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What is pu - Toki Pona Forums

What is pu

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jan Ape
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What is pu

Postby jan Ape » Sat Jan 09, 2010 4:52 am

This is the only confusing word to me. "Sina pu" means "you have the official toki pona book?"

janMato
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Re: What is pu

Postby janMato » Sat Jan 09, 2010 12:04 pm

(Edits in bold)

We're in the world of pre-constructing languages here. This is even harder than re-constructing languages like proto-indoeuropean.

Safest Possibilities:
pu - word reserved for future use, similar to how computer languages reserve the word "goto", with the plan to use it in the future or to never use it.
Pros: It is on the list, it is in fact reserved.
Cons: Doesn't help us use it, in fact, a reserved word discourages use, both as root and as proper modifier,
e.g.
?/* mi kute e nimi 'pu'. I hear the pu word. (illegal, not yet defined, if indeed reserved words are illegal to use)
?/* mi kute e nimi "Pu". Sounds just just like the potentially illegal sentence.

Loan word based theories
pu - uncarved block, taoist jargon. Assumes this is a loan word that has been promoted to root word.
pu - loan word promoted to root word, neo-eponym means "teddy bear", or proper name meaning one particular Pu. But if it is a proper name, it can't be a root word, so if it does mean teddy bears, it must be closer to the class. All someday will be moot at any rate.

Pros: Sonja's words fall not far from their trees. If it is an obvious loan word, usually the word has a meaning similar to the
Cons: Can't tell if this is from Chinese or British English.

Daoist Theories
pu - something that is hard to put into words. A big theme in Taoism is that if you can put it into words, it is false. So it could be something like "unspeakable truth" and acts as sort of a pro-form (deixis?) to stand for some unspeakable truth (or just something that is hard to express)
pu - a verbal place holder, like blah-blah-blah. It is almost as if jan Sonja didn't feel like writing "tempo ni la sina jo e lipu mute lawa pi mama pi toki pona" today and plans to fill it in later.

Fabulous Theories
pu - it means what you or the community wants it to mean (theory proposed elsewhere by someone else...), this is somewhat plausible as the community is developing idioms and assigning them meaning, why not root words?

Theories that from a long way off look like flies
...
Last edited by janMato on Sat Jan 09, 2010 2:20 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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Re: What is pu

Postby janKipo » Sat Jan 09, 2010 12:34 pm

'kute' You hear it, not freeze it. 'pu' "Pu"
Actually, it is never clear what "Pooh" means other than this particular teddy bear (which is called Edward bear, not Theodore bear, in England, which opens a whole nother line of question).
pu, uncarved block, is less a truth than a person or thing that has de, a kind of pure potential to be formed by Dao. But we can't say that, of course.

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Re: What is pu

Postby janMato » Sat Jan 16, 2010 7:29 pm

I've realized I've left off a theory-- that "pu" is a possible clitic, maybe like a verbal comma or semi-colon.

If it is a semi-colon like English, then it would join related sentences that seem like they're missing the co-ordinating conjunction, such as For, Nor, And, But, Or, Yet, So, Like. (seems unlike, see below)
OR it joins related sentences where there is a conjuctive adverb, like furthermore, elsewhere, equally, hence, henceforth, however, just as, etc. (seems unlike, see below)
OR it splits lists of lists, e.g. apple, oranges; booze, beer, vodkas (unlikely, this would be mostly useless)

I'm not sure why it would be a co-ordinated conjuntion, because we already have "taso". And if we want to allow more, it would make more sense to overload, "en", "anu", "sama", "ala", "tawa" and allow them as sentence intials, the way "taso" is legal at the start of a sentence now.

If it is a semicolon like programming, then "pu" is a verbal period (end of sentence marker!) Unlikely, but potentially useful. Sentence splits can cause extra ambiguity.
If it is a semicolon like in Church Slavonic, then "pu" is a verbal question mark! Again, unlikely. If we get a end of sentence marker, it will cover all types of sentence endings (!, ., ..., and ?)

