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Toki Pona: The Language of Good


I finally chose a new language to learn, and this time, it is a constructed language (conlang). Guess what? It is The Language of Good or Toki Pona. Surprising? Let me tell you why.

Before I decided to learn it, I have read a lot about Toki Pona because it is one of many popular conlangs.

While waiting for the transportation, my attention was brought to a learning Toki Pona ebook in Spanish language that I have downloaded long time ago, and in fact, I have read some pages of it before. I thought to myself, "Why don't I read this book again?"

After finishing the book, I found out that Memrise has Toki Pona course, so I took it without hesitation, and finished the course in just less than one week.

I would say that the total learning time does not exceed one week period.

What is Toki Pona?

"What is this so-called The Language of Good?" you may ask. Toki Pona is created by a Canadian linguist, Sonja Lang, and it was introduced in 2001. The creation of Toki Pona is inspired by Taoist philosophy, which focuses on simple concepts to express maximal meaning with minimal complexity. Believe it or not, it has only 120 words (this number does not include loanwords, such as names).

How does it work?

The limitation of words requires more creativity of the speakers to express themselves. For instance, there are only five words for colors in Toki Pona: pimeja (black), walo (white), loje (red), jelo (yellow), and laso (blue). If you want to say "purple", you need to say either laso loje (reddish blue) or loje laso (bluish red).

Words in Toki Pona can have different meanings depending on its function in the sentence. For example, tawa means "to" as a preposition or "to go" as a verb.

If you want to read more about its grammar, just Google it. There are a lot of resources available in form of websites, books, and forums.

Here are some phrases:
  1. Welcome - kama pona (to come well)
  2. How are you? - sina pilin seme? (how do you feel?)
  3. Where are you from? - sina tan ma seme? (which land are you from?)
  4. Good morning - tenpo suno pona (good daytime)
  5. Happy birthday - sina sike e suno (you go around the sun)
A text containing guidelines for using a washing machine written in Toki Pona.

My opinion

Toki Pona is a relatively easy-to-learn language, I'm sure that anyone can learn it to the level where one can say basic phrases, like self introduction or making a request, in one week to one month.

The main challenge that I have encountered is the necessity of creativity and logic to form a word because of the limitation, the speakers need to express a word in a different way, instead of translating it. For example, pana sona (to give knowledge) means "to teach".


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