Friday, April 22, 2011

jan Pili lon tomo mani (a lesson on 'esun') draft, of course *185*

P: toki, jan Tan o.  mi ken pali e seme tawa sina?
T: jan Pili o, toki.  sina ken pana e mani tawa mi.

P: a a a! mi pana kin ala e mani.  mi esun e mani lili pi tenpo ni tawa mani mute kama.
T: lon!  o weka e toki ike mi.  mi wile e ni: sina esun e mani ni tawa mi tawa mani kama.

P: sina wile e mani tawa seme?
T: mi wile e ni: mi esun e tomo kepeken ona.

P: tomo ni li seme?
T: jan Jan li tawa weka tawa ma pi poka pi telo suli pi anpa suno li wile esun e tomo ona tawa jan.  mi wile esun e ona tan jan Jan.

P:  tomo ni li seme li jo e tomo pi mute seme?
T: ona li jo e tomo lape tu wan e tomo telo tu wan e tomo pali tu e tomo moku e tomo pi seli moku e tomo kulupu e tomo musi pi lon anpa..

P: ma poka ona li seme?
T: tenpo suli la tomo pi ma poka li lon.  taso ona li awen pona tan ni: jan jo ona li pona pona e ona. jan mute pi mani pona li awen lon poka ni.

P: jan Jan li wile esun e ona tawa mani pi nanpa seme
T: ona wile kin esun e ona tawa mani pi nanpa ni.  taso mi pilin e ni: ona li kama esun e ona tawa mani pi nanpa ni taso. kin la mi jo e mani pi nanpa ni.  tan ni la mi wile esun e mani pi nanpa ni taso tan sina.

P: pona.  mi esun e mani pi mute ni tawa mani kama pi nanpa ni.  pnin kama la tenpo mun ali la sina pana e mani pi nanpa ni tawa mi.  tenpo pi mun li mute lili la sina pana ala e mani ni la mi weka e tomo tan sina.
T:  pona. tenpo suna pi nanpa seme la mi ken jo e mani.

P: nanpa wan la mi tu li wile sitelen e lipu mute.  ni pini la mi pana e lipu ni tawa kulupu lawa pi tomo mani ni.  lipu li pona tawa ona la mi tu li sitelen e lipu pi mute lili.  pini la mi esun e mani tawa sina tawa lipu pi jo tomo. sina pini pana e mani la mi pana e lipu ni tawa sina.
T: pona.  open la mi tu li sitelen e lipu seme?

You have to imagine that each time someone says 'mani pi nanpa ni' he holds up a paper that has a money amount written on it.  This is because toki pona does not have a facility for large numbers (starting somewhere around 3)  toki pona has only two number words, 'wan' and 'tu' (three, if you count 'ala' as 0) and these are to be combined only additively: tu wan = 3, tu tu = 4, and so on.  The use of 'luka', "hand", for 5 is widespread, though not officially condoned and several other words have been pressed into service for larger basic numbers (20, 100, 1000) within this system, but none of these are adequate for use in the modern world.  The additive principle alone is enough to defeat them.  Many suggestions have been made. of course, about how to break out of this mold most simply: introducing multiplication with 'pi', say, or using tresimal (base 3) notation, and so on.  But none has caught on -- though someone uses each of them sometimes.

The source of this problem (if it is one for you -- as it clearly is for Bill and Tom and John) is the ideal toki pona community, which has a basic barter economy and no stratification by wealth, so generally very little need for numbers.  The participants can tell whether a swap is fair (we assume)  and almost anything else for which we might use numbers can be handled by tallies or whatever 1-1 matching devices are to hand. And there are, of course, no street numbers nor telephones nor radio dials nor ... nor any other thing that uses numbers (and letters -- there are none of those in toki pona either) in what is practically an address sort of way (where the pointer is or goes). 

