu - I read something from a book (main predicate = ridle with arguments = ba and le bukcu)
More complex sentences
- mi nu vizka tu - I am seen by you (you see me) (main predicate = vizka and using the place converter nu to swap arguments)
- mi vizka tu, ui - I see you (which I am happy about) (main predicate = vizka and using the emotional indicator ui)
(soisni = x is sleepier than y) (cioru = many / too much) (muspli = x exercises muscles y)
- la maris soisni rau lepo da cioru muspli - Mary feels sleepy because she has exercised too much (main predicate = soisni with rau to give a physical cause)
(tcatro = x drives vehicle y from z to a via b) (livhao = x is the home of y) (turka = x work on y for purpose z) (sitfa = x is the place of b in reference frame z)
- le mrenu gu tcatro le tcaro le livhao le turka sitfa pa - the man drove the car from home to the work place (main predicate = tcatro and using the little word pa to put the event in the past)
- le mrenu gu tcatro le tcaro le livhao le turka sitfa fa - the man will drive the car from home to the work place (main predicate = tcatro and using the little word fa to put the event in the future)
Chapter 3 - The Power of Little Words
Much of the expressive power of Loglan lies in the little words. A basic sentence in Loglan just defines a relationship between actors and objects but says nothing about the whys, whens or wheres. For example, mi vizka tu defines a relationship between me and you of the type seeing; "I see you" but says nothing about where or when or why. We can use the little words to add those additional informations.
Little words come in different types:
Logical Operators and Connections - joining things together
Time and Space -the wheres and whens
Modifiers - the whys
Logical Operators and Connections
Loglan has five basic logical operators for joining things together and one way to separate sentences. Loglan also has an operator for please indicate which :
- a - the or operator
- e - the and operator
- o - the if and only if operator
- u - the whether or not operator
- no - the inverse operator
- i - the start of a sentence
- ze - mixing things together
- ha - How connected
Loglan then extends these basic operator for connecting words or sentences in different ways
The OR Operator
In Loglan, we define the Or operator as true if one item it links together has a value of true. The little word a connects predicates together.
- mi tcatro a maifle - I am a driver or a pilot (or both)
- le tetri gu solflo a kleda - the weather is sunny or cold (or both)
- le bakso gu redro a dirlu a groda - the box is red or lost or large (or any combination)
ca, ka, anoi and ica
The little word a forms the foundations for a set of "OR" words.
- ca - forms an OR operation with predicates as arguments
- ka - forms an OR operation as a but as a forethought connection. It works with the little word ki
- anoi - represents an if relationship and results from NOT OR
- ica - connects two sentences together with an OR operation
- le mrenu ca fumna gu godzi - the man or woman goes
- le katmu gu fundi le cutri ca ficlu - the cat likes water or fish
- le ka mrenu ki fumna gu godzi - the man or woman goes
- le katmu gu fundi le ka cutri ki ficlu - the cat likes water or fish
- mi fundi le bukcu anoi le sinma - I like the book if I like the film
- mi fundi le bukcu ica le sinma - I like the book or I like the film
The AND Operator
The AND operator links together a group of items so that for the whole group to have the value true all the items have to have the value true. If one or more items have the value false then the whole group has the value false.
The little word e links together predicates.
- la djan gu herkeu e larmao - John is a hairdresser and an artist
- da tcaro e plebekti - that is a car and a toy
ce, ke and enoi
The other AND operators in Loglan follow on from e.
The little word ce joins together arguments and so does ke but we use ke in a forethought way and it works together with ki. We can use the little word enoi to mean ... but not ....
- da lemi hasfa ce livhao - this is my house and home
- le tetri gu cetlo ce briflo - the weather is wet and windy
- tu ponsu le grobou ce botsu - you own the ship and the boat
- da lemi ke hasfa ki livhao - this is my house and home
- mi clika lemi ke matma ki farfu - I am like my mother and father
- mi madzo le hasfa enoi le livhao - I make a house but not a home
The IF and only IF operator
The little word o means if and only if. We can use it to link predicates together.
- mi godzi o dzoru - I go if and only if I walk
- mi clivi o brute - I am alive if and only if I breath
co, ko, onoi and ico
We can extend the basic little word o for connecting arguments ans sentences.
- co - links arguments together
- ko - the forethought equivalent and works with ki
- onoi - the exclusive OR (XOR) operator that means a XOR b but not both
- ico - links sentences
- mi hapci co crano pernu - I am a happy (if and only if smiling) person
- da nakso le bakso co kuvbao - Someone fix the box if and only chest
- mi ko hapci ki crano gu pernu - I am a happy (if and only if smiling) person
- le crina onoi le solflo gu tetri - the weather is either raining or sunny but not both
- mi kamla le fusto onoi le livhao - I come to the office or the home but not both
- mi klama le fusto ico klama le livhao - I come to the office or I come to the home but not both
The Whether or Not Operator
The little word u means x whether or not y and links together predicates.
