Okay, thinking deeply about recursion in toki pona. I've seen in at least two places that it is claimed recursion is a defining characteristic of human languages.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Recursion# ... n_language
Ignoring Everett and Piraha--who I think is a crypto-racist who'd be surprised if the Piraha could wipe their asses without a Portuguese tutorial--all human languages recurse and this is one of the stumbling blocks that keep all species except humans from speaking human like languages. Toki pona almost doesn't recurse (I think jan Kipo would say by the phrase grammar it doesn't recurse except in la-phrases). We seem to routinely accidentally recurse (pi chains where the 3rd modifies the second), la chains that are not AND's of the list of "la-conditions", prepositional phrases that modify nouns in another prepositional phrase. [Am I missing any?]
I've found it more productive to think of toki pona as a series of styles of speaking (there is jan Pije style, jan Sonja style, jan Wiko style, jan Kipo style, jan Mato style, etc). I'd be hard pressed to pull quotes to prove everyone has been recursing, but we probably all have--our brains are wired to recurse effortlessly. Even if I did pull quotes, a sentence built with recursion can be parsed without recursion to yield a different meaning, b
It seems that there is a re-cursion free style of toki pona and this language would be a candidate for animal language studies. It has less than the magic ~200 words and doesn't recurse. 200 words is about the typical upper limit vocabulary for dogs, animals and abused children that have past their 15 birthday without exposure to speaking humans.
Anyhow, it's too bad we don't have any Neanderthals anymore, because the current research on parrots and chimps is rather pessimistic for teaching them any language, where as there were probably several species of apes that spoke languages somewhere in between full blown recursive human language and animal signaling.
Useful phrase for the cat
soweli o awen lon ni.
soweli o pana e mu wawa!
soweli o pana ala e ko jaki lon supa anpa pi tomo mi.
tu la soweli mi li wile la wile lukin e sitelen tawa pi jan Harry Potter?
soweli o moku ni li tawa mani mute. mi li esun ala e mana tawa moku sin.
lemme know if I have any accidental recursion in there, I don't want to be unfair to the cat