Lojban Poem


What a crappy poem! It's all stuff you learn in the first lesson of Lojban and it's like pasting a bunch of ugly smileys on the screen. I like Lojban now, but seeing this poem a couple of months ago really delayed my learning it since it's seemed so ugly.
Whee! Whee! Wah! Oooh ha sigh
Wah! Woe, Whee! Oooh ha sigh
Woe, Wah! Wah! Oooh ha sigh
Wah! Woe, Whee! Oooh ha shy

Translation: Please put English translation here. Sorry, there isn't one. It's all attitudinal indicators and as a result the poem expresses with a great deal of precision a certain feeling in a way which cannot be done in EnglishLanguage. Any translation would make no sense. Some of us who speak LojbanLanguage feel that this makes attitudinals a proof of the SapirWhorfHypothesis.

Well, unless I'm missing something it doesn't seem to very cryptic. Consulting chapter 13 of the text-book online at http://www.lojban.org, a literal translation would seem to be something like:

 Happyness! Happyness! Discovery. Great gain!
 Discovery. Completion. Happiness!. Great gain!
 Completion. Discovery. Discovery. Great gain!
 Discovery. Completion. Happiness!. Greatest Gain!

Yes, that's what the words mean, but it doesn't really capture the sense of the writing. Happyness! Happyness! is far different from smiling, which lojban. .ui is an oral version of.

How about this:

  :)  :)  :o  $$!
  :o      :)  $$!
      :o  :o  $$!
  :o      :)  $$$!

OK, it's missing SmileyFaces for completion because I don't know how to express it in ASCII. :) --NickBensema

[slightly odd sense of "discovery" here. Ch. 13 gives discovery--confusion as the axis that ua labels] [Meaning that the discovery is the sense of "AhHa"?]

And the feeling of discovery doesn't mean you feel that you have discovered anything, just that you have the same emotions as if you had.

Doubtless someone with greater lyrical flair than me could make this read less like a translation than it does. It may be that the Lojban carries some notion of one emotion being embedded within the other, I've not investigated the grammar enough to know what it means for the attitudinals to be stacked up like that without something to express an attitude about. Althoug the ".", which apparently must precede any word beginiing with a vowel would seem to suggest that this is not a likely interpretation.

Chapter 13 explains that each of these vowel pairs represents an "emotional axis" , with modifiers like "sai" and "cai" optionally indicating degree. This gives Lojban a very rich vocabulary for expressing emotion as a high-dimentional vector, allowing one to name in Lojban emotions that have no name in English (tho one has to suspect that huge regions of this vector space don't even correspond to emotions that people feel). The SWH claim seems spurious, though. Chapter 13 explains how the 39 basic "dimesions" were obtained by analysing a list of English emotion words. Does this mean that Lojban is no better at discussing ennui or schadenfreuder than is English? Anyway, would it not be that, for Lojban attitudinals to prove the SWH that Lojban speakers could feel emotions that non-Lojban speakers can't?

: The lack of attitudinals is a major problem with Lojban. Not compared to English, but compared to what Lojban could be. I've missed of course ennui and schadenfreude but I've also missed having "air of secrecy"/"revelation", "truthfulness" and others as attitudinals. New lujvo can be constructed easily but new attitudinals can't easily be added to the langage.

Well who knows if I've got a "lyrical flair", but I have a love of Lojban, so I'll give it a go:

    : I'm happy, I'm happy, I've found it, it's good!
    : I've found it, I've done it, I'm happy, it's good! 
    : I've done it, I've found it, I've found it, it's good! 
    : I've found it, I've done it, I'm happy, it's great! 

I must also say that I feel like you are underestimating the attitudinals. Lojban has plenty of experimental cmavo space, if you did want to make up new attitudinals, but I think if you practiced with the ones there are you'd find that they are very productive in their combinations. (It's like going up to a painter who has a tube of yellow paint & a tube of blue paint & saying: "But I like green!")

Any of you who are interested in Lojban's attitudinals are encouraged to join my new language Cniglic, which applies Lojban's attitudinals to English text. (It's intended as a sort of antechamber and sibling language to Lojban.)


No offense intended, but you're not exactly going to win lots of converts to LojbanLanguage this way. How about something that can be (at least roughly) translated into English?

But this is not a poem written to attract converts, it is a poem written in response to the idea that the inability to translate attitudinals without either losing the meaning (it expresses an emotion, and explains how I feel in great detail) or getting nonsensical English might support the SapirWhorfHypothesis (Altough not prove it) and is therefore deliberately untranslateable. But I was attracted to LojbanLanguage because it was able to express more emotions than English. But if you want SomethingRoughlyTranslateable, somebody activate that link and put some LojbanLanguage text up that can be translated. -- anon Done

And here's how to express the same emotion in English, but losing the sense or the fact that it can be seen as an audible facial expression rather than an assertion about how I feel:

I'm really happy, because I feel very strongly as if I had gained something (though this does not mean I think I have). Something gives me a feeling like something is complete (but that might not be the case, I just feel that way) and I have a sense of having discovered something (again, without saying I have).

