More negativity

We have already seen na used to turn bridi into negative statements, of the type "it is not true that." And we saw that this sometimes leads to slightly unexpected effects compared to English not. For instance, in Lesson 4 we saw that mi na nelci ro gerku means "it is not true that I like all dogs" (or "I don't like all dogs"). It does not mean "I don't like any dogs."

na says not only that the sumti aren't connected by that particular selbri, but that they aren't necessarily connected by any selbri at all. So

mi na tavla la suzyn. 
It is not true that I talk to Susan.

is just as valid a thing to say if Susan is a rock formation in the Pamir Mountains, as it is if she is a human being I know. Often, however, we need our negation to be a little less powerful. In particular, it is useful to be able to say, not that the whole bridi is false, but only the selbri. This means that there is some relationship between the sumti — but this selbri isn't it.

The word used to negate just the selbri, and not the entire bridi, is na'e. So if we say mi na nelci ro gerku, that could be true even if I have no feelings at all about the canine species. But with

mi na'e nelci ro gerku
I other-than-like all dogs

on the other hand, there is something that can be said about me and all dogs; but it's not that I like them. It isn't necessarily that I hate them: I might write poems about them, or prescribe medicine for them, or imitate them in polite company. But like them, I don't.

If you do want to say you feel the opposite of 'like' for all dogs, you can say

mi to'e nelci ro gerku
I un-like (= dislike) all dogs.

to'e turns a selbri into its opposite: to'e nelci is pretty much the same thing as xebni 'hate'. And if you're indifferent, you can say

mi no'e nelci ro gerku
I am neutral-as-to-liking all dogs.

no'e indicates that you're neutral on the scale the selbri indicates.

Like time and space, Lojban places negation on a kind of scale, from lesser to greater extent. This 'shades of grey' approach pervades the language; you will see it time and again in the grammar. It makes for an interesting contrast with the theoretical basis for the language, classical logic — which is very much a 'black and white' domain.

Exercise 5

Now that you have three new negative words, let's see if you can use them. Give Lojban equivalents for the following English words, given their Lojban 'opposites' and the cmavo we've just learned.

  1. disinterested (cinri: interested)

  2. uninterested (cinri: interested)

  3. bored (cinri: interested)

  4. unborn (jbena: born)

  5. uncover (gairgau: cover)

  6. undead (morsi: dead)

  7. non-Lojban (lojbo: Lojban(ic))

  8. un-Lojbanic (lojbo: Lojban(ic))

  9. plain (melbi: beautiful)

  10. imaginary (fatci: factual, real)