RE: Lojban and AI

From: Ben Goertzel (
Date: Sun Mar 13 2005 - 20:42:08 MST

Hey Robin

> On the other hand
> mi ca ba'o tavla le vecnu be since
> means "I have now talked to the seller of snakes,"
> Actually, it's a syntax error. You want "mi ca ba'o tavla le vecnu
> be lo since"
> -Robin

Obviously I'm a Lojban novice (though I believe I understand Lojban well as
a conceptual and formal system, I have memorized few of the details so
far)... but anyway I don't quite see why this is a *syntax* error or even a
*semantics* error...

It seems to me (based on my limited and possibly wrong understanding) that
the sentence simply failed to express my intended meaning, but was both
syntactically and semantically correct according to Lojban.

If this isn't true please tell me why so I can learn the language better...

Doesn't the sentence I wrote

mi ca ba'o tavla le vecnu be since

(which I agree was erroneous in terms of my intention) mean something like

"I have now talked to the seller of is_snake"

where is_snake is (roughly) the property of being a snake.

My understanding is that this doesn't violate the rules of Lojban syntax,
because the second argument of vecnu can *syntactically* take any brivla (or
more complex construct) as an argument.

Furthermore, according to my understanding, the subcategorization frame of
vecnu (the semantics of which is specified only informally in Lojban, due to
the lack of any resource like my proposed Lojban FrameNet) is allowed to
take a "property" in its second argument, not just a concrete object:

(from the English-Lojban dictionary at

sell 2. vecnu (ven ve'u): x1 [|-er] |-s/vends x2 [goods/service/commodity]
to buyer/purchaser x3 for amount/cost/expense x4 [x1 is a
salesperson/salesman/vendor; x3 buys/purchases x2 from x1 (= terve'u for
reordered terms); x4 is the price of x2 to x3 (= velve'u for reordered
terms); for sale (= fitselve'u, selvenfriti); x2 may be a specific object, a
commodity (mass), an event, or a property; pedantically, for
objects/commodities, this is sumti-raising from ownership of the
object/commodity (= po'erve'u, po'erselve'u for unambiguous semantics)]
Where does my confusion lie?
-- Ben
I debated whether to post this privately or to the list, but I opted for the
list because I thought the dialogue might help list readers get a bit more
sense of what this Lojbanic hoo-hah is about....  I wouldn't consider long
discussions of Lojban syntax between an expert and a novice appropriate list

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.5 : Wed Jul 17 2013 - 04:00:50 MDT