Lojban Language


There are no rules about what deserves a flag. Flags are traditionally used for designating nation states. More recently, flags have represented political movements, multinational corporations and international organizations. Even some languages have flags. Crazy, I know. But how many flags for completely synthetic languages have you seen?

Lojban is a language invented in 1987 that was supposed to do what Esperanto couldn’t – unite the world with a common language. Well, we know how that turned out 21 years later. Not so much. In case there’s any more doubt, it seems like English is a pretty good choice for a universal language. Not just because I know it, but because billions of people know it and it borrows words from countless other languages.

Anyway, Lojban was a flop. And so is its flag. It looks like an orgiastic combination of male and female symbols. Or perhaps it’s reminiscent of Julia Sweeney’s infamously ambiguously gendered “Pat” of 1980s Saturday Night Live.

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15 responses to “Lojban Language

  1. I don’t know about Lobjan, but I do know about Esperanto. Esperanto has been a tremendous success. It has speakers all over the world – perhaps two million of them. It serves for literature and for music. You can still see the green star Esperanto flag from time to time. It will be visible in Rotterdam next month when 2,500 leading proponents of the planned tongue meet at the Universala Kongreso.

  2. Just out of interest, from the linked Wikipedia article on Lojban:

    “Lojban has a predecessor, Loglan, a language invented by James Cooke Brown in 1955 and developed by The Loglan Institute. Loglan was originally conceived as a means to examine the influence of language on the speaker’s thought (an assumption known as Sapir-Whorf hypothesis).”

    Lojban branched form Loglan after a copyright dispute.

    So it was actually made for a more surprising reason than suggested in this blog post – it’s designed to test whether language impacts the way we think, and so it has a unique structure: completely logical (in the mathematical sense). It’s quite an interesting experiment. I don’t think anyone ever tried to unite the world with it. But who knows.

  3. A. Yes, the Lojban flag sucks.

    B. It is a Cartesian grid over a Venn diagram. The only reason it exists is for language-selection panels on Lojban websites.

    C. “English is a pretty good choice for a universal language. Not just because I know it, but because billions of people know it and it borrows words from countless other languages.”

    The Soviets said the same thing about Russian.

    Ĉ. Esperanto FTW.

  4. Lojban was never intended to “unite the world with a common language.” And yes, the flag sucks IMHO. English looks good now, but so did Greek, Latin, and French in their times. Uncertain future FTW.

  5. for more information about failed languages, consult your local … wait, are you kidding me? neither esperanto OR lojban have words for “library”!?! my attempt to mock the apparent eagerness that alternative language enthusiasts have to engage in discussion of said languages was thwarted by the inadequacy of the languages themselves!!!

  6. My dad speaks Esperanto.

    ; )

  7. Do they have Rosetto Stone for Esperanto?

  8. Some people can speak Lojban. It’s not a complete flop. I like the idea of it, but I’m not very good at languages so I couldn’t get anywhere with it. The flag is rather bad, but does fit with the maths-and-logic aspect.

    @logjam: The Lojban word for ‘library’ would probably be a fusing of the words for ‘book’ (chukta) and ‘room’ (kumfa). The Esperanto word, I believe, is ‘biblioteko’.

  9. In Lojban:
    “ckudi’o” for a building where you can borrow books. “ckusro” for a collection of books.

    • Uggh. How do you even pronounce that? Worst synthetic langauge ever.

      • Sandra Snan

        Like “shkudiho” (easier if a word that ends with a vowel comes before it, like “klama lo ckudi’o”.

        Like most synthethic languages, all letters in Lojban are always pronounced the same way. c is always like the “sh” in shower.

        Lojban may suck, but it sucks dearly in my heart. le melbi bangu mi

      • No, I think shkudiho is a Phil Collins song.

  10. .i.o’onai xebni

  11. “…it looks like an orgiastic combination of male and female symbols.”

    Pffff yeah, zomgroflol!

    Looks to me like a Venn diagram and a Cartesian coordinate plot, but yeah, kinda like an orgy… if you’re going to make fun of something, don’t be an idiot about it.

    Lojban does “suck” in some regards, but it is infinitely more intelligently designed than Esperanto. There are a few languages that are brilliant in their construction. Languages like Brevlo (not related to lojban) and Ceqli are further improvements on the logical language design.

  12. I like the idea of Lojban. However, I was so annoyed by the so called flag, that I have designed a version on my own, which is a decent flag as I think: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Lojban_flag.svg

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