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Case - Toki Pona Forums

Case

Tinkerers Anonymous: Some people can't help making changes to "fix" Toki Pona. This is a playground for their ideas.
Tokiponidistoj: Iuj homoj nepre volas fari ŝanĝojn por "ripari" Tokiponon. Jen ludejo por iliaj ideoj.
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Case

Postby Evertype » Wed Aug 24, 2011 6:57 am

Michael Everson

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Re: Case

Postby janMato » Wed Aug 24, 2011 10:29 am

This is actually a good point. Part of the toki pona way of doing things is to split phrases with particles. And this is important because words don't have a strict part of speech, like Icelandic, instead it's closer to English were we can verb any noun we feel like. So in spoken toki pona you can have sentence split ambiguity:

ilo jan li tawa wawa ma tawa li ike tawa ilo jan.

vs

ilo jan li tawa wawa. ma tawa li ike tawa ilo jan.

The robot moves fast. The robot doesn't like earthquakes.

vs

ilo jan li tawa wawa ma. tawa li ike tawa ilo jan.
The robot is an earth shaker. The robot doesn't like movement.

I think a native would speaker would invent end of sentence particles, similar to Singapore English's "la". (And a particle to indicate the split between a verb and its modifiers but that is another story)

In written toki pona, we have to rely on periods to indicate the sentence split.

The spec officially says any intonation is okay, including I suppose fire truck intonation ILO jan LI tawa WAWA. ma TAWA li IKE... etc. So I'm reluctant to say that sentence break questions can be resolved by appealing to intonation. And besides, tp except at a conference or two is a written internet language, not an in person language, at the moment.

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Re: Case

Postby Evertype » Wed Aug 24, 2011 12:12 pm

Michael Everson

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Re: Case

Postby janMato » Wed Aug 24, 2011 2:00 pm

Yup, sorry, I sometimes do that (write, then carefully read the original post).

If we step away from toki pona, [which is a system with a largely absent inventor and a bunch of transient, disorganized fans], and talk about conlang creation in general, I agree with you on capitalization and using the general patterns for using the latin alphabet, punctuation etc. If I were to write my own conlang, my audience would be other people in Arlington, Virginia and I would make sure it was writable with ordinary a to z (no diacritics) and used punctuation more or less like English unless there was something seriously compelling about inventing a new punctuation system, a letter with a diacritic, or some unexpected convention for capitalization. Prestige scripts are a different story-- those are for making stuff that looks nice on the wall, not as a communication system that people will actually use, on forums or in real life.

Since the inventor is largely absent and the fans are transient and disorganized, ideas to change existing conventions don't catch on, or do so slowly. We are in the same state that Japanese is with their god awful complex writing system. People are sticking with the writing system because it's an established convention. I think to change the language now, someone would have to use toki pona & contribute enough to the corpus that people start to imitate you. For example I, on this forum, for a while so consistently misspelled tenpo as tempo that some people began copying me. I didn't do that on purpose. I try to spell the word correctly now.

If tp lacked a period, then we'd have no written sentence dividers. The capital is redundant for starting a sentence. In the spirit of doing with less, it makes sense to give up the initial capital. We could maybe give up the capital for proper modifiers because they are recognizable from not being on the list of 125 or so words. ma mewika is just as clear. But the edge case would be names like Mary : jan meli vs jan Meli. Verbally, you'd get no hints that the 2nd was a name and the former meant "woman" or "the woman's person."

For spoken toki pona, we don't have any good guidance yet. The fans of toki pona are from all over the place-- Finland, Russia, Spain, Brazil, Japan, and those languages don't have the same conventions for intonation, stress or volume (or pauses between words) to indicate end of sentence end, or questions. So we really don't know what's going to happen in spoken toki pona-- it's attractive to think that rising tone at the end will mean question and falling means end of sentence, but in Finnish (according to someone in my book club) rising tone means you're angry and I don't know what falling tone means in Finnish.

At the moment in written tp, questions aren't a problem because we got the question mark, sentences aren't a problem because we have the period.

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Re: Case

Postby Kuti » Wed Aug 24, 2011 11:06 pm


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Re: Case

Postby Evertype » Thu Aug 25, 2011 3:24 am

Michael Everson

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Re: Case

Postby Evertype » Thu Aug 25, 2011 3:31 am

Michael Everson

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Re: Case

Postby janMato » Thu Aug 25, 2011 8:12 am

I said " In the spirit of doing with less, it makes sense to give up the initial capital."
You said "Erm, no, it doesn't. Why not? Well, none of the world's languages, great or small, gives up the initial capital. It's part of the writing system. It's useful."

Toki pona has a streak of primitivism in it, too, so by that measure the existence of any capitals is the odd ball, not the refined usage of capitals. Before the Romans, no one used a system of upper case/lower case. And it was hundreds of years that people got along with just upper case.

Toki pona has give up a ton of stuff that is useful.

- subordinate clauses. This is a royal pain in a language with so few words.
- open lexical categories (except 1). This is another royal pain. In all real languages the argument "Eskimo has no word for "lamb"" is nonsense, because they can make on up, borrow one, etc. In toki pona, we really don't have a lexical strategy for "lamb"
- a rich syntactic or morphological system. TP has like zero morphology (at best some clitic action going on, but it's hair splitting arguing to get people to agree what is a clitic and what is an independent word) Most languages have nothing against adding more and more rules, so that oddities like "Beer me!" (Bartender, give me a beer!) can enter the language and require yet another rule to be added to the formal grammar. But in toki pona, the list of syntactic rules is closed.
- Morphology at all. Toki pona has to be one of the most analytic languages I've worked with.
- a large dictionary. No human language gets by with so few words. This is pidgin sized lexicons, but we are trying to do creole sized work. That we succeed at all is kind of amazing.

toki pona as the game that it is, is indeed about doing without. It may evolve into a real language, but that could take a long time (probably longer than societies interest in this game). If someone hurries up the process, they will create a toki pona derivative. Which is fine-- but getting fans for a derivative is a risky project-- we got tons to tp derivatives that try to do the same with less or try to do more with more and so far they aren't picking up any fans (at least not in the sense of people trying to use these new toki pona- look-alikes.)

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Re: Case

Postby Evertype » Thu Aug 25, 2011 8:29 am

Michael Everson

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Re: Case

Postby szilard » Thu Aug 25, 2011 8:49 am



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