Questions

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natan
Posts: 28
Joined: Wed Jun 29, 2016 3:13 am

Questions

Postby natan » Wed Sep 28, 2016 2:15 am

Not sure if this is the right forum.
If this is going over old information, happy to be steered to it (am not able to search for "questions" on forum as common word).

Yes/no questions, using pu examples, are asked as:
sina pu anu seme?
Have you touched the official Toki Pona book?
ona li mama ala mama?
Is she a parent?

What questions, however, take the form:
seme li sin?
What is new?
jan seme li toki?
Which person is speaking?

What if a question was simply a statement with a question mark on the end:
ona li seli
s/he is hot

ona li seli?
Is s/he hot?

(pu form of above would be ona li seli ala seli? or ona li seli anu seme? if I am not mistaken.)

I have not seen questions asked such. Is this something that already happens? Do people do this sort of thing in speech/writing?

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janTepanNetaPelin
Posts: 104
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Location: Berlin

Re: Questions

Postby janTepanNetaPelin » Wed Sep 28, 2016 11:10 am

Hi Natan,

I don't know of any examples of questions of the form "ona li seli?", except for some mistakes I do from time to time. Even though the Official Book doesn't contain these examples, I would understand (and possibily use) them in a dialog like this:

- tawa mi la ona li seli. (I think it's hot.)
- ona li seli?! (It's hot?!)

So, I would perceive not adding "anu seme" as an expression of disbelief (similarly someone might drop Esperanto's "ĉu"), whereas using "anu seme" really expresses interest in an answer.

I recently tried another form of question: instead of adding "anu seme" at the end of the question, one could prefix "seme anu". It sounds more like asking but implying already a "yes".

- seme anu sina lukin e lipu mi? (Am I mistaken or are you looking at my book?)

Regards,
jan Tepan
jan Tepan: "o pilin pona o pu!"
https://github.com/stefichjo/toki-pona

janKipo
Posts: 2757
Joined: Fri Oct 09, 2009 2:20 pm

Re: Questions

Postby janKipo » Wed Sep 28, 2016 12:46 pm

Although no one likes to talk about them, unmarked questions of the 'ona li seli?' form occur from time to time. The problem with them is that, since we don't know anything about tp spoken sentence contours, we don't know what the open question sounds like. Anglophones, of course, have that rising-toward-resolution pitch glide (or did, until it became the teenies normal sentence ending). Other languages have other patterns, including none, for languages which are always explicit about questions. But the question mark solves this problem in written tp. And one form of this is not only common but fundamental, the 'anu' choice question: 'sina wile e telo pimeja anu telo lipu?', which is overtly indistinguishable from a declaration about your possible wants. (This is fundamental because it underlies 'x ala x' -- originally 'x ala anu x' -- and, more obviously, S anu seme?', whose analysis is rather complex.)

The problem with 'seme anu S?' is that the 'seme anu' is likely to get caught up with the subject of the S, suggesting that the choice was not "yes" and "no" but about what the proper subject of the S was. To be sure, the claim that 'x ala x' and 'S anu seme' are equivalent is fairly clearly wrong anyhow. The first allows conventionally only the answers '(x) ala' and 'x', whereas the second allows almost anything relevant (broadly interpreted), typically alternate suggestions (which might come up after an 'ala' by way of explanation or suggestions how to proceed). The 'seme' seems, in most cases. to match S as its category and so allow -- in two steps -- for a totally new sentence directly.

Its not clear whether the various question types carry any special pragmatic or rhetorical or conventional effects beyond those mentioned here, like the old "expects the answer "yes"", for example.

natan
Posts: 28
Joined: Wed Jun 29, 2016 3:13 am

Re: Questions

Postby natan » Wed Sep 28, 2016 4:51 pm

jan Tepan en jan Kipo,

I can see how using such a question "as one of disbelief", as jan Tepan mentions, could work over using them a standard question forms especially in spoken toki pona for, as jan Kipo points out, doing so would require all speaking and listening parties understand how they work and how they sound (and in reality, does everyone speak toki pona exactly the same!?)

pona

janKipo
Posts: 2757
Joined: Fri Oct 09, 2009 2:20 pm

Re: Questions

Postby janKipo » Wed Sep 28, 2016 7:36 pm

We don't know, since almost none of us have heard anyone else speak tp. But pretty surely not, even at the basic phonological level (listen to the various spoken specimens from people all over the world. They are generally hard to understand at first.

I am not sure about "as one of disbelief" though that is surely one possible use (though I would probably prefer 'a' or 'kin' to relying on just intonation.)


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