Tuesday, July 29, 2014

esun and commerce

The basic meaning of 'esun' is "swap, barter", the exchange of one object for another.  So it involves two people and two things.  Each person brings a thing to the exchange and leaves with what the other brought.  So a full description of a transaction is, in English, Person 1 exchanged object 1 for object 2 with person 2. In tp, the corresponding description starts 'jan nanpa wan li esun e ijo nanpa wan tawa ijo nanpa tu ... jan napa tu'. It is not clear what goes into the gap.  English suggests 'poka', but 'tan' (as the source of thing 2 and a natural for later "buy") and 'tawa' (as the final place of thing 1 and a natural for later "sell") also have merit; let's leave it as X for the moment.  What is central here is the symmetry of the situation: if we exchange one person or object for the other, we can get back to the same fact by also exchanging the object or person: jan nanpa tu li esun e ijo nanpa tu tawa ijor nanpa wan X jan nanpa wan.

Let us consider some reductions of the full form.  We might consider the case where the objects involved are ignored, for example, to talk about habitual activities: Bob trades with Bill, first 'jan Babi li esun X jan Bili' and then 'jan Babi en jan Bili li esun (X sama)'. Similarly, we can ignore the people (somewhat) and simply describe the exchange of thing 1 and thing 2: jan li esun e ijo nanpa wan e ijo nanpa tu (it might be argued that a "mixed" 'en' is appropriate here).  Putting these together, we get 'jan Babi en jan Bili li esun e ijo nanpa wan e ijo nanpa tu' (with the loss of the information of who brought what to the swap -- except by unreliable implication).  Or one person might be ignored and maybe even one of the objects.  So Bob, a collector of kiwen, might satisfy 'jan Babi li esun tawa kiwen', while Bill, a distributor of ko, might regularly fulfill 'jan Bili li esun e ko'.  Notice that here the connection between participant and what they bring o take away is maintained, so that we cannot say (with the same meaning) 'jan Babi li esun e kiwen', though 'jan Babi en jan Bili li esun e ko e kiwen' seems proper from ;jan Bobi li esun e ko tawa kiwen X jan Bili'

But we don't barter much anymore, but rather buy and sell.  This is a form or barter, of course, but one of the items is always money, which is always the "for" position in English, regardless of from whose point of view the transaction is viewed  The person who bring money to the swap is the buyer, the person who takes it away the seller,  So "Bob buys thing 1 from Bill" comes over as 'jan Babi li esun e mani tawa ijo nanpa wan X jan Bili', which, by a familiar transformation become 'jan Bili li esun e ijo nanpa wan tawa mani X jan Bobi', i.e., "Bill sells thing 1 to Bob",  Reducing to "Bill sells thing 1" gets 'jan Bili li esun e ijo nanpa wan'  and "Bob buys thing 1" is 'jan Babi li esun tawa ijo tu' (notably NOT 'jan Babi li esun e ijo nanpa wan').  Thus, the glosses that give both "buy" and "sell" for 'esun' need to be modified to make it clear that these are not simply to be used interchangeably: the DO is what you bring, what you go away with is a 'tawa' phrase' A better gloss than "buy" would be "pay ..." (with the 'tawa' to express "for" and the price as DO).  "Sell" actually works correctly, which suggests something about barter, perhaps.  This tends to increase the strength of the use of 'tawa' for X, but the difficulties with the two implicit 'tawa's works against it.  

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