Where was I?
“Ma pu se zvati mi” is a sentence in the constructed language Lojban, created with the purpose of simplifying and making language as logical as possible. The sentence can be translated into English as “Where was I?” Let’s break down each part:
“Ma”: This word is a pro-sumti, essentially the Lojban equivalent of a pronoun. In this instance it serves as a question word, similar to “where” in English.
“pu”: This word is a tense marker used to indicate past tense.
“se”: This is a conversion operator, and in this context is used to switch the place structure of the next word.
“zvati” : This word means “at” or “present at” often in the sense of physically being at a location.
“mi”: This word is a pro-sumti, corresponding to the English pronoun “I” or “me”.
So, putting it all together, “ma pu se zvati mi” translates pretty directly to “where was at I?”, or more smoothly as “where was I?”
As for the grammar, Lojban uses a very regular, positions-based grammar, meaning the position of a word in a sentence mostly determines how you interpret it. It also allows for a high degree of flexibility regarding the order of sentence elements. Hence we see the use of the “se” word to rearrange the normal place structure here to ask a question.