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tu in sitelen pona
tu in sitelen sitelen
Pronunciation /tu/
Usage 2023: Core (100% ↗︎ )2022: Core (99%)
Book and era nimi pu
Part of speech Number, content word
Codepoint 󱥮 U+F196E

tu is a core content word and number word for the number two.

Etymology[edit | edit source]

The word tu is derived from English two.[1]

Function and semantic space[edit | edit source]

The word tu functions primarily as the number word for two. As a modifier, it indicates that the word or phrase it modifies describes two things. As a head, it may be used to mean a pair of things, or the abstract concept of the number two.

mi lukin e waso tu 

mi lukin e waso tu.

I see two birds.

By extension, the semantic space of tu it includes division and separation into two parts, more frequently when used as a transitive verb (see also kipisi). For dividing into more parts, the words mute or kipisi are generally used instead.

mi tu e kili 

mi tu e kili.

I divide the apple (into two parts).

There may be ambiguity when tu is used as a modifier, as it may be confused for the numeral.

ilo tu

ilo tu

(usually) two tools; (in some contexts) cutting tool

pu[edit | edit source]

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


ku[edit | edit source]

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

two5, pair5, double4, both4, twice3, couple3, cut2, divide2

sitelen pona[edit | edit source]

The sitelen pona glyph for tu (󱥮) consists of two vertical lines. Like the glyph for mute (mute), it is probably derived from tally marks (𝍷𝍷) or one or multiple systems based on them, such as counting rods (𝍡), Roman numerals (, ), or Brahmi (𑁓) or Chinese numerals (二).

sitelen sitelen[edit | edit source]

The sitelen sitelen word glyph for tu (tu) is composed of a three-knobbed shape surrounding two knob shapes on a line. The origin of the glyph is unknown, but the knob shapes inside might represent tally marks of some kind. A possible origin is the Maya glyph for ik' (T23), which was used for the second day in their calendar .[3] Compare the word glyph for wan (wan).

The word glyph can be rotated to face any direction, but it is usually written with the knobs facing away from the word(s) it modifies (facing right in left-to-right direction, and facing down in top-to-bottom direction).

Like with any monosyllabic word, the word tu may also optionally be written with a syllable glyph (TU).

References[edit | edit source]

  1. "Word Origins". tokipona.org. 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. 381.
  3. Montgomery, John. "Dictionary of Maya Hieroglyphs". FAMSI. Retrieved 15 July 2024.

Further reading[edit | edit source]