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Toki Pona Forums • Does gender give different meaning?
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Does gender give different meaning?

Posted: Mon Jun 17, 2013 6:10 pm
by janEwiku
I figured: jan lili is a child, but, somehow, meli lili sounds like 'young woman', and jan lili meli would then be a 'little girl'. Just wandering is my reasoning right

Also, jan sama is a brother/sister but if you want to specify the gender, would you say (eg for sister) meli sama or jan sama meli? Does including the gender in 'meli sama' changes the meaning?

Re: Does gender give different meaning?

Posted: Tue Jun 18, 2013 9:11 am
by janSilipu
At an obvious level, it changes the meaning by being more specific: feminine rather than unspecified. But I think you are pursuing a subtler point. Perhaps it is about word order, perhaps about what is said am left unsaid, perhaps it is about the strength of idioms. That 'jan lili meli' means "girl" is testimony to the strength of 'jan lili' as an idiom for "child". On the other hand, 'jan meli lili' seems to mean "young woman", since 'jan meli' clearly means "woman". Similarly, 'jan sama meli' is clearly "sister", while 'jan meli sama' is less obvious, maybe some other female relative. I think the same happens with 'mije' in place of 'meli'. What the effect of dropping the 'jan' is, is also unclear. I tend to supply it unconsciously, I think.

Re: Does gender give different meaning?

Posted: Wed Jun 19, 2013 11:03 am
by janEwiku
thanks for the reply :)
i'm once again amazed how toki pona can differentiate these subtle changes of meaning :D

Re: Does gender give different meaning?

Posted: Wed Jun 19, 2013 2:39 pm
by janSilipu
We're getting good at being tricky.

Re: Does gender give different meaning?

Posted: Thu Jun 20, 2013 4:34 pm
by janMato
also since gender isn't grammatical and by the spec it isn't a metaphysical obsession, mentioning gender is a little bit emphatic.

This is like someone who has a mother tongue that recognizes a dual number being meticulous and always saying "Do you two want to come along?" So mentioning gender, especially in pronoun phrases, would imply the same sort of emphasis that a fluent English speaker would see if he were to hear "You two", or "you sir" or "y'all" instead of just you.