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soweli in sitelen pona
soweli in sitelen sitelen
A samoyed dog laying on top of a large teddy bar
A samoyed dog laying on top of a large teddy bar
Pronunciation /ˈ
Usage 2023: Core (100% → )2022: Core (100%)
Book and era nimi pu
Part of speech Content word
Codepoint 󱥢 U+F1962

soweli is a core content word relating to, in general, land mammals.

Etymology[edit | edit source]

The word soweli is derived from Georgian ცხოველი (cxoveli), meaning "animal".[1]

Semantic space[edit | edit source]

The semantic space of soweli, similar to other core animal words, depends widely on the speaker. Because of Toki Pona's philosophy of valuing direct, immediate, and personal experience, a strict cut-off at terrestrial animals that are specifically part of Mammalia as a taxonomic group would be out of line with Toki Pona's view on the world. However, its semantic space does have a very big overlap with mammals (and their relatives). The defining features of soweli is a matter of debate.

Proposals have ranged from motion and speed on land, particularly of how the legs are used to move about, to fur and fuzziness, and to certain features of roundness (particularly around the head). Another way of getting closer to a description of soweli is to leave it as a catch-all category that does not fit into the other animal words—all of which face similar difficulty of being defined clearly and uncontroversially.

This leads to some edge cases, such as:

  • Armadillos are perceived as scaly over fuzzy, leading to some people describing them as akesi over soweli, especially when using its armor as defense against predators.
  • Elephants and rhinoceroses are not particularly hairy and have thickened, scaley skin but tend to be described as soweli over akesi, a similar thing happens to hippopotamuses.
  • Ostriches and emus are unable to use their wings as a primary means of movement and have adapted to living on the ground while moving around very fast, leading speakers to describing them as soweli over waso.

soweli is sometimes extended to refer to animals in general, including akesi, kala, pipi, and waso. This is a nonstandard usage and is rejected by many fluent speakers.

Food[edit | edit source]

soweli is sometimes used to refer to the meat of such animals. This sense was defined as "red meat" in the June 2002 word list.

pu[edit | edit source]

In the "Official Toki Pona Dictionary" section, the book Toki Pona: The Language of Good defines soweli as:

NOUN  animal, beast, land mammal

ku[edit | edit source]

For Toki Pona Dictionary, respondents in ma pona pi toki pona translated these English words as soweli:[2]

animal5, deer5, creature4, dog4, cat4, llama3, goat3, Musteloidea3, beast3, lion3, pig2, capybara2, wolf2, horse2, mouse (2020)2, tiger2, large domesticated animal2, Hominidae2, procyonid2, monkey2, rabbit2

sitelen pona[edit | edit source]

The sitelen pona glyph for soweli (󱥢) represents a general quadrupedal mammal facing right towards the direction of writing.

sitelen sitelen[edit | edit source]

The sitelen sitelen glyph for soweli (soweli) possibly represents the head of a dog.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. "Word Origins". Archived from the original on 8 August 2002.
  2. Lang, Sonja. (18 July 2021). Toki Pona Dictionary. Illustrated by Vacon Sartirani. Tawhid. ISBN 978-0978292362. p. 349.

Further reading[edit | edit source]