toki sona pi mama mije
jan lili mi o kama tawa mi.
tenpo ni la sina tawa weka tan kulupu mama sina.
tenpo suno ni la sina tawa soweli nena suli.
tawa sina kama la mi pana e toki sona ni.
ala! akesi li toki tawa sina la o pana ala kin e wile pona tawa akesi ni.
akesi ni li ken kama ala seli li monsuto e soweli sina.
kili palisa pi loje jelo li kama suli lon anpa ma.
o moku e palisa ni. taso tenpo pi mun suli taso la o moku e ona.
mun suli li wawa e palisa ni e sina kin.
ala! pini la kasi wan li jo e kili pi laso loje.
tenpo wan taso kin la o pilin ala e kasi ni.
kasi ni li jan ike sina.
ona li jaki e sina e soweli sina e mama pini.
ona li ike ali.
mi la tenpo wan taso la sina lukin taso e kasi pi kili pi laso loje la mi alasa e sina li moli e sina.
jan lili mi o, mi pana e toki wile ni: mi pakala ali e sina.
tenpo wan taso kin la o pilin ala e kasi pi kili pi laso loje.
taso kili li suwi pilin.
ken la jan li ken moku e ona e ona pi weka telo kin.
ona li pona pilin.
tenpo ni la jan lili mi o tawa soweli.
o tawa soweli li kalama sama soweli sewi.
My child, come to me. Now you are away from your family. Today, you ride to the mountains. Before your journey, I give you this advice.
Don’t, if a reptile speaks to you, DO NOT give this repitle your good will. This reptile can not be set afire and will frighten your horse.
Long skinny orange plants under ground. Eat these fingerlings, but only eat them at the full moon. The full moon strenthens them and you too.
Don’t! Finally, one plant has a purple fruit, DO NOT even touch this plant even once. This plant is your enemy. It will corrupt you and your horse and your ancestors. It is totally evil. As for me, if you even once took at the plant with the purple fruit, I will hunt you down and kill you. My child, I give you this promise: I will destroy you completely.
But the fruit tastes sweet. Maybe a person can eat it and its dried form. It tastes good.
Noe. My child, ride on; ride on and raise a noise like a goat.
Grammar and Vocabulary
Alphabet: a,e,i,j,k,l,m,n,o,p,s,t,u,w – all normal for English except j = Eng. y (and the vowels should be “purer”).
Aside from a few function words: e, la, li, pi occuring here, most words can occur in any meaningful position: head noun, verb, modifier and a few: lon, tan, tawa, also as prepositions. Role is determined by place: nouns at the head of subject, immediately after ‘e’ or a preposition, or sometimes immediately after ‘pi’; verbs immediately after ‘li’; otherwise modifiers. Meanings tend to vary with role, of course, but the variation is fairly regular (except that each word has – for an English speaker – an enormous and messy range of basic meanings) depending upon the base meaning. For, despite the fact that every word can turn up almost everywhere, each seems to have a home as a noun, trasnsitive verb (including modal), modifier, or preposition.
Nouns as modifiers have the “pertaining to” sense, including possession, if that applies, or some other vagu sense.
They become transitive verbs that mean either (or both) “causes DO to become” or “applies to DO” (‘jan li telo e jan ante’, ‘telo’ meaning “water” means either “a person melts – causes to become liquid – another” or “one person wets down another” applies water to them.
Verbs become modifiers as any of the various participles.
They become nouns as the abstract or particular of the action or, most commonly, as the general type of the DO. Thus, while ‘moku’ “eat” as a noun may mean “eating”, it is more likely to mean “food’, what all DO’s of ‘moku’ are.
Modifiers become transitive verbs in the causative sense.
They tend to be the abstracts as nouns.
Prepositions can have their object as an unmarked noun phrase in whatever role they play. Thus, ‘mi tawa ala nena’ “I am not going to the hill” has ‘nena’ not as a DO, but as the object of the preposition ‘tawa’ even though it is serving as a main verb and is negated.
As transitive verbs, prepositions tend to be causative: ‘mi tawa ala nena e soweli’ “I am not moving the beast to the hill” (causing it to move there).
As nouns they tend to be the general type of their object: so ‘tawa’ as a noun is “destination”. Or abtractions from their verbal sense.
Every sentence of toki pona fits this mold
(Condition la) Subject li Verb (e DO) (Prep Phrase)
Parenthesized items may not occur, Condition la can occur any number of times, as can e DO and indeed anything but Subject.
Condition is either a sentence (the “if” clause of a conditional) or a phrase. The only phrases here are those indicating time at which the whole occurs: “now,” “today”, “before your trip” and one indicating a point of view “as for me”. There are a lot of other
kinds which, happily, don’t turn up here.
‘taso’ is a condition but does not need ‘la’.
Subject, Phrase, and DO are a noun and whatever modifiers it may have. The modifiers are added to the right in ordeer, each new one modifiying all to its left. Usually, what is added is a single word. However, ‘pi’ indicates that the block that follows (at least two content words – but the end is not marked) is taken as a unit. There is probably some order to the way that units are added, but no clear rules have been laid out. In general, though, possessives seem to come toward the end and numbers last of all. If the whole of Subject is ‘mi’ or ‘sina’ or ‘o’, the ‘li’ on the verb is dropped for the verb immediately following the Subject, but not for later verbs in the same sentence.
Verb is similar, except that the head is a verb. As noted, prepositions as verbs (here, only ‘tawa’, I think) can be followed by any number of modifiers and then by their prepositional Phrase. Modals (here only ‘ken’) are followed by Verb again, with its e DO and Prep Phrase, if needed.
There are no articles of any kind in toki pona. The deictic adjective ‘ni’ is just that, it is used for things in the context and references already made. There are no relative clauses either but the effect is achieved by a sentence about the item at issue (the relative clause) and then the main sentence with the key word marked with ‘ni’ (ijo li pali. ijo ni li pali ante: A thing did something. That thing did something else. The thing that did something did something else).
There are only 120 words or so in toki pona, so most words have several meanings, more or less related, and occur in most grammatical roles. I have here given only the one that actually occur in the text and with the meanings most apt to the case. Given the few words, many English words come out as phrases in tp. Most of these are transparent, but a few have become idioms and are included here, just in case.
- not (ala! points to a prohibition to come)
- hunt, chase
- all, completely
- [introduces direct object]
- bad (jan ike: enemy)
- corrupt, dishonor
- make a noise
- come (tawa: to), become
- can, may , maybe
- fruit, vegetable (what eat from a kasi)
- [emphatizes previous word] even, too
- group; (kulupu mama: family)
- [ends condition]
- [introduces verb – except when subject is completely mi, sina or o and immediately precedes]
- small, young
- at, in (lon anpa: underneath)
- see, look at (lukin wile: deliberately look at, gaze wishfully at)
- ground, dirt
- I, me, mine
- hill, mountain
- this, that, these, those
- [after noun to mark vocative] [before verb to mark imperative] (if the two o’s come together, they reduce to one)
- it, they, them (previously mentioned thing)
- (long, thin, round, pointy thing) root
- [marks a unit of two or more words in a modifier string, the whole treate as a single word for grouping]
- finally, past, ancient
- like, similar to
- go upward (soweli sewi: goat)
- you, yours
- beast (here horse except in the last case. tawa soweli: ride a horse)
- big, mature, grow
- sun (tenpo suno: day)
- sweet (suwi pilin: sweet tasting)
- but, only
- to, go to (even as verb and even with modifiers, it can take its destination as an unmarked noun phrase)
- time (in conditions at … time)
- away, remove
- want, must, should