But we don't live in that community and in the one we do live in, numbers -- big numbers -- are ubiquitous.  There is little we can do without them in some form or other.  With a few specialized exceptions, the numbers we run into are the decimal in left-to-right place notation (where that is relevant) and the letters are in some form related more or less directly to the Latin alphabet.  To meet these problems in toki pona writing, of course, we can just use the numerals or letters themeselves.  But how do we pronounce these marks?  As a practical matter, most people I know, on the rare occasions when the need arises, just pronounce them as in their native languages.  That interferes somewhat with intelligibility, if the people in the conversation come from diffeent native languages.  So, a uniform device is needed.  What that device would be is not clear beyond the following:
     it is not a part of toki pona per se but is rather like the proper adjectives for names (indeed making these items adjective modifying 'nanpa' and the like seems the easiest way to introduce them)
     it contains names for all the digits 0-9 and all the letters of the Latin alphabet and for the decimal point
Beyond these minima, one might want order-of-magnitude words up and down and devices for non-Latin letters or altered ones -- as the need arose.  But no accepted system of this sort has yet been found, though several have been proposed.

But, as noted, none of this is needed in the toki pona world, where all commecial transactions are carried out by 'esun' "swap, barter, exchange." 'mi wile esun e ni poka tawa ni weka'  is the basic offer to start a deal and then the haggling can begin.  In a typical swap, the direct object is what the subject brings to the exchange and the other parties item is introduced by 'tawa' "for".  Just what is the best way to refer to the other party (if at all) is open: some say 'tawa' to indicate the direction of the trade, from the subjects point of view; others say 'poka' to indicate the mutuality of the proceedings.  If we don't mention a DO, we get "doing business," which may be more specific than "working" or may be as vague as "shopping".  When money comes into the trade -- and maybe even before -- matters get somewhat more complicated, since 'esun' means both "buy" and "sell" and so the DO is sometimes what the subject brings to the exchange and sometimes what he takes away. Were we consistent, of course, the object to be purchased would be after 'tawa' and the DO would be the price, rather than the other way around as we have it. But then 'tawa' doesn't seem right for the other party, since the flow (from the subject's point of view) goes the other way, and so 'tan' seems to work better.  Even 'tawa' for the price seems not quite right and so some folk use 'kepeken' instead.  The dialog above, for the most part, treats this all as an exchange, even though what is being exchanged is money, and then a striightforward payback without anything coming to the payer.

Monday, April 11, 2011

in tp-land lon ma pi toki pona *186*

Wu: jan Pu o.  mi wile esun e poki pan ni tawa poki pan ko
Pu:  ni li poki lili. mi wile esun e pan ko mi tawa poki suli taso.

W: tenpo ni la sina pana e pan ko la tenpo kama la mi pali e linja pan li pana e ona tawa sina.
P: linja pan li pona tawa mi.  taso mi wile e moku soweli poka ona. 

W.  sina pana e pan ko pi mute pona la mi pali e linja pan mute li esun e ona tawa jan pi pali ma Ju tawa wan pi moku soweli li pali e kulupu moku li pana e ona tawa sina.
P:  pona!  mi esun e poki suli pi pan ko tawa poki pan lili ni en kulupu moku kama.

W: jan Ju o.  mi wile pali e kulupu moki.  taso mi wile e moku soweli tawa ona.  mi esun e wan pi kulupu moku kama ni tawa wan pi moku soweli,
J: pona. taso sina pona ala e wan pi kulupu moku pi mute pona tawa mi la mi weka wawa e poki seli sina.

W: mi wile e poki ni tawa ni: mi ken pali e moku tawa ni: mi esun tawa ni: mi en kulupu mama mi li moku.
J  mi sona e ni.  mi wile moli li kipisi e soweli mi tawa sama.

ni pini:

W: jan Ju o.  ni li wan sina pi kulupu moku kepeken linja pan mi.  mi wile e ni: wan ni li mute pona.
J:  pona.  ni li pilin pona lon nena li kama pilin pona lon uta.

W: jan Pu o.  ni li wan sina pi kulupu moku.  mi wile e ni: wan ni li mute pona
P: ala tawa mi! mi jan suli.  mi wile e wan suli pi kulupu moku. ni li wan lili.

W: taso mi pana e wan suli tawa sina la wan pi mute lili taso li awen tawa kulupu mama mi.
P.  sina pakala!  mi esun e poki suli pi pan ko tawa poki lili pan sina. mi pilin pona tawa sina kin la kulupu moku li pona tawa mi.  taso sina toki kama e ni tawa mi: sina pana e wan pi mute pona pi kulupu moku.  tenpo ni la sina pana e wan pi mute lili.  mi weka wawa e poki seli.

