Head dropping

    From sona pona
    This page describes several different ways of how toki pona is or could be used. Some of these ways are experimental, plus the description of what is sometimes referred to as "head dropping" is in actuality disputed and might talk about something completely different. Therefore, this article should not be read as being authoritative in any meaningful way!

    In toki pona, a phrase consisting of at least 2 words can be analysed as having a "head" in front (described in pu and other places as "noun" or "verb") and one or more "modifiers" ("adjective" and similar) following the head. The head describes the main concept of the phrase, so it is obviously quite important. However, there are some creative, and often experimental ways people use toki pona in which the head gets dropped and only the modifiers remain. Even for the more accepted ones, none of these by far are universal. It should also be noted that some of these might be analysed as not actually be head dropping. Here are some ways this could happen:

    Generic dropping[edit | edit source]

    If a concept is previously described with a modifier, you might get away with using the modifier in the remainder of the text

    ilo luka en ilo tu li lon. luka li utala e tu. mi jo e len poki. poki ni li lili la noka mi li ken ala lon insa ona.

    Like most forms of head dropping, this will take the right kind of context and is probably more confusing when the modifier is a word that is used as a noun as much.

    tenpo dropping[edit | edit source]

    Time units are used so often and are so correlated with the modifiers that the modifiers alone might provide enough context.

    tenpo suno wan --> suno wan tenpo sike tu --> sike tu

    head noun dropping[edit | edit source]

    See also jan't

    When referring to a group of beings that aren't all represented by the same head noun, there are some strategies to talk to or about them, and one of these is dropping the head - especially when it comes to quantity modifiers:

    soweli ale en kala ale en akesi ale o --> ale o waso mute en jan mute li lon --> mute li lon

    head noun dropping in front of names[edit | edit source]

    Usually, a name for something cannot stand alone. When loaning the name for "Kanada", "ma Kanata" is used, with "ma" as a head. Here are some ways a head might be dropped anyway: 1) The pu exception: There is a single exception to this rule in pu's example sentences

    nimi mi li Apu.

    (presumably dropping "nimi" or "jan")

    This also reflects a pre-pu usage where modifiers in general were more likely to work as standalone predicates.

    2) Non-capitalised names: For toki pona users who only wear a label without capitalisation, it can be ambiguous/unimportant if the label is a nimisin (personal or not) or a name without a head

    nata li sona e lipamanka

    Onomatopoeia/standalone non-toki-pona words[edit | edit source]

    There is no agreed-upon way to realise onomatopoeia beyond "mu" (in fact, the traditional way would be to not use specific words, and only use "kalama" or "mu"). However, one idea to represent them in toki pona is to assume that any sound could be used like a name, which would usually require "kalama" or "mu" as a head. But one way to expand how names work in general could be to interpret any name or other kinds of words that are not part of the toki pona vocabulary as *sounds*, which makes "jan Tana" mean "a person associated with the sound Tana". As a result, "Tana" on its own would just be a random sound "Tana". In onomatopoeia, this could be used in one of 2 ways: 1) tokiponised sounds: What sounds look like when interpreted through a language's phonology is highly subjective, so what the sound would look like when tokiponised varies a lot.

    raindrops on the rooftop:

    "tap tap tap tap" --> kalama Ta, kalama Ta, kalama Ta, kalama Ta --> Ta Ta Ta Ta

    a book falling down:

    "boof" --> kalama Po --> Po

    2) toki pona words as sounds: While names don't usually have meaning in toki pona itself, a name or a sound that sounds a lot like a toki pona word could be implied to have the meaning of that word, often by having the origin of the sound be described by the word.

    the sound of a fist hitting the table:

    "whamm" --> kalama Luka / kalama Utala --> Luka / Utala

    the sound of loud foodsteps:

    "stomp stomp stomp" --> kalama Noka, kalama Noka, kalama Noka --> Noka Noka Noka

    an explosion:

    "boom" --> kalama Pakala --> Pakala

    3) bonus: sounds as content words: If names and sounds were to be used alone, they could stand for "to be or to make that sound".

    nimi mi li Tana

    My name creates the sound "Tana"

    ma li Italija

    The country shouts "Italija"

    Lapalapalapa li pona tawa mi

    I like the sound/name/word/onomatopoeia "Lapalapalapa"

    mi A A A

    I go "hahaha"