Toki Pona

minimalist language created by Sonja Lang

Toki Pona is a constructed language. Sonja Lang, a Canadian translator and linguist, made this language.[1] The words toki pona mean "good language" or "simple language".

Toki Pona
Pronunciation[ˈtoki ˈpona]
Created bySonja Lang
Setting and usagetesting principles of minimalism, the Sapir–Whorf hypothesis[1] and pidgins
Usersmore than 3.100 (2016)
Sourcesa posteriori language, with elements of English, Tok Pisin, Finnish, Georgian, Dutch, Acadian French, Esperanto, Croatian, Chinese
Language codes
ISO 639-3tok
Spoken Toki Pona

Toki Pona uses simple ideas that all cultures know. However, Lang did not make Toki Pona as an international auxiliary language (a language to help people speaking different languages). She made it to test ideas about minimalism (taking out things that are not needed) and pidgins. She also used Taoist ideas.

Toki Pona only has about 137 words. Words can be used together to talk about other ideas. For example, jan means "person", and pona means "good". So, jan pona can mean "friend", a person who is good. This is why there does not need to be one word for "friend". The small number of words can talk about many ideas in this way.

There are a few words that show the structure of the sentence. They do not mean anything by themselves. For example, the word li shows that the next word is a verb (a word that tells about an action or a state).

Writing systems


Toki Pona can be written in the Latin alphabet. English also uses this alphabet. In Toki Pona, some of the letters make different sounds than they do in English. Each letter in Toki Pona always makes the same sound.

Sonja Lang made her own writing system for Toki Pona. It is called sitelen pona. In English, this means "good writing" or "simple writing". This system uses pictograms (small drawings based off of how things look). They help show what words mean, not how they sound. People who write in sitelen pona can put two pictograms together by putting the second one either on top of, or inside, the first one. Many Toki Pona speakers write with this system.

Some Toki Pona speakers make other ways to write this language.

Example of text


Lord's Prayer (translated by Pije/Jopi):

mama pi mi mute o, sina lon sewi kon.
nimi sina li sewi.
ma sina o kama.
jan o pali e wile sina lon sewi kon en lon ma.
o pana e moku pi tenpo suno ni tawa mi mute.
o weka e pali ike mi. sama la mi weka e pali ike pi jan ante.
o lawa ala e mi tawa ike.
o lawa e mi tan ike.
tenpo ali la sina jo e ma e wawa e pona.


  1. 1.0 1.1 Siobhan Roberts (2007-07-09). "Canadian has people talking about lingo she created". The Globe and Mail. The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 2016-01-18.

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