Phonology

From sona pona, the Toki Pona wiki
(Redirected from phoneme)

The phonology of Toki Pona is the set of phonemes (speech sounds) that speakers distinguish between. Phonotactics describe the ways phonemes can be arranged.

Consonants[edit | edit source]

jan, pronounced by kala Asi. An English pronunciation respelling would be YAHN.

There are nine consonant phonemes. Most of the consonants are intuitive to English speakers.

The j phoneme is pronounced like English Y, as it is in "fjord" and "hallelujah". This is also its value in languages like German (ja) and Swedish (hej då). The letter j was originally an i with a swash tail, and it is helpful to think of it as such in Toki Pona.

Consonant phonemes with audio[a]
Labial[b] Coronal[c] Dorsal[d]
Nasal m
n
Stop p
t
k
Fricative s
Approximant w
l
j

Consonants are only distinguished by place and manner of articulation. Qualities like voicing and aspiration do not make a difference. For example, p t k can be pronounced as voiced [b d ɡ] if need be, so [doɡi bona] is a valid pronunciation of toki pona.[1]

Vowels[edit | edit source]

Vowel chart

There are five vowel phonemes. Many natural languages, like Spanish and Japanese, have similar five-vowel systems.

Vowel phonemes with audio
Front Back
Close i
u
Mid e
o
Open a
This subject or style relates to Toki Pona: The Language of Good.

According to Toki Pona: The Language of Good, the vowels are ideally more centered than their default values in the International Phonetic Alphabet. a is centralized to [ä],[e] and e o are lowered to mid [e̞ o̞].[f][2] Regardless, these are just the centers of these vowels' ranges. Vowel qualities that are close enough will be accepted.

Allophones[edit | edit source]

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

The tokiponization guidelines suggest some recognizable allophones:

  • [v] becomes w, but its unvoiced equivalent [f] becomes p.
  • Uvular and velar consonants are allophones of k.
  • The rhotic consonants correspond to multiple Toki Pona phonemes. Tapped [ɾ] or trilled [r] becomes l. The English R sound, an often labialized approximant [ɹ⁽ʷ⁾], instead becomes w. As above, the French or German R becomes k.
  • Dental fricatives can become t or s.
  • Affricates are allophones of fricatives.
  • Voiceless laterals become s.

Here is an attempt to chart this information:

Allophones of pulmonic consonants
(voiceless · voiced)
Labial Dental Alveolar Palatal (Post)velar
Nasal m n
Plosive p t k
Trill, tap, or flap l
Fricative or affricate p · w t~s s
Approximant w j
Lateral s · l

See also[edit | edit source]

Notes[edit | edit source]

  1. Consonant audio samples are pronounced with a vowel /a/ for demonstration.
  2. Articulated with the lips
  3. Articulated with the tip of the tongue
  4. Articulated with the back of the tongue
  5. Between front [a] and back [ɑ]
  6. Between close-mid [e o] and open-mid [ɛ ɔ]

References[edit | edit source]

Original text related to this article:
English Wikipedia has an article on
Toki Pona phonology.
  1. Lang, Sonja. (25 May 2014). Toki Pona: The Language of Good. Tawhid. ISBN 978-0978292300. OCLC 921253340. p. 16.
  2. pu, p. 15.