Multiple sentences

From sona pona, the Toki Pona wiki
(Redirected from multiple sentences)

The use of multiple sentences to translate or describe a concept is greatly encouraged in Toki Pona.[1]

Sentences clearer than phrases[edit | edit source]

Cramming into noun phrases[edit | edit source]

The particles that mark sentence structure, such as li and e, are essential for clarifying the roles of words and the relationships between them. Relationships between sentences can also be clarified through ni ("that"), la phrases, taso ("however"), kin ("also"), and reusing content words described in previous sentences.

In Toki Pona, you cannot fit this relational information into a single noun phrase. Modifiers and pi phrases only indicate some pertinence to the head word, but say nothing about how they are related. Multiple pi phrases are grammatically ambiguous, and speakers prefer it that way.

Overall, if you try to cram a concept into one phrase, it will be very difficult to interpret what you are talking about. Keep practicing your grammar on the sentence level. Keep each sentence relatively simple as you explain complex things.

Cramming into verb phrases[edit | edit source]

There is also a temptation to use complicated or forced verb phrases, especially with pi. This may be from a lack of familiarity with particles, preverbs, or adverbial la phrases. Granted, there are different uses where pi in a verb phrase can feel natural.

mi sona pi (toki-pona)

mi sona pi toki pona.

I know in a good-speech way

mi sona e toki-pona

mi sona e toki pona.

I know good speech. (The particle e marks the direct object, toki pona.)

mi sona toki-pona

mi sona toki pona.

I know how to speak well. (here sona is used as a preverb meaning "to know how")

Proficient speakers often think of the basic sentence structure S li V e O as "S causes O to (be) V". In that sense, the verb can be like another noun phrase. For example:

ona li lawa pi (ma ale) e waso

ona li lawa pi ma ale e waso.

They made a bird the ruler of all lands.

Build context over multiple sentences[edit | edit source]

Toki Pona is about building up the context needed to present a complicated idea. It is normal for the setup and the main idea itself to take multiple sentences.

ilo ni li pona tan ni: ona li pakala ala 

ilo ni li pona tan ni: ona li pakala ala.[2]

This tool is good because of this: it doesn't break.

In practice[edit | edit source]

lipu Wikipesija has partially adopted full sentences for article titles, which of course are elaborated upon with more sentences in the article body. For example, the article on the Russo-Ukrainian War is titled "ma Lusi en ma Ukawina li utala" ("The land of Russia and the land of Ukraine are battling"). It does not try to calque the English term by kludging this information into an awkward noun phrase, like utala pi ma Lusi pi ma Ukawina.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Lang, Sonja. (25 May 2014). Toki Pona: The Language of Good. Tawhid. ISBN 978-0978292300. OCLC 921253340. p. 58. "Sometimes we must simplify a complex idea into two sentences.".
  2. lipamanka, "ilo sitelen" (2021) kalama sin 3