Nasin pona li mute
July 12, 2007 7:34 AM   Subscribe

 
Well that is just 'Nasa'
posted by spotty_dog at 7:38 AM on July 12, 2007


Excellently cute. I'd like to marry this woman now please.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 7:41 AM on July 12, 2007


Estitia te. Farita ke.
posted by brownpau at 7:41 AM on July 12, 2007


Sapir-Whorf is "good theoretical grounding"?
posted by DU at 7:45 AM on July 12, 2007


It's like Esperanto for the braindead.
posted by the dief at 7:46 AM on July 12, 2007 [3 favorites]


Actually, I take that back. It's like Esperanto, but it's more complex than I thought at first, having stupidly read just the second link. Okay, hooray!
posted by the dief at 7:47 AM on July 12, 2007


They list 6 religious-based phrases and about 50 sexual ones. I like this language.
posted by DU at 7:48 AM on July 12, 2007


Why simplify human expression? It's a needless, really quite worrying, thing to want. Orwell was right when, writing about 1984's Newspeak, he said that simplifying language was a necessary first step to circumscribing the range of human thought.

It's all very charming and innocent fun for this woman and her followers, I suppose, but there's a blinkered utopianism that surrounds "simplified language" concepts that makes them somewhat creepy.

The post was very interested, though, I'm not criticising it as an FPP.
posted by WPW at 7:49 AM on July 12, 2007 [3 favorites]


"Classical languages can be used in your inner world to avoid something," says Dr. Roponen, noting that the Finnish language is notoriously complex, and that the country's suicide and depression rates are among the world's highest.

Hmm, I smell a Language Log post in the offing.
posted by Aloysius Bear at 7:50 AM on July 12, 2007


Trouble go away at nigh', an' Nell caw Mi'i - an' Nell an' Mi'i - ye', Nell an' Mi'i - like t'ee in the way! Chicka, chicka, chickabee.
posted by miss lynnster at 7:51 AM on July 12, 2007


Oh, I forgot something. [waves hands sideways in the air]
posted by miss lynnster at 7:53 AM on July 12, 2007 [2 favorites]


The Wikipedia article for Toki Pona was deleted recently. Protests have ensued but the article hasn't reappeared yet.
posted by gubo at 7:57 AM on July 12, 2007


How do you say 'Needs a glassing' in Toki Pona?
posted by docpops at 7:58 AM on July 12, 2007 [3 favorites]


I'm not too worried about simplified languages. If they are actually used they'll complexify over time. Toki Pona itself is adding "pan" (for bread products) not because they couldn't describe those things but for convenience. And the article said there had been many requests for additions. If the language were in the wild, these additions wouldn't need permission.
posted by DU at 8:00 AM on July 12, 2007 [3 favorites]


What a delightfully esoteric thing to do.
posted by rhymer at 8:07 AM on July 12, 2007


*challenges Ethereal Bligh to make a comment using the entire Toki Ponia vocabulary.*
posted by nthdegx at 8:07 AM on July 12, 2007


Ale li pona= Life is good.
posted by nickyskye at 8:07 AM on July 12, 2007


That said, I prefer Nadsat.
posted by rhymer at 8:08 AM on July 12, 2007


WPW,

I don't think it's intended to be a world language, so much as a sort of "language as an art in and of itself." I happen to think that's really cool. I'd have written more in the post, but that wouldn't have gone along with the philosophy of the language.
posted by graymouser at 8:08 AM on July 12, 2007


I'm with WPW, it's basically Newspeak.

Doubleplus ungood.
posted by slimepuppy at 8:10 AM on July 12, 2007


Why simplify human expression? It's a needless, really quite worrying, thing to want. Orwell was right when, writing about 1984's Newspeak, he said that simplifying language was a necessary first step to circumscribing the range of human thought.

Perhaps, but NewSpeak was a malicious attempt to do just that. Toki Pona is a lark without bad intentions that focuses on the positive aspects of life. Totally different.

Musi mi ni toka. (I think that's right.)
posted by unixrat at 8:11 AM on July 12, 2007


Perhaps, but NewSpeak was a malicious attempt to do just that. Toki Pona is a lark without bad intentions that focuses on the positive aspects of life. Totally different.


Same shit, different toilet.

