Native speakers

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The existence of native speakers of Toki Pona is a contentious issue.

Erik Sealander[edit | edit source]

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Reddit user u/eriksealander, referred to Erik Sealander throughout the rest of the article, is a language teacher, is controversially considered the father of the first native speakers of Toki Pona. In an interview with Aronora, he stated that he started teaching his children Toki Pona as he is a language enthusiast and for the benefits of multilingualism at a young age. His children are also multilingual in both English and Arabic.[1][2]

Sealander has stated that his older daughter, called jan Lililan, can understand the basics of Toki Pona, answering prompts and producing speech. The first unprompted phrase from her, according to him, was "ni li palisa" when pointing to an electric pole.[3] In 2021, he posted a picture of her sitelen pona writing practice claiming that she could recognize 43 glyphs with flash cards at only four-years old.[4]

However, these claims has come into scrutiny by others. In 2023, after meeting in person with both Sealander and his family, jan Kekan San noted that the children did not speak Toki Pona to him and could not answer questions when prompted, only .[5] He later on went to call this "at best stretching the truth and at worst a hoax".[6] In a blog post, jan Olijpija suggested that the children may have learnt Toki Pona, but failed to maintain it as they grew up. She compared this example to children in Wales learning Welsh, where because of the lack of prestige of the language, speakers tend to have insufficient skills in it.[6]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. jan Alonola. (29 November 2020). "INTERVIEW | The First Toki Pona Natives". Aronora [@Aronora]. YouTube. Retrieved 2 January 2024.
  2. jan Alonola (5 April 2021). "toki tawa jan Elike (mama pi jan lili pi toki pona)". In lipu tenpo nanpa soweli (in Toki Pona). lipu tenpo.
  3. u/eriksealander. (17 December 2020). "Has anyone tried teaching their kids Toki Pona?". Reddit. Retrieved 21 January 2024.

    The oldest is 2 so she's only saying simple declaratory statements. "Mi wawa. Mi tawa. Mi olin e sina. Ni li laso. Ni li loje (which she pronounces lon'ñe which is interesting). I can report that the first ever sentence spoken, unprompted in toki pona by a native speaker is, "ni li palisa" while pointing to a electric pole. So that's your fun fact of the day:)

  4. u/eriksealander. (24 August 2021). "tenpo ni la, jan lili wan pi toki pona li kama sona e sitelen!". Reddit. Retrieved 2 January 2024.
  5. jan Kekan San [@gregdan3]. (12 February 2023). [Message posted in the #toki-pona channel in the ma pona pi toki pona Discord server]. Discord. Retrieved 21 January 2024.

    [...] This is a hoax. I spoke to Erik Sealander and wife and children in person a few months ago. His children only know the word toki that I could tell; they couldn't respond to basic questions like "sina pona ala pona", "sina toki pona anu seme" and only spoke to me in English besides saying toki. As for Erik's own toki pona skill, I've seen him write tp fine, but in speaking he responded in English to almost all of my statements in Toki Pona. I believe that he cares about toki pona, and I'm sure he wants to teach toki pona to his kids, but as of when we met they have made almost no progress, not even to the level described in this post. There are no native Toki Pona speakers.

  6. 6.0 6.1 jan Olipija. (12 February 2023). "Native Speakers pi toki pona li lon ala lon?". lukapona.blogpost.com. Retrieved 21 January 2024.

External links[edit | edit source]

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