Left and right

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Unlike most languages, Toki Pona lacks dedicated words for the directions left (←) and right (→). They can still be expressed, but there is no single canonical method for it.

Phrases[edit | edit source]

Some common phrases have emerged, based on widespread (though not universal) asymmetries:

  • poka open, poka pini - based on the main writing direction of lines of sitelen Lasina, sitelen pona, and sitelen sitelen[1][2]
  • poka pilin, poka pi pilin ala - most humans' hearts are on the left side[1]
  • poka pi luka sitelen, poka pi luka sitelen ala - most humans write with their right hands[1]

Context-specific[edit | edit source]

A speaker can refer to landmarks or asymmetries particular to the environment they're in.[3]

These don't have to be direct equivalents of "left" and "right". Consider the chess terms "kingside" and "queenside": both players' kings start on the right side from White's point of view, but on the left from Black's, and vice versa for queens. These terms could be emulated in Toki Pona with e.g. poka lawa (the side of the "head" piece, the most important) and poka wawa (the side of the most powerful piece).

Dedicated words[edit | edit source]

Caution: This subject is nonstandard and may not be understood by most speakers.
Pronunciation /ˈso.to/
Usage 2023: Obscure (6%  )
2022: Obscure (8%)
Book and era nimi ku lili (post-pu)
Part of speech Content word
Pronunciation /ˈte.je//j/ sounds like English Y, as in "fjord" or "hallelujah".
Usage 2023: Obscure (6%  )
2022: Obscure (8%)
Book and era nimi ku lili (post-pu)
Part of speech Content word

The words soto and teje are obscure content words and nimi ku lili meaning "left" and "right", respectively.[4] They were coined by jan inwin as soto and te and the latter was modified by jan Olipija, turning te into teje.[5]

The word soto is derived from Swahili shoto "left side", and teje (and te) are derived from Welsh language de meaning "right side".[4]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 jan Lentan. toki pona extra page 1 - old and new words. lipu sona pona. Retrieved 11 October 2023.
  2. jan Ke Tami (6 October 2021). "musi pi alasa sona". In lipu tenpo nanpa toki, p. 3. Retrieved 11 October 2023.
  3. lipamanka. Direction in toki pona. lipamanka's website. Retrieved 11 October 2023.
  4. 4.0 4.1 jan inwin. nimi ale pona (2nd ed.). Google Sheets. Retrieved 11 October 2023.
  5. jan Olipija (14 June 2020). Message posted on the #musi-manka channel in the ma pona pi toki pona Discord server. Discord.