|Translations / ante toki||Author / jan pali|
|Deutsch / toki Tosi||Ret “jan Ke Tami” Samys|
|Русский / toki Losi||jan Lentan|
This is the a series of pages comprising an attempt at an educational course about toki pona, a constructed language originally designed in 2001 and then gradually revised over the years by Sonja Lang.
The language is designed around the ideas of minimalist design and simplifying one’s thoughts by breaking down complicated ideas into their basic components. It only uses 120 “official words” (with a few additional ones being sometimes used by the community), has an incredibly simple grammar and uses few sounds that are hard to confuse.
As a result, the language is considered to be incredibly easy to learn, with some people claiming to be able to read it after only days and achieving fluency within a week or two.
However, with that simplicity also come limitations. Many words have multiple meanings, and some phrases or sentences are ambiguous without context. Expressing many concepts and ideas in toki pona will require one to come up with their own phrases or rephrase them completely (which, as mentioned before, is part of the language’s idea).
Speaking of context, toki pona is a very context-sensitive language. Different people may describe the same basic ideas or things in completely different ways. This is also part of the language’s idea. Even some of the rules of the language are also interpreted differently by different people, whether depending on what their native language is or their opinions on what’s the best way to communicate something.
In addition, toki pona is also designed to be easy to use regardless of one’s native language. The sounds and syllable structure used in toki pona are distinct from one another and common across many languages, whereas the vocabulary features words borrowed from many languages across the world.
About this course
There are several good sources for learning toki pona available already. The most important (and best, in my opinion), is the official toki pona book (also known as “pu”) published in 2014 by Sonja Lang herself. It is not free, but it’s a well-written book with lots of additional texts to read, and it explains the language very well.
A fun video course is jan Misali’s “12 days of sona pi toki pona” series on YouTube. It covers the entire language in 12 short videos, each featuring 10 words from the official dictionary (psst: the structure of my pages is inspired by it.)
Previously, the online course “o kama sona e toki pona!” (“learn toki pona!”) by Bryant Knight (aka “jan Pije”) served as another important learning resource. Before being retired by its creator, it was one of the earliest toki pona pages available online. As a result, it had some differences in how it used certain words. The earlier versions of the course have also attracted some controversy over including several rather bigoted statements and texts in their content.
My goal here is to try and present a version that tries to account for the different ways people speak and write toki pona and the way it is being used now. Some pages will include “Dialectal differences” sections, in which these differences will be covered. Some of the larger differences will be described right away. I will provide my personal opinions on some of these differences, so while this course does try to be exhaustive, it is not impartial.
The page numbered zero will provide basic info on the language’s spelling and pronunciation, and each page past that will introduce 10 words from the language’s 120 word dictionary.
Table of Contents
- extra page 1 - old and new words
Here are links to some software that I personally found useful:
“ding” dictionary tool is a simple-looking and easy to use dictionary tool that, by default, comes bundled with German-to-English dictionaries, but toki pona-to-English files for it are also available on this page.
toki pona keyboard for Android phones. Supports both Latin (with some sitelen pona font features) and sitelen emoji. (WIP)
Other courses online
- Jonathan Gabel’s lessons teach both toki pona as a language and “sitelen sitelen”, a rather ornamental-looking (if uncommon in general usage) writing system for toki pona.
Apart from the above-mentioned book and courses, here are some good resources and links for people who want to learn or use toki pona:
tokipona.net (warning: if your “HTTPS Everywhere” addon is set to “Encrypt All Sites Eligible”, disable it for tokipona.net, or else it will redirect you to an unrelated website)
A toki pona dictionary with sitelen pona characters by “The Other Website”
“musi lili”, a page by jan Same
- flashcards based on this website, by u/parentis_shotgun
Discussion groups and chats
“kulupu pi toki pona” Telegram group (this one is usually more about talking in toki pona)