This is where things start getting strange. In Lojban, space can be a 'tense' just as much as time. This is because there is no difference in Lojban between what traditional grammar calls 'prepositions' and tenses. As we've seen, English, like many languages, treats a word like earlier and the past tense ending -ed as two totally separate things, while in Lojban they're the same: they both locate an event in time. Space words like in or near are prepositions in English, and can never be tenses; but in Lojban we treat them just like time words: they locate events in space. If you prefer, you can also say that Lojban treats time as a dimension, as is (conventionally) done in Einstein's physics.

Remember the word ti? This is part of a series ti, ta, tu, meaning roughly 'this', 'that' and 'that over there.' If we're talking about places rather than things, we say vi, va, vu, meaning roughly 'here', 'there' and 'yonder' or 'way over there'. Again, this is determined by the thing you're talking about. If you're telling a doctor where you feel pain, ti might be the end of your toe, while if you're talking about astronomy, ti could be the solar system. We can therefore say

viku mi gunka
Here, I work.

or, more naturally, "I work here."

We've seen that puku means 'before the here-and-now'. Similarly, viku means 'in the immediate vicinity of the here-and-now', i.e. 'here'. If we don't want to make the location relative to the speaker, but relative to something else, we can fill in the empty sumti value, in the same way, to say what the event is in the immediate vicinity of. This, of course, makes vi, va, vu acts as sumti tcita, just like de'i and ti'u: they add new sumti to the bridi. For example

vi la paris. mi gunka
In Paris, I work.

vu le mi zdani mi gunka
A long way from my home, I work

va lenu la KEnedis. se catra kei mi gunka
A medium distance from where Kennedy was killed, I work

Note: If kei in the last sentence wasn't there, mi would be a sumti of catra rather than gunka, so the listener might start interpreting the sentence as "A medium distance from where Kennedy was killed by me ..."

If we want to emphasise that something is at exactly the same location as something else (something which holds true not as often as you might think), you would use bu'u 'coinciding with':

mi sanli bu'u lenu la KEnedis. se catra
I'm standing in the very spot where Kennedy was killed (i.e. I've made a visit to the Texas Book Depository — or if you prefer, the Grassy Knoll...)

Just like the time cmavo, place cmavo can be attatched to selbri. For example, instead of saying viku mi gunka, you can say mi vi gunka — "I here-work." Again, this sounds odd in English, but one of the purposes of Lojban is to encourage you to say things in different ways, which may lead to being able to say different things. Lojban expands the mind (warning: unproven Lojban propaganda!).

If we combine place vi etc. with words like ri'u, they become more productive. ri'u is a place cmavo meaning 'to the right of', so ri'u vi ku is 'in the immediate vicinity of the right of the here-and-now'. What you're doing is, you're still saying where something is happening relative to you, but now you are saying in what direction to look for it. For example:

la bil. sanli ri'u vi ku la bil. ri'u vi sanli
Bill stands just to the right.

And just like vi and bu'u, you can use these cmavo with an explicit sumti, to say where things are happening relative to something else:

la bil. sanli ri'u vi la meiris.
Bill stands just to the right of Mary.

There is a whole class of cmavo that work like ri'u, and they are called FAhA-type cmavo, so named after a (somewhat non-representative) member of their class, fa'a (in the direction of). These include to'o (away from), zu'a (to the left of), ne'a (next to), ne'i (within) and so on. (Again, all the space cmavo are explained in Chapter 10 of The Complete Lojban Language).

Note: FAhA cmavo indicate direction, but not motion toward that direction. There is a separate cmavo for that; see Lesson 7.

We can also combine time and space. For example, mi vipuzu gunka means "I here-past-long-time-distance work", or "I used to work here a long time ago." A common expression with ku is puzuvuku, meaning 'long ago and far away' — a standard way to begin a fairy tale or legend!

Getting back to daily speech, these time and space cmavo are very useful for questions. ca ma is 'simultaneous with what?', or in other words, 'when?' (a simpler alternative to ti'u or di'e). Similarly, vi ma means 'at the location of what?', or 'where?'

Exercise 4

Translate the following.

  1. zdani do vi ma

  2. la bil. puzavi zutse

  3. le cipni puzine'ava vofli

  4. la tcarlz.daruin. puva xabju

  5. mi ba tavla ne'i le barja