See X, "I Must Not Think Bad Thoughts."
posted by nasreddin at 8:14 AM on July 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


doublepluscute.
posted by doublesix at 8:16 AM on July 12, 2007 [2 favorites]


Same shit, different toilet.

See X, "I Must Not Think Bad Thoughts."


Jesus, kepeken e kasi nasa.
posted by unixrat at 8:17 AM on July 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


I guess she's not expecting her book to be a big seller:
Each copy of the book will be personally hand-bound for you by the author. I will be using a Coptic binding stitch from the 4rd century CE, attaching the codex with linen thread to two slabs of wood as covers, with the Toki Pona symbol branded onto them with a hot iron.
Why doesn't she just write me a copy with a quill?
posted by pracowity at 8:19 AM on July 12, 2007 [3 favorites]


I'm actually just being a prick. I do think this is pretty cute, even if the Sapir-Whorf business is misguided.
posted by nasreddin at 8:20 AM on July 12, 2007


DU: Certainly, "in the wild" and freed from a central controlling authority the vocabulary would grow like topsy, the grammatial application would vary, and words and phrases would be adopted from other languages. Which to my mind makes the project seem rather futile. Not that it has to have a grand mission - it's clearly just a lark, like Elf or Klingon.

unixrat: Well, I'm not suggesting that Toki Pona is actually going to plunge the world into a nightmarish dystopia. I just find it somewhat creepy. And although Newspeak was design to circumscribe human thought, Orwell's explanation of how it works reveals that simplification of this kind almost inevitably has that result, regardless of intent. He talks of the phrase "Communist International" via the neologism "Comintern". The former conveys more sophisticated conceptual infrmation than the latter, even though it "means" the same thing - just as "Banana" is far more sophisticated than "yellow fruit".
posted by WPW at 8:23 AM on July 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


On a semi-related note, the first link to the Globe and Mail article mentions this:
An Israeli-German singer and member of the Stuttgart Chamber Choir is including it in a concert of musical pieces composed in constructed languages, alongside Esperanto and Star Trek's Klingon.

Does anyone know anything about that? It sounds awesome, but Google is failing me. I wish they had given the singer's name.
posted by Sangermaine at 8:28 AM on July 12, 2007


- just as "Banana" is far more sophisticated than "yellow fruit".

Finally, somebody really gets me.
posted by YoBananaBoy at 8:29 AM on July 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


All this "positivity" stuff seems to me like an elaborate way of avoiding thinking about reality, but that itself strikes me as a delusion -- one merely ends up observing things one has no words to express, and that can't be good for the psyche.
posted by clevershark at 8:32 AM on July 12, 2007


> "Banana" is far more sophisticated than "yellow fruit".

Also the latter blatantly discriminates against pears, starfruit and other non-banana yellow fruits!
posted by clevershark at 8:34 AM on July 12, 2007


Language is a virus. Isn't this just another Pepsi Blue thread?
posted by KokuRyu at 8:34 AM on July 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


To form a deeper or more complex meaning, you can easily combine these basic words. For example:

alcohol "crazy water"


Nerd on internet wastes her own time inventing uninspired language system nobody will ever use, news at 11.
posted by prostyle at 8:46 AM on July 12, 2007


Trouble go away at nigh', an' Nell caw Mi'i - an' Nell an' Mi'i - ye', Nell an' Mi'i - like t'ee in the way! Chicka, chicka, chickabee.

God, stop it miss lynnster!

(I think Nell is more dramatically offensive than tubgirl)
posted by Jody Tresidder at 8:49 AM on July 12, 2007


No thank you, I'll just stick with my shifting, evolving, amoebic language.

Barista, another esperanto, please.
posted by Terminal Verbosity at 8:50 AM on July 12, 2007 [4 favorites]


I'm important (or I'm fat).
posted by everichon at 8:54 AM on July 12, 2007


I think this is cool, in the way that Lego Churches are cool, and so forth. My life is richer for the fact that people are making languages, making car-making robots out of legos, etc. Gods bless the focused, nerdy enhtusiasts. I don't ever make squat, except for some ill-shot photos on Flickr, so my career as an appreciator would end quickly without stuff like toki pona. Suck it, haters.
posted by everichon at 8:59 AM on July 12, 2007


There's nothing simple about a language that requires three words to say "banana".
posted by solid-one-love at 8:59 AM on July 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


I'm waiting for languagehat to tell me if I should like it or not. : )

It's a cute idea, and I love how devoted this woman is, but it's fun in a kind of "let's build a treehouse and join a club and have our own secret language!" way, not in any practical way.

