How many words does toki pona have?

    From sona pona

    toki pona is known for its low amount of vocabulary. But how many words there are in toki pona depends on the user and / or how generous one is with expanded or controversial cases, and it can even depend on when this question is asked or about.

    By the books[edit | edit source]

    Considering only the 2 books from Sonja Lang, lipu pu and lipu ku, the count ranges from 120 to 190, depending on how generous you are with the controversial cases. 120 or 123 are the commonly used numbers for pu, 137 for ku suli, and anything in the range from 178 to 187 for ku lili.

    • 120 pu words, unless you include the synonyms (see below).
    • 1 alternate pronunciation/spelling: ali. Generally agreed not to be a word in its own right.
    • 3 words which were considered synonyms in pu: kin, namako, oko. Now considered part of ku suli.
    • 14 other ku suli words, excluding the three above: kijetesantakalu, kipisi, leko, misikeke, monsuta, epiku, jasima, kokosila, lanpan, meso, n, soko, tonsi, ku.
    • 41 uncontroversially ku lili words: apeja, kan, kapesi, majuna, pake, pata, po, powe, tuli, ete, ewe, isipin, kamalawala, ke, kese, kiki, kulijo, kuntu, likujo, linluwi, loka, misa, mulapisu, neja, oke, peto, polinpin, pomotolo, samu, san, soto, taki, te, teje, to, umesu, unu, usawi, wa, waleja, wasoweli.
    • 4 words which break phonotactics or phonology: sutopatikuna, yupekosi, Pingo, kalamARR, listed by how controversial their rule breaking is, and consequently by how many speakers accept them as ku lili.
    • 5 reserved words: ju, lu, nu, su, u. It is unclear whether they count as ku lili.
    • 2 spelling mistakes made by jan Sonja while entering data into the book: toma (misspelling of tomo), suke (misspelling of sike). Generally agreed not to be words in their own right.

    Additionally, the German and Esperanto translation of lipu pu include a list of the nimi ku suli, and the also included notes on lipu pu from the second book make a note of tonsi (for the part that describes meli and mije), only mentions and doesn't explain kijetesantakalu (when talking about the counting system), and points to the synonyms being used distinctively. Some users say they count tonsi as an honorary pu word.

    pre-pu[edit | edit source]

    Before the first official book, the count of words fluctuated a bit. For a long while, it stayed stable at 118 words.

    2001[edit | edit source]

    Early on, toki pona went through a lot of changes. Much of this era is lost. When speaking to outsiders about the language, Sonja early on said that toki pona had 150 words, and less than 200. It's not unlikely that 150 words was higher than the count of the actual word list as it was first published.

    2002[edit | edit source]

    On 2002-05-15 a poll vote of 6 to 2 decides in favour of Sonja's proposal for a new word kiwen to mean "rock, stone, metal, material". On 2002-05-31 iki changes to ona.

    Word list 2002-06-07 (retrieval date)
    described as "98% complete"
    Word count 120
    non-pu words iki (listed as "archaic" and not counted), kan, kin, leko, oko
    pu words not in list alasa, ali (not counted), esun, pan, pu
    Word origins 2002-08-09 (retrieval date)
    etymology list, reflects an older usage
    Word count 121
    non-pu words iki, kan, kin, leko, oko
    pu words not in list alasa, ali (not counted), esun, ona, pan, pu

    On 2002-11-01 ali becomes an alternative to ale, en is used between head nouns instead of modifiers, kan no longer exists, and kin is used for emphasis of any word

    2003[edit | edit source]

    Word list 2003-03-04 (retrieval date)
    described as "98% complete"
    Word count 119
    non-pu words iki (listed as "archaic" and not counted), kan, kin, leko, oko, pata
    pu words not in list alasa, anu, esun, pan, pu

    2007[edit | edit source]

    Word list 2007-09-27 (retrieval date)
    Word count 118
    non-pu words kin, oko
    pu words not in list alasa, esun, pan, pu

    2009[edit | edit source]

    On 2009-04-01 the word kijetesantakalu got introduced as an April Fool's joke.

    Beyond the books[edit | edit source]

    Many, many, many other words have been created, most of which never have been used beyond its creation. It is impossible to find them all.

    Nevertheless, an attempt was made in the form of kule epiku Atawan's nimi ale. It is an extremely indiscriminate collection, seeking to contain anything that anyone ever declared to be a toki pona word. As of the last edit[1], the grand total (across sections 1 through 4) is 1165 words (some with multiple independent definitions). Over half of those are from section 2a, "words in ma pona pi toki pona", which catalogued every message containing the custom :nimisin: emote.

    A somewhat more conservative list is lipu Linku, which as of the August 2022 update contains 256 words. Even so, many of them are obscure, with 12 of them scoring 0% in a usage survey.

    1. The Table of Contents claims it was last updated in 2020-02-24, but section 2a contains a link to a Discord message posted in 2021-02-13.