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wile sona tu - Toki Pona Forums

wile sona tu

Language learning: How to speak Toki Pona, translation problems, advice, memory aids, tools and methods to learn Toki Pona and other languages faster
Lingva lernado: Kiel paroli Tokiponon, tradukproblemoj, konsiloj, memoraj helpiloj, iloj kaj metodoj por pli rapide lerni Tokiponon kaj aliajn lingvojn
jan_Anti
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wile sona tu

Postby jan_Anti » Thu May 09, 2013 5:47 am

I'm sure these questions have been asked earlier, but I haven't been able to find any threads about it, so here goes:

'pi' as a relativizer
We all know 'jan pi kama sona' is a legal way of saying student. 'person of learning' or even 'person WHO learns'.
Could you also say e.g. 'jan pi pali e lili'? "jan pi pana e sona tawa jan pi kama sona li lape"?

More than one prep-phrase
Is e.g. "jan li pana e moku tawa soweli tan esun" legal? ("The man gave the animal food from the store.") This seems perfectly valid to me, since you can also use several verbs or several objects in the same sentence. One might argue that "how do you know that the sentence should be parced [soweli][tan esun] and not [soweli tan[esun]]?" (NB: It couldn't possibly be [soweli [tan esun]]) but the same can be said for any prep-phrase.
And, if I understand 'pi' correctly, "jan li pana e moku tawa soweli PI tan esun" would mean "The man fed the animal from the store". Right?

Also, I think it is clear that you can't nest without 'pi':
"jan li lon insa tomo lon tenpo pini." "The man was in a house (in the past)."
"jan li lon insa pi tomo PI lon tenpo pini." "The man was in a house from the past (i.e. 'the old house')."
"jan li lon ma Kanse PI lon ma Elopa".
?"jan li lon ma Kanse lon ma Elopa."

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Re: wile sona tu

Postby janSilipu » Thu May 09, 2013 8:51 am

1. No. 'pi' marks a modifier unit of more than one word, but what follows is always a modifier, never a verb + object overtly. That is, you can't have an 'e' aspartame of what follos(is set off by) a 'pi'. That this 'pi' can be translated as "who does" is as irrelevant as the similar translation of 'jan utala', "person who fights" or of 'jan pi ma Kanse' as "person who is from France", there is no clause there in the tp, only in the translation.
2. Yes. You can have any number of prepositional phrases at the end of a sentence. The only caution, as you suggest, is that you need to be sure that they all modify the verb, not the direct object or the object of some other preposition (which would require a 'pi', as you note).

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Re: wile sona tu

Postby janKalepa » Thu May 09, 2013 8:53 am

As far as Iknow, "pi" is just a divider, so it doesn't add any meaning.

Other questions are interesting for me as well. mi o awen.

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Re: wile sona tu

Postby jan_Anti » Thu May 09, 2013 10:00 am

Last edited by jan_Anti on Thu May 09, 2013 9:46 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: wile sona tu

Postby janKipo » Thu May 09, 2013 6:27 pm

Well, yes and no (ain't that alys the way, tho). 'moku e kili' is a transitive verb and a direct object, 'lon ma Elopa' is a prepositional phrase, dba a verb. I'm not sure that should be enough to separate them, but it is in fact. tp just doesn't have a S=>NP transformation, so 'jan pi lon ma Elopa' comes about in a different way, probably by having prepositional phrases as modifiers directly and then deriving the sentential form from that.
'kama jo e mani li pona' is not grammatical for the same reason (well, a closely related one: 'e' can't occur in NPs any more than it can occur in modifiers). Word clumps (and they are basically not differentiated in tp) can occur in four places (leaving conditions out for the moment): before 'li', right after 'li', right after 'e', and right after a preposition. The significant thing here is that all these clumps are defined explicitly without either 'li' or 'e'.
Sorry, but relative clauses -- and we don't, alas, distinguish restrictive from non- -- all have to be done with two sentences. I do tend to put the restrictive clauses first and the non-srestrictive second but that is my habit (I think) and not any rule (it does make a certain sense, but I am sure the other does as well) "the person that took my bag is tall" jan li kam jo e poki mi. jan ni li suli. "A person, who is tall, took my bag" jan li kama jo e poki mi. jan ni li suli. (That example turned out to be just confusing. Sorry)

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Re: wile sona tu

Postby jan_Anti » Thu May 09, 2013 9:21 pm

Too bad, but I guess I'll have to play by the rules like everyone else.

The "word clump" explanation made a lot of sense. Thanks. I'll try to keep that in mind when writing tp.

The more I think about it though, the more I feel that prepositions are exactly like transitive verbs, except they have an inherent 'e', i.e. they are like modals, except they take NP complements, thus (starting from a hypothetical abstract level, 'logical form' if you will):

[jan [lon [ma]]] > jan li lon ma. / jan pi lon ma

[jan [wile [sona]]] > jan li wile sona. / jan pi wile sona

[jan [moku e [kili]]] > jan li moku e kili. / *jan pi moku e kili

They can't be like Vi + modifier, since:

[jan [pona [mute]]] > jan li pona mute. / jan pi pona mute

[jan [pona [mute [mute]]]] > jan li pona pi mute mute. / jan pi pona pi mute mute
[jan [lon [ma [Kanse]]]] > *jan li lon pi ma Kanse. / *jan pi lon pi ma Kanse

[jan [moku e [kili [lili]]]] > jan li moku e kili lili. / *jan pi moku e kili lili.
[jan [lon [ma [Kanse]]]] > jan li lon ma Kanse. / jan pi lon ma Kanse.

But if it doesn't work I'll just have to take your word for it – you seem to know a lot about tp grammar. Maybe I'm just crazy for thinking a preposition should be anything like a verb. Maybe I'm just overthinking it. I'll sleep on it and have another look tomorrow.


Ever since I first heard of toki pona I have been wanting to write a complete generative grammar of the language, or hoping that someone would do (I probably lack the skills). (I don't think it has been done for any language previously, due to their complexity.) I've read your blog posts about parts of speech and transformations – interesting stuff. I'd love to see a sentence derived all the way from logical form (if you believe in that sort of thing).

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Re: wile sona tu

Postby janKipo » Thu May 09, 2013 10:11 pm

I have a sketch grammar, not generative or anything else exactly, just rough and ready, at tpnimi.blogspot.com. And tightening or corrections to that would be welcome indeed.
Note that kili does not modify moku, but -- if anything -- e, which may be the heart of the non-comparison.
The no pi after lon is a result of ma Kanse not modifying lon but being its complement. There are some problem cases where non-prepositions are starting to take complements and I don't know how to deal with then (pilin pona seems to be the made case). Something deep is probably going on here, but I am having enough trouble keeping straight about the shallow stuff, further clues would be useful (I suppose, e enters in as a generation rule, pi does not.)

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Re: wile sona tu

Postby jan_Anti » Fri May 10, 2013 7:17 pm


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Re: wile sona tu

Postby janKipo » Sat May 11, 2013 11:51 am

but prepositions can take at least some modifiers - ala, for sure, for all of them, tawa takes several fairly regularly and lon at least occasionally (don't see much of tan), but that technicality aside, the difference between complements and modifiers may be what is at hand here. But there do seem to be cases of V+e+Obj => V Obj serving as a noun. Needs work!

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Re: wile sona tu

Postby jan_Anti » Sat May 11, 2013 1:17 pm



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