- mi godzi u brecea - I go, whether or not I am ready
- da bakso u redro - it is a box, whether or not it is red
- ti bukcu u ponsu ti - it is a book, whether or not I own it
cu, ku and icu
We can use the little word cu to link together arguments and so does ku. However, ku works as a forethought operator and works with ki. The little word icu links sentences.
- mi godzi le hasfa cu vemsia - I go to the house, whether or not I go to the shop
- le katmu cu kangu gu fundi le ficlu - The cat, whether or not the dog, likes the fish
- mi godzi le ku hasfa ki vemsia - I go to the house, whether or not I go to the shop
- tu fleti la Romas cu Pari's - you fly to Rome, whether or not you fly to Paris
- tu vrelaa icu mi vrecoa - you are tall, whether or not I am short
The Inverse Operator
We use the little word no to invert or negate a relationship. I can mean slightly different things depending exactly where it appears in a sentence.
- no, mi vizka tu - It is not the case that I see you (no relationship between you and me)
- mi no vizka tu - I don't see you (but there is a relationship between you and me but its not seeing. I could hear you instead, for example)
- mi vizka no tu - I don't see you (I see something but its not you)
Start a Sentence
The little word i indicates the start of a sentence. We can also combine i with other operators to produce sentence combining forms such as ica (i + ca).
- mi vizka tu. i tu vizka mi - I see you. You see me.
- mi fleti la Romas. i tu stolo le livhao - I fly to Rome. You stay at home.
Mixing Things Together
Sometimes a composition forms something. For example, a black and white cat composed of both black fir and white fir. In loglan, if we say a black and white cat (le nigro ce blabi katmu) we mean the cat is both black and white at the same time, which not only forms and example of an impossibility but also we do not mean that. Loglan, however, does provide a word to mix things together.
- le nigro ze blabi katmu - black and white cat
- le redro ze vegri hasfa - The red and green house
For an OR operation to have a truth value of true only one item in the list need a truth value of true. So, the question "would you like sugar or milk in your coffee" has the answer "yes" if I would like sugar or if I would like milk or if I would like milk and sugar. It only has the answer "no" if I want neither milk nor sugar. Technically correct the answer "yes", but not very useful. If I answer "yes" do I want milk, sugar or both? To over come this, Loglan provides the little word ha to mean which if any.
- ei, tu danza le sakta ha le malna kii letu skafi - Would you like sugar or milk with your coffee?
Time and Space
A simple sentience in Loglan only defines a relationship between the arguments but says nothing about where on when the relationship holds true. Unlike some natural languages, you can chose to add time and space to a sentence in Loglan or chose to leave it out.
The Loglan sentence, mi viska tu means I see you or I was seen by you or I will see you. English forces us to add in the time; was it past, present or future? But in Loglan mi viska tu can hold true if I see you now or I have seen you or even if I will see you at some point in the future. Loglan does not force you to refer to time or space.
Loglan treats time and space the same. That means you place a relationship in time the same way that you place it in space; you add one of three words for time and one of three words for space. Whatever you can do with time words you can do with space words.
For time we have the following three words:
For space we have the following three words:
pa, na, and fa
If we want to add time into a sentence Loglan provides us with three little words to do that; pa, na and fa. You can add theses little words anywhere in the sentence.
The little word pa refers to the past and means before.
- mi vizka tu pa - I saw you
- mi pa vizka tu - I saw you
- pa mi vizka tu - I saw you
The little word na refers to now and means at the instance of.
- mi na vizka tu - I see you now
The last of the three, fa, refers to the future and means after.
- mi vizka tu fa - I will see you
vi, va and vu
The little words vi, va and vu indicate place and work like the words for time; they go anywhere in the sentence.
The little word vi means here or close to this place
- mi viska tu vi - I see you here
- mi vi viska tu - I see you here
- vi mi viska tu - I see you here
The little word va means over there or nearby.
- mi vizka tu va - I saw you nearby
The last little, vu word refers to a place far away; over there or yonder.
- mi vizka tu vu - I saw you far away over there
zi, za, and zu
You can add more details to the time and space words using the zi, za, and zu little words.
- zi - near or very short duration
- za - soon or a short duration
- zu - long time or long duration
- fazi - very short time in the future
- vuzu - a very long distance away
- naza - in a little while
The context determines how long is long and how short is short. The existence of humans on Earth is a short time in geological ages but and hour might mean a long time to wait for a bus.
Other Places and Other Times
The use of vi, va, vu and pa, na, fa defines time and place relative to the speaker. We can use the little word la to define a place or time relative to something else if we combine it with the place and time words.
- mi vizka tu lena kinkra - I saw you at the time of the convention
- mi lena kinkra gu vizka tu - I, at the time of the convention, saw you
- mi vizka tu lefa kinkra - I will see you at the time of the convention
- mi vizka tu levi kinkra - I saw you at the place of the convention
- mi vizka tu leva kinkra - I saw you near the place of the convention
The basic Loglan sentence just defines a relationship but Loglan allows you to add more information if you wish. These extra words we group together as:
- Sentence modifiers
- Argument modifiers
- Free modifiers
Sentence modifiers include the time and space words and the logical contention words. They also include modal and causal relative operators. You can place a modal anywhere in a sentence but if they appear anywhere other than on the end of a sentance you might need a gu to say when the modeal ends and the remaining part of the sentence continues.