Which is what makes it cool, really. Where's my secret decoder ring?
posted by misha at 9:01 AM on July 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


I doubt I'll ever speak Toki Pona, but that Sonja is cute as a button.
posted by EatTheWeak at 9:14 AM on July 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


Ni toki, e mute tawa?
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:16 AM on July 12, 2007


You know, if the purpose of the language is simplicity, perhaps it's not important to differentiate bananas from starfruit. You're probably not going to use it to order your banana waffles. Toki Pona isn't practical for that, but it probably is practical for the reason it was invented: to help someone cope with depression.
posted by zennie at 9:22 AM on July 12, 2007


Hm. I wonder if the word pona 'good' is borrowed from guaraní porã?
posted by taursir at 9:23 AM on July 12, 2007


this is great! while the language doesn't really stand on its own (the idioms are all borrowed. for instance, the word kama is used for come, as in "come over here" but also as in "you're going to come so damn hard.") so it is reliant on other languages in many ways. However, it's perfect as a second language to be used between two folks who speak different primary languages.

did i just shout out the obvious. if i did, sorry. i'm just impressed by the possibilities. i like the idea of a language i could learn to use functionally in a week.

and long live our hulking amoebic dinosaur languages!
toki pona seems to pose no threat.
posted by es_de_bah at 9:31 AM on July 12, 2007


on preview, apparently i wasn't just stating the obvious. imagine if at least a large minority of every country learned this language. wouldn't be hard to do thanks to its simplicity.

imagine being able to walk into any bar in the world and have a good chance of being able to communicate with someone thanks to this handy little language. i'm going to start working out some pick-up lines.

(ok ok ok. so the odds are against this language catching on in such a way. it's still nice to dream.)
posted by es_de_bah at 9:38 AM on July 12, 2007


HOw much longer before Cory's DRM speech is converted?
posted by Smart Dalek at 9:48 AM on July 12, 2007


I kill you filthy.
posted by Divine_Wino at 10:02 AM on July 12, 2007 [2 favorites]


Why?

"Hello. I'd like a way to communicate with far fewer people in far less precise ways. Do you have anything that could help me with that?"
posted by Ynoxas at 10:04 AM on July 12, 2007


However, it's perfect as a second language to be used between two folks who speak different primary languages. did i just shout out the obvious.

...

In all honesty, Toki Pona does not have a huge following, but the Toki Pona community does include at least three fluent speakers--a claim that few other constructed language communities can claim.

Oh, what a claim it is...
posted by prostyle at 10:07 AM on July 12, 2007


Esperanto 2.0.
posted by oneirodynia at 10:10 AM on July 12, 2007


Volapük, anyone?
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 10:12 AM on July 12, 2007


This is neato, BTW. I just happen to prefer my language to be messy, murky, and convoluted. So much more fun that way. I understand why people would feel otherwise, but I'm quite fond of languages with lots of words. There can never be enough, IMO.
posted by oneirodynia at 10:13 AM on July 12, 2007


How many people are there who claim to be able to speak Klingon?
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 10:23 AM on July 12, 2007


It's quite clearly a very simple English-based pidgin, many of which already exist. They are capable of expressing very complex concepts very creatively, but in the end they always accrete both lexicon and syntax over a generation or two and turn into languages as complex as any other. So it ain't staying simple.
posted by spitbull at 10:34 AM on July 12, 2007


When spoken, wouldn't this sound a lot like the refus babel language from Snow Crash?
posted by quin at 11:07 AM on July 12, 2007


So, this is the twitter of languages?
posted by Caviar at 11:07 AM on July 12, 2007


I kill you filthy.

Gully! I didn't recognize you with the face tattoos!
posted by malocchio at 11:27 AM on July 12, 2007


Ms. Kisa, a linguist who is fluent in five languages, devised Toki Pona as a coping mechanism during a bout of depression. Her motive unintentionally had good theoretical grounding in what's called the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, which holds that language affects the way you think, how you see the world and how you behave.

If she's a linguist, the grounding wasn't "unintentional." If the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis is new to her, she's not a linguist. But I imagine that's just the dumb reporter being a dumb reporter.

Cute idea, well executed, but I've just never had any interest in artificial languages. Like others in this thread, I like 'em messy.
posted by languagehat at 11:53 AM on July 12, 2007


I'd rather subvert your language than write my own.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 12:11 PM on July 12, 2007


Bù duì! Wo bǐ jiào xǐ huān shuō hànyǔ.

So much easier, don't you find? :)
posted by clevershark at 12:12 PM on July 12, 2007 [2 favorites]


This is great! My favorite thing about this is that there exists a lady for whom the answer to "I am depressed; how shall I cope?" is "Well, I guess I'll make up my own language, now." Huzzah!

Also: Darwin bless you, Divine_Wino.
posted by Greg Nog at 12:16 PM on July 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


I am not a therapist or a linguist. But I am a depressive, and have been for my entire adult life. It's only now under control. What has brought it under control is therapy. I admire this woman - this is an interesting creative project. But I cannot imagine how this would help her deal with depression. I can see how sinking love and effort into this creation can divert her from depression, and I can see how she might believe that removing the ability to express "badness" might be an appealing prospect to her. But, in my opinion, she is dead wrong. The only thing that worked for me was being able to express my feelings and talk through them without judgement - a long and painstaking battle against the raging, inarticulate darkness. It's an incredibly difficult thing to do, the face the darkness inside head on, and we all structure our lives to avoid doing that.

This project appears, to me, to be an elaborate counter-structure to the darkness inside. As such, I can easily understand its popularity. She has built a way to avoid, indeed render impossible, talking about how she feels. That's an incredible piece of human creativity, really amazing. But I cannot discern any therapeutic value to it.

(And I am aware that what worked for me might not be best for others - but I saw it work for all the people who went through the process with me. I've done my best to phrase this as my personal feelings about the matter, and that's all it is.)
posted by WPW at 12:36 PM on July 12, 2007


I tried learning and writing some things in toki pona once. Why? Simple fun and creative joy. Also discovering how limiting and also liberating it can be as well as leading to some thoughts about just how much our expression is funneled into language.

That is I learn something new by going back to the basics. The same reason I play with simple math puzzles even though I know some fairly advanced math.

I discovered Toki Pona via an earlier Metafilter thread, actually. Looking back on that, people in that thread weren't falling over themselves to point out how they were "above this" because they like their languages complex. Instead, people were contributing invented languages of their own in the same spirit I mention above.
posted by vacapinta at 12:40 PM on July 12, 2007


In a Toki Pona world we wouldn't be having this conversation anyway
Instead we would be painting water colors, running around naked and playing our lovely little sex games.

I imagine there are always benefits to simplifying one's language. however, it's just too common to be in a position where you need certain words to tell someone to go take a long walk off a short pier and that isn't an all to positive comment. So then what do you do? For me when I want to sound cute and in middle school I choose OB and LF.
posted by Viomeda at 12:41 PM on July 12, 2007


Always look on the bright side of life.

*whistles. dies on cross*
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 12:43 PM on July 12, 2007


I kill you filthy

Didn't I read this in a comment thread next week?
posted by bovious at 12:44 PM on July 12, 2007


Hm. I wonder if the word pona 'good' is borrowed from guaraní porã?

Reachin' pretty far, there, Taursir. I like that. :-)

However, the real answer, I think, is a bit simpler. Since Ms. Kisa's language consonant structure is quite simple—there are no distinctions between voiced and unvoiced consonants—all you have to do is to voice the "p," and what do you wind up with? Bona. Wander through the Romance languages, and I'm sure you'll see the resemblance. :-)
posted by kentk at 1:46 PM on July 12, 2007


people in that thread weren't falling over themselves to point out how they were "above this" because they like their languages complex.

Hmm, I just did a search on "above this" and the only place it occurs in the thread is in your comment. I guess you went to livejournalism school. Anyway, I can't speak for others, but as for me, I certainly don't consider myself "above this," any more than I consider myself "above fish" just because I don't eat fish. But enjoy your generalized, unfounded contempt.
posted by languagehat at 2:12 PM on July 12, 2007


I'm above this.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 2:14 PM on July 12, 2007


Of course by "above" I mean "really, really high," and by "this" I mean "What were we talking about?"
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 2:16 PM on July 12, 2007


But enjoy your generalized, unfounded contempt.

I suppose I'm reacting to the fact that people (for example you and onerodynia) are dismissing this based on some odd qualitative basis - that you like your languages "messy" implying this just isn't complex enough for you.

That is, you're not saying you don't like fish, you're saying this sushi isn't cooked enough for you. If we cooked it, it would cease to be what it is.
posted by vacapinta at 2:34 PM on July 12, 2007


people (for example you and onerodynia) are dismissing this

OK, one more time, slowly and clearly:

I AM NOT DISMISSING THIS. I AM SAYING IT IS NOT MY PREFERRED TYPE OF LANGUAGE.

Is there something about "Cute idea, well executed" that sounds dismissive to you? Or are you just incredibly defensive? ("If we cooked it" sure sounds like you have an unhealthy degree of identification with the woman who created Toki Pona, who probably doesn't remember your help at the kitchen stove.)
posted by languagehat at 2:49 PM on July 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


Looks cute. Reminds me of one of the more unusual and cumbersome ideas I came across in college.
posted by kittyprecious at 2:52 PM on July 12, 2007


vacapinta: I suppose I'm reacting to the fact that people (for example you and onerodynia) are dismissing this based on some odd qualitative basis - that you like your languages "messy" implying this just isn't complex enough for you.

I think that the part of your original post that comes across as objectionable is not where you disagree with those criticising this language, it's where you claim quite unfairly that critics of the language are presenting themselves as superior to its fans, and that this is somehow spoiling the thread.
posted by WPW at 2:53 PM on July 12, 2007


True enough. It came across as patronizing ("cute car but I like mine with real engines.") but if that is not how it was meant then I apologize for the misinterpretation.
posted by vacapinta at 3:01 PM on July 12, 2007


Your favorite made-up language fleems!
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:06 PM on July 12, 2007


Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn, i'a Tsathoggua fghaz gof'nn hupadgh Shub-Niggurath!
posted by Vic Morrow's Personal Vietnam at 4:08 PM on July 12, 2007


But seriously, this creeps me out a little bit too. It seems to me that the fewer words you have to express either aspects of reality or abstractions of thought, the less your thoughts will be able to evolve.


...also I don't think she's that cute
posted by Vic Morrow's Personal Vietnam at 4:15 PM on July 12, 2007


i was hoping to put together a metafilter: tagline, but got stuck on the meta.
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:18 PM on July 12, 2007


people in that thread weren't falling over themselves to point out how they were "above this" because they like their languages complex.

You're reading a lot more into my comment than was ever expressed. Saying that "I like my languages messy" somehow implies that I think I'm a better person that people who don't? That's really a stretch.
posted by oneirodynia at 6:48 PM on July 12, 2007


I apologized above. Would you like me to do so again?
posted by vacapinta at 7:48 PM on July 12, 2007


While I very much see where vacapinta is coming from – I'm finding the level of contrarian shitheadedness around here really oppressive lately – I do not think that's what oneirodynia and particularly languagehat (who was responding to a request for his opinion) were doing here at all. Positive words all around?
posted by furiousthought at 8:05 PM on July 12, 2007


I'm not looking for an apology (though your apology above seems to be directly addressing languagehat alone), just sort of surprised that expressing an opinion that in effect was- this is cool, but not my cup of tea- is "dismissive". You called me out by name, so I'm clarifying my position.
posted by oneirodynia at 8:42 PM on July 12, 2007


just as "Banana" is far more sophisticated than "yellow fruit".

That's why today, bananas are called "yellow fatty beans".
posted by oats at 9:18 PM on July 12, 2007


Also, what is it with conlangers and the 'j'? Bozhe moj!
posted by oats at 9:21 PM on July 12, 2007


I am going to learn to speak this language. I hope others who cannot speak English (or Spanish) will also learn it. Then I can communicate with them!
posted by Baby_Balrog at 9:53 PM on July 12, 2007


Seems fun, but wouldn't it be more beneficial to learn and perfect a language you could use broadly?

I guess its just more of a creative mind exercise type of thing.
posted by Defenestrator at 12:34 AM on July 13, 2007


Artificial languages are interesting tools for understanding language, and they appeal to our "wouldn't it be wonderful if everyone could understand one another" urges, but any artificial language that doesn't get a big budget and firm, ongoing support from a number of large governments and corporations is never going to rise above the level of secret handshakes and decoder rings.

Or, of course, the internet kids could get together and change the world. My dad's got a barn!
posted by pracowity at 1:55 AM on July 13, 2007


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