Numbers

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Numbers in Toki Pona are unusual among languages, even constructed ones. Rather than positional notation, where the "three" in "twenty three" is treated differently than in "three thousand", number words in Toki Pona are simply added together (sign-value notation).

As a part of speech, number words are a class of content word that can be used with a numeric or nonnumeric meaning.

Simple system[edit | edit source]

wan in sitelen pona
wan in sitelen sitelen
Pronunciation /wan/ 🔊 🔊
Usage 2023: Core (100% → )2022: Core (100%)
Book and era nimi pu
Part of speech Number, content word
Codepoint 󱥳 U+F1973
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

As modifiers, the words wan and tu can mean 1 and 2 respectively. However, they can still mean other things in context.

mi wile e ilo tu e linja wan 

mi wile e ilo tu e linja wan.

I want two tools and one string.
I want a cutting tool (scissors) and a unifying sheet (tape).

mute in sitelen pona
mute in sitelen sitelen
Pronunciation /ˈmu.te/ 🔊 🔊
Usage 2023: Core (100% → )2022: Core (100%)
Book and era nimi pu
Part of speech Number, content word
Codepoint 󱤼 U+F193C

Any numbers above 2 can be expressed with mute.

soweli mute li mu 

soweli mute li mu.

Many animals are making noises.

Advanced system[edit | edit source]

luka in sitelen pona
luka in sitelen sitelen
Pronunciation /ˈlu.ka/ 🔊 🔊
Usage 2023: Core (100% ↗︎ )2022: Core (99%)
Book and era nimi pu
Part of speech Number, content word
Codepoint 󱤭 U+F192D
ale in sitelen pona
ale in sitelen sitelen
Pronunciation /ˈa.le/ 🔊 🔊
Usage 2023: Core (90% ↘︎ )2022: Core (92%)
Book and era nimi pu
Part of speech Number, content word
Codepoint 󱤄 U+F1904

Alternatively, number words can be strung together in descending order to form larger numbers by addition. (This is often compared to Roman numerals, but unlike those, Toki Pona numbers aren't subtracted when a larger one is placed after a smaller one.)

akesi tu wan li tawa 

akesi tu wan li tawa.

Three lizards are moving.

Outside of wan and tu, the words luka, mute, and ale can mean 5, 20, and 100 respectively.

mi sitelen e kala luka tu 

mi sitelen e kala luka tu.

I drew seven (5 + 2) fish.
I drew two hand-fish (perhaps octopuses).

pu only describes this system as "a more complex and precise counting system" and describes the addends as particles.[1] More specifically, then, number words in this system may be considered a type of semiparticle.

Ordinals[edit | edit source]

nanpa in sitelen pona
nanpa in sitelen sitelen
Pronunciation /ˈnan.pa/ 🔊 🔊
Usage 2023: Core (100% ↗︎ )2022: Core (99%)
Book and era nimi pu
Part of speech Content word
Codepoint 󱤽 U+F193D

As a particle, nanpa introduces and marks a number phrase as an ordinal number. As number phrases are introduced with nanpa, the use of the particle pi is optional.[2]

waso nanpa tu wan li kute e nimi 

waso nanpa tu wan li kute e nimi.

The third bird heard a word.

Philosophy[edit | edit source]

Large numbers being inconvenient to express is an intentional philosophical choice by jan Sonja, as she considered exact numbers to rarely be truly necessary.[3][citation needed…] Some speakers take this further and forgo numbers altogether, a style called nanpan't.

Nonstandard numbers[edit | edit source]

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

Words[edit | edit source]

Alternative number systems[edit | edit source]

A common project among tokiponists is creating other ways to express numbers in the language. Some of them are made as serious proposals, whether to "improve" the language or for personal writings, such as nasin nanpa pona. Others are explicitly intended to be humorous, such as nasin nanpa kijetesantakalu.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Lang, Sonja. (25 May 2014). Toki Pona: The Language of Good. Tawhid. ISBN 978-0978292300. OCLC 921253340. p. 46.
  2. jan Juli (2021). "ordinals". nasin toki pona. GitHub. Retrieved 23 October 2023.
  3. Yerrick, Damian (23 October 2002). "Toki Pona li pona ala pona? A review of Sonja Kisa's constructed language Toki Pona". Pin Eight.