If it is a comma, as in in a separation of lists, that is unlikely, we have "li-chains" "e-chains" and prep-chains, already. So this is unlikely.

If it is a comma, as in the puctionation that joins the dependent and indepedent and dependent clauses, i.e. pu would be like the word "that".

Personally, I think it would be awesome to get relative clauses.

Here is why:

mi lukin e soweli pu moku e kasi pi ma supa. I saw the cow that eats the grass of the plains. I saw the grass-eating plains animal. An action is the salient feature of this animal.
This also might be usable when the salient feature is a prep-phrase (i.e. the prep phrase modifies something other than the verb)
vs
mi lukin e soweli ni: soweli li moku e kasi pi ma supa. (using e-ni-clauses) I see this animal, the animal is eating the plants of the plains. This kind of missing the point, that the salient feature of the cow is that it eats grass on the plains.
vs
mi lukin e soweli. soweli li moku e kasi pi ma supa. I see an animal. The animal is eating plans of the plains. Same problem as above and worse, it makes it sound like the topic has decidenly switched to the animals eating-- where as "pu" as relative clause marker lets the reader know that we are still talking about a cow, which may or may not be eating right now.
vs
mi lukin e soweli pi kasi moku pi ma supa. I see the animal of the edible plants of the plains. "pi" is so semantically bleached, it doesn't signal that exactly what the relationship between the soweli and the kasi is (namely that one eats the other... a cow isn't a type of plant, it doesn't have a plant, etc)

UPDATE. This also seems to be leading towards the Japanese ! Exciting stuff for the easily excitable, like myself

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Re: What is pu

Postby janKipo » Sat Jan 16, 2010 8:07 pm

Ends of sentences shouldn't be a problem, since we have a diostinctive juncture (assumed, of course -- I don't know just what it is; probably like English wind-down).
The various uses of 'pu' seem unlikely to be what Sonja has in mind (if anything -- the existence of 'pu' is stunningly evanescent).
The problem with relative clauses (you seem to be interested mainly in restrictive ones -- rightly, I suppose) is that it opens up intrasentential recursion and the possibility of sentences of Joycean or Proustian or Kantian complexity (and the few things we have now are bad enough though only additive). We have some devices for doing the work of relative clauses, using 'ni' in various ways, as you note. They are subject to the problems you note as well. For restrictive clauses, the rule seems to be to get the restriction in first and then go on with it. But that is probably not always possible -- or easy to do in speech, or free from the suggested problems: 'soweli li moku e kasi lon ma supa. mi lukin e soweli ni.' Not a big problem, but a slightly annoying one.

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Re: What is pu

Postby janMato » Sun Jan 17, 2010 12:08 am


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Re: What is pu

Postby janKipo » Sun Jan 17, 2010 11:01 am

I'm not quite sure why the first sentence needs this rather abstract interpretation nor why you think it lacks it. It seems to function smoothly at the concrete level, but has the more abstract as a possibility. In any case, it is the standard technique for the problem at hand and beats the alternatives for theoretical simplicity.

Working backward. Yes there is already recursion in the 'la' slot and that is a source of some concern. But it is inherently restricted, generating more and more (ambiguous) antecedents, not free-form sentences. The same is true with PP on NP constructions and, indeed, with 'pi' constructions generally. The rules are meant to provide some sort of optimal balance between clarity and economy: no clusters means a long string of simple sentences, in which one is likely to lose the thread; unrestricted clustering leads to clumps difficult to pull apart, So we are left with speaker and hearer struggling to a reasonable place. Guided by the rules of Conversation, of course. The whole can't be set in stone, but has to be worked out in each situation. I suppose that the same would apply to more free form sentential recursion, but that lure is more easily rejected (as PP on NP may even be) because the dangers are so apparent and the work-round so easy and natural (depth grammar and all).

Well, I am not sure that the structure words of tp are strictly clitics, but 'pu' would fit with the -- as would several other words already established.

