Duolingo is the most popular way to learn languages in the world. Best of all, it's 100% free!

https://www.duolingo.com/Xasybean.

Is Toki Pona really that good?

Xasybean.
  • 6
  • 6
  • 6
  • 6
  • 3
  • 2
  • 2

Toki Pona is a well-known constructed language invented by Sonja Lang. Its design is to be as simple as possible: it has a 120-125 word lexicon; all of those words have very broad meanings. It has a small phonology, using sounds that are used in almost all languages.

The best thing about it is that it is incredibly easy to learn. Obviously, considering its simplicity.

Yet, I still have a grudge against it. Not the idea behind it: I like the idea of an experimental language that sees how far one can strip a language down to its simplest form. However, I feel that a lot of people are treating it as this miracle language that is perfect or beyond ridicule.

A language with literally no number system: wan = 1, tu = 2 mute = many/3+/20 ale = all/100 luka = hand/5 (As if we will never need to count things)

A language that relies to heavily on compounding words, and even then doesn't succeed: soweli suwi = cat (mammal cute) (1. Not all cats are cute; 2. What if there is another mammal that is cute?)

I'm sorry, if this causes controversy or if you're upset, but I really can't get my head around how people can defend this.

5 months ago

12 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/JasonMey
JasonMey
  • 20
  • 19
  • 7
  • 7
  • 5

That's sort of like saying "is a hammer really that good?"

If you want to build a bird house using wood and nails, of course.

If you want to cut a cake, you may want to reconsider.

Toki Pona is a philosophical language, designed to be minimalist to get the speaker to think more simply. If you want to use it to explore minimalism, aid in meditation/mental focus, and have conversations with like-minded individuals, then it is going to be good for that.

If you want to use it to share a technical report between you and someone who doesn't speak a common language besides Toki Pona, you're probably going to have some problems unless you want your glossary of terms to be longer and more verbose than even the report itself.

The one thing I find cool about Toki Pona is that it has a website where one can learn Toki Pona in Esperanto. I do intend to do this when I have a free week to devote to the task, as I'd like to learn an L3 entirely in an L2, so I keep myself away from English resources so that I can try that out. Again, for that purpose, I suppose Toki Pona is "really that good" but it is a rather niche application.

5 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/zerozeroone
zerozeroone
  • 25
  • 23
  • 11
  • 9
  • 6
  • 3
  • 1532

What would be your reaction if somebody said to you, "I don't like cake. It falls apart when you try to make a sandwich, it tastes lousy with pastrami, and for some reason the bakery keeps putting icing on that I have to scrape off."

Toki pona isn't a language for people who want to discuss math—it's for exploring using minimal vocabulary. Of course, that doesn't stop people from trying.

You don't have to say soweli suwi when you want to say cat, you could just say soweli. And you don't have to mean cat when you say soweli suwi.

http://www.suburbandestiny.com/?p=799

5 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/OmegaGmaster
OmegaGmaster
  • 13
  • 13
  • 11
  • 11
  • 11
  • 11
  • 11
  • 11
  • 11
  • 11
  • 10
  • 10
  • 9
  • 9
  • 8
  • 7
  • 7
  • 6
  • 6
  • 5

A language with literally no number system

has flashbacks in Pirahã

5 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Vanege
Vanege
  • 16
  • 13
  • 10
  • 10
  • 9
  • 6
  • 5
  • 5
  • 4
  • 3
  • 3
  • 2
  • 2
  • 2
  • 2

I learned Toki Pona several times. Quick to learn, quick to forget. Yes it is very easy, but there is a huge catch: you can't say everything you expect to be able to say in a natural language. (Except if you really try hard, but then the language becomes hard and impractical. It is easier to memorize a new word than a whole sentence for a specific concept.)

5 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Hockamore
Hockamore
  • 24
  • 13
  • 12
  • 8
  • 8
  • 6
  • 4
  • 2
  • 2

I believe the development of Toki Pona was a personal project by Sonja Lang and acted as a sort of experiment in how a minimalist language might declutter the worldview of its user. I don't think it was ever conceived of as anything as grandious an international auxiliary language.

Even its sharing on the internet seems to have been an afterthought, and the publication of Ms. Lang's book on the topic didn't happen until many years later, when its popularity was already well established.

5 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Xasybean.
Xasybean.
  • 6
  • 6
  • 6
  • 6
  • 3
  • 2
  • 2

It's more of a problem that most people sing its praises, as if it has no problems, and say it would make a good IAL. But, whenever I criticise it, they tell me not to be so judgmental and that it's just an experimental language.

Just calling it an "experiment" doesn't mean one can't criticise its objective flaws. As well as that, the people who defend Toki Pona are also quick to call Lojban a bad IAL, despite that being an experimental language as well.

5 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Hockamore
Hockamore
  • 24
  • 13
  • 12
  • 8
  • 8
  • 6
  • 4
  • 2
  • 2

The fact that it is an experiment is not the most salient part of my comment. All constructed languages are experiments but they have differing objectives. The 'flaws' you point to aren't terribly substantial because they refer to communication processes that Tiki Pona was not intended to address.

I'm not inclined to comment on the tendencies of "the people who defend Toki Pona", I'm sure there are many different opinions within this imaginary group.

5 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/ShaneDoyle2000

I find the idea of it cool, but not a fan of the actual language itself.

5 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/jdroege

Sounds like a lingua franca (trade language) or pidgin. Pidgin for "piano" was "big-fella box, you fight him teeth, he cry".

5 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/TheRealMaestro

Toki Pona is very much a pidgin. Its vocabulary was taken from many unrelated languages: several words, including 'toki', were taken from Pidgin itself.

4 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/TheRealMaestro

Toki Pona succeeded at its original task, viz. staving off the inventor's melancholia. For the rest of us it is a linguistic toy: not meant for serious conversation, but a fun exercise in seeing how much can be reduced or simplified. As such you may feel free to modify it to your heart's content to fit your needs.

4 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Xasybean.
Xasybean.
  • 6
  • 6
  • 6
  • 6
  • 3
  • 2
  • 2

Despite the unlikelihood of it, I do like the idea of the entire world adopting an international auxiliary language. Plus, I would like it to be a conlang: an artificial language should be designed to be as efficient and consistent as possible.

Toki Pona, obviously wouldn't work. Despite its universal ease-of-learning, it can not be used for anything beyond extremely basic conversation.

Does everyone have the opinion that Esperanto would be best suited? I'm of the opinion that Lojban would be a good IAL, despite the fact that it is an experimental conlang.

5 months ago