W: o pali ala e ni.  o kama jo e wan suli.  mi ken telo e wan pi kulupu mama mi.
P: pona! 

Saturday, April 9, 2011

In a Bar lon tomo pi telo nasa *187*

P:  jan pana o pana e poki pi telo nasa jelo sin.
O: jan Pili o pini! sina moku e telo nasa pi mute pona.

P: ala!  tenpo pimeja ni la mi moku e telo nasa jelo pi lili taso.  mi ken moku e telo nasa wawa mute li kama ala nasa.
O: ala kin.  tenpo pimeja pini la sina moku e telo nasa jelo pi mute sama li utala e jan tu li pana e luka li utala e nena pi wan ona.

P: ona li toki e ijo ike mi,  jan ala li ken toku e ijo ike mi li weka e sama tan mi.  mi kama e ni: ona li esun tawa mi.
O: taso ona li toki e ni taso: sina nasa  taso ni li lon.

P: ala! tenpo ala la mi nasa.  jan li toki e ante la ona toki e lon ala.  pakala! seme li lon ni e supa.  o pana e pona ni: mi sewi sin.  ken la mi tawa tomo
O: pona!  mi lawa.  sina kama lape.

lon tomo pi jan Pili

O.  jan Jowana o pana e pona ni: jan Pili li kama tawa insa.  ona li pali wawa li kepeken e wawa ona ali.
J:  ala.  ona li nasa taso.  o lon e ona lon supa.  mi weka e len ona li selo e ona. pona

O: pona. mi tawa
J: tawa pona.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

4 Mary goes out with Oliver. jan Malija li tawa poka jan Oliwa. *188*

O: jan Malija o, toki.  mi pilin e ni: pimeja ni la sina pona mute lukin.
M: jan Oliwa o, toki.  pona.  sina kin li ike ala lukin  tempo suno ante pini la sina kama tan sona ala kama tawa mi. jan ala pini li kama tawa esun mi li toki e ni: ona li wile e ni: mi tawa poka ona.  mi sona ala e sina.  taso mi tawa tan ni: mi wile sona e sina.

O: pona.  mi kin wile sona e sina kin.  o  toki e ijo ali sina tawa mi.  sina tan seme li tawa tomo pi kama sona seme? seme li pona tawa sina?  mute li kama.
M:  mi wile sona e ijo sama sina.  mi tan ma lili Kalipornija tan ma tomo LaSanseli li tawa tomo pi kama sona Jusiwele.  mi jo e lipu pi sona pi ilo sona.  taso mi alasa li lukin ala e pali pi lipu ni.  tan ni la mi pona e ilo sona. mi wile sitelen e nasin pi ilo sona anu jan pi pana sona.  mi sona e toki mute pi ilo sona e sona kon pi ilo sona.

O: a! mi tawa tomo Makili. mi jo e lipu pi sona pi ilo sona en sona esun.  tan ni la mi esun e ilo sona.  toki la sina kama toki kepeken toki pona tan seme?  jan pi pana sona mi li toki e ijo pi toki ni tawa mi.  mi lukin e toki pona li kama sona e ni: ona li pona pi kama sona li musi.  mi pini lukin la mi sona e mute pona pi tawa ni: mi sitelen e toki lon tomo toki.  jan pi tomo toki li pona e toki mi.  tan ni la mi kama sona e mute.
M: a! toki mi li sama toki sina.  ken la mi tu li jo e jan pi pana sona sama e wan pi kama sona sama.  tenpo ala mi lukin e ni tan seme?  ken la mi tu li toki lon tomo toki.  mi jan Malipona lon tomo ni.

