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Noun classes, olin and "pona tawa" - Toki Pona Forums

Noun classes, olin and "pona tawa"

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janMato
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Noun classes, olin and "pona tawa"

Postby janMato » Tue Jan 05, 2010 10:51 pm

This is actually an important question for language definition. Depending on what language you speak, the world is divided into
animate vs. inanimate
rational vs. non-rational
human vs. non-human
human vs. animal vs. inanimate
male vs. other
male human vs. other (a bit sexist!)
masculine vs. feminine
masculine vs. feminine vs. neuter
strong vs. weak
augmentative vs. diminutive (Ref wikipedia)

The toki pona pronoun system doesn't offer much guidance with "ona," which covers all imaginable pronominal categories. "jan" now officially covers humans, apes, and Neanderthals(important below) as well as the indefinite pronoun.

I can't find a ref on Sonya's wiki specifically about olin, but I found the reference in jan Pije lessons,

"olin
This word is used to mean love. However, it only refers to affectionate love, like loving people. For example, you might olin your girlfriend or your parents, but you don't olin baseball. You can't olin things or objects; if you still want to say that you like something and can't use olin, it's best to say it like this:
ni li pona tawa mi. -- "That (is) good to me." I like that."

So what is different about baseball and people? Animate/inanimate? Human/not human? Extremely spherical/not very spherical? (And yeah, I know, language with Russian and Icelandic have the "to me X is pleasing" construction, separate from I love him/her, but one languages obviousness could be anything but in another)

How would you fill in the following? "olin e" or "pona tawa"? And it seems depending on the noun-class system you pick it isn't always reciprocatable.

Anyhow, I'm inclined to overuse olin and pick a phrase that is editorializing, but I'd be curious to hear what other people would pick and why.

Edward Scissorhands and Winona Ryder
jan "Edward Scissorhands" li ... jan "Winona Ryder"
jan "Winona Ryder" li ... jan "Edward Scissorhands"

Winona Ryder can be affectionate, so can she love the inanimate? Ed also appears to be immortal, another no-no for the "human" category, see bicentennial man below

Spock and Ulhura (1/2 vulcan + human)
jan "Spock" li ... jan "Ulhura"
jan "Ulhura" li ... jan "Spock"

Alien-human hybrid and human. This should be simpler than Spock's mom and dad's romance.

Spocks Mom and Spock's Dad (human + Vulcan)
mama meli pi jan "Spock" li ... mama mije pi jan "Spock"
mama mije pi jan "Spock" li ... mama meli pi jan "Spock"

An incredible gentic feat, because they're both entirely alien species.

The Quest for Fire
Ika (human girl) and Naoh (Neanderthal guy). In the story Neanderthals and humans can interbreed, not unlike chimps and bonobos, horses and donkeys, etc.
jan Ika li ... jan Naoh
jan Naoh li .... jan Ika


Neanderthals add a linguistic twist to the question, because they (in the movie) could barely speak, and language sometimes is a dividing line between things closer to humans and further away from, rocks or viruses or chickens.

Frankenstein + Bride (dead human + dead human)
jan moli meli li ... jan moli meli
The dead are usually inanimate in the sense of not moving. But even Bones in Star Trek said "He's dead Jim!", not "It (the corpses) is dead, Jim"

Beauty + Beast (human + human transmogrified into animal)
meli pi lukin pona li ... soweli monsuto
soweli monsuto li ...meli pi lukin pona


Princess + Frog (erotic activity between human and human transmogrified into frog)
meli li .... akesi

Bender (a robot) who falls in love with the only thing more perfect than himself, a Gold Plated copy of self (robot + robot copy)
jan "Bender" li ... jan "Bender" pi sama ale

Bicentential man - Andrew Martin + Little Miss (human + robot who commits suicide to conform to the legal definition of human)
jan "Andrew" li ... jan lili "Miss".
jan lili "Miss" li .... jan "Andrew"


Artifical Intelligence - Robotic David (mechanlical analogue for a lost child) & his mother-- robot loves mom, but mom can't really connect to the robot boy.
jan "David" li .... mama sama
mama pi jan "David" li .... jan "David"


Fruit Fucker 2000 and Oranges.
http://www.penny-arcade.com/comic/2002/02/11/
jan kili unpa li unpa e kili.

taso jan kili unpa li olin e kili sama?

