Sorry to dip m professional oar in here, but ... . So the meaning of each tp
word is a concept, if you will. But it is an vague concept, that is, it
boundaries are not sharply demarcated, there are many gray areas (think of
'soweli' and 'kala' and where what we call 'whales' or 'dolphins' or 'porpoises'
go -- and this can be repeated with almost any two concepts that belong to the
same broad (very broad) field). Sonja has not conceptualized mammals with
'soweli' although a lot of things she calls 'soweli' are in fact what we call
'mammals' -- and maybe some aren't (and maybe conversely as well). Whatever can
be said about Sapir-Whorf (though that is damned little tthat is coherent) it is
certainly true that each language (even down to temporally delimited idiolects)
slices up reality in different ways. My English uses a finer grid that tp, but
a much thicker one than a biologist, when talking about animals (and don't get
me started on colors, where
I can't even agree at level one with half the people in the world). Now, of
course, when I talk tp I may not get rid of my English conceptualization and so,
when I say 'soweli' I mean in one case 'cat', in another 'dog' and so on. Or I
may try to recreate something like my English concept in tp by creating a
compound, which may or may not work to reduce the referent class of the
expression to something like the one I have in mind. Or, as I become a better
tper, I may actually use the tp concept and not any longer worry about the
differences between cats and dogs, if they don't matter for my narrative. If
they do, then I have to put the relevant stuff in -- which may or may not bear
some relation to the differences between what I can 'cat' and 'dog' in English.
In short, a tper ought to mean a soweli when he says 'soweli' and we ought to
understand it as such. If we look around and can't tell which one he is talking
about (assuming he is talking
about the critters around) then he may have failed to communicate -- or may be
onto something different altogether. I am not sure whether I would come up with
'tokiponology' as English for 'sona pi toki pona' (or even 'nasin sona pi toki
pona'), but it is pretty clear a pretty good shot.
From: jan_sewe <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Sent: Tuesday, May 26, 2009 1:50:59 PM
Subject: [tokipona] Re: How to say "Tokiponology"?
--- In tokipona@yahoogroup s.com, Jim Henry <jimhenry1973@ ...> wrote:
> On Thu, May 21, 2009 at 4:56 AM, zlaod <zlaod@...> wrote:
> > What--conceptual thought is bad? Oh well, I mostly work on autopilot anyway.
> Several of the people on this list use the word "concept"
> in ways that seem odd to me -- not sure if they're
> not native speakers of English, or speakers of
> dialects other than mine. I would tend to use
> the word "abstraction" in most of the contexts
> where e.g. jan_sewe was using "concept" in
> recent posts. To me "conceptual thought"
> is a pleonasm, like "archaic old things" or
> "mnemonic memory" or "pulmonary lungs".
> "conceptual" is the adjective form of "concept"
> which is a fancy word for "a thought", not necessarily
> an abstract thought, which is the kind of thought
> that I think jan_sewe and some other toki pona
> speakers think that toki pona discourages -- not
> sure if I agree with them there, either. It seems
> to me that e.g. "soweli" is more of an an abstraction
> than concrete terms in other languages like "dog",
> "kinkajou", "marmoset" etc.; "pipi" more abstract
> than "bee", "junebug", "firefly", etc. (On the other
> hand "soweli" and "pipi" are less exact and technical
> terms than their closest equivalents in English,
> "mammal" and "insect" -- the latter have connections
> to scientific ideas about evolution and taxonomy
> that aren't connoted by the toki pona terms.)
> Jim Henry
> http://www.pobox. com/~jimhenry/
I don't know actually if my idea of a concept is the same as yours. Each Toki
Pona word is a concept in itself, but it's often difficult to understand what a
Toki Poka speaker means whenever he uses one of them, or a combination of them.
Whenever you say soweli - or soweli pona - in general you mean 'cat', 'dog',
'horse', but rarely 'mammal'!
Maybe Sonja has conceptualised the notion of mammal by means of soweli, but Toki
Pona speakers aren't being conceptual whenever they use it! And you can't just
say 'sona pi toki pona' and hope your reader will understand 'tokiponology' , a
word that doesn't even exist in English...
But sometimes I do wonder if Sonja really invented Toki Pona alone: it looks
like she might have benefited from conversations with a few guys like you... :)
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