O:  a! mi sona kin e sina.  mi jan Akepili. akesi li pona tawa mi.  nimi mi li lili e nimi 'akesi pi linja'  tenpo suli la mi kepeken ike e nimi 'pi'.  sina toki e ijo pi jan olin pini sina.  tan ni la mi pilin ike.  mi pilin e ni ali: sina kama sona e sona kon.  mi kama sona e sona kepeken.  kin la mi lon sinpin sina lon tenpo pi sike suno wan.
M: mi pakala e nimi 'li'.  mi awen sona e toki sina nanpa wan. ona  li kepeken e nimi 'pi' poka ala nimi tu kama.  toki mi nanpa wan li kepeken ala e nimi 'li' lon insa pi nimi 'jan' en nimi 'kama' taso kepeken e ona lon insa pi nimi 'mi' en nimi 'tawa'. ike la akesi li jaki tawa mi. kin la mi monsuto e ona e akesi linja kin. 

 O: mi jo ala e akesi.  kin la mi pilin e ni: ni li pona ala tawa mi: mi awen poka akesi.  taso mi lukin e ona lon tomo pi kulupu soweli.  selo pi akesi linja mute li pona lukin,  akesi mute li tawa kin pona.  kin la sina wile monsuto e akesi linja pi mute lili tan ni:  ona li pana e telo moli kepeken palisa uta anu ona li sike li ko e sina.
M: jaki a!  o mi tu  li toki e ijo ante.  sitelen tawa seme li pona tawa sina?  toki pi tenpo kama en wawa pi kalama en seli  li pona tawa mi. kin la mije pona li kama olin e meli pona

O: mi kin,  sitelen pi kama lon kin li pona tawa mi.  kin la soweli li awen lon ma pakala sama soweli wawa  walo lon telo kiwen lete.  en mute pi soweli lili.  telo loje en insa sijelo li jaki tawa mi lon sitelen tawa kin.

Friday, April 1, 2011

3 Bill and Oliver go to Lunch jan Pili en jan Oliwa li tawa moku.*189*

P: jan Oliwa o. toki
O: toki jan Pili o

P: mi wile moku.  sina wile kama poka mi anu seme?
O: wile.  mi sona e esun moku lon nasin ni.  one li pali e moku pona pi ma Sinko.

P: pona mute!  moku pi ma Sinko li pona tawa mi.  waso pi jan lawa So li pona mute tawa mi.
O:  esun ni li pali pi pona mute e ona.  kin la linja pan ona li sewi. tan ni la kulupu moku ona li pona mute.

P: o mi tu tawa esun ni!
O: kin la jan lawa pi esun ni li tan ma Winan.  tan ni la ona li pali e telo pimeja wawa lete pi telo meli ko

P: telo ni li pona.  taso mi moku e telo ni la mi pini moku.  esun ni li pali ala pali e pan suwi?
O: jan lawa li kama sona e pan suwi kepeken nasin pi ma Kanse.

P: esun ni li esun ala esun pi toki sina?
O: esun . o mi tu li tawa insa.

lon supa

O: moku ni li pona pi pilin uta.
P:  li pona lukin kin.  pana e telo pimeja.

O: kama
P: pona.  o selo e sama.  telo loje ni li kama e pilin pi seli wawa.

O: pona!  ken la wan tu ni li mute pona.  a! ike a! uta mi li pini pi seli mute!
P: o moku e pan walo.  kin la ko pi telo pimeja lete li kepeken tawa ike ni.

O: a!  ike li pini.  pona.  ante la sina sona ala sona e jan meli ni: ken la mi pona tawa jan ni? 
P: ken la sona.  mi sona e meli ni: ona li pona e ilo sona li pilin ike tan ni:  mije pi musi olin li tawa wawa weka poka jan pali meli ona li toki ala e ni tawa ona: ona mije li lon seme.  jan pona meli mi li wile e ni: ona li pilin pona sin.

O: mi wile sona e ijo mute ona. ona li sona ala sona?  ona li musi ala musi?  sitelen toki pana TaliTeki li pona ala pona tawa ona? ona li lukin pona ala pona?  moku pi ma Sinko li pona tawa ona?  ona li jan seme?
P: ona li jan Malija. ona li sona li musi li lukin pona pi mute lili.  mi sona ala e ijo pi pana TaliTeki e ijo pi moku pi ma Sinko.  sina kin wile sona e ijo ni tan ona.

O: pona.  mi wile kama sona e ona.  mi ke lukin e ona lon seme?
P:  ona li pali lon tomo esun ni.  mi wile e pona tawa sina. mi tawa.

