Modifiers

ike
ike
jaki
jaki
lawa
lawa
len
len
lete
lete
lili
lili
mute
mute
nasa
nasa
seli
seli
suwi
suwi
tomo
tomo
utala
utala
wawa
wawa

grammar review

The grammar in this lesson is covered in chapters 3 and 6 in pu, lesson 5 in Pije, and page 2 in Lentan.

Content words, or words that aren’t particles like li and e, can have their meaning altered by a word that come after them. We can think of the first word as the head, and following word as the modifier.

  • kili jaki - [head][modifier] : vegetable(s)<-dirty - dirty vegetable(s).

More than one modifier can be chained together, with each modifying the meaning that came before.

  • kili jaki mute - [head][modifier][modifier] : dirty vegetable(s)<-many - many dirty vegetables.

So far we have seen single words act as a subject, action/quality/state, and object. They all can be modified.

  • jan mute li telo e kili jaki. - many people wash the dirty vegetables.
  • jan li telo mute e kili jaki. - the people thoroughly wash the dirty vegetables.
  • jan li telo e kili jaki mute. - the people wash may dirty vegetables.

compound nouns

If you feel you are starting to understand how to stack your glyph blocks, adding modifiers shouldn’t be too hard. Let’s look at jan Pije’s example, building up to this good soldier.

jan
jan
jan utala
jan utala
jan utala pona
jan utala pona
jan utala pona ni
jan utala pona ni

This compound noun block is equally at home as the subject, or direct object.

jan utala pona ni li lawa.
jan utala pona ni li lawa.
mi lawa e jan utala pona ni.
mi lawa e jan utala pona ni.

In chapter 2 we talked about tucking glyphs behind others. Look how well this works for the combination jan utala in these examples.

short blocks: lili and mute

Lili and mute are wider and shorter than some of the more square glyphs. As modifiers this can work to your advantage, as they don’t take up too much space. Often they can tuck right underneath the noun they are modifying.

jan lili
jan lili
tomo mute
tomo mute
jan nasa mute
jan nasa mute

thin blocks: ni

Remember we said syllable glyphs can be used instead of glyph blocks? As a glyph block, ni is pretty square, but as a syllable it is tall and thin. This can be useful when ni is used as a modifier. Take a look at how ni works as a glyph block above and a syllable block below . This can offer you a variety of ways to fill the given space in any situation.

telo nasa ni
telo nasa ni
ilo seli ni
ilo seli ni
len ni
len ni

stretching and squishing blocks

Maybe you have started to notice, glyph blocks have a little bit of give to them. They can stretch or squish in order to maintain a square shape in a multi-block structure. If you understand how to tuck one glyph behind another, to stretch or squish glyphs, and use short and thin blocks, you will see just how many different arrangements there are for compound blocks.

Here are seven different ways to arrange ma ike jaki ni. Which one you would want to choose would depend on the how well it fits in the rest of the sentence.

translate into toki pona (hover or tab through to reveal the answer):

wawa suno li seli.
wawa suno li seli.
mi lukin e sitelen sina.
mi lukin e sitelen sina.
jan lili li suwi.
jan lili li suwi.
ilo lete suli li pana e lete mute.
ilo lete suli li pana e lete mute.

now compare your English translations to mine:

Solar energy is hot.
Solar energy is hot.
I'm looking at your drawing.
I'm looking at your drawing.
The children are sweet.
The children are sweet.
The big freezer produces a lot of cold.
The big freezer produces a lot of cold.