lesson 9 - names


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󱤱 mama - parent, ancestor; creator, originator; caretaker, sustainer

󱤰 ma - earth, land; outdoors, world; country, territory; soil

󱥂 nimi - name, word

󱤦 lete - cold, cool; uncooked, raw

󱥗 seli - fire; cooking element, chemical reaction, heat source

󱤥 len - cloth, clothing, fabric, textile; cover, layer of privacy


~ names

in toki pona, proper names are treated as modifiers, with a capitalized first letter. this means that you have to pick a word which describes what the thing is, and then modify that word with the tokiponized name.

jan Lisa

~ a jan named lisa

ma Mewika

a country named Mewika (the united states)

~ tokiponization

names in toki pona are "tokiponized," which means fitting the name into toki pona phonotactics. the general guidelines to tokiponization are the following:

~ note about inclusivity

people use lots of different words to describe themselves in toki pona, not necessarily just jan, depending on what word(s) they identify with more. for example, i use soweli to describe myself!

keep this in mind when speaking toki pona!
for example, since not everyone is a jan, it doesn't make sense to translate everyone as jan ale, instead you should translate it as just ale.

another example: when you're talking about a diverse group of people, you can't know for sure if everyone in said group is a jan. in this case, perhaps using a more general word like ijo might be better, to avoid some feeling excluded.

basically - don't use jan if you're not actually sure you're referring to a jan!

the above note is a very strong personal opinion.

in practice, many people do still use jan for someone/anyone/everyone etc.

~ examples

my name, tess, turns into soweli Tesa!

technically, my name should be Te to preserve syllable count, but i wanted to preserve the s in my name, so i broke a rule and made it Tesa instead!

my cat, tiara, is soweli Sijala!

since i am norwegian and tap my rs, the r in tiara's name becomes an l, and the ti turns into si.

the english language could be toki Inli.

here, the ng cluster was simplified to n, and the syllable count was prioritized, meaning the ending sh was removed.

the swedish language could be toki Wensa, from swedish svenska.

the sv cluster gets simplified to just w, and the sk cluster gets simplified to s!

toki pona tries to use the same tokiponization for both language and country name, so the country sweden becomes ma Wensa


~ translate from toki pona to english

mi sona toki Nosiki

i know how to speak a language called Nosiki (norwegian)

mi wile tawa ma sina

i wanna go to your country

mi wile e len mute tan ni · ma Kanata li lete mute

i need a lot of clothes because the country called Kanata (canada) is really cold!

sona mi pi nimi sina li kama weka lon tenpo poka

i forgot your name recently

waso Lisa li wile pini e pali ona

(a flying animal named) lisa wants to finish working

~ translate from english to toki pona

tess is teaching faer girlfriend toki pona

soweli Tesa li pana e sona pi toki pona tawa waso olin ona

this bug flew here from norway

pipi ni li tawa ni tan ma Nosiki

my dad is stronger than your dad

mama mi li wawa mute · mama sina li wawa lili

your name is cool

nimi sina li pona


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