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Universitato de Vesperto

ĉe Lulu-insulo sur Fraser-rivero. Esperanto ekde 1887.


The Word "lo" in Lojban (1994)
Kastelo Verda
vesperto
To: lojban@cuvmb.cc.columbia.edu
Subject: lo [nonexistent]
From: Logical Language Group <lojbab>
Date: Mon, 10 Oct 1994 00:50:41 -0400
Cc: lojbab@access.digex.net

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>From: ucleaar <ucleaar@ucl.ac.uk>
>> JL>> If they are the same, the statement "lo [unicorn] cu brode"
>> JL>>    should be false, since noda cu [unicorn].
>> JL>
>> JL>If no unicorns exist in the world where the statement is used, then the
>> JL>statement is false in that world, yes.
>> 
>> 1. Therefore the statement "Elves have pointed ears" is false since
>> there is no such thing as an elf.  Likewise definitional statements
>> "Elves are humanoid" is also false even if definitional.  How can you
>> describe the properties of a hypothetical but non-existent object if any
>> statement about such an object is false.
>
>But your examples would translate as "ro elf" or "lohe elf", not as
>"lo elf".
>
>We need different examples where we want to discuss hypothetical
>but nonexistent objects using "lo".

I can't say for sure about "lo'e", but this does not work for "ro elf".
If the statement "ro [elf] cu [has pointed ears]" is true, then so is
"ro [elf] cu [has unpointed ears]" and "ro [elf] na [has pointed ears]".

Whether "lo'e" makes any meaningful claims is really unclear, especially
if it is a claim about nonexistent objects.  I mean:  if elves do not
exist, what can you say about a typical elf?  Now, a stereotypical one
(le'e), maybe.  Of course "the typical family" has 1.5 kids in the USA
these days by one epistemology (statistics) so it doesn't really exist.

The crux of the current definition of lo allowing nonexistent referents.
Try to fill the x1 place of "na'e zasti" (nalzasti) without such a way
to talk about nonexistent referents.  The method must be one such that
it is not equally true that "ko'a" zasti gi'e nalzasti is not also true
(since "ro [elves]" should have the same truth value no matter what the
predicate, it just doesn't solve the problem.

Another posting - re default quantifiers for "lo"
>You're right:  such has been the stipulation.  But what is the
>rationale?  What is the interpretation for uncountable stuff?  "At least
>one water"?

The mass/count noun distinction is not a language universal.  I have
been given to understand that where there is a distinction, there isn't
universal agreement on which concepts are mass and which are count.

We tried in Lojban to beg the question, but in this case, we may be
running into a difficult-to-bypass English bias.  We aren't used to
thinking of 'water' as a countable noun.

The wording of the place structure/definition tries to hint at a
solution, but as an English speaker, I may have failed in the attempt.
It says x1 is a portion/quantity of water.  What constitutes a 'portion'
may be context dependent.

With "gravel" it becomes easier - we have the mass version "gravel", and
we have "a piece of gravel".  With water, the portion size could be
"a drop of water", "a glass of water", etc.  There is also the count/mass
noun person/people.

BTW, the quantifier "su'o" means "at least 'some'", but with 'some'
possibly being singular (i.e. 1).  Thus, on "lo" it generally means "at
least one".  But on a normally English mass noun, "at least some" is
more accurate, since the size of the arbitrary portion chosen to be a
unit can be as small as necessary to veridically be water (i.e. perhaps
close to the molecular level).  But if the context has units of water
being glasses, "lo djacu" can (probably) be less than a unit/glass of
water, say half of a glass.  (I'll accept counter argument on this one).

lojbab