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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.

Sandhi is any of various types of sound changes that occur at a word boundary. While Toki Pona generally has no such features, speakers have experimented with sandhis for stylistic and artistic effect, and learners may involve them in their pronunciation unconsciously. They tend to be used to avoid hiatus, two adjacent vowels.

Coda nasal assimilation[edit | edit source]

The coda nasal -n at the end of a syllable can be pronounced as any nasal consonant, and often assimilates to the same place of articulation as the following consonant. It is less common for this to happen between words than within a word, but it may still occur, especially in rapid speech. For example, pilin pona would become [ˈpilim‿ˈpona].

Glottal stop[edit | edit source]

Vowels in hiatus may be split with a glottal stop, catching all airflow at the very back of the throat. This is the sound at the beginning and hyphen of English "uh-oh" ʔʌ.ʔow].

A Toki Pona example is a possible pronunciation of tawa a [ˈtawa‿ʔa]. Here, a glottal stop separates the adjacent /a/ phonemes, which might otherwise only sound like tawa with the end extended [ˈtawaː].

jan Mato speculated that the glottal stop would develop in all instances of hiatus if Toki Pona were more widely spoken.[1]

Glide[edit | edit source]

Some speakers insert a semivowel glide at the end of vowels. In English, this occurs with the "long vowels" ay ee oh oo /ej ij ow uw/[2][a] that are closest to Toki Pona e i o u.

Learners may do this unintentionally, leading to ambiguities between phrases like mi jo pona e ni ("I'm holding this fine") and mi o pona e ni [mij‿o ˈpona e ni] ("I should fix that"). Practice keeping the vowels "flat" to avoid this.

Some proficient speakers add glides intentionally in certain contexts, to split the hiatus in phrases like wile e [ˈwilej‿e]. There is very little risk of confusion with je, an obscure nimi sin, and the syllables *ji *wo *wu are disallowed, so [σj‿i σw‿o σw‿u] will be understood as /σ.i σ.o σ.u/ instead.[b]

Crasis[edit | edit source]

Under construction This section needs work:

Wasn't there something notable that promoted doing this with an apostrophe?

If you know about this topic, you can help us by editing it. (See all)

Crasis is merging adjacent vowels into a new vowel or diphthong.

A resulting diphthong may be a semivowel glide, as in pona e ni [ˈpona‿j ni] creating the glide of English "eye". This can be done in music to reduce the syllables in a lyric, such as toki e [ˈtokj‿e] going from 3 to 2 syllables (to‧kje or tok‧je).

Notes[edit | edit source]

  1. [j] in the International Phonetic Alphabet represents yod, as it does in Toki Pona.
  2. Where σ represents any syllable

References[edit | edit source]

English Wikipedia has an article on
  1. jan Mato. "Sandhi". Archived from the original on 20 January 2013. Retrieved 12 March 2024. "I suspect that if this were a spoken language, people would invent a glottal stop for the vowel/vowel sandhi and assimilate nm/nn into a single m or n sound.".
  2. Lindsey, Geoff. (22 October 2021). "Why these English phonetic symbols are all WRONG". Dr Geoff Lindsey [@DrGeoffLindsey]. YouTube. Retrieved 7 November 2023.