Questions regarding syntax and punctuation

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
Selis
Posts: 2
Joined: Sat Jun 22, 2019 10:32 am

Questions regarding syntax and punctuation

Postby Selis » Fri Jun 28, 2019 1:01 pm

Greetings,

I've been learning Toki Pona for about 3 days, mostly with the help of jan Pije's course. Most of my confusion comes from trying to translate longer sentences. I've found solutions to most of the problems, I'm just not sure if they're grammatically correct.

Are there any uses for the comma when not addressing people?

How does the language treat inversions? Ex: "mi wile moku la tenpo ni", instead of "tenpo ni la mi wile moku"

What about omissions? Is the following valid?
  • I didn't know that our names were similar. > mi sona ala e ni: nimi mi li sama sina

The course states that Toki Pona doesn't use relative clauses and that they should be translated using "e ni." The example it gives is "sina toki e ni tawa mi: sina moku." Is it possible to add "ni" to other parts of the
sentence for a similar effect? For instance:
  • I saw the great and beautiful god, from whom we came. > mi lukin e jan sewi ni: jan sewi li suli li sinpin pona li ni: mi moku kama tan ona.

I realize that the language was created with the intent of being as simple as possible but speaking in complete parataxis just sounds tedious to me. I haven't tokiponized the names for the sake of simplicity.

Thank you in advance.

janKipo
Posts: 3002
Joined: Fri Oct 09, 2009 2:20 pm

Re: Questions regarding syntax and punctuation

Postby janKipo » Sat Jun 29, 2019 10:07 am

kama pona!

1. There are no official uses of commas other than after the ‘o’ in vocatives (and even that is lost before imperatives, when the two ‘o’s fuse). However, there is a courtesy move when certain kinds of ambiguity arise, about what modifies what. So, terminal prepositional phrases maybe. be set off with a comma if the preposition might be read as a modifier on the previous expression. The classic is ‘mi pana e sitelen tawa sina’. “I showed your movie” or “I gave you a picture” . The latter gets a complementary (welcome but not required) comma: ‘mi pana e sitelen, tawa sina’. Lope makes this comma required. Other cases arise with repeated ‘la’ phrases, which generally group right, but may be marked witha comma for left grouping, and complex ‘pi’ phrases, where it is unclear whether a third word goes with the phrase or over the whole preceding (which gets the comma).

2. Inversions don’t work. The first part must be a phrase or declarative sentence, the second part a sentence. On the other hand, many phrases before la, especially time and place ones, have equivalent phrases with ‘lon’ at the end, So your example is just ‘mi wile moku lon tenpo ni’ (In fact, the ‘la’ phrases derive from the ‘lon’ ones, but that is for later discussion.)

3. Because tp is so compact, omissions are generally not allowed. So, your sentence reads “My name is like you” (There are all sorts of complications buried in this, but the general point stands.) In actual conversation, the rules are less strict, with omission of “obvious” material occurring frequently (I tend to omit ‘mi’ subjects, for example) but we don’t yet have a lot of material about converations, so sticky with full disclosure seems the safest route for now (but people will often understand anyhow).

4. tp doesn’t have subordinate clauses at all (except in ‘la’ phrases). It does use ‘ni:’ and separate sentences to do the work. ‘e ni:’ is particularly for indirect discourse, not relative clauses so much. Relative clauses just use ‘ni’ and a colon at the end of the matrix sentence. So your case is something like this: ‘mi lukin e sewi ni pi suli en pona lukin: mi kama tawa ona.’ (‘tan’ makes sense, too, and both open up a mess of other possible readings.)

Selis
Posts: 2
Joined: Sat Jun 22, 2019 10:32 am

Re: Questions regarding syntax and punctuation

Postby Selis » Sat Jun 29, 2019 2:04 pm

Greetings,

janKipo wrote:In fact, the ‘la’ phrases derive from the ‘lon’ ones, but that is for later discussion.


Could you elaborate on this? Purely for the sake of curiosity.

janKipo wrote:mi lukin e sewi ni pi suli en pona lukin: mi kama tawa ona.


I'm assuming that "jan" here is implied by "sewi" and that "ni" is first because it modifies "sewi" directly. "en" is there to avoid consecutive uses of "pi." The logic for "tawa" is similar to how "I like x" translates to "x is good to me." Is that correct?

janKipo
Posts: 3002
Joined: Fri Oct 09, 2009 2:20 pm

Re: Questions regarding syntax and punctuation

Postby janKipo » Sat Jun 29, 2019 3:47 pm

tp textbooks talk little about how sentences derive from other sentences (or earlier stages of sentences). But once you start doing those investigations, you find that rules are easier if you get (almost) all sentence modifiers in as terminal prepositional phrases and then spin ‘lon x’ at the end out to ‘x la’ at the beginning. It doesn’t work the other ways, so starting with the ‘al’ forms loses some information about relations between sentences. Many peculiarities in tp become less so from this rearrangement perspective.

’sewi’ means “god” all by itself. ‘jan sewi’ tends to mean “priest, saint” etc. Pije is only slightly revised from 2004 and so misses some more recent developments.
‘en’ is used to join the two modifiers. I’m not sure that another ‘pi’ would work and it certainly would be less clear (I suppose the god is both big and pretty, not just pretty for a big thing nor big for a pretty thing ).
Sorry, but I misread the god sentence as “for whom we came” which would probably be ‘tawa’, but possibly ‘tan’. But “from whom we came” is definitely ‘tan’. I do wonder though about the ‘moku’ It says, in your original ‘we will eat from him” (I assume. If you forgot a ‘li’ it would be ‘we food come from him”) The ‘kama’ is usually not needed unless you want to stress the futurity of the eating.


Return to “kama sona toki”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest