toki pona minutia

These are all unsettled, controversial ideas in toki pona.

1) kule lon palisa li pona tawa mi.

2) kule pi lon palisa li pona tawa mi.

Prepositional phrases as modifiers. These are most obvious when they appear in the subject. When they appear at the end of a sentence, then you could always argue that the phrase modifies the whole sentence or what ever the reader thinks makes sense. Almost no one does 2). I plan to write the parser to treat prepositional phrases as exchangeable with any tail, single word modifier (i.e. they are modifiers that come last)

1) ni li lon insa poka.

2) ni li lon insa poka suli.

3) ni li lon insa pi poka suli.

4) jan li tawa en tan ma suli.

Complex prepositions. People act like they can be joined, and’ed and or’ed. Some argue that the tail of a complex preposition is actual a noun, but then no on adds the pi for it’s modifiers, like in 3). And in 4) it is impossible to not look at it as a complex preposition. I plan to parse preps as potentially complex as in 2) and 3).

1) 543 = 5 (hundred) 4 (tens) 3 (ones)

A decimal system is ten digits and some of the place names, for example, a place name every three places. The choice of words isn’t so important (words for commonly measured, e.g. tenpo or approximate values, suli, mute, lili are bad choices), I plan to implement numbers as parameterizable templates.

1) jan li toki e kalama Wakawaka.

2) jan li toki e Wakawaka.

3) mi kute e Tinton li pini lape.

4) soweli li Mijawu li Mijawu.

5) Mijawu!

Onomatopoeia is so rare that the particular answer should not matter much. Forcing these to be proper modifiers sort of works, except in #5, it pedantic to make such an exclamation a modifier and in 2) it probably redundant to mention again that this is a sound, human sound, or animal sound. (kalama, nimi, mu) These should be allowed to stand bare. But possibly punctuated to distinguish from accidental unheaded proper modifiers.

1) jan li kepeken ilo kepeken soweli.

2) jan li kepeken ilo en soweli.

toki pona has these things that look like chains linked by particles. Sometimes the pattern seems to fight against recursive patterns, sometimes it seems to give up and just do recursion. For example, x en y en z can be read as an unordered list of elements. This is a very simple data structure, it fits with the design goals of a simple languages. a pi b c en a2 pi b2 c2 is something a of a tree structure at least. There are chains joined by chains. The prepositional phrases are odd balls because if you string them together, the particle is … blank, e.g. jan li sama soweli kepeken ilo. The chain of prep phrases either can be analyzed as having a particle with six forms, or a blank particle and the prepositional phrases is headed, or possibly conjunctions are ordinary chains. People seem to use 2) above, i.e. prepositional phrases are not chains like en, or pi. Anyhow, 1) and 2) are semantically equal and there isn’t a compelling reason to make 2) illegal– for one it makes texts clunkier, implies that a string of prep phrases should group together, e.g. sama A sama B kepeken X kepeken Y. I sort of want to make sure you can treat prepositional phrases as chains (it’s sort of elegant to treat all the phrases as the same datastructure), but won’t write my parser to expect them to be treated as chains.

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3 Responses to toki pona minutia

  1. John E. Clifford says:

    I hope your claim that almost no one does ‘kule pi lon palisa’ is wrong, since it is one of the clearer things about prescriptive tp grammar and is clearly a disambiguating rule.
    As for PPs, I only have a problem with 2 if it is meant to be the same a 3, otherwise, all of these look OK to me.
    The place notation awaits a set of digits, but looks to me to be the way to go (with or without measurements involved == note that wee have no units of measurement yet either, which is another whole grammar problem in the offing)
    Onamatopoeia just gets regular quotes (foreign quotes in tp) with or without a noun (technically understood in the context).
    I”m not sure I se the point of the last section. As they stand, 1 and 2 are different in origin (in a g-t sense): 2 says people use two things, perhaps independently, 1 says that people use animals in the process of using machines (horse-drawn plows, say — or hamster-powered computers). That is, 1 is generated, 2 comes from two cases of ‘jan li kepeken X’ (there is a generated case which is rather close to 1 with a reference to a mixture of machine and beast, Kung Sun Lung an all).

  2. John E. Clifford says:

    A couple more minutiae for you to stew over.
    1. Degrees Most adjective (and adverbial) modifiers can come in degrees from “not at all” to “totally” and even at least some of those degrees have degrees and so on ad infinitum. I suppose there is a practical (and maybe even a theoretical) limit to these iterations and the extremes may come under different rules, but at least the following seem perfectly ok:
    suli ala
    suli lili
    suli mute
    suli ali
    (hereafter, ‘mute’ and ‘lili’ behave the same apparently, so I give only ‘mute’)
    suli mute ala
    suli pi mute ala
    suli pi mute mute
    suli ali ala
    suli pi ali ala
    and so on.
    The negations seem to come from two sources, which makes sorting the cases out hard, but if we are just generating legitimate strings, then all the combinations seem to work, up to a point (two ‘ali’ are probably out and much beyond three iterations of ‘mute/lili” is supect). Every time I get a formula fro these, another case comes along that seems legitimate and screws up the formula.

  3. John E. Clifford says:

    2. ‘jan San li jo ala jo e pan’ “Does John have the bread?” Directly expects the answer either ‘jo’ or ‘(jo) ala’. But, in fact, the answer is often a lot more than that, suggesting various contextual factors and maybe some grammatical ones as well, especially when the answer is “No.” For example, the respondent might add “But Mary does” (‘taso jan Mewi li jo’) or “He has the potatoes” (‘taso ona li jo e kasi’) or “He forgot but he is out getting them now” (I’m sure there is a way to say this in tp). Context aside (here apparently a planned feed with assigned roles that get swapped around), there are two immediately apparent approaches to this syntactically. The easiest is to allow ‘kin’ in questions as well as responses, so here inserted after ‘San’ or ‘pan’ or ‘jo’ (the second one?). This seems enough, given we know how ‘kin’ and the ‘X ala X’ formula arise and in what order. The other possibility is that the X ala X formula is not confined to the verb. There are some signs of this already in the fact that, even in the verb slot, the formula is applied to other things than the verb proper, e.g., ‘sina toki pona ala pona kepeken toki pona’, where the assumption seems to be that you speak some tp and the question is not whether you speak it at all but how well. One would expect that a negative response here would be supplemented by ‘lili taso’ or some such (though not the paradoxical ‘ala ali’ “not a bit”). The ‘X ala X’ formula is described in the various sources vaguely enough that it is not obvious that this case falls outside it (or inside it, for that matter), since ‘sina toki pona ala toki pona kepeken toki pona’ is more arguably safely under the rules. However, we could apparently get strict here and achieve the same result by using kin again ‘sina toki ala toki pona kin kepeken toki pona’ This, if adopted, would head off at the pass the temptation to consider ‘jan San ala jan San li jo e pan’ and the like.