Tuesday, March 15, 2016

tp FAQ 5 What does 'pi' mean?

pi' groups two or more words together into a unit in a modifier string.

That is, it doesn't mean any thing, any more than 'li' o 'e' do. Or it means whatever modification means and there there are several separate stories. The first three have nothing to do with 'pi', since it is never used with them directly. The others are relevant because whenever the modifier is more than one wor long, it requires a 'pi' before it.

1. 'ni' “this/that” Attached to a noun phrase, 'ni' indicates a particular case (or cases) of things satisfying the description, which one is determined by context, often just the previous sentence (the thing referred to by essentially the same phrases) but also waving at the environment. Attached to verbs it indicates a particular way of doing things, usually demonstrated or described in the context, “thus”.
['ni' is used as a pronoun to refer to the content of the whole of previous (or following) sentence, as opposed to 'ona' which refers to the referent of a previous noun phrase only. When 'ona' refers back to x, 'x ni' can replace it, but the suggestion is often of a closer connection, for example, the tp equivalent of a restrictive relative clause.]
'ni' when it occurs is usually one of the last three modifiers, but, if the modifier string involves a number of 'pi' phrases, it may move up toward the head, just before the 'pi's begin. If it is left to the end, it can use a comma.
'ni' is never itself modified.

2 'kin' is used to emphasize a word for a variety of reasons. The usual list is: emotive stress, contrast, extension, and corection.

Emotive stress. This is a sort of comparative but without any claim to actually compare: the object simply arouses an emotional response beyond normal: 'ni li suli kin!' “It's hyuuuge!” 'jaki kin!' “Ewww, gross!”

Contrast. A claim is made and another contrasts with it. 'mi awa ma Italija' 'pona. mi tawa ma Kanse kin' “Im'm going to Italy.” Nice, but I'm going to France
Extension. Adding more cases to a claim. 'mi tawa ma Italja' 'mi kin' “I'm going to Italy. Me too!”
Correction. 'mi jo soweli suli' 'sina jo e kin soweli suli' ('kin' can go with any word, not just nouns and verbs).
'kin' can, as noted, turn up anywhere, but it is never modified. It always affects the word just before it, so doen't get commas.
3. Numbers, both cardinal (strings of tp numbers in order 'ale mute luka tu wan' or 'ala' alone) and ordinal (as before but with 'nanpa' in front) don't take 'pi' no matter how long they are. They tend to be among the last three modifiers, but may move toward the head if threatened with 'pi' phrases. They cannot be modified and can use commas after 'pi' phrases.
4. Possession (or, better, pertinence or connection) This is the original use of 'pi', to connect noun phrases to other noun phrases to indicate that the referent of the second phrase owned or was somehow relevant to referent of the first. Just what that relevance might be is contextual, since we “own” in this sense not just our house and car but our legs, our children, our friends, our political candidates and so on.
[In this original use, 'pi' not only could occur in predicate position but also could occur with only a single word following it: 'ni li pi mi' “That is mine!”. Both of these have since largely disappeared though still occur in some textbooks. This use is, fo course, the source of the definition “of” in most word lists and the explanation “attaches a noun + adjective to a noun phrase” that is also common, though usually immediately contradicted in the examples.]
Possession is usually among the last three modifiers, but does not move forward except if it is a fairly simple (especially one-word) form. Strictly speaking, possessions cannot be modified, but the noun phrase involved may involved many levels of modification.
5. Incorporation. This process is peculiar to predicates. In it, the peripheral terms, the objects, come to modify the verb directly. In English we can go from “He hunts ducks” to “He is a duck hunter”, and other languages use this process even more centrally. So also in tp: from 'ona li alasa e waso telo' we can get to 'ona li alasa pi waso telo'. Similarly, 'ona li alasa, kepeken palisa pana' can become 'ona li alasa pi kepeken palisa pana' and then even 'ona li alasa pi palisa pana', because of the vagueness of the modifier relation. (Note that tp here reproduces exactly the ambiguity of English “rifle hunter” meaning either “hunts with rifles” or “hunts for rifles', since the difference between direct object and prepositional object has been dissolved.)
6. Degrees. This is best thought of as occurring in the predicate, too, to be transferred later to subject and objects. Simple modifiers come in degrees: not at all, a little, normal, a lot, and totally (roughly speaking) and both “a little” and “a lot” can have degrees, too. And most of these can be denied one way or another as well, So around the normal 'suli' there grow up 'suli ala' (which may not be quite 'li') and 'suli lili' and 'suli mute' and 'suli ali' – and the emotive 'suli kin'. And these can be shaded, with meanings to be worked out in context: 'suli lili ala' “not slightly large” and 'suli pi lili ala' “large and not slightly” and so on.
7. Blends. This obviously applies in the case of color words in tp, where, if we want to be more specifically green than “laso” (which covers about half of green over to into purple), we day 'laso jelo' “yellowish green”. But it sometimes applies in oter cases, where something is not quite really some way, but is sorta that way: 'ilo jan' “robot” is a machine that is humanish, sorta human, for example. And there are surely other cases in this way.
8. But the vast majority of cases of modification are just buried restrictive relative clauses: x{y} is just a compression of 'x li y' ({y} is just y, If that is one word, otherwise it is 'pi y'.) Thus, whenever a modifier string gets hard to figure out, we can stop and go backward to the series that led up to it, seeing how it is put together. Unfortunately, as tp is constituted, there are often several paths, but, if the writer was nice, he may have left commas to show when new layers were added. It also helps to sort out degree, blends and possessions early on (numbers and 'ni' and 'kin' handle themselves to some extent.

Consider the following case: 'tomo pi laso jelo, pi soweli pi suli mute, pi jan pona mi pi alasa pi waso telo li seli.' So, something is on fire and going back to the head of the subject noun phrase, we see it is a building. So the nub is 'tomo li seli. The first thing about that building is 'tomo ni li laso jelo' “it is green” (the comma cuts off 'li laso jelo pi soweli pi suli mute' or “it is very-big-doggish green” (we have have to take this as a lump because , if 'suli mute' did not modify 'soweli', the 'pi' before 'soweli' would be followed by only one word – forbidden!). Now, we have two possibilities again, that very-big-doggish is a type of green house or that this is a case of possession. Given the vagueness of both “-ish” and possession, we can collapse these and say. 'soweli pi suli mute li jo e tomo pi laso jelo ni' ('jo' being the appropriate vague word here). Now (each 'pi' introduces a range of ambiguities) we have further cases: the comma tell us that 'jan pona' does not modify 'suli mute', but it might modify 'soweli pi suli mute', or 'tomo pi laso jelo pi soweli pi suli mute', either a blend “a friendly sort of very large dog” or “a friendly sort of green house for a large dog” or possession “a friend' very large dog” or a friend's house for a very large dog”. Ah, but the lack of a comma before 'mi' says that it modifies 'jan pona', so this is a noun, not an adjective and we can go for “possession”. But we still do not know whether it is 'jan pona mi li jo e soweli ni' or 'li jo e tomo ni'. Again, relying on the total fuzzitude of 'jo', we can pretty much say that for present purposes (i.e., before the insurance issues arise) both are true and equally effective at getting us to the right house. The final bit is (un)marked as modifying 'jan pona mi' and so tells us which of my friends 'jan pona ni li alasa pi telo waso' (presumably eventually 'e telo waso', though the thought of ducks being used for hunting has its charms). Most cases are simpler and will not need this sort of peeling; some are worse.

If y is not a number nor 'ni' nor 'kin' and modifies x, use x{y}.

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