toki pona

toki pona is a minimalist language made by jan Sonja in 2001. in theory there are only a base of 120 to 140 words but i’m a big fan of extending toki pona to the needs of whoever i’m communicating with, and so myself and others tend to use a wider base set of words.

nimi mi kepeken toki pona li jan Kiwa. sitelen pona ni li kule insa wawa ale.

nimi sin that i use

these are the nimi sin (non-standard words) that i use, with meanings and examples.

  • ete ─ “beyond, exceeding, more than”, introduced by jan inwin

    jan ike li ete e jan tan kulupu

  • jasima ─ “reflect, mirror, opposite end”, introduced by jan inwin, jan Maliku, jan Kisinja and jan Wesu

    mi pilin jasima la mi wile pona e mi

  • lanpan — “take, seize, catch, get”, introduced by jan inwin, jan Maliku and jan Wesu

    o lanpan e poki mi· mi wile tawa nole

  • likujo ─ “collection, assortment, harvest”, introduced by jan Kawa and jan inwin

    tenpo seli la mi likujo e pan tan ma

  • linluwi ─ “internet, network”, introduced by jan inwin

    sina lukin e lipu linluwi mi!

  • lisa ─ “squeeze, restrict, narrow”, introduced by me (← Icelandic þrýsta)

    mi pilin lisa lili tan jan sin

  • melome & mijomi ─ “sapphic, lesbian, wlw” & “gay, mlm”, introduced by jan inwin (← meli olin meli & mije olin mije)

    mi melome wawa

  • peto ─ “cry, release, rain”, introduced by me (← pana e telo oko)

    o peto e pilin lisa ale sina

  • soko ─ “mushroom, fungus, slimy”, introduced by jan inwin and kala kala

    soko kule ni li pona oko li ike moku

  • suta ─ “authority, control, domination”, introduced by me (← Arabic سُلْطَة sulṭa)

    suta li lisa e ken jan lon ma mi

  • taki ─ “sticky, attract, attach”, introduced by jan Kapilu and jan Lewiku

    mi wan taki e lipu tu ni la mi pali e lipu suli sin

  • talan ─ “electric, thunder, conduct”, introduced by me (← Welsh taran)

    olin li talan e pilin mi

  • tonsi ─ “trans, non-binary, gender-non-conforming, gender”, coined in ma pona pi toki pona

    mi tonsi la mi pali e lipu linluwi a a

  • usawi ─ “magic”, coined by jan Tumu

    mi ete usawi e pilin ike tan lawa mi

  • waleja ─ “context, relevant”, introduced by jan inwin

    mi sona ala e waleja toki sina

for information on the standard nimi (and tons of other non-standard words that i don’t personally use) you can check nimi ale pona

alternatives to musi

myself and jan inwin frequently begrudge the lack of nuance in the toki pona word musi which traditionally means “fun, art, play”. this range of concepts is incredibly important to us both so we collaborated on a new set of words to express them more sincerely.

  • musi ─ fun, laugh, joke (← Esperanto amuzi)

    toki ni li musi mute a· o toki sin!

  • nole ─ music, melody, rhythm (← Korean 노래 norae)

    mi kute e nole mute la mi ken peto pilin

  • oselo ─ theatre, perform (← Othello)

    oselo ni la jan tu li kama olin!

  • otan ─ art, poetry (← Old Saxon Wôdan)

    sitelen otan mi li poki e waleja mi

numbers

i tend to stay away from numbers in toki pona in general - most of the time i can just get away with a contextual lili, kulupu, suli, mute or some mixture of those. however if need be, these are the words i’d use, with thanks to jan inwin for lending me this system.

  • wan ─ one, single, small amount
  • tu ─ two, couple, pair
  • san ─ three
  • neja ─ four
  • luka ─ five, handful
  • kulu ─ six, group
  • likujo ─ seven, several

shortenings

occasionally i’ll shorten words to fit rhythms that feel good in the context of what i’m writing. often this may happen with longer words in an x ala x construction, or it may just be a way of fitting poetic metre.

here are a few examples of some shortenings i’ve used. these are less rigid though so often i’ll come and go with using various shortenings in the fleeting contexts i need them.

  • kepeken may become kepe

    sina kepe ala kepeken e ilo ni

  • pimeja may become pinja

    waso pinja wan li ken· tu li ike· san li len

  • tenpo may become ten

    o lukin e ten suno suwi

grammar & style

i enjoy writing toki pona in a fairly loose and minimalist manner. some key points of my style:

  • less reliance on pi for bracketing in modifier chains
  • use of o to mark optative mood (syntactically identical to li, except not ungrammatical with mi or sina)
  • use of tenpo ko for talking about absolute time

example

pilin sona ale la jan li sona ala·
pilin sona ala la jan o sona ale·
kiwen la jan li ante ala·
poki la jan o lanpan ale·
kiwen la weka li pakala lawa·
poki la weka li suli kin