sitelen pona

    lipu pona: This is a good article.
    From sona pona
    sitelen pona symbol

    sitelen pona (sitelen-pona) is a logographic writing system for Toki Pona designed by Sonja Lang, the language's creator. The system is described in Toki Pona: The Language of Good alongside sitelen sitelen. sitelen pona is the most used original writing system in Toki Pona. Learners might find it useful for memorizing words' meanings.

    As a logography, each word is written as a symbol. Glyphs are typically written from left to right, in horizontal lines from top to bottom.

    The symbol for Toki Pona, toki-pona, is the language's name written in sitelen pona as a combined glyph.

    Glyphs[edit | edit source]

    Original pu glyphs[edit | edit source]

    The original edition of lipu pu, Toki Pona: The Language of Good, includes the following glyphs for each of its main 120 words.

    Esperanto pu glyphs[edit | edit source]

    Following the recommendations of Toki Pona Dictionary, the Esperanto translation of lipu pu, Tokipono: La lingvo de bono, includes several additional glyphs.

    Alternative glyphs for nimi pu are presented as footnotes in the main section, "Hieroglifoj".

    Glyphs for nimi ku suli are presented in the appendix "Aldonaĵo: nimi ku suli pi pu ala".

    1. 4-legged form, cuter according to jan Sonja
    2. Secular form
    3. Used since 2016
    4. Designed by jan Sonja for personal use and published in 2022

    Punctuation[edit | edit source]

    Use of punctuation in sitelen pona is not officially defined. In general, the main use of punctuation is to mark the boundary between sentences. Most people use only a sentence boundary mark, and some will use a form of quotation marking.

    Using Latin-script punctuation, as in English, can cause confusion. The exclamation point (!) resembles the glyphs a and o, and the question mark (?) resembles the glyph seme. In fact, these words largely make the exclamation and question marks redundant.

    Sentence boundaries[edit | edit source]

    The most common punctuation for marking the end of a sentence are the Latin-text-style period and the middle dot (.). One reason why some people prefer the middle dot is because sitelen pona is typically written centered around a midline rather than a baseline. In nasin sitelen kalama, the middle dot has another use inside cartouches.

    Other people prefer using a CJK-style circular period (。).

    Another option is to use no mark at all, but instead separate sentences using double spacing, monospaced spacing (the space that one character takes up in a monospaced font), or newlines.

    Question marks[edit | edit source]

    A question mark is largely unnecessary. Most standard questions already mark themselves with seme or the pattern ijo ala ijo. A dedicated question mark would only be needed to clarify whether ijo anu ijo marks a statement or question. However, nowadays the majority of proficient speakers do not use anu on its own to mark questions, instead using the 2 aforementioned constructions.

    Because some fonts stretch seme to fill a fullwidth character space, there is a misconception that it looks wider or more stylized than a question mark. This can result in juxtaposing the glyph in 2 widths (like ?? for seme?). However, seme looks just like a normal question mark in Sonja Lang's handwriting and in many other fonts.

    Colons[edit | edit source]

    Just like when writing Toki Pona in the Latin script, colons are frequently used in sitelen pona. It can be written centered between the words on either side of the colon (ijo : ijo), or closer to the word on its left (ijo:  ijo).

    Some people use a right-facing ni (ni>) to avoid the need for colons. For example, here are 3 ways to write mi wile e ni: sina pilin pona.

    mi wile e ni : sina pilin pona
    mi wile e ni> : sina pilin pona
    mi wile e ni> zz sina pilin pona

    In nasin sitelen kalama, the colon has another use inside cartouches.

    Quotation marks[edit | edit source]

    For marking quoted text, Latin-style quotation marks are common, but Japanese-style corner brackets (te to) are also very common, being symmetrical around the midline. These glyphs are also used for the quotative nimi sin, te and to, so it may be unclear whether to read them as words or punctuation. However, when used as punctuation, a reader may interpret them as te and to without misunderstanding the author's intent.

    Word spaces[edit | edit source]

    Many fonts expose a ligature using the text zz to produce a glyph-sized space character (zz), for cases where the author wants the text to be visually indented or separated. This is best rendered using the standard ideographic space glyph. This is especially important for people who use screen reading software, which will read the "zz" out loud rather than silently skipping over it.

    An alternative may be typing a double space, which is even more common in fonts to get a word-sized space. However, this can cause problems on websites, because HTML condenses whitespace.

    Combined glyphs[edit | edit source]

    Examples of combined glyphs: pilin-ike pilin ike (scalar), telo-lete telo lete (scalar), kala+lili kala lili (stacked), toki-pona toki pona (scalar)

    The glyph of a head word may be combined with the glyph of one modifier. The modifier can either go on top of, or inside of, the head glyph. These are called combined glyphs in pu, or compound glyphs.

    Recursion[edit | edit source]

    Some people experiment with combining more than 2 glyphs at once, even using specific nesting rules to imply a group of modifiers as a pi phrase. This may be more widely accepted in logotype design than standard writing.

    Diacritics[edit | edit source]

    Another experimental feature is treating the letterlike part of a, o, and kin as a diacritic. When placed below another glyph, that glyph replaces the vertical stroke. This feature was available in linja sike but has been deprecated.

    Extended glyphs[edit | edit source]

    While not universal, an "extended" or "long" form of pi is very common. The low horizontal line continues under all glyphs in the pi phrase (pi(ijo ijo) ). It is possible to visually represent nested pi by that method by writing an extended pi inside another extended pi, but this isn't commonly used.

    More recently, some people extend other characters such as prepositions, kama (by analogy to awen, tawa), anu, and the ala in ijo ala ijo. Some people also use an underline on its own to mark a lon prepositional phrase, omitting the dot from its glyph.

    Names[edit | edit source]

    Cartouches[edit | edit source]

    ma Kanata li suli. "Kanata" is spelled out inside a cartouche, as [kasi alasa nasin awen telo a].
    jan Sonja li pali e toki ni. ona li sitelen e lipu pu. Typeset in linja sike. "Sonja" is spelled out inside a cartouche, as [sike olin noka jelo akesi].

    Proper adjectives are written like anagrams inside a cartouche, inspired by Egyptian hieroglyphs. Within a cartouche, only the first sound of each word