The fact is that descriptions of languages (natural and constructed alike) rather spend much time on suprasegmental phenomena and tp is no exception. The only note I can find on it at all is that questions don't have to have the rising tone at the end, even though many tp questions are not the sort that have that tone in English anyhow. So I assume that tp, when spoken naturally, rather than read or squeezed out painfully in practice, has a sentence-long tune with sectional motifs of various sorts and some standard coda. I assume that that is usually that of English for the present group, although the somewhat (sometimes markedly) different contours of various Frenches and some Slavic and Germanic languages will also be heard -- with unknown effects on comprehension. We need some face-to-face somehow. In any case, every sentence has such a contour, even if it is a flat line (as it almost never is, even with remarkably unexpressive sorts).

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Re: What is pu

Postby janMato » Sun Jan 17, 2010 11:45 am


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Re: What is pu

Postby janKipo » Mon Jan 18, 2010 4:32 pm

Gee, I thought I did this already. well, some of my bonier mots down the hole in the center of the disc (but there aren't discs anymore, nor holes -- is a puzzlement)

I was working backwards so the first remark was to the last scrap of your piece, saying the standard restricted relative clause had to have some "There is a ..." interpretation and asking why this was necessary and also why you didn't think it was present. 'soweli li moku e kasi lon ma supa. mi lukin e soweli ni'

As for the iterated 'la's, it is not clear whether they are (p>q)>r, as you have them, or P>(q>r) or even (p>r)&(q>r) or something not describable in a linear array.

For now, it is enough that in the deep structure, every clause -- and, indeed, every modified noun (and similarly, though slightly differently for verbs, etc,) -- is represented by a fully developed S node (a sub-tree headed by S and ending in ultimate elements). At that point, there are a number of possible developments, depending on how the S nodes are connects and on the ultimate language, to the surface presentation. One extreme possibility is a string of simple sentences held together by a complex of cross-references, another -- at the opposite end -- is a single complex sentence with massive modifier clusters, relative clauses, and what all else. Somewhere between is a fairly clear yet reasonably compact utterance, maybe several sentences, but relatively transparently connected, toward which the conventions of conversation guides the speaker in the usual contexts. Not very precise but about as good as it gets. tp cuts off a part of this possibility, relative clauses, but they are ones which already lie very close to the surface and so detach easily. The point is, of course, that all these come ultimately from the same tree; it is only the path chosen to the surface that differs. Complexity, in the practical sense, is a surface phenomenon. But even as a surface phenomenon, relative clauses are scarcely less complex than connected sentences; they appear to be slightly more so in terms of what is required to get them.

Why "IE relative clauses" btw -- the IE languages display a variety of styles and the SAE ones (not even this quite accurate) are found in many other families (similarly, I think for "Japanese verbal adjectives" but I am less ure about that). Each language has its own devices for surfacing underlying structures (usually several).

The only note on tp inflection is in an old Pije lesson (I haven't checked the revisions) on tp questions -- I don't remember which kind ('seme'' or 'x ala x'). What the contours of tp sentences are/will be/ought to be I don't know. My best guess is that now thye correspond pretty much to the contours of the speaker's native language, with what result for intelligibility I don't know. What the official line (should tp take one -- a somewhat unprecedented move) will be, I wouldn't care to guess (but expect an English or one of the Frenches). But, in any case, every spoken sentence has a contour and the interesting question are now whether those in tp fall into a small number of patterns, corresponding to intentional features of the utterances involved, or are just all over the place (for each speaker and then collectively). (Incidentally, again, there aren't IE contours; each IE language (indeed, dialect) has its own and they are often unrelated as are those from other language families. Listen to a Midwestern American (I think Wisconsin, to go to an extreme, but Ohio will do) and a Parisian Frenchman ask a question, or that American and a cockney, for that matter.

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Re: What is pu

Postby janMato » Wed Jan 20, 2010 1:56 am

Last edited by janMato on Sun Sep 05, 2010 5:15 pm, edited 1 time in total.


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