O: pona. tawa pona. 

Friday, March 25, 2011

2. Oliver and Bill meet jan Oliwa en jan Pili li kama sona e sama (half draft)

O: toki
P: toki

O: mi jan Oliwa
P: nimi mi li nimi 'Pili'  sina tan seme?

O: mi tan ma tomo Montejale.  sina?
P: tenpo ni la mi tan ma tomo SanLuwi pi lon ma lili Misuli .  taso tenpo pini la mi tan ma tomo Ele pi ma lili Kaliponija. taso toki Inli li nimi seme e ma tomo Montejale

O:  nimi 'Montejale; li nimi 'Montreal' kepeken toki Inli..  sina pali e seme?
 P: mi pali lon tomo mani.

O: pona!  mi esun e ilo sona.  ken la sina kepeken e ona.
P: kepeken kin.  ilo mi li kepeken  nasin Winto.  sina esun ala esun e ilo pi nasin Winto.

O: ala.  ilo mi li kepeken nasin Linu
P: nasin ni kin li pona;  jan meli mi li kepeken ona.

O: mi wan ala.  jan meli ala li wile wan e jan pi ilo sona.
P: kin la ala.  ona li kama jo e mani mute li lawa e ma tawa tenpo kama.

O: lon.  taso mi pona lukin ala.  pakala!  mi wile tawa  kulupu pi jan esun,  mi tawa.
P: mi kin.  tawa pona!


I'm Oliver
My name is Bill.  Where are you from?

I'm from Montejale. You?
Now I'm from Saint Louis, Missouri.  But I used to be from L.A. California.  What do Anglophones call

'Montejale' is "Montreal" in English.  What do you do? 
I work in a bank.

I sell computers,  Maybe you use one. 
I do indeed.  My machine uses Windows. Do you sell Windows machines?

No. My machines use Linux.
That is also a good system.  My wife uses it.

I'm not married.  No woman wants to marry a computer person.
Surely not.  They get lots of money and are leading our country into the future.

True.  But I am not handsome.  Damn!  I have to go to a meeting with customers.  Goodbye.
Me, too.  Farewell.

This seems like a lot for a first lesson, but, if you understand the main things on this page, you know just about all you need to know about toki pona, except for learning the remaining 100 words or so.

 To begin with the title, jan Oliwa en jan Pili li kama sona e samaThis is a complete basic toki pona sentence of the only type there is.  Every complete bastc toki pona sentence begins with the subject, reference towhat the sentence is about -- in this case, Oliver and Bill  -- jan Oliwa en jan Pili..  Then comes the predicate, introduced by li here, kama sona e sama.  This consists of the verb kama sona and the direct object, introduced by e, sama.  The subjects, the verbs and the objects may change but this pattern remains the same: Subject li Verb e Object.  Actually, the object is only required with certain verb, transitive verbs, so the real core is just subject li verb. Of course, in certain situations, as we shall see, we may leave out other parts that are clear from context or we may add details, but the core holds.

The subject here is a conjunction of references to two different people, Oliver and Bill.  Their names are obvious from last lesson, though Oliver has changed the final e  to a and Bill has added li to the rather too short Pi.  But now notice that these names do not stand alone but follow the word jan, "person".  In toki pona, what we think of as proper names, names of individuals, are adjectives and must always come after a noun that specifies what kind of individual the named is, here people.  In other typical cases, the names follow indicators for countries (ma), cities (ma tomo) or companies (kulupu) or whatever can be individualized and named.  A name like Oliwa can never occur alone in a grammatical toki pona utterance (except, perhaps, to fill in a gap).

Notice, too, that Oliwa, though an adjective, comes after the noun.  In fact, in toki pona, adjectives always come after their nouns and, in general, modifiers follow what they modify.  This is, of course, just the opposite of English, so it will take some practice to not fall back into familiar habits.  But many lanhguages work this way and it doesn't seem to make any difference -- except in a particular language, where you have to do it a particular way.  So, here, adjective after noun.

