(A page from the Loglan web site.)

(From Lognet 91/3. Used with the permission of The Loglan Institute, Inc.)

Hu Logla Sanpa Toi?
(How Do You Say This?)

by Bill Gober

Loi Logla Stude. I'm Bill Gober. Welcome to the new "How to say it" column. This column has three purposes:

  1. To answer "questions posed by struggling Loglan students....questions that, if unanswered, would hinder their progress", as Mark Zacharias put it. These are basic questions, the kind you'd ask your teacher if you were in a first-year language class.
  2. To receive "specific translation questions, to be answered by one of the experts," as Phil Thompson put it. These are the more advanced questions, the kind you'd raise in a second-year language class in college. I'm not yet one of the experts, but I'll answer any of these questions that I can, and I'll contact the real experts for the others.
  3. "To provide material for the common usage column that Jim Smith wants to start," as I put it. I expect that many of the questions you'll send in are going to be about bits of everyday speech.

Before I launch into our first question, I have a bit of general advice to the Loglan student:


In this column, I can answer your questions; but only a few questions in each issue, and only once every few months. Most of the time you're going to be on your own. The more pieces you have of the teaching kit, the more questions you'll be able to answer on your own.

I recommend that you buy the whole kit: books, software, and audio recordings. If you don't have the money or interest to buy everything at once, I recommend that you buy the pieces of the kit in this order (prices are for members of the Institute, exclusive of the $3 charge for shipping and handling):

(Web Editor's Note: These prices are out of date. Follow the links for more recent info.)

  1. Loglan 1 ($12.90). Vital...without this, you're not studying Loglan. But you need more to make study practical..
  2. MacTeach 1 and the 2 cassettes C1 and C2 ($24 total). A workbook (figuratively speaking) and vocabulary tapes: no language class is complete without them.
  3. Loglan 4 & 5 ($6). Sure, this 1975 dictionary is obsolete. But it's cheap, and the metaphors for the complexes in it are still mostly good; you can get lots of practice building complexes out of the metaphors.
  4. MacTeach 2 ($12). The best way to learn the primitives.
  5. MacTeach 3 ($12). A good way to learn the affixes.
  6. Notebook 3 ($18). Lays out the entire grammar of the language, and covers many issues that L1 doesn't even touch on.
  7. Loglan Interactive Parser ($30). Last because it's costliest, and because you don't need it until you're ready to have a Loglan adviser on your computer.

Now, to our questions.

The first (and only) one is from a long-time logli in Gainesville, Florida: "How do you say 'How to say it' [in Loglan]?"

My answer is also the title of this column: Hu logla sanpa toi? Literally, "What is the Loglan sign-for this-recent-utterance?" To put it in English that you might really use, "What's the Loglan for this?" (See Loglan 1 pp. 172-173 for a discussion of toi and related words; see pp. 309+ for hu and other interrogative words.)

Of course, the usage you really need is, "What's the loglan for... ?" To say this, you replace toi with another designation of a piece of speech, namely the words that you want translated, in quotes. For example: Hu logla sanpa lie jao, apple, jao "What's the Loglan for 'apple'?" The reply is, Liu pligo logla sanpa lie jao, apple, jao, or just Liu pligo "The word 'pligo'."

This first example shows two of Loglan's three forms of quotation (L1, pp. 188-190): strong, with lie X, ..., X; and single-word, with liu. Here's an example that uses the third form, with li, ..., lu: Hu logla sanpa lie jao, Mars or Bust!, jao. A possible answer is, Li, Ai la Mars, onoi lopo kapli falba, lu "I intend Mars or complete failure (but not both)". (In L1, see pp. 247+ for a discussion of onoi, pp. 302+ for ai.)

You may be wondering why I use jao for strong quotation instead of gei, even though neither of my examples includes the syllable 'gay'. I do this to make the usage foolproof. No word in English ever starts with 'zhow'; therefore, 'zhow' will never immediately follow a pause; therefore, I can use jao for quoting English without worrying about whether it appears in the utterance I'm quoting. This simply isn't true of gei: it won't work for all English utterances.

You can easily change the usage to ask for some Loglan utterance's equivalent in English (or any other language). You just replace logla with gleca (or spana, ponja, polka, etc.). If you ask, Hu gleca sanpa li, le la Uorf, bliklimao, lu, I'll answer, Lie jao, the Whorf Hypothesis, jao.

One last related usage: "Is...how I say...in Loglan?" In other words, you think you know the loglan equivalent, and you want to verify it. For this, use Ei...logla sanpa...? For example: Ei li, No reoblo le sesduo, lu logla sanpa lie jao, Don't shoot the engineer!, jao? My reply to that is, Uiia! "Great! that's correct."

Some of you may be wondering if these usages can be made using a translation of the word 'how'. Certainly! Loglan is a language of options. I leave it as an exercise for you. You'll find L1 pp. 293-296 and pp. 314-317 helpful.

Start those cards and letters coming. Ask, when you can't figure out how to say it at all. Ask, when you're not sure that what you've figured out is right. Ask, when you don't understand what somebody else has figured out. Ask...I want to give you answers!

Hue Bil Gobr

Copyright 1991 by The Loglan Institute, Inc. All rights reserved.

Send comments and corrections to:

djeimz AT megaseattle DOT com