nimi sin

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Caution: The subject of this article is nonstandard and will not be understood by most speakers.
If you are a learner, this information will not help you speak the language. It is recommended to familiarize yourself with the standard style, and to be informed and selective about which nonstandard styles you adopt.

nimi sin (lit. 'new word(s)') are extra words in Toki Pona, especially those created or promoted by the speaking community. They can be a contentious topic among Tokiponists; see § Reception.

Many speakers[who?] warn against learners using or creating nimi sin too early, as one should be able to fall back on the core vocabulary before trying to fill in perceived gaps. Excessive usage of nimi sin can make communication more difficult, as many nimi sin are obscure or go unused in practice, and will not be understood by most speakers.

Terminology[edit | edit source]

There are various different related terms used to refer to these extra words, with different shades of meaning.

  • nimi sin is the term most commonly used in the Toki Pona community. As it means "new words", it is most literally used for words that were coined after the publication of the book Toki Pona: The Language of Good (lipu pu). However, it is also applied to revived words from before pu; while this is considered a misnomer, the term has stuck. Some people use the closed spelling nimisin instead, especially when talking about the topic in English.[1]
  • nimi namako (lit. 'additional words') is also fairly commonly used, especially if people want to include revived pre-pu words, such as majuna and pake.[citation needed] (For other uses, see nimi namako.)
  • Neologism (from the Ancient Greek for "new word") is a linguistic term for a (relatively) recently coined word or term, especially one that is becoming accepted into mainstream language.

The terms non-pu words and nimi pi pu ala refer specifically to words that are not pu words (the words included in Toki Pona: The Language of Good). Likewise, non-ku words or nimi pi ku ala refers to words that are not among the "ku words" mentioned in Toki Pona Dictionary.

Purposes[edit | edit source]

On ma pona pi toki pona, joke nimi sin are often introduced with an edit of the rotating light emoji (🚨) with sitelen pona nimi-sin.

Experimentation with nimi sin is a common form of tinkering with Toki Pona. It can be done with many goals in mind, such as:

  • Historic and traditional usage: Many nimi sin are traditional words that have continued to be used, or have had revivals, despite their removal (or framing) as of pu. Many nimi ku suli fall under this, such as kin, kipisi, leko, monsuta, namako, and oko.
  • Personal preference: There is something fun about nimi sin that encourages many speakers to try using and making them. Specific nimi sin may also be coined to describe concepts that are important to the creator, without expecting or wanting others to adopt their nimi sin.
  • High-frequency concepts: Some nimi sin are coined for common concepts not covered in the base vocabulary. For example, linluwi reflects the amount of Toki Pona usage that takes place online.
  • Philosophical elaboration: Some nimi sin are created with the expressed purpose of deepening the language's philosophical messages, often by creating words tackling a broadly applicable but precise concept to reveal its presence in everyday life. Additionally, some nimi sin create novel conflations or distinctions between two concepts in order to comment on the concepts themselves or their importance to the language as a whole.
  • Grammar extensions: Experimental particles can show what Toki Pona might be like with extra grammatical features.
    These seem less likely to catch on than nimi sin with their own semantic value. They would make the grammar more complex, and would challenge accepted techniques for building sentences.
  • Jokes: There are many joke nimi sin. The joke is often that the meaning[a] or word itself[b] is unsuited for Toki Pona.
    Despite this, some joke words are introduced to enough people to pick up momentum and get used in earnest. This and the subjective nature of humor have generated some resistance to such words.

Notable nimi sin[edit | edit source]

While relatively few nimi sin have caught on longterm, the Toki Pona Dictionary argues that those that do should be considered "essential words" to the language. As of 2024, no other nimi sin have met the 41% usage threshold of the nimi ku suli, according to the yearly Linku survey.

Reception[edit | edit source]

It seems that nimi sin became more popular between the publication of pu and ku, as speakers wanted to experiment with diverting from pu-rism. After ku, the speaking community was left to grapple with whether the nimi ku should become permanent fixtures of the language, drawing more criticism of specific nimi ku suli and of nimi sin in general.

nimi sin are contentious due to some speakers viewing Toki Pona's low word count as a fundamental tenet and some using the language as a basis for linguistic experimentation. (However, some speakers combine these goals by experimenting with styles and tokiponidos that use fewer words than usual.) A specific nimi sin may detract from the expressivity of one or more established words, or from an intentional absence of a word for some concept.[2] See Natural semantic metalanguage for some common gaps.

Whether only specific words or in general, nimi sin may be thought of negatively for various reasons, including a perceived mismatch with Toki Pona's philosophy, grammar, or usage. Owing to this reputation, inventing intentionally bad nonce words is a common source of humor.

The word alente was jokingly coined as "a proposal for a final nimisin" that could be used to shoot down future nimi sin proposals.

Related words[edit | edit source]

samu[edit | edit source]

Caution: The subject of this section is just for fun. It might not be meant or appropriate for serious use.
Pronunciation /ˈ
Usage 2023: Not notable (1% ↘︎ )Caution: Most speakers don't understand this word.2022: Obscure (3%)
Book and era nimi ku lili (post-pu)
Part of speech Content word

samu is a joke word and nimi ku lili relating to the desire to create new words.[3] It was coined in 2018 as part of a joke by jan Sonja when a user called Madia Samu asked how to contribute words in the main Toki Pona Facebook group .[4]

The sitelen pona glyph for samu (samu) is derived from the glyph for nimi (nimi) with emitters above. It was designed by nimi Elemenopi in August 2020,[5] replacing his previous design which synthesized jan, musi, and lili.[6]

Notes[edit | edit source]

  1. Irrelevant to general conversation, too specific, etc.
  2. Unpronounceable, too long, etc.

References[edit | edit source]

Original text related to this article:
  1. jan Kekan San [@gregdan3]. (12 June 2024). [Message posted in the #Word frequency in Toki Pona thread in the #toki-suli channel in the ma pona pi toki pona Discord server]. Discord. Retrieved 14 June 2024. "for each of these words, the percentages are what portion of their uses are in languages other than toki ponanimisin: 81.4%".
  2. jan Sonja, jan Lakuse, et al. (8 April 2024). "Toki Pona: From Personal Art Project to Small World Language". University of Colorado Boulder. (transcript). pp. 12–13, 18, 20–21.
  3. Lang, Sonja. (18 July 2021). Toki Pona Dictionary. Illustrated by Vacon Sartirani. Tawhid. ISBN 978-0978292362. p. 337.

    wanting to create new words2

  4. Sonja Lang. (24 March 2018). "How can one contribute new words?". Facebook. Retrieved 8 January 2024. "Did you know about the new word ‘samu’, which means ‘ADJ wanting to create new words’?".
  5. nimi Elemenopi [u/ElemenopiTheSequel]. (15 August 2020). "Here are the official glyphs for the 1b words in the NA". r/OffThePu. Reddit. Retrieved 28 December 2023. "[Key: black] = original, made by me".
  6. nimi Elemenopi [u/ElemenopiTheSequel]. (26 July 2020). "I made a sitelen pona glyph for every non-pu word in the "nimi ale pona" dictionary". r/tokipona. Reddit. Retrieved 28 December 2023.

Further reading[edit | edit source]