Jumping ahead to the object, introduced by e.  It is the single word sama, which here means "one another" (like most toki pona words, it will be translated in different ways in different circumstances).  It refers back to the conjoined subjects and indicates a reciprocal action between them.

That action is described in the verb, kama sona, "get to know".  kama indicates a change from before to the new state mentioned next.  That new state is knowing, sona, in particular, each of the pair, at the end, know the other a bit -- certainly more than before.

After this, most of what we will have to say is about words, for the grammar is largely done.  We will come back and go over it in more detail as the need arises. but mostly it is here.  And notice what we have not had to cover: in toki pona there are no tenses -- if differences in time are important we say exactly what we mean by saying "at such and such a time";  there are no cases -- subject and object are known by their positions, prepositional objects by being after prepositions; there are no relative clauses or relative pronouns or sequence of tenses or the like (although we will have to do some of the work these do in other ways).

Now to the dialog.  The opening words, toki from each is a conventional greeting and so essentially meaningless (what does "Hello" mean?).  However it does have deep roots.  toki means "talk, language, communication" so this greeting is an invitation to share in the community which communication engenders, to be a part of the toki pona community -- another look back at the small society of  Daoism, where everyone knew how to talk to anyone.

The next step is obvious, of course: introduce yourself.  Each speaker takes a different one of the two easiest ways.  Oliver takes the easiest, simply saying who he is "I am the person Oliver".  Note that here is a piece of the usual pattern omitted -- we don't use li after mi (I, me) or, as we'll see in a moment, sina (you).  Notice then that there is nothing corresponding to "to be" here, nothing which is directly related to "am" in the translation.  Again, this is generally true; li merely marks the beginning of a predicate, not a separate part of it -- it appears even when "to be" would be inappropriate, as in the title.  There is also nothing corresponding to "the" (nor "a"); in translation we may need them, but we can mainly fill them in from the context.  toki pona does fine without.

Bill is more roundabout, he tells you what his name is.  Here there is the li because the subject is not just mi but nimi mi.  Since he is talking about a word -- his name -- Bill will have to use a name of that name and correctly identify its class, names, of course.  He does this by using quotes around the name to get its name. Thus what he says is essentially the same form as Oliver's: what he is/what his name is.Simple identifications. The one temptation to avoid is to follow the easy pattern of English, adapted to toki pona apparently, and say the nonsensical nimi mi li jan San  (your name is not a person, nor are you a word).

Bill now makes the next obvious move. "Where are you from?", literally "you from what?"   sina mean "you", like English either singular or plural.  mi, by the way,  is also either singular or plural, but it is not uncommon to see it supplemented by mute "many" or a number.  You can do this with sina as well, but it is less common.
tan is basically the preposition "from" but here is used as a verb "be from", as it were.  But, like the preposition it is, it takes a noun after it directly, rather than a direct object, to say what the origin is.  In this case, the noun is seme', "what?", the only interrogative word in toki pona.  Since it clearly is asking about a place, we translate it "where?" (tan can mean other things -- as can almost all toki pona words -- so in a different context we might translate this differently).

Notice that, In English, we would say "Where are you from?"  But we cannot do this is toki pona, since there is a fixed order of parts: the subject must be first, followed by li and the verb, and the complement of a preposition has to follow the preposition.  This is the basic pattern again, with the additional information that, for certain verbs, a noun can follow immediately, not as a direct object after e.

Oliver responds to this question.  He could have said merely ma tomo Montejalema tomo is a standard expression for "city", meaning an area of land (ma) characterized by buildings (tomo).  tomo is a modifier, modifying ma, indicating a certain kind of land.  This whole is now modified by the proper adjective Montejale to pick out a particular one of these things.  The pattern here of a modifier modifying the word or words to its left is standard in toki pona.  Strings of this sort can be extended indefinitely as we shall see directly.

Oliver now asks the same question of Bill, using the short form because the rest is obvious from the context.  There is no sign of a question in this word; Oliver makes it one by the rise of his voice at the end.

