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  5. Thoughts On Toki Pona Course?


Thoughts On Toki Pona Course?

Hey Everyone,

If this discussion isn't allowed then please delete it. I have read and followed the guide to requesting a new language; Toki Pona is not yet on the list of "existing requests" for English speakers, I then went to the "Duolingo in English" forum and searched for Toki Pona but from what I could see, there's nothing recent about Toki Pona. The most recent mention of it is in a comment from a discussion posted a year ago.

I've been learning conlangs for years and am fairly confident in Toki Pona, I thought it would be a fun language to have. Due to Toki Pona's simplistic nature, it would be really easy to make a course for it, I'm very willing to moderate and work on the course and I could probably find another couple people to help me with it.

I understand if Duolingo doesn't want Toki Pona, if we have Toki Pona then why not include Na'vi, Volapük or Lojban? I don't know Duolingo's ambitions, but if they'd rather keep Duolingo mainly for real languages (non-conlangs) I completely understand, Duolingo could quickly become a website full of conlangs. But Duolingo already has Esperanto and High Valyrian and is working on Klingon and Dothraki, I'd like to complete the conlang circle and have courses for all of the most successful conlangs, which I consider Toki Pona to be a part of.

Regards, Listrix

September 17, 2017



There have been previous request posts for Toki Pona, the one voted highest I believe is: https://www.duolingo.com/comment/8194081

Purely as information: It is not on the existing language requests list because only languages with ISO 639-3 codes (if I recall correctly) go on there. Toki Pona has not been awarded such a code.*

There is nothing to stop you applying to make a course in the incubator: https://incubator.duolingo.com/

There would be some design considerations you might need to be aware of. It’s worth looking here to get some sort of overview of what it means to be a course contributor: http://duolingo.wikia.com/wiki/Course_contributor_guide

It has been suggested by others on other threads that a significant hurdle for Toki Pona would be that its vocabulary can be used to cover not only general meanings “kili = fruit, vegetable” but also specific meanings “kili = lemon, melon, orange, tomato, Kili”. (The last being valid as a proper name in at least Middle Earth.) This would increase the initial complexity of translation sentences in the incubator, and lead to a greater number of “my translation should be accepted” reports for missing alternative translations, which would increase the maintenance effort required from course contributors. You could of course take the view that only the most general meanings (fruit, fruits vegetable, vegetables, Kili) should be accepted which would reduce the effort needed somewhat, but the incubator translation notation may still prove a little fiddly to word for different sentences.

Just as an example of the incubator translation notation (bear in mind that I am not a course contributor, so I am guessing a little here) kili li pona would need a translation line (at minimum) of something like: [ [ [ [ [ The / A] [fruit / vegetable] ] / [Kili / Fruit] ] is] / [ [Fruits / Vegetables] are ] ] [good / nice]

I suspect it is possible to spread this across multiple alternative sentences, so as to reduce the complexity of each individual line.

You might think it should be easy enough in theory to have a list of substitutions to programmatically apply as standard across all sentences, reducing the workload of the course contributors, but my impression (possibly erroneous) is that this is not how Duolingo currently works and Duolingo have indicated an unwillingness to change their programming to suit particular languages. Here I may be over-estimating either the amount of valid answers that would have to be accepted or the unwillingness of Duolingo to adapt their programming to a language.

I have mentioned the above as considerations you may need to be aware of when applying to make a course - the people at Duolingo may well like to know what your approach to how Toki Pona would work on Duolingo would be.

I would like to see a course (at least similar in style to Duolingo) in Toki Pona, particularly one which introduced a wide range of the more common compound words. I do not dismiss learning Toki Pona as trivial - although it has only about 120 words (before compounds), it has its own grammar and just like any language it requires more than just learning the list of those 120 or so words and an overview of its grammar to comprehend and use Toki Pona.

Plus informative links for anyone interested:



* As a side note of no concern to Duolingo: I have seen a 2007 quote from an official letter online rejecting an application for Toki Pona to gain an ISO 639-3 code, saying "If Toki Pona survives the next few years and continues to develop, both in applications and in user base, then the RA will be open to consider a new request for assignment of a code element for Toki Pona." http://tinyurl.com/y83aoq26


I'd do toki poni, but the amount of words is so small you can't go beyond basic sentences.


Yeah, that's the only downside. But Toki Pona works using compound words; for instance, there's no word for "fork", instead you'd use the compound word "eating tool" (moku ilo). But "moku ilo" can also reference spoons, knives and chopsticks. There's lots of compound words that the community has come up with over the years and once I've completed the basics, I'd love to have more lessons going over a good chunk of compound words that have already been created and introducing the learner the how they can compound words to express what they want to.

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