Japanese guy and imaginary Anime personage
http://boingboing.net/2009/11/24/footag ... e-fir.html
jan pi ma Nihon li olin e meli pi musi pi ilo nanapa.
meli pi musi pi ilo nanapa li sona ala e ni: jan pi ma Nihon li lon.


[b]Zo-philia... both in real-life and ancient myth.[b]
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human-animal_marriage
... too many scenarios to translate, ranging from...
jan li unpa utala e soweli (Man rapes goat. If you translate it as "soweli li pona tawa jan", it's doesn't seem equivallent)
to
jan li olin e soweli. (Ancient myths-- they're all abstractions and allegories, some about love and if you remove the word, it's a different story)

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Re: Noun classes, olin and "pona tawa"

Postby janKipo » Wed Jan 06, 2010 12:35 pm

Yes, tp doesn't have grammatical subdivisions within nouns nor corresponding features in adjectives, verbs or pronouns (or other things in some languages, probably). So its two pronouns (anaphoric 'ona' and deictic 'ni') need extra help sometimes to function at all effectively. As a result it doesn't claim to recognize as grammatically significant certain characteristics of things which might be significant in other ways (though the grammatical devices are rarely very well coordinated with the supposedly related real-world characteristics). That does not keep the real-world characteristics from being significant in the semantic map of tp, any more than being grammatically recognized would make them significant in that map (ki lima Njaro is not a little hill, after all). So, I don't quite see the point of your introductory remarks (and 'jan' is not an indefinite pronoun, but a noun, whose referent is determined -- or not -- by context).
But the semantic map of tp does not coincide with that for English (or Latin or ...) in any number of ways; why single out the incongruence between 'olin' and "love"? "x loves y" extends beyond 'x li olin e y' to include at least 'y li pona mute tawa x' (but 'olin' may include bits of "like" as well). Although it is handy to see the difference in terms of the nature of y, it is probably a mistake to take this as ultimate. The difference almost certainly is in the types of emotions and associated actions and plans involved. These automatically exclude some objects: you can't fondle baseball, for example, or expect a baseball (signed by Honus Wagner, say) to fondle you back. This is not to say that there is a definitive checklist or even a graded class of characteristics that define proper objects of 'olin,' but a fuzzy scale and a fuzzy line for cases. some are clearly OK, some clearly wrong, and the rest are more or less permissible, depending on context and the humor of the judge. But in any case, what matters is the thing, not something about the word for it.
So, with only slight tremors, I think most people would have little trouble with using 'olin' for all the cases down through AI. Anthropomorphization helps here in some cases, but is not enough when real-world and reel-world meet in the anime bride caper. And zoophilia is right on the edge, working better in myth then in the shearing shed, but possible even there. Whatever-the-hell-ophilia for fruit-fuckers doesn't seem to work at all outside of a really well-developed story (bonking Lily in Alice, maybe?).
Bringing 'unpa' in, while it is a factor in human (etc.) love and certainly also in olin, doesn't seem to be at all decisive or of more than prurient interest.

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Re: Noun classes, olin and "pona tawa"

Postby janMato » Wed Jan 06, 2010 1:53 pm


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Re: Noun classes, olin and "pona tawa"

Postby janKipo » Wed Jan 06, 2010 3:13 pm

Prof. Quang is no longer with us, I seem to recall; a great loss not only to cunning linguists everywhere, but to logicians and other, lesser, philosophers as well -- not to mention eaters of Chinese cuisine. I take 'unpa' to be pretty much physical, tabs and sockets, and, as the useful 'unpa utala' shows, only contingently (maybe statistically) related to 'olin' (and has nothing to do with the common uses of the English translation which Prof. Quang examined so tellingly).
But more to the point, the restriction on 'olin' (if "restriction" is the right word -- it is so only from the English point of view and that influenced by what may be a lousy initial translation) is hardly matter of grammatical categories: the issue of love between a human and a robot is not decided by whether the robot is called 'jan ilo' or 'ilo jan,' for example. It is presumably a characteristic of the object involved, not what they are called, that is decisive. To be sure (and this would figure heavily in the feminist treatise you envision), how easily we receive a claim of 'x olin y' might depend upon how x and y are described, but that doesn't affect the truth of the claim, only the effort necessary to support it. And none of this has any grammatical significance at all. Cultural and maybe semantic, significance, yes. Or, semotactics aren't grammar -- but are anthropology
probably 'jan sona pi toki unpa.

