From sona pona, the Toki Pona wiki
mama in sitelen pona
mama in sitelen sitelen
Pronunciation /ˈ
Usage 2023: Core (100% ↗︎ )2022: Core (99%)
Book and era nimi pu
Part of speech Content word
Codepoint 󱤱 U+F1931

mama is a core content word relating to parents, ancestors, and caretakers.

Etymology[edit | edit source]

The word mama is derived from Georgian მამა (mama), meaning "father".[1] Similar words for "mother" are found in multiple languages across the world, thought to derive from babble words.

Semantic space[edit | edit source]

The semantic space of mama includes parents (inclusive of mothers and fathers), ancestors, and caretakers.[2] Figuratively, it also refers to a creator, originator, or founder of something.

jan [sona olin nasa jasima alasa] li mama pi toki-pona

jan Sonja li mama pi toki pona.

jan Sonja is the creator of Toki Pona.

As a modifier, it relates to birth and reproduction, such as the reproductive organs and reproductive cells.

According to the monsutatesu, the word mama when used as a transitive verb can have two opposite definitions: "to cause (someone) to be a parent" and "to nurture (as a parent)". This was first noted by jan Likipi in 2020.[3][4] Another alternative meaning is "to create", synonymous with lon.

pu[edit | edit source]

In the "Official Toki Pona Dictionary" section, the book Toki Pona: The Language of Good defines mama as:

NOUN  parent, ancestor; creator, originator; caretaker, sustainer

ku[edit | edit source]

For Toki Pona Dictionary, respondents in ma pona pi toki pona translated these English words as mama:[5]

parent5, parental5, mama5, mommy4, mom4, creator3, mother3, foster3, originator3, father2, daddy2, founder2, dad2

sitelen pona[edit | edit source]

mama in linja pona

The sitelen pona glyph for mama (󱤱) is believed to represent a parent (bigger loop) and a child (smaller loop).

As handwritten in lipu pu, the loops are circular, and one is drastically larger than the other. The loops are also often drawn wider, as ellipses, and the difference in size is less pronounced. This may have originated with the font linja pona, and has even been adopted in Jonathan Gabel's sketch of the 2020 sitelen sitelen glyph. Drawing the top loop wider may increase the chance of confusion between mama and the thick-stem variant of soko (soko1).

The loops in the pu specimen also only touch at a tangent point; the outlines overlap, but both counters are still circular, without the outline passing through either circle. However, when the bottom loop is drawn larger, the top loop may also be drawn in front, so that the bottom counter is not a full ellipse. This style may also come from linja pona.

sitelen sitelen[edit | edit source]

Alternative glyph version for mama

The current sitelen sitelen word glyph for mama is derived from the sitelen pona glyph for the same word, inside a "pedestal" similar to the word glyphs for meli, mije, and tonsi.[6]

It replaced the older and now deemed alternative glyph (mama), as it was considered too focused on the feminine aspect of the word. It represented a female body with exaggerated breasts, inspired by the Venus of Willendorf figurine and the Nanas, modern statues depicting a female silhouette.

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. "Word Origins". Archived from the original on 8 August 2002.
  2. lipamanka. toki pona dictionary. lipamanka's website. Retrieved 20 October 2023.
  3. jan Likipi [@lilscribby]. (28 July 2020). [Messages posted in the #sona-musi channel in the ma pona pi toki pona Discord server]. Discord.

    re: what's monsutatesu
    mi mama e ona means what?
    usually "I created it" or "I parent/nurture it"
    but that's backwards from the normal transitivity rules which would say "I make it into a parent"

    which doesnt make much sense

  4. kala pona Tonyu (29 January 2021). "monsutatesu". lipu kule.
  5. Lang, Sonja. (18 July 2021). Toki Pona Dictionary. Illustrated by Vacon Sartirani. Tawhid. ISBN 978-0978292362. p. 282.
  6. Gabel, Jonathan (14 August 2020). "sitelen ante tawa nimi mama". Jonathan Gabel.

Further reading[edit | edit source]