Toki Pona

Sitelen for Toki Pona

Toki Pona is a constructed language meant to simplify both communication and thoughts. It only has 14 sounds and around 120 words. For comparision, English has 44 sounds (or phonemes and almost 200,000 words!

Why Toki Pona?

Toki Pona was created with the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis in mind. The Sapir-Whorf is a popular hypothesis claiming that the language you speak effects how you think. While the theory has lost credibility as new research has emerged recently, and isn't as drastic as popular science and the media make it out to be, in some, small situations language does influence how you think. Sonja Lang, the creator of Toki Pona, created it to help simiplify her thoughts during depression, and keep her happy. Toki Pona doesn't have many words for bad stuff, such as stealing or murder. Plus, with its low word count, you are discouraged from expressing complex topics, keeping your thoughts simple, and, for all intensive purposes, primal.

Also, you can pick up Toki Pona in around 2 weeks.

Grammar

Toki Pona's grammar is, like the rest of the language, incredibly simple. The sentence structure is subject, verb, object. Lets take apart a simple sentence.

jan lili li moku e kili.

Right off the bat, I should say Toki Pona doesn't capitalize anything that isn't a loan word or proper noun.

Alright, so what does this sentence mean? Translated into English, it means "A child eats a fruit". More literally, it is "PERSON SMALL IS EAT FRUIT.".

First off, "li" and "e" are going to be the most important parts of the sentence. "li" seperates the subject, which here is "jan lili", from the verb, "moku". It's basically the English equivalent of "is". "e" denotes a object, or what the verb is applying to. Here it is "kili", which means fruit.

Okay, but why does "jan lili" literally translate to "person small"? Well, Toki Pona doesn't have a word specifically for "child", so we have to describe the concept of a child with the words we have. The closest we can get is "small person". Adjectives come after the word they are describing in Toki Pona, so we switch that around and get "person small", or "jan lili".

You might of noticed what is the most common problem in Toki Pona: "person small" can mean MANY things. It could mean a physically small adult, for example. Because of this, Toki Pona is a very context-heavy language. Earlier in the conversation you might say something like "mi jan lili", establishing it is YOUR small person, which is usually taken as your child. Being context heavy, you will find it hard to express a lot of complex topics in Toki Pona. This is fine - infact, it's intended. While you still can talk about complex topics in Toki Pona, it isn't recommended. Instead, Toki Pona is meant to be used a more primitive language. Our prehistoric ancestors didn't think about video games or mowing the grass 7000 years ago! They probably thought and talked about topics such as family, friends, and food. And you should to! Human life is too stressful and complicated nowadays. It's time to force yourself to think of the simpler stuff.

How to learn Toki Pona

Luckily, because of it's simplicity, you can pickup Toki Pona in about 2 weeks. Listed here are some good guides and immersion sources. Enjoy!

Most of you are wondering why I didn't include jan Misali's Toki Pona video series. jan Misali has said himself that the series is outdated (it is) and he plans to make a new one in 2021. When he does, I'll put it here.

Mi tawa!