Bill answers that he is from Saint Louis.  But he prefixes this by one of those things which can be added to the basic sentence structure, a condition, closed by la.  There are many kinds of conditions, but this is one of the most common, setting an event in time.  The event here is being from Saint Louis and the time it occurs is now, at this time, expressed by tenpo ni.  tenpo means "time" and ni is "this" or "that", pointing to something in the context of the utterance.  In this case, it is pointing to a time and the only one available is the present, so the whole means "now.".  Bill's word for St. Louis is not exactly what you might expect, but the modifications give it an appropriate French look.

His place name is extended, however, by pi ma lili Misuli.  This is a further modification of the string ma tomo SanLuwi, but the pi indicates that, rather than adding new modifiers one by one, we take a block of several words and treat that whole as a single modifier.  So, the whole ma lili Misuli modifies ma tomo SanLuwi, explaining which St. Louis is meant.  This block is itself built up just like the first one, except that we now have a name for a state (ma lili) rather than a city.  ma lili means "state" here, literally "little country" -- little only relative to a whole nation, which would be just ma usually.  Bill might have also called the state Misuwi, but he apparently doubts Sonja's characterization of American pronunciation.

But Bill now asks -- in one of the many possible ways -- what the heck Montejale is toki pona for: "The English language calls Montejale what?" This underlines again the problem of working back from a toki pona name to a more familiar one. Bill begins with the subject, using toki to mean "language" here and Inli as the standard name for English.  The verb here is nimi which we met earlier as a noun meaning "name" now appears as a verb meaning "call, give a name to".  The name you give can occur as a complement after nimi, essentially the pattern we have seen already, but here modified to take account of the fact that we have a transitive verb here and so are talking not about what the name of a thing is, but what someone calls it. And, what someone calls it is what we want to know, so the space where the name would go gets the question word, seme.  The direct object, after e, refers to what it is whose name we seek, the city called Montejale in toki pona.

Oliver could have replied simply "Montreal" or followed Bill's pattern toki Inli li nimi 'Montreal' e ma tomo Montejale or, because people find those noun phrases after a verb distracting when there is also a direct object, toki Inli li nimi e ma tomo Montejale kepeken e nimi "Montreal", "The English language refers to (names) the city Montejale by using the word "Montreal""  In this we see another addition to the basic sentence pattern, prepositional phrases, again in a fixed place, at the end.  kepeken means "use" as a verb but is here being used as a preposition meaning "using, by means of as a tool".

But Oliver uses a different pattern: "The word 'Montejale' is (the same as) the word "Montreal" in English", back to Bill's pattern for identifying with the addition of the phrase identifying the language involved.  By the way, the kepeken phrase is the standard way of telling what language is being spoken for a particular situation: tenpo ni  la mi sitelen kepeken toki pona.   sitelen means "write" in this situation.

At this point, these detailed discussions are probably not necessary  (they are in the back of the book just in case, however)  For the next bit, you need to know that pali means "work, do, make"  Inn the context, the last doesn't seem to enter,  tomo means a building and mani means money.

In Oliver.s rejoinder, esun means "exchange, buy, sell" and we have to take the probabilities here that there are few computer buyers and fewer exchangers but many sellers.  ilo is a tool, a machine and sona means knowledge.  There are several other expressions for computers but this seems the most general.  ken means possible, so as a condition it means something like "maybe".  ona is the third person pronoun and means the same as some expression earlier in the discussion.  In this case, the only candidate is ilo sona, since sina wouldn't give a third person pronoun.  kepeken is a transitive verb here and so has a direct object.

kin comes after a word to stress it, here vigorously asserting that he uses computers (notice, we don't need the full name here, there is only one kind of machine being discussed).  nasin is a word for, among other things, like "road", a word for systems, here a widely used operating system for computers

The yes/no question is here expressed in the usual way by repeating the verb and and sticking ala  "not" between them.  The correct standard reply. would be ala or esun ala for "No" and esun for "Yes".
Linux is another well known operating system.  kin here means "also, too" contrasting with the earlier nasin Winto.

jan meli mi is standard for "my wife", meli means feamle of any species, hence the jan but context usually covers it (although here meli mi alone might mean a secretary or someone in the office pool at the bank.  It might even with jan, come to that; we go with the unlikelihood that a secretary uses a system othr than the rest of the business).

wan means "one" but can be extended to include the act of getting married ("becoming one") and hence to mean "maried."

