Lojban with attitude!

If you tried pronouncing the vowel combinations above, you've already said some Lojban words. Lojban has a class of words called attitudinal indicators, which express how the speaker feels about something. The most basic ones consist of two vowels, sometimes with an apostrophe in the middle. Here are some of the most useful ones.












fear (think of "Eeek!")






discovery, "Ah, I get it!"




wonder, "Wow!"






repentance, "I'm sorry!"


pity, sympathy

Note: In English, people have started to avoid the word pity, because it has come to have associations of superiority. .uu is just the raw emotion: if you wanted to express pity in this rather condescending way, you'd probably say .uuga'i — "pity combined with a sense of superiority," or .uuvu'e — "pity combined with a sense of virtue." Then again, you would probably just keep your mouth shut.

You can make any of these into its opposite by adding nai, so .uinai means "I'm unhappy", .aunai is reluctance, .uanai is confusion ("I don't get it","Duh...") and so on. You can also combine them. For example, .iu.uinai would mean "I am unhappily in love." In this way you can even create words to express emotions which your native language doesn't have.

Attitudinal indicators are extremely useful, and it is well worth making an effort to learn the most common ones. One of the biggest problems people have when trying to speak in a foreign language is that, while they've learnt how to buy a kilo of olives or ask the way to the post office, they can't express feelings, because many languages do this in a round-about way (outside group therapy, very few British people would say outright that they were sad, for example!) In Lojban you can be very direct, very briefly (there are ways of 'softening' these emotions, which we'll get to in a later lesson). In fact, these attitudinals are so useful that some Lojbanists use them even when they're writing in English, rather like emoticons (those e-mail symbols like ;-) :-( etc.).

Exercise 2

Using the attitudinal indicators above (including negatives), what might you say in the following situations?

  1. You've just realised where you left your keys.

  2. Someone treads on your toes.

  3. You're watching a boring film.

  4. Someone's just told you a funny story.

  5. You disagree with someone.

  6. Someone's just taken the last cookie in the jar.

  7. You really don't like someone.

  8. You are served a cold, greasy meal.

  9. Your friend has just failed a test.

  10. There is a large green beetle crawling towards you.