The relative clause [Toki-pona]

As you will quickly guess, this article is mainly for me: I want to formalize some notions hoping to get them fixed in my mind. If you come across this article and have something to correct, I would be grateful!

1 The relative clause

For me, the most difficult to produce on the fly are the relative clause structure because it simply doesn’t exist in Toki-pona. There are two ways to get around this limitation. The first is to fit the little extra information into a “pi” structure. The second is to separate the two sentences and use ni:.

I ate the cake (that) I made yesterday.

Roughly speaking, it works, in English, with the interweaving of a main proposition and a subordinate.

Translated into Toki-Pona, at first sight, it looks different. As a rule of thumb, things need to be broken into simpler sentences, hence no relative clause. On closer inspection, the structure is actually very similar to the English one, seen above.

En : |——1——|THAT|——2——-|
Tp : |——1——| NI:|——2——-|

But since the two propositions are considered as two separate sentences, the object must appear in both. The first as a demonstrative (ni) and the second as a personal pronoun (ona).

mi moku pini e pan suwi ni: tenpo suno pini la mi seli e ona.
I ate x this cake: yesterday I prepared x this.

I asked on Reddit some help about this sentence and received 20+ messages with various formulations. Here are some:

Sidhe_solais mi moku e pan sewi ni: tenpo suno pini la mi pali e ona.
Coda_Volezki mi seli e pan suwi lon tenpo suno pini, li moku e ona.
PlasticSolution7998 tenpo suno pini la mi seli e pan suwi li moku e ona.
Bestrand mi seli e pan suwi ni lon tenpo pini: mi moku e ona lon tenpo ni.
tenpo pini la mi seli e pan suwi ni: mi moku e ona lon tenpo ni.
mi pini seli e pan suwi lon tenpo suno pini: mi moku e ona.

A pi version would be something like : mi moku e pan pi tenpo suno pini. but some of the information has been sacrificed (which is mostly ok because who cares who did the cake?).

A second example:

The waiter who was wearing a blue shirt was rude.

–> jan pali ni li ike: ona li jo e len laso

Again, the Reddit community has been very helpful to get this sentence right. Thanks to jan Simiman, jan Ne, jan Mali and jan Masu!

jan Mali proposed a pi version of it :
-> jan pali pi len laso li ike (short and simple)

Exercise of tokiponization

If you’ve been nice enough to read this page so far, you deserve an exercise. Let’s try to tokiponize these few sentences:

  1. She worked for a man (the man used to be an athlete)

  2. They called a lawyer (the lawyer lived nearby)

  3. I sent an email to my brother (my brother lives in Australia)

  4. The customer liked the waitress (the waitress was very friendly)

  5. We broke the computer (the computer belonged to my father)

  6. I dropped a glass (the glass was new)

  7. She loves books (the books have happy endings)

  8. They live in a city (the city is in the north of England)

  9. The man is in the garden (the man is wearing a blue jumper)

  10. The girl works in a bank (the girl is from India)

  11. My sister has three children (my sister lives in Australia)

  12. The waiter was rude (the waiter was wearing a blue shirt)

  13. The money is in the kitchen (the money belongs to John)

  14. The table got broken (the table was my grandmother’s)

  15. The television was stolen (the television was bought 20 years ago)

  16. The fruit is on the table (the fruit isn’t fresh)