Modal operators add information on who or in what way something relates to something else. They all come in CVV form.
- kii - With as in mi godzi kii tu (I walk with you)
- tie - using tool as in Da pa tie leda najda gu kutla de (someone, with a knife, cut something. Note the use of gu to end the modal)
- hea - with help as in mi kamla le hijra hea tu (I came here with your help)
Causal operators work just the same way as modal operators. Causal operators give the reason why a relationship holds.
- kou - because of physical reason as in mi cetlo kou le crina (I am wet because of the rain)
- moi - because of motive as in mi kamla le hijra moi lepo mi danza lepo mi vizka tu (I came because I wanted to see you)
- rau - because of reason as in mi fundi tu rau lepo tu minspu (I like you because you are clever)
- soa - because of premise as in letu kukreo gu denro soa lepo ra dortau gu denro (your rifle is dangerous because all weapons are dangerous)
Argument modifiers adds additional information to an argument such as making claims or identifying the argument.
- ji - adds more information to identify the argument as in lemi hasfa ji le redro hasfa, gu snire (my house - the red house - is close)
- ja - makes a claim and adds more information about the argument as in lemi hasfa ja le redro hasfa, gu snire (my house, which is a red house, is close)
Theses modifiers add more information about the writer / speaker or about the sentence as a whole. They can go anywhere in a sentence without effecting the sentence (except after le, la and the others in that group). Loglan contains a number of different types of free modifiers, which includes.
These all have a VV form and form groups depending on the first letter. The 'a' series deals with intention, 'e' with requests, 'i' with conviction, 'o' with obligation and 'u' with motive. The second letter deals with degree with 'a' as positive, 'i' mid way and 'u' as negative. Some examples:
- ua - satisfaction
- ui - happy
- uo - anger
- uu - sorrow
- oa - must / feel obliged to do so
- ou - Doesn't matter
- ia - agree
- ii - maybe
- iu - don't know
- ei - is it so
- eo - please
- eu - assume
- ai - intend
- au - don't care
Loglan has a set of numbers composed of 10 little words which represent a single digit each:
- 0 - ni
- 1 - ne
- 2 - to
- 3 - te
- 4 - fo
- 5 - fe
- 6 - so
- 7 - se
- 8 - vo
- 9 - ve
All odd numbers end in e and all even numbers end in o. You can form larger numbers though combining words in the same way we combine digits.
- 10 - neni
- 123 - netote
You can add fi on to the end of a number to describe a sequence such as first, second, third.
- Nefi - first
- tofi - second
- tefi - third
Loglan has away to refer to each letter. You might want to do this when using letters as variables. You just need to add an ending to the letter depending on weather you use a Latin of Greek letter, vowel or consonant. NB Loglan does not use the letter c or w for Greek letters as Greek has no corresponding sounds (c = sh and w = eu in Loglan).
- -ei for lower case Latin consonant letters
- -si for lower case Latin vowel letters
- -ai for upper case Latin consonant letters
- -ma for upper case Latin vowel letters
- -eo for lower case Greek consonant letters
- gao- for upper case Greek consonant letters
- -fi for lower case vowel letters
- gao,- for upper case Greek vowel letters
- A - Ama
- a - asi
- B - Bai
- b - bei
- Alpha - gao,afi
- alpha - afi
- Beta - gaobeo
- beta - beo
He, She and It
Gender in Loglan
In many natural languages when referring to a person you also have to refer to the person's gender. For example, in English, if you refer to a man you use "he" and for a woman you use "she". The words "he" and "she" automatically tells you the person's gender. Loglan, however, does not specify gender like in English. Instead, Loglan maintains gender neutrality.
Loglan has a number of ways to refer to a person. One way involves using the first letter of the person's name.
- John helps people. He works as a doctor. - la djan helba lo pernu. i la D kicmu
- Mary has arrived. She's in the red car over there. - la Maris godzi le hijra. i la M nenri le redro tcaro va ti
He, She, it
Loglan has no specifi words for "he", "she" or "it". Instead it has variables da, de, di, do, and du, which takes the place of the person or item in the order they appear in a conversation or sentence. So, you can use da to refer to the first person or item mentioned and de for the second person or item as you would use "he", "she" or ""it".
- John helps people. He works as a doctor. - la djan helba lo pernu. i da kicmu
- Mary has arrived. She's in the red car over there. - la Maris godzi le hijra. i de nenri le redro tcaro va ti
Chapter 4 Using Loglan
- Hello - loi
- Good bye - loa
- How are you? - tu he
- How do you feel? - ei tu djela
- What is your name? - hu namci tu
- My name is <name> - la <name> namci lemi
- What is the time? - hu jolkeo
- The time is
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