Myths about Lojban

This is a list of some common misconceptions about Lojban. Most of them come from prospective Lojban students, and aficionados of other constructed languages. However, some of them are propagated by Lojban supporters, and even LLG itself.

Warning: written by a Lojban zealot. Bias is inevitable.

«Lojban is difficult to learn»

Of course it is! Isn't Your Favourite LanguageTM difficult?

I would rate Lojban as one of the more difficult among constructed languages, but much easier than most natural languages. I have now (december 1998) studied Lojban for almost exactly one year, using small amounts of my spare time. I'd say that I've achieved a greater degree of proficiency than I had after my first year of English, and my first year of German, both which I were taught in school.

I find the basics of grammar very easy (learnt in a matter of hours), and vocabulary very difficult (there are about 2000 words to memorize). However, the vocabulary is just as difficult to learn for everyone, whereas for instance the vocaulary of Esperanto is easier for Latin-influenced European languages. This is why someone thinks that Lojban would make a better international language than Esperanto, hadn't Esperanto been given a 100 year head start.

«I heard they were really proud of it and announced it in their newsletter when two of their best speakers had a 15 minute conversation» - «But nobody speaks Lojban!»

After a fair amount of searching, I discovered the origin of the "15 minute conversation" story. It seems that it was written by the esperantist Don Harlow, in an article where he is bashing just about all the other constructed languages in the world. The author apparently heard this from a person from the the Loglan camp. Although Loglan is related to Lojban (it can be considered "ancestral" to it), they have now become mutually unintelligible. Furthermore, Lojban has a far greater speaker mass than Loglan ever attained.

But yes, it may be so that almost nobody speaks Lojban. The main reason for this, is that the prospective competent speakers live so far away from each other. There is, however, a fair amount of writing and translating in Lojban going on. Check out the Lojban list if you want to see some of it.

«Since nobody speaks it, I don't want to learn it»

That's up to you. If you think language is a code in which one formulates one's thoughts, stick with Chinese, English or Spanish in order to maximize the size of your audience. If you think that other kinds of languages may stimulate other kinds of thoughts, you may want to give Lojban a try.

«Lojban is culturally neutral»

I don't think so. I can mention several examples of the alleged "cultural neutrality" being compromised:

«You can't be irrational in Lojban»

Oh, yes you can! With certain exceptions, everything you say in Lojban has to be expressed using formal logic, but the expression may still be complete gibberish. "I have to kill you because you're black" in Lojban is ".ei mi catra do ki'u le nu do xekri", but the Lojban version is neither more or less rational than the English one.

«Lojban is a cold and emotionless language»

What criteria does a language have to meet to be warm and emotionful?

Lojban has several gismu for emotions such as hate (xebni), anger (fengu), fear (terpa), love (prami), fondness (nelci), and lots others. Additionally, the attitudinal system have short words, such as "ui", "iu", "ii", "uu", "ua", "ue" and so on, for expressing common emotions.

«Lojban words are impossible to pronounce»

To you, they may be. People with different language backgrounds have different problems when encountering Lojban. The consonant cluster "ml" (as in "mlatu") is a problem to many Americans, but to people in Eastern Europe, it comes out very naturally.

If you have serious problems with some consonant clusters, and still want to try to speak Lojban, you may try using so-called buffer vowels in between the difficult consonants. This must be a vowel that doesn't exist in Lojban, and it must be considerably shorter than ordinary, Lojbanic vowels.

«Lojban is only a bastardized version of Loglan»

I don't know. I can't afford Loglan dictionaries and teaching material, so I'm unable to find out how today's Lojban compares to today's Loglan.
Arnt Richard Johansen,