pin't

    From sona pona

    pin't is a common nasin that avoids the phrasal-modifier-grouping particle pi.

    To most users, pin't involves restructuring sentences to compensate for the loss of pi, so it generally does not change Toki Pona grammar.

    Motivations[edit | edit source]

    (This is REAL Grammar, done by REAL Tokiponists):

    Is A pi B C pi D E
    A (pi B C) (pi D E)
    or A [pi B C (pi D E)]?

    They have played us for absolute fools

    There are many perceived issues with pi:

    Complexity[edit | edit source]

    pi adds complexity and makes understanding a more demanding task. Longer phrases with multiple modifiers already make it more difficult for listeners to keep up, compared to using full sentences, and only describe loose relationships between the head and the modifier. Adding pi increases the complexity exponentially.

    Misleadingness[edit | edit source]

    pi is misleading and difficult to explain. Learners who encounter pi are prone to extend it to proscribed uses, like assuming that it means "of", marks possession, has some other semantic value, or can be used in ungrammatical positions. Correcting them requires vigilance and very specific explanations.

    Even pi's etymology (from Tok Pisin bilong, from English belong) is misleading about its current, non-possessive use.

    Effects on grammar[edit | edit source]

    pi encourages translating concepts as set phrases without any clarifying grammatical particles, instead of choosing phrases dynamically from context and describing concepts in as many sentences as needed.

    Particles like li, e, and la are crucial to understanding the role of concepts in a sentence. They are not allowed in pi phrases because they have higher priority than pi in marking sentence structure. This can be fixed by splitting the noun phrase into a new sentence and replacing pi with li.

    *jan pi sona e ma li pona.
    *jan pi sona e ma li pona.

    *pi sona e ma is ungrammatical. This sentence could also be corrected to jan sona li pona e ma, which has a completely different meaning.

    jan li sona e ma li pona.
    jan li sona e ma li pona.

    li sona e ma is grammatical.

    pi itself creates unpleasant grammar. Slightly "advanced" uses of pi rapidly overcomplicate the grammar and create ambiguities.

    Even among pi users, there is deliberately no consensus on some issues, like whether multiple pi have a flat or nested structure, to encourage people to use more pleasant methods of phrasing.

    Engineered-ness[edit | edit source]

    pi feels too engineered for Toki Pona's natural design, and so it is aesthetically unpleasant and demands extra mental overhead.

    The way that pi requires a preceding head and at least two following words is overcomplicated, and harder to adjust to than the other particles.

    pi is highly sensitive to changes outside its phrase, and from several words away. Minor changes to a sentence can make a pi phrase ungrammatical.

    pi also feels like a "spoken bracket" that is common in engineered languages, demanding speakers to keep track of nested phrases like pushing and popping a stack.

    π[edit | edit source]

    pi can be confused for the mathematical constant 𝜋, and some speakers are nanpan't or tauist.

    For fun[edit | edit source]

    For some speakers, pin't is a constrained writing challenge or a way to creatively further reduce the language.

    Strategies[edit | edit source]

    pi dropping[edit | edit source]

    In some cases, pi can just be dropped with no substantive change in meaning.

    lipu pi mute ala
    lipu pi mute ala

    not many books

    lipu mute ala
    lipu mute ala

    not many books


    Some speakers like to drop pi in other cases as long as the meaning is still easy enough to guess, such as tomo pi jan Epawan. This is fairly nonstandard.

    Prepositions[edit | edit source]

    Replacing pi with a preposition can clarify meaning. Prepositions have semantic value, while pi, as a particle, does not.

    kiwen pi kasi suli
    kiwen pi kasi suli

    hard thing with any relation to large plants

    kiwen lon kasi suli
    kiwen lon kasi suli

    hard thing at, in, or on large plants (perhaps bark, a rock in the woods, a bramble's thorn)

    kiwen tan kasi suli
    kiwen tan kasi suli

    hard thing from large plants (perhaps peeled bark, timber, tree nuts, branches or roots, a fallen apple)

    kiwen tawa kasi suli
    kiwen tawa kasi suli

    hard thing toward large plants (perhaps an axe, a barrier that plants cannot penetrate)

    kiwen sama kasi suli
    kiwen sama kasi suli

    hard thing similar to large plants (perhaps faux wood, a plastic artificial plant, a large post)

    Possession[edit | edit source]

    There are several ways to phrase multi-word possessives without pi.

    ni li musi pi jan [esun pi ale wan a ni]
    ni li musi pi jan Epawan.

    This is Abraham's art ~ game. (This provokes the similar, but now ungrammatical, *musi ni li pi jan Epawan.)

    ni li musi tan jan [en pilin ale wile awen nasin]
    ni li musi tan jan Epawan.

    This is art ~ a game by Abraham. (musi ni li tan jan Epawan. remains grammatical.)

    jan [e pona ale wawa alasa nena] li jo e musi ni
    jan Epawan li jo e musi ni.

    Abraham owns this art ~ game.

    jan [en pimeja ante walo ante nasa] la ni li musi ona
    jan Epawan la ni li musi ona.

    As for Abraham, this is their art ~ game.

    jan [esun pakala ala waso ale noka] la musi ni li jo ona
    jan Epawan la musi ni li jo ona.

    As for Abraham, this art ~ game is their property.

    Predicate or sentence splitting[edit | edit source]

    Sometimes pi can be replaced with li. The subject and new predicate might be split into a la phrase or new sentence, for clarity as to what the original predicate applies to.

    jan pi kama sona li wile e nasin sin.
    jan pi kama sona li wile e nasin sin.

    Learning people want new methods.

    jan li kama sona li wile e nasin sin.
    jan li kama sona li wile e nasin sin.

    People learn and want new methods.

    jan li kama sona la ona li wile e nasin sin.
    jan li kama sona la ona li wile e nasin sin.

    As people learn they want new methods.

    (People in general, or only some people? Granted, this can be clear in context.)

    jan li kama sona. jan ni li wile e nasin sin.
    jan li kama sona. jan ni li wile e nasin sin.

    Some people learn. These people want new methods. (The "some" is clarified by the later ni.)

    The obscure particle ki has also been suggested for this purpose, but many speakers dislike the idea of a relative clause marker in Toki Pona and prefer using cross-sentence ni for recursion.

    Replacing pi with li can present opportunities to clarify the words' roles with particles, or get rid of unneeded information in the head phrase before pi:

    mi jan pi pana sona.
    mi jan pi pana sona.

    I'm a knowledge-giving person.

    mi jan li pana e sona.
    mi jan li pana e sona.

    I'm a person and I give knowledge. (The grammaticality and clarity of mi … li … is debated.)

    mi jan. mi pana e sona.
    mi jan. mi pana e sona.

    I'm a person. I give knowledge.

    mi pana e sona.
    mi pana e sona.

    I give knowledge. (Since I am speaking, you can tell from context that I'm probably a person.)

    Or it can clarify what the pi applied to when this is ambiguous, such as a possible preposition… within? before?… the head phrase.

    Just rephrasing the whole sentence[edit | edit source]

    Sometimes a sentence with pi is a lost cause, and it's easier to think of a completely different way to phrase the sentence from scratch than to try to salvage it.