Why you should learn toki pona

If any of the following are true you should learn Toki Pona:

  • You want to learn a language, but you don’t have time.
  • You want to learn a language, but you don’t have anyone to speak it with.
  • There are things you wish to say to your friends in public (or in the workplace) without other people knowing what you’re saying.

“Toki Pona is a minimal language that focuses on the good things in life. It has been designed to express the most, using the least. The entire language has only 14 basic sounds and 118 words. The grammar, although different from English, is very regular and easy to learn.”

Those core words are combined in extremely simple ways to convey more specific meanings. For example: “telo” means water. “nasa” means crazy. “telo nasa” means crazy water, or alcohol. When you see a compoud word like “telo nasa” for the first time it’s easy to figure out what it means. Toki Pona only capitalizes words that aren’t Toki Pona. It’s verbs are only conjugated one way so you don’t have to remember a past, present, future, male, and / or female version of every one.

A lot of life wisdom has been “built into” Toki Pona. Training your mind to think in Toki Pona can lead to many deeper insights about yourself or the world around you. In our modern times, we seem to make life so complicated, and it is easy to lose touch with our basic origins. Indeed, they say that most of life’s problems we create ourselves, e.g. in our frenetic and always accelerating quest for “progress”. When you break down a complex situation to its fundamental Toki Pona words, it can often become more clear, and you can check if are in a good direction.

So the whole, “I don’t have time” thing is pretty much a non-issue. If you have good short term memory you can get the whole vocabulary down in about 45 minutes. The average person should be able to work through the lessons by spending a little time each evening over the course of a few days.

Now, the big issue of wanting to learn a language but not having anyone to speak with. Toki Pona has a live journal community and a yahoo group where you can find converse, but more importantly Toki Pona is that it’s small enough that you might just be able to convince your friends to learn it with you, because no matter how vibrant an online community may be for a language there’s no substitute for having people to speak it with in everyday life. What are the odds you can convince your friends to learn Japanese, or Portugese, or any other big language just because you think it would be fun?

I love the idea of being able to speak freely to my friends when in public. We have opinions and ways of speaking amongs ourselves that are either too blunt or too socially unacceptable to use in public. There are things we just can’t talk about or have to talk around when riding the subway. Imagine if that was no longer the case. Imagine that you have good friends at work but work for a pointy haired boss (a la Dilbert) and were suddenly able to speak freely in the workplace again. Or, imagine something a simple as being able to discuss the other people you see in the mall without having to worry about hurting their feelings or them getting upset at you. Toki Pona is perfect for all of these things specifically because there are so few speakers.

Side note: If you’re cynical regarding most conlangs, as I am, you should read this rant wherein a conlang cynic finds the joys of Toki Pona.

Some Toki Pona links:

Now I just need to get Mizzy learning it…

To give you an example of toki pona I have translated the post above into it. Of course, I speak toki pona about as well as your stereotypical immigrant cab driver speaks English so I apologize to those who know better than I and ask for their patience and corrections. Toki Pona isn’t hard but it definitely mokes you think about things in a different way in order to express them. So, yes, it took me a while to write this out, and yes, it’s silly to try any convince someone who can read toki pona that they should learn toki pona, but it was a good exercise none-the-less.

ijo nami e kama la ijo li lon ala lon? lon? sina wile sona e toki toki pona.

  • sina wile e toki taso sina jo ala tenpo.
  • sina wile e toki lon toki taso sina jo ala e jan pi toki tawa sina.
  • sina wile e toki tawa jan pona en sine wile e ni: jan li jo ala e sona.

toki pona li pona toki. toki pona li insa lon e ale. ni li pona e ni: toki li tawa e suli poka lili. toki pona jo 14 kalama en 118 nimi. toki pi toki pona li pona taso ante tawa Inli. kama sona tawa ni li pona.

poka nimi lili la pona pi suli nimi ken li pona. o lukin. telo li lon Water. nasa li lon Crazy. telo nasa li lon Alcohol. sina lukin e suli nimi ken la sina sona tawa pona. toki pona li jo ala e nimi wan suli. sina lukin e nimi wan suli e ni: sina lukin e toki pona ala. nimi tawa li lon pona. sina kama sona poka lili ike.

toki pona jo poka insa. toki pona li pona e pilin sina. toki pona li pona e ni: lukin sina tawa ma sina. lon pi tenpo ni pi mi mute la mi mute li pona e lon ike. mi mute li jo ala e linja tawa tenpo pini pi mi mute. ona mute li toki e ni: lon ike li pona tan mi mute. tawa suli tawa “Progress” li tan e ni. tawa tan ike tawa pona li lon e nimi pi toki pona. ni tawa e ilo pona. tan ni la sina li lukin tawa seme nasin e pona.

sina jo tenpo tawa kama sona e toki pona. lawa sina tawa tenpo pini li pona ala pona? pona? ni tan la sina kama sona e nimi e insa 45 Minute. jan pi pona ala en ike ala li ken sona poka tenpo lili inja tenpo pimeja lili.

sina wile e toki lon toki taso sina jo ala e jan pi toki tawa sina: toki pona li inja LiveJournal en kulupu Yahoo!. pona mute e ni: sina ken poka lawa sitelen tawa jan pona. toka Onaline li ike ala taso toki poka jan pona li pona mute. sina ken ala ken pana lawa sitelen pi Japanese” anu Portugese tawa jan pona? sina ken ala ken tan musi e ni?

lawa sitelen pi toki jo ala ike inja jan mute li pona tawa mi. jan pona mi jo ijo mute li ike tawa jan mute. mi mute li ken ala toki inja Subuwe. inja lawa pawa ni: lawa setelen e tenpo pini. jan pali mute sina ken toki jo ala ike. sina ken toki poka jan Malu e jo ala ike. toki pona li pona tawa sina tawa ni en tan ni: toki pona li jo ala jan toki mute.