I believe I have established the parts of speech (grammatical word
categories) of Toki Pona.
- head noun, e.g. lawa = head
- modifier, e.g. lawa = main, leading
- transitive verb, e.g. lawa = to lead, control
- separator, e.g. li, e, la, o, pi
- emphasizer, e.g. kin
- interjection, e.g. mu! a!
- quasi-preposition, e.g. lon, tawa, tan
I will soon be able to restructure the Toki Pona word list to
translate the various word meanings according to their part of speech.
Interestingly, intransitive verbs fall under "modifier". For
example "lape" as a modifier means "relating to sleep" or "sleeping,
asleep". (jan lape = sleep-person, sleeping person)
Thus a basic idea like "ona li lape" (I sleep.) is really saying "She
Whereas "lape e" (transitive verb) would mean "to make sleep". mama
li lape e jan lili. Mother put the child to sleep.
Note that transitive verbs are almost always followed by "e + (direct
object)". If necessary, a "filler" object like "ijo" or "jan" can be
mi moku e waso = I eat chicken.
mi moku e ijo = I eat stuff. I am eating.
mi moli e jan. = I kill people. I kill.
(compare: mi moli = I am dead. I die.)
When there is absolutely no ambiguity of confusing a transitive verb
with a modifier, it is OK and even common to drop the "e + (object)".
mi moku e ijo = I eat things. I eat.
can be simplified to:
mi moku = I eat.
Even thought "mi moku" could technically be interpreted as "I am
food", this is a very unlikely idea, and the interpretation above (I
eat.) would be used.
The concept of intransitive verbs as modifiers also implies that it
is possible to have a compound with only modifiers and no head noun.
The first word you encounter could be either a head noun or a
ona li lawa. = It is a head. (head noun)
ona li lawa. = He is the main one. (modifier)
If there is a need to show that it should be interpereted as a
modifier (and not a head noun), you can always add "pi".
ona li pi mi = It is mine. It belongs to me.
as opposed to:
ona li mi = It is me.
Note that "pi" can also turn a quasi-preposition into a head noun.
tan = from
tan jan = from a person
tan pi jan = the origin of humans
A lot of these grammal rules may sound complicated, but in fact if
you use the language, you will see that they come quite naturally and
make sense. I just thought I'd write this up for all those who like
to hack things apart and see how the language works from the inside.
Or maybe I should just admit that "intransitive verbs" are a part of
speech to simplify all these explanations... :)