Now didn't that lose something?

It's hard to know if it lost something because I can't tell if it ever had anything. I believe in letting people know how I feel, but if I ever start talking like that, someone please slap me hard. -- WaldenMathews

You want to be slapped if you start grinning? Think of it as an aural facial expression that conveys those feelings. If I say .ui that is translated as happines, but its really a sonic smile. BTW, sonic smile would make an excellent name for a rock band.

The problem is that saying .ui or typing a smiley are deliberately timed events. As such, they are not so much akin to continuous smiling as to flashing a smile. I'm not sure I would trust someone who flashes four smiles in under a minute.

That meaning is a specific cultural thing. In lojbanistan, people like it - because if you like that you go (mi klama .ui) but hate that the US president is honest (le merja'a cu stace .oi) you don't have to only express your feelings on one of them.

Vocabulary is dynamic, and English is great at appropriating words it doesn't have. .u'cacai just takes a little anglicization - uhashest! We already have whee for something else, and wah may not be the best idea, but I'm sure we can invent something, and we'll be able to translate the poem in no time. Not that we shouldn't learn Lojban, just that there's no reason to leave an impoverished language behind. :) Disce, doce.

That was just the pronunciation... Wah is how to pronounce .ua (and Whee is .ui which means happiness, so that one actually fits... just as .oi is actually stolen from YiddishLanguage? oy)

As AnonymousDonor has pointed out above, if speakers of English (or any other language) really needed one of the "untranslatable" Lojban words for our own uses, we could coin or import words with the same meaning. Heck, I could go through the entire Logban grammar, make up new grammatical particles and modal verbs to cover the same semantic space, advertise the result as "English++", write untranslatable poems demonstrating the power of my language, and ... be ignored by the vast majority of the English-speaking population.

The reverse is probably true, as well -- I'd bet that if Lojban ever became a language that some community learned from their parents and practiced in their daily conversation, the language as spoken in practice would be as "impoverished" as English. Just because a certain grammatical construction is listed in the book and lays claim to a unique corner of semantic space doesn't guarantee that it will get passed down to the Nth generation. What has happened in conversation is that people use AttitudinalIndicators a lot - .ui is more succinct than "mi gleki lenu"

Observe how US Standard English has dropped "thou", a word which used to cover a distinct semantic space from "you", and has stubbornly refused to adopt either the Southern "y'all" or the Brooklyn "youse" as a plural. Or, observe the differences between the Hebrew of the Bible, which has a very rich set of verb inflections, and the Hebrew spoken in modern Israel, which uses only a subset of them.


Meek Llama, Oui?

                 lu tutci jivbu li'u tcita di'e .i tu'e

renvi co nanca li vopa .i le baxso djine be lemi degji ru'i sinxa co prami je speni .i logji vlipa .i sarlu fa le tarmi

.i senva co nanca li vopa .i le ve fanva mi jorne le jaivi tolpei .i cmene da poi vi'e clupa ke'a .i baxso djine

tu'u ("Toolloom": 'Survivor of 41 years. The Balinese ring on my finger stands for husband & lover. Logic powerful. Spiral shaped. Forty one years a dreamer. The thing translated from is joined to me at the place of mystery. Name of what is everywhere looped. Balinese ring.')

(from the Mailing List archives)

See also LojbanLanguage, CulturallyNeutralLanguage, LoglanLanguage, AttitudinalIndicator

Jo Clayton has written some books that have poems in them that possess meanings similar to that which you are trying to communicate.

Obviously slight differences occur due to situational effects, but I have seen four or five line poems from her that give the feeling of outcast youth dancing around a fire at night in rampant glee with excitement filling a tense night air.

Ah, writing it out in sentence format would actually end up being longer then the poem itself.

She (Jo Clayton) actually used a whole lot of made up words in the poem but they did not need translating at all because they seemed so. . . . natural. Heck they were natural, they immediately gave the impression of what the author wished to communicate.

Jo Clayton was a master at using these darn'd 26 characters to represent any emotion that she wanted to represent in only a few words.

Oh, and some of us still use thou. :) Y'all is also catching on quickly, hasn't the phrase 'you guys' become the equivalent now days though?

The poem does read nice though, defintly makes me want to learn more about the language. Unless it is better at expressing metaphysical concepts though. . . . Are there any languages out there that are verb free? :)

Well, there's AllNoun?: http://www.langmaker.com/db/mdl_allnoun.htm

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