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Toki Pona often makes no distinction between formal and informal styles of speech. A common philosophy is that things should be phrased in a simple and explanatory way, keeping all speech in accord with a few established forms of grammar, semantics, and the like.

Well-formedness[edit | edit source]

Often in natural languages, speech considered informal is perfectly intelligible, and accords to its own internally consistent linguistic forms. Such speech is, in fact, well-formed. When it is called informal, either this is a prescriptivist misconception, or it relates to the forms of a certain situation instead of the language itself (and this judgment may or may not be rational or fair).

In Toki Pona, however, there are so few main "rules" that ill-formed sentences can be legitimately hard to understand. Particles and other grammar rules tend to be crucial to well-formedness. Calques tend to be ill-formed, as they are only intelligible to people who are familiar with the source language.

Register[edit | edit source]

In sociolinguistics, formality is one aspect associated with register: the use of different words, grammatical features, and so on in different situations.

Many factors can influence the perceived formality of a register, including socioeconomic factors and stereotypes; linguistic traditions and conventions; technical precision; use of irony, taboos, and vulgarity; and frames of politeness (violating etiquette can be a form of politeness in informal situations).

nimi sin as informal[edit | edit source]

It is generally claimed that Toki Pona has no distinct formal and informal registers.[citation needed…] However, the use of nimi sin (and, to a lesser extent, experimental usages of words in general) has arguably created informal registers, reified by the usage category analysis.

Usages closer to core Toki Pona are often preferred in more formal situations. This is mainly so that messages that concern a wide audience can be most widely understood. Sometimes, there is also an element of concern for Toki Pona's philosophy, for example in pu-rism.

See also[edit | edit source]