Toki Pona was invented by Sonja Lang (née Elen Kisa) and first published online in 2001. It is a simple pidgin-like language based on universal human experience designed to express as much as possible with relatively few sounds and words. The name toki pona means "good language" or "simple language".
Toki Pona has only 14 basic sounds chosen to be easy to pronounce for anybody, regardless of their linguistic background. The 120 basic words can, in theory, be combined together to make over 470,000 compound words. Most of the words have several meanings and context helps to determine which particular meaning is intended.
Toki Pona words come from various languages, including English, Esperanto, Finnish, Acadian French, Croatian, Japanese, Georgian, Lojban, Dutch, Tongan, Tok Pisin, Mandarin Chinese, Cantonese and Welsh.
A number of alternative ways have been devised to write Toki Pona, such as the Toki Pona hieroglyphs (sitelen pona), the Toki Pona Script and sitelen sitelen. There are ways to write Toki Pona with the Runic and Tengwar scripts, with other alphabets, such as Cyrillic and Greek. It can also be commicated with hand signs.
A hundred or so people speak Toki Pona fluently, and several hundred others have some knowledge of the language. It is used mainly online in forums and other groups, and on social media.
Toki Pona hieroglyphs are a way to write Toki Pona created by Sonja Lang. They appears in her book, Toki Pona: The Language of Good. There are separate symbols for each word in the language. They are used in memes and comics created by the online Toki Pona community.
A single adjective can be written inside or above the word it modifies. For example:
Proper names are written inside cartouches, for example:
A transliteration of this is "mi lon (telo linja toki suli sewi insa nena linja)" = I live in Bangor. I have translated Bangor poetically as "Valley of the Thunder River" or literally "long water big sky talk between long hill". The river that once ran through Bangor (and is now in a culvert underground), was called Afon Taranon (Thunder River).
This script is one way to write Toki Pona using dingbats, mathematical symbols, and other symbols found in some fonts.
ijo li moku e mi.
mi wile pakala.
pimeja li tawa insa kon mi.
jan ala li ken sona e pilin ike mi.
toki musi o, sina jan pona mi wan taso.
telo pimeja ni li telo loje mi, li ale mi.
tenpo ale la pimeja li lon.
I am devoured.
I must destroy.
Darkness fills my soul.
No one can understand my suffering.
O poetry! My only friend.
This ink is my blood, is my life.
And Darkness shall reign forevermore.
jan ale/ali li kama lon nasin ni: ona li ken pali e wile ona. ona li jo e suli jan sama e ken sama. ona li jo e sona pona e lawa insa pi pali pona. ni la, ona li wile pali tawa jan ante ale/ali kepeken nasin olin.
Translation and recording by Shawn Kipatrick
person all (verb) come exist way this: they can act (D.O.) will their. they (verb) have (D.O.) importance person same (D.O.) ability same. they (verb) have (D.O.) reasoning good (D.O.) guidance inner of action good. this (being the case), they (verb) should act towards person other all via method loving.
Everyone comes to exist like this: they can move and do (as in their will.) Everyone comes to exist as equals. Everyone has the ability to feel worthy. Everyone can do what they want (so long as it is good.) Everyone has the ability of proper knowledge and proper action. Everyone should act in this manner: they are each other's friends.
All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
Longer text: Allont en soweli loje sewi pona - a Toki Pona version of 'Alrond and the Magic Fox', an original fairy tale by Evgeny A. Khvalkov.
Online Toki Pona lessons
Toki Pona translations of various texts
Toki Pona forum
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