In most language textbooks, you get the alphabet of the language together with its sounds. Letters (lerfu) turn out to be even more important than usual in Lojban, so we might as well go through their names quickly.

Consonants are straightforward: the name of a consonant letter is that letter, plus y. So the consonant letters of Lojban, b, c, d, f, g ..., are called by., cy., dy., fy., gy.... in Lojban (using the full stop as we've just described.)

Vowels would be called .ay, .ey, .iy, but that would be rather difficult to pronounce. Instead, they are handled by following the vowel sound with the word bu, which basically means 'letter'. So the vowels of Lojban are: .abu, .ebu, .ibu, .obu, .ubu, ybu.

The apostrophe is regarded as a proper letter in Lojban, and is called .y'y.. To some people, this sounds like a cough; to other, like uh-huh (when it means 'Yes' rather than 'No'.)

Lojban has ways of refering to most letters you can think of; see The Complete Lojban Language, Chapter 17 for details. If you have the urge to spell out your name in Lojban and have an H, Q, or W to deal with, you can use .y'y.bu, ky.bu and vy.bu. So Schwarzenegger is spelt in Lojban as:

sy. cy. .y'ybu vybu. .abu ry. zy. .ebu ny. .ebu gy. gy. .ebu ry.

And spelling that is a task the equal of anything the Terminator ever did!

Tip: When h is at the beginning of a name, you cannot transliterate it with ', since that letter needs to occur between two vowels. In that case, you can either use another similar sound, such as x or f, or run the word in with its preceding word, so that the ' remains between two vowels. Thus, Jay Hinkelman can go into Lojban as djeis.xinklmn., djeis.finklmn., or djei'inklmn.

Exercise 1

Spell your name in Lojban (or at least something close enough to it to use the twenty-six letters of English we have learned, and the apostrophe.) No peeking at the back — we don't have the answer to this exercise there!