6.11. The syntax of vocative phrases

Vocative phrases are not sumti, but are explained in this chapter because their syntax is very similar to that of sumti. Grammatically, a vocative phrase is one of the so-called free modifiers of Lojban, along with subscripts, parentheses, and various other constructs explained in Chapter 19. They can be placed after many, but not all, constructions of the grammar: in general, after any elidable terminator (which, however, must not then be elided!), at the beginnings and ends of sentences, and in many other places.

The purpose of a vocative phrase is to indicate who is being addressed, or to indicate to that person that he or she ought to be listening. A vocative phrase begins with a cmavo of selma'o COI or DOI, all of which are explained in more detail in Section 13.14. Sometimes that is all there is to the phrase:

Example 6.62. 



Example 6.63. 




In these cases, the person being addressed is obvious from the context. However, a vocative word (more precisely, one or more cmavo of COI, possibly followed by doi , or else just doi by itself) can be followed by one of several kinds of phrases, all of which are intended to indicate the addressee. The most common case is a cmevla (name-word):

Example 6.64. 

coi .djan.
[greetings] John.

Hello, John.

Using doi instead is like just saying someone's name to attract his or her attention:

Example 6.65. 

doi .djan.
O John.


In place of a cmevla, a description may appear, lacking its descriptor, which is understood to be le :

Example 6.66. 

coi xunre pastu nixli
Hello, (red-type-of dress)-type-of girl.

Hello, girl with the red dress!

The listener need not really be a xunre pastu nixli , as long as she understands herself correctly from the description. (Actually, only a bare selbri can appear; explicit quantifiers are forbidden in this form of vocative, so the implicit quantifiers su'o le ro are in effect.)

Finally, a complete sumti may be used, the most general case.

Example 6.67. 

co'o la .bab. .e la .noras.
[partings] that-named Bob and that-named Nora.

Goodbye, Bob and Nora.

Example 6.66 is thus the same as:

Example 6.68. 

coi le xunre pastu nixli
Hello, the-one-described-as (red-type-of dress)-type-of girl!

and Example 6.65 is the same as:

Example 6.69. 

doi la .djan.
O that-named John!

Finally, the elidable terminator for vocative phrases is do'u (of selma'o DOhU), which is rarely needed except when a simple vocative word is being placed somewhere within a bridi. It may also be required when a vocative is placed between a sumti and its relative clause, or when there are a sequence of so-called free modifiers (vocatives, subscripts, utterance ordinals – see Chapter 18 – metalinguistic comments – see Section 19.12 – or reciprocals – see Chapter 19) which must be properly separated.

The meaning of a vocative phrase that is within a sentence is not affected by its position in the sentence: thus Example 6.70 and Example 6.71 mean the same thing:

Example 6.70. 

doi .djan. ko klama mi
O John you [imperative] go-to me.

John, come to me!

Example 6.71. 

ko klama mi doi .djan.
You [imperative] go-to me O John.

Come to me, John!

As usual for this chapter, the full syntax of vocative phrases has not been explained: relative clauses, discussed in Chapter 8 , make for more possibilities.