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Re: Noun classes, olin and "pona tawa"

Postby janMato » Wed Jan 06, 2010 3:58 pm

Okay, I see your point. You're saying it's like the distinctions between soweli, akesi, waso, pipi, kala etc and how it would be perfectly expectable that penguins, pterodactyls, dragon-flies, sea lions, etc might be categorized differently in tp vs English.

BUT, I think I can salvage my point if "jan" and "soweli" are pronouns. So I just read up a bit on grammaticalization, step one in grammaticalization is semantic bleaching where the specific word becomes general. This has already happened to all the words in toki pona on day one, so already it should be easy to find grammaticalized usages of lots of words.

mi lukin e jan sona pi toki unpa e soweli tomo. I saw the pornolinguist and the housepet.
ona li lukin pilin ike. *he/she/it/they* aren't looking so good. Why would anyone choose this one? It's extra ambiguity and and extra syllable compared to 'jan'.
jan li lukin pilin ike. He/she (the hominid) isn't looking so good.
soweli li lukin pilin ike. It (the house pet) isn't looking so good.

So head nouns serve the same role as pronouns. If we assume that speakers always pick the least ambiguous of available options, no one will pick
ona li lukin pilin ike.... unless they are referring to "them"

Another diagnostics of the "jan" or "soweli" as pro-forms
jan pali en ilo li pali ala. jan li pakala.
The worker and his equipment aren't working. He's sick.

In the second case, "jan" is a stand in for "jan pali" and can't possibly mean the full set of things that "jan" normally means, like "The (human) worker and his equipment isn't working. (That other) Neanderthal is sick."

If using head nouns as anaphora-pro-forms is against the rules, then that would be interesting, too, I guess it would lead to something like
jan pali en ilo li pali ala. ona jan li pakala.

But that is wordier and I figure the more economical options would win in a speaking population.

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Re: Noun classes, olin and "pona tawa"

Postby janKipo » Wed Jan 06, 2010 5:39 pm

Er, what? How would it help your point (which is what again?) if 'jan' etc. were pronouns -- or adverbs or clitics, for that matter? And what does semantic bleaching have to do with something being a pronoun? A word is a pronoun or it isn't, or, at best, is used pronominally or not. 'jan' (etc.) aren't pronouns (see list) and aren't strictly used pronominally (since the are usually the nouns they repeat -- or at least the heads). Pronouns are a grammatical category, indeed a lexical one and not subject to extension, or diminution.
But, in passing, it is not clear that tp words are any more general than words in any other language -- or more specific either. Each stands for a class of things and a larger class does not make it more general. I suppose strictly it would make a word more general if the class it stood for were more diverse, but the relevant diversity is intralinguistic, and tp does not, generally, have words for species within the genus of any of its words. We can slice the classes up with various longer expressions, but we can do that with any word in any language, short of proper names (and even there, often).
Remember the basic rule for anaphora, called upon whenever the pronoun is not going to be clear: repetition is also anaphora (a joke, because "anaphora" is Greek for "repetition"). So, using a word anaphorically does not make that word a pronoun. Indeed, it is precisely cases of non-repetition -- in a regular way -- that constitute being anaphoric pronouns. Of course, the second use of a word in a context need not be anaphoric, but the odds are that it is (barring other indications, of course). You could bring a Neanderthal in, but it would violate a wide range of conventions that make conversation possible at all (cf. deus ex machina in drama and the unmentioned murderer in mysteries). Note, though, that 'jan lawa li pakala' is a perfectly good follow up to the original sentence about the workman and his tool. Of course, there are other ways to do your anaphora than repetition, even when the pronouns alone don't work: you could anaphorize 'jan pali' with 'ona mije,' for example (making an unjustified assumption here to make a point), but (another convention) why would you, when repetition is simpler?

