nasin sitelen kalama

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nasin sitelen kalama is a popular alternative method of writing names in sitelen pona based on morae. It was created by jan Pumiko of kulupu kasi as a response to similar, but unmarked systems, which she felt were too unreadable.

Description[edit | edit source]

jan Kulumin Sinpin, written in nasin sitelen kalama

The system is primarily based on morae, a unit of speech similar to a syllable. In the moraic analysis of Toki Pona, a mora is either a vowel (V), a consonant–vowel pair (CV), or the coda -n (N). For example, the word anpa is split into the morae a-n-pa.

In nasin sitelen kalama, a word followed by no symbol is read as its first letter, similarly to the system in pu. Each dot adds another mora. For example:

jan [pona] *jan P
jan [pona ..] jan Po
jan [pona .. ..] jan Pona
jan [taso .. pona .. linja .. ..] jan Tapolin

If the word starts in a valid mora (i.e. a single vowel), the first dot indicates the next mora. For example:

jan [anpa] jan A
jan [anpa ..] jan An
jan [anpa .. ..] jan Anpa
jan [en .. wile ..] jan Enwi

Colons indicate the entire word and is equivalent to dots with the number of morae in the word. For example:

jan [kepeken] *jan K
jan [kepeken ::] jan Kepeken
jan [pali :: jo ::] jan Palijo

In writing, the dots and colons are usually placed in the midline of the text and sometimes with fullwidth.

History[edit | edit source]

Previous attempts at syllabic spellings[edit | edit source]

Over time, some sitelen pona users began to write their names in more experimental ways. Based on the existing pu way of representing a name by writing a sitelen pona character for each letter in the name inside of a cartouche, these ways changed into usually using less characters to write a name. These experimental methods include:

  • Preferring a glyph to be used syllabically:
jan [sitelen sona] jan Siso
nimi [insa pan telo] nimi Inpante
  • Impossible sequences of sounds adding sounds based on what the next sound in the sitelen pona character would be:
jan [sitelen sona ale] *jan Ssajan Sisa
telo [uta anpa] *telo Uatelo Uja
  • Using different forms to the cartouches to indicate a name that is spelled like a word:
kasi {seli} kasi Seli
nimi {insa pan telo} nimi Insa Pan Telo / nimi Insapantelo
  • Characters get combined to form syllables:
soweli [kili-awen wile-esun] soweli Kawe

None of these were solidified and virtually all of them were met with confusion by others for a number of reasons. For example, forming cartouches differently is just something that happens in handwriting and isn't really enough to mark the cartouche as having a different system; unmarked systems are largely backwards-incompatible with pu spelling and it's not clear if [insa pan ale] spells out Ipa or Inpana or Insapanale or anything in-between; unexpectedly encountering another system stops reading flow and requires nice knowledge; no one can agree on using the same system

Creation of nasin sitelen kalama[edit | edit source]

Screenshot from a discord message in sitelen pona: "toki a. mi pali e nasin sitelen sin. ona la sina ken sitelen pona e kalama pi nimi sina. nasin ni li: sitelen nimi wan la o toki e kalama open taso. kalama [nena] li sama nimi n. sitelen [dot] li lon poka pi sitelen nimi la o toki e kulupu open pi nimi ni. kalama [mu dot] li sama nimi mu. sina pana e sitelen [dot] mute la o toki e kulupu kalama ante. nimi [kalama dot dot] li sama nimi kala. sitelen [colon] li lon poka la o toki e ale nimi. nimi [telo colon] li sama nimi telo. nasin ni la sina ken lili e sitelen kalama sina li ken sona pona e ona. -jan Pumiko"
Original message describing nasin sitelen kalama

nasin sitelen kalama was created by jan Pumiko, a member of the kulupu kasi system, in 2022. This was in order to formalize the previous systems.

Adoption[edit | edit source]

Under construction This section needs work. If you know about this topic, you can help us by editing it. (See all)

In an informal emoji reactions poll on the Discord server ma pona pi toki pona[1], 77.4% of those who can read sitelen pona and 81.5% of those who write in sitelen pona can read nasin sitelen kalama. 54.8% of sp readers and 61.1% of sp writers use it.

Applications[edit | edit source]

nasin sitelen kalama used to indicate morae in the sheet music for kijetesantakalu sewi

nasin sitelen kalama can be used to write sitelen pona lyrics in sheet music.

Criticism and limitations[edit | edit source]

Under construction This section needs work. If you know about this topic, you can help us by editing it. (See all)
  • small dots are too easy to mistake for "lili"
  • people use it as if it were the new default system, but it's only meant to formalise a way for the people who would otherwise use much worse systems, not to replace or officially expand the sitelen pona cartouches
  • Cartouches may be ambiguous on the rare, but feasible, occasion that multiple words share a glyph. Examples include [ale ::] representing Ale or Ali, and, less standardly, the case of abbreviations with different pronunciations but unchanged glyphs.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. link to poll, data from 2023-01-30; 72 responses, of these, 62 reported being able to read sp and 54 reported writing in sitelen pona