Add topic
From sona pona, the Toki Pona wiki
Latest comment: 5 months ago by JPeton
This discussion is unresolved. Please reply to help reach a consensus or address the topic. Remove this template when resolved. (See all)

This page is well written and I agree with its description as a user of the language. However, it's not clear to me that this is necessarily material for the encyclopedia: the page Toki Pona describes what the language is as a really existing phenomenon, but having a page about Toki Pona's philosophy begs the question of whether it has a philosophy at all. I have spoken to Sonja (pers. comm. June 10 or 11, 2023) about this question, and her take then was pretty much "it's just a language." That's obviously not a source that can be used in this page, but the point is to show that there's no obvious rule that Toki Pona have a philosophy.

I see two ways to go: first, move this essay to Menasewi's personal page, where I would happily point to it as an example of a synthesis of the theory of Toki Pona offered by pu. That seems pedantic, though, and makes the second option look better: this page should more generally explore the interaction between the idea of Toki Pona and the language itself.

For me the most interesting source here is, an early (2007) version of the "why toki pona?" essay that eventually became the introduction to pu. I believe some form of this can be traced back to 2001, but this 2007 version is what I have archived. The most salient points that appear in earlier copies but disappear by the time pu arrives are her explicit references to anthropological primitivists Marshall Sahlins ( and John Zerzan ( This she repudiates now (pers. comm. June 2023), and the actual anthropology involved is perhaps dubious and romanticizing; but it was a huge part of my early exploration of the language, and the question of "what is the relationship between Toki Pona and 'primitivism'" is too important to leave out of the encyclopedia all together, I think. JPeton (talk) 16:39, 10 November 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

A thing I've learned about recently: Moving an article to someone's userspace makes it so others cannot edit it (unless you have more rights than a regular user). So the article would become non-collaborative if that were to happen. Jan Ke Tami (talk) 23:29, 10 November 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Good to know. Then I'd like to field adding discussion of the historical connection to primitivism along with current criticisms of similar ideas. This springs to mind: JPeton (talk) 01:33, 11 November 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

begs the question of whether it has a philosophy at all

"it's just a language."

It might also get to "what is philosophy" or "what do people mean when they refer to the 'philosophy' of toki pona". Should "design goals" (inferred or otherwise) not be part of "philosophy"? Because, if nothing else, toki pona is - in its own way - minimalist, or at least tiny. If that changes, then that's another matter, of course, but right now it seems like this was where the language was going since before its release, and that's where it has kept going in non-linear fashion. Jan Ke Tami (talk) 00:20, 2 December 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I guess there are a bunch of questions:
  • What is Toki Pona?
  • Why Toki Pona?
  • Why is Toki Pona the way the it is?
  • How should Toki Pona be? Should it be anything in particular?
  • Is there a single vision for what Toki Pona is or a multiplicity of disparate viewpoints?
  • What exactly does it mean for the language to be "of good"?
  • How much and under what circumstances should the language change?
  • What are the essential qualities that make Toki Pona what it is?
  • Are all parts of Toki Pona equally necessary or can some parts change more easily than others can?
  • How much does this matter for individual speakers of the language?
To all of these and more that I haven't thought of there are different answers by different people at different times, all of which constitutes, I think, "philosophies of Toki Pona" and so the content of this page. JPeton (talk) 03:30, 2 December 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]