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Re: Noun classes, olin and "pona tawa"

Postby janMato » Wed Jan 06, 2010 6:38 pm


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Re: Noun classes, olin and "pona tawa"

Postby janKipo » Wed Jan 06, 2010 11:36 pm

Well, Quichotte (I'm Frenching today), pronouns are just a lexical class (or a cluster of such: personal, anaphoric, deictic, maybe some others I've forgotten). As such, they are grammatically used just like nouns, but semantically (and pragmatically even more so) they are used in place of nouns that the user does not want to repeat (anaphoric) or can't think of at the moment while pointing (deictic) or that have assigned tasks in the flow of conversation (personal). Assigning them referents is thus a slightly more complex task than it is for nouns in many cases, since it is often indirect. Now, the interesting question for your point is whether there are some restrictions on what pronoun can be used for what noun. In tp the answer is simply "No" -- 'ona' can stand in for any noun, as can 'ni,' subject to the usual conditions on use of anaphoric and deictic pronouns. I expect that some minor patterns will emerge even so: I don't see 'ona' being use to refer back to oratio as 'ni' often is and I don't see 'ni' being used quasi-anaphorically for ordinary noun phrases (this may be related to the possibility that oratio clauses are taken as object in their own right to be pointed at rather than sentences to be interpreted -- at the grammatical level). So pronouns are not going to give implicit noun classes. Nor are 'olin' and 'pona tawa,' since any noun can go in either slot with these -- given enough of a story. I suppose you could get fuzzy classes based on the complexity of the story required to get a plausible sentence, but that isn't a very interesting claim. You can get fuzzy classes anything based on similar considerations. There are some really fuzzy classes and they are bad enough to deal with without having to create new ones that serve no purpose.
On the other hand, there are interesting semotactic nets with 'olin' and 'pona tawa' at their centers and the nets define their semantic spaces to some extent. The nodes are semes not lexemes, real characteristics, not words. So, probably, both x and y or 'olin' are +sentient, at least, while the y of 'pona tawa' does not have to be (but the x does). Now, insofar as words are defined in terms of real characteristics, some words are immediately available for both roles in 'olin' and maybe some are immediately precluded (-sentient), though that can be overridden by context.
Actually, the English "one" indefinite is apparently a borrowing or a coformation with the French <<on>> when they were closely linked, not a case of bleaching as it were but of blending. Something like that is also true, of French negatives, where emphatic expressions (not a step, not a drop, not a thing, etc.) came to be the standard forms in different situations and then the negative force spread over the whole, so that the extension now carries the negative force exactly opposite its original meaning (thing > nothing, and so on) -- and the original negative becomes a hanger-on, turning up only occasionally and almost never without one of its old extensions. But I've forgotten what all that had to do with anything . Oh yes, you were trying to make pronouns out of nouns -- which admittely did sort of happen in some of these cases over the years
Well, what the lexical class of a word is depends on the language. English calsses are just suggestions for the most part, i.e., they are the minimum expected and the rest is up for grabs (even pronouns get worked over a bit). tp has largely avoided classes except very specific ones which explain what can happen in certain cases-- that is, they tend not to be traditional classes, even when they use traditional names. 'tawa' is a preposition, but that just means that it does certain things as a prep, certain other things as a vi, still others as a vt and yet others as a noun or a modifier. And these are different from what 'moku,' listed as a verb, does or 'akesi,' a noun. And this covers both grammatical differences and semantic ones.
What sort of innovation do you expect in a pronouns? You can't create new pronouns or reduce nouns to pronouns in anything like a reasonable time, so I suppose that what will happen is that we will develop other anaphoric devices -- and that has been done, though the oldest is still the most common.
I still don't get the point of all this. Can 'jan' refer back to 'mama mi'? Yes! Would it be a sensible way to do this? Depends on the context, but generally not -- unless there are a number of possibilities for 'ona' and all the others are non-simian (regardless of what words are used for them). I'm not sure what "leaves no trace of the referent" means -- all it leaves is the referent, it leaves no trace of how the referent was referred to, even less in tp than in English.

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Re: Noun classes, olin and "pona tawa"

Postby jan Ote » Thu Jan 07, 2010 5:22 am


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Re: Noun classes, olin and "pona tawa"

Postby janKipo » Thu Jan 07, 2010 11:41 am

Some ineconomies (I don't remember Interlingua's) are ultimately economical since they introduce redundancies which facilitate communication. The lack of these is a common flaw in conlangs, which tend to overengineer. But that is not the problem here, which is that 'ona' in the the example sentence has two (well, three) possible referents and there is no way to tell which is intended. Given more context, of course, we might resolve this as it stands, but on this sample alone we are lost. So, the conventions suggest that we use some device to give the missing information. The usual approach in tp seems to be to use head nouns, if they work, or alternate ways to refer to the the same thing. In this case, we don't know much about either referent, so we are stuck with head nouns, admittedly rather inelegant, but effective.


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