What has been displayed so far
1.  The pattern of toki pona sentences is Subject li Verb
2.  This pattern can be extended by
      a  adding a condition in front followed by la
      b  adding a direct object after the verb, preceded by e
      c  placing a prepositional phrase at the end (after the direct objects if there are some)

3.  Words can be modified by adding word, one by one to the right
4.  A block of words can count as a single modifier if it is preceded by pi

5.  Wh-questions are formed by putting seme in place of the wanted word.
6,   Yes/no questions are formed by repeating the verb with ala between.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Introduction (draft)

toki pona is a language developed over the last decade by Sonja Elen Kisa (a great toki pona name, by the way), a Canadian language professional.  It is meant to be a very small language, easy to learn and master. To understand how it is more than that, we need to look at the philosophy and the problems that lie behind its creation.

The central concept underlying toki pona is simplicity ("toki pona" means, among other things, "simple language").  The importance of this concept to Kisa ("jan Sonja" among the users of the language)sprang from three sources: Daoism, mental distress, and the linguistic chicanery of the modern world.  Daoism and a language which incorporated some of its teachings were seen as a possible answer to the other two factors.
Daoism is an ancient (-5th century) Chinese philosophy which stressed a return to a simpler style of living and a simpler society, one without distinctions of rank and wealth.  And part of the path to this society was (as in all ancient philosophies) the rectification of names, calling a spade a spade and a dictator a murdering.   maniac.  Once things were called by their proper names, then people would not be confused (and bamboozled) by the tricky slogans.  And then most of the mental problems would disappear, since they are caused by the disconnect between what the hype says -- the expectations -- and what actually follows.  To be sure, some significant portion of mental distress arises simply from the complexities of the modern world, even without its use to conceal chicanery, so simplifying life -- at least the things that we need to heed -- makes a further contribution to mental health. 

Although we cannot, by and large, go back to the primitive, agrarian society of even more ancient China, we can take advantage of some parts of Daoism even today.  We can come to use -- in our private observation of the world, definitely, and in society insofar as the language spreads -- a language with a small number of words and express all that is significant in our lives in terms of these few words.  Thus we need focus on only a few factors and to treat anything more complex as built up from those factors in an intelligible way, a way that allows us to go back to how they affect our normal life.  If we can't do that with some notion  (credit swaps, say), then it is not a part of real life and is to be avoided. 

For such a language, the choice of those few words is important: too many and complex notions fit in, too few and you cannot say all you want.  And this last problem arises, too, if the words chosen do not fill the world adequately.  toki pona has about 120 words and, while I do not know how they were selected, jan Sonja claims them to be appropriately small and experience has shown them to be appropriately broad, covering a wide variety of circumstances.  Whether the vocabulary needs changes is something that only further experience with the language can tell.

So far, the explanation of the origins of toki pona has made it sound like a very deep study indeed.  But, while we can hope that you derive some advantages from learning it well -- in terms of mental health and a more effective bullshitometer, the real reason for learning toki pona is that it is and easy-to-learn, fun language, that has enough of a community (only on the internet, alas) to allow you to develop some (virtual) friendships and acquire some expertise in a new language, always a thrilling experience (if done outside the horrific teaching methods of many schools).  So join us as we turn to the basics of toki pona (and, happily, there is not much beyond the basics).

[ Pedantic footnotes.
"Kisa" is the tokiponization of the Acadian French name Richard (does anybody still remember Maurice and Henri, the Rocket and the Pocket Rocket, who led the Habs in the NHL from the 1940s into the '8os?).

There is a lot more to Daoism than what is described above.  In particular, it holds that ultimately all words are useless and all distinctions should be lost so that we live entirely in accord with nature, without any artificiality at all.

"on the internet, alas"  toki pona is a language for face to face communication, in contexts available to both interlocutors, for much of the conveyance of messages is done by using features of the context.  The toki pona seen on the internet is excessively elaborate because the users have to fill in large parts of the context.  Thus, internet toki pona tends to have fairly long noun phrases -- a head noun and a long string of modifiers -- where face-to-race toki pona could usually do with only the noun and perhaps a simple modifier, since it only has to pick something out from the limited context, not from the whole world. ]