Who owns it?
“ma ponse ta” is a phrase in the constructed language Lojban. Lojban is designed to be syntactically unambiguous, allowing for clear communication. The phrase consists of three words:
- ma - This word is a question pro-sumti, which takes the place of a sumti (a noun-like argument) and asks a question about it. In this context, it acts like the English word “who” or “what” when asking about possession or ownership.
- ponse - This word is a gismu (root word) in Lojban, meaning “possess” or “have”. It is a verb that relates an x1 (possessor) and an x2 (possessed).
- ta - This word is a demonstrative pro-sumti, which typically refers to something nearby the speaker, analogous to the English word “that” or “it” (for objects close to the listener).
The phrase “ma ponse ta”, when put together, is a question that translates to “Who owns that?” or “What owns that?” in English.
The structure of a typical Lojban sentence follows a predicate logic form. Let’s break down the grammar according to this pattern, primarily focusing on the selbri (predicate word) “ponse”:
- Selbri: “ponse” - is the predicate which describes the relationship between the two sumti (arguments).
- x1 (sumti1, possessor): “ma” - is the placeholder for the person who is being queried.
- x2 (sumti2, possessed): “ta” - represents the entity being possessed and is pointed out or presumed known in the context.
Therefore, when you say “ma ponse ta”, you query the identity of the possessor of the entity indicated by “ta”. If someone were to respond to this question in Lojban, they would replace “ma” with an appropriate sumti that identifies the possessor.
If you intended to say “What is that?”, which is asking for identification rather than possession, you would use “ma kau” or “ma” along with a different selbri that denotes identity or description. For example, “ma cmene ta?” (What is the name of that?) or “ma drata” (What other thing is that?).