Common lexicalizations

This is a list of common lexicalizations in Toki Pona and alternatives to them. An important part of Toki Pona philosophy is that the speaker must think about what something is at its core before they can talk about it. An object or situation is described relative to how it relates to the speaker, with a large amount of flexibility.

Fixed phrases for specific things, also known as lexicalizations, sidestep that process entirely. This is often seen as undesirable. In many cases it causes the speaker to give more context than is needed, or to describe something in a way detatched from it's context. It can be a source of confusion, if a speaker mistakenly believes the same construction can only ever mean one thing- thus failing to understand the intended nuance of the other party.

Nonetheless, some phrases are used in this fixed manner by some speakers. Ultimately, the context of the conversation, and how you relate to it should guide your word choices. A common lexicalization could incidentally be the most accurate way of communicating your intent. To abstract your intended meaning for the sake of "avoiding lexicalization" is to recreate the same departure from toki pona philosophy.

Phrases featured in pu edit

Lexicalized phrase Meaning Alternatives
toki pona[a] the Language of Good by Sonja Lang toki ni, toki lili, toki pi nimi lili, toki pi nimi mute ala, toki pi nimi ale mute (or more)
toki pi jan Sonja, toki pu, toki tan lipu pu, toki ku
Any above, replacing toki with nasin toki
tomo tawa[b] car ilo tawa, kiwen tawa, poki tawa, supa mute tawa
Any above, replacing tawa with awen, pini (when parked, stopped, or braking)
tomo nasin, poki jan, tomo pi noka sike, soweli ilo, mani kiwen, tomo pi weka ma, tomo pi pana kon ike, tomo pi sike kalama, ilo moli (critical)
telo nasa alcoholic drink telo pan, telo ike, telo pona, telo musi, telo pi ante lawa, telo pi lawa weka
jan pona friend jan poka, jan olin (for close friends), jan mi, jan kulupu, jan pi kulupu mi
Any above, replacing jan (for non–human friends)
jan lili child jan kili, jan tan mama (as in offspring)
jan sin, jan pi tenpo lili (as in youth)
Any above, replacing jan (for nonhuman children)

Time phrases edit

Other phrases edit

Lexicalized phrase Meaning Alternatives
ma pona the Discord server ma pona pi toki pona ma ni, ma pi suli nanpa wan, ma pi akesi Jan
jan sin newbie, especially in a toki pona context jan pi kama sona, jan pi open sona, jan pi sona lili
Any above, replacing jan (for non–human newcomers)
nimi sin word created after pu or ku
word that would be new to someone who has only read pu or ku, even if created before
nimi namako, nimi pi pu ala, nimi pi ku ala, nimi nasa, nimi pi kepeken lili
kasi nasa marijuana and its derivatives, such as edibles, vapes, etc. moku nasa, moku pi lawa weka, kasi pi pilin nasa, kasi pi wile moku, kasi sona
pana sona to teach, teaching, education mi pana e sona, sina kama sona tan mi
soweli tomo pet soweli pona, soweli poka, soweli mi, soweli jan, soweli olin, soweli awen
Any above, replacing soweli (for non–land mammal pets)
ken la maybe lon ken, ni li ken
supa lape bed ilo lape, supa ko, supa unpa
kalama musi music kalama, musi kalama, musi kute, kalama nasin, nasin kalama, kalama kulupu, kulupu kalama, kalama pona, mu musi
ilo sona computer ilo, ilo nanpa, poki nanpa, ilo pi sitelen soweli, ilo supa, ilo wawa
wile sona question alasa sona, kama sona, toki tawa sona sin, toki pi lon anu lon ala, toki sama a ala a, toki tan sona ona pi sona ala ona
tomo telo bathroom tomo jaki, tomo pi pana/weka jaki, tomo pi pona selo
soweli mani cow soweli suli, soweli walo pimeja, soweli pi telo walo

Notes edit

  1. Same goes for sitelen pona and such.
  2. Ironically, pu uses this as an example of not lexicalizing, along with ilo tawa for the perspective of a driver and kiwen tawa for that of a hit pedestrian.