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Toki Pona Forums • Question about Qestions
Page 1 of 2

Question about Qestions

Posted: Wed May 06, 2015 12:41 pm
by Pali Pi Sona Kiwen
Toki,

So Toki Pona takes its yes/no question structure from Mandarin, so simple questions end up looking like this: "sina pona ala pona?"

I understand that. However, I do not understand how to structure a more complex question. For example: "Are you learning toki pona?"

Would it be better to translate that to "sina kama sona e toki pona ala kama sona e toki pona?" or "sina kama sona ala kama sona e toki pona?" or even "sina kama ala kama sona toki pona?"

Thoughts?

Re: Question about Qestions

Posted: Wed May 06, 2015 1:09 pm
by jan Pinsen
Certainly I wouldn't go with the first option. One could argue in favor of the second, I think, but personally I would use the last option, "sina kama ala kama sona e toki pona." If you're unsure, an alternative approach is to just use "anu seme?", like in: "sina kama sona e toki pona anu seme?".

Re: Question about Qestions

Posted: Wed May 06, 2015 1:43 pm
by Pali Pi Sona Kiwen

Re: Question about Qestions

Posted: Wed May 06, 2015 1:50 pm
by jan Pinsen
No real reason, I think. If you want to just use that form, feel free to do so. I guess in some cases, "anu seme" is less specific, as you might not be entirely clear what aspect of the sentence you're asking the question about. For example,

"sina wile ala wile toki?" = do you want (or not want) to talk?
"sina wile toki ala toki?" = do you want to talk (or not talk)?
"sina wile toki anu seme?" = ?

In this case, there's not much difference between the two alternatives, but I can imagine sometimes there would be, particularly in longer sentences with various components. The final "anu seme" just illustrates there's some uncertainty about some part of it; the "X ala X" construction more closely identifies this part.

But aside from that subtlety, they're just alternatives, and anyone is free to use whichever one they want, as far as I know.

Re: Question about Qestions

Posted: Wed May 06, 2015 1:58 pm
by Pali Pi Sona Kiwen
Ok. Now I have a new question. How would you actually respond to an "anu seme" question? For something like "sina pona ala pona" you can respond with "pona" or "ala pona", but how would you respond to "sina pona anu seme?"

Re: Question about Qestions

Posted: Wed May 06, 2015 2:09 pm
by jan Pinsen
The same way, I would think. I might respond as "pona ala" rather than "ala pona" if it was the negative response, though. In fact, I might do that with the "X ala X" type questions as well, although I have wondered about that before.

Re: Question about Qestions

Posted: Wed May 06, 2015 2:19 pm
by Pali Pi Sona Kiwen
Great. Thank you for all of your help.

Pona!

Re: Question about Qestions

Posted: Wed May 06, 2015 2:49 pm
by jan Pinsen
You're welcome! :D

Re: Question about Qestions

Posted: Wed May 06, 2015 3:44 pm
by janKipo
You can also respond, at least to the x ala x format with just 'ala'. With the 'anu seme' format, probably adding the verb is a good idea. Notice the anu format encourages other answers, like 'mi sona ala', though these are possible in the x ala x case as well. in general the ala format just repeats the first verb, but other pieces can be repeated to ask for focused questions (I'm not sure how far that goes, does it allow, say 'ona li utala e sina ala sina' when the focus on whether he hit you in particular.)

Re: Question about Qestions

Posted: Wed May 06, 2015 4:34 pm
by jan Pinsen
Thanks for pointing out the simple "ala" response, janKipo; I forgot about that.

As for that last bit you mentioned, I was wondering about that as well. I think it should be allowed, as it's quite an elegant and simple way to ask such questions, making it immediately clear which aspect of the proposition you are wondering about. For what it's worth, I have seen examples like "ona li mama ala mama?" in a Memrise course, although I don't know exactly what its source was (I think it took some things from pu, and some things from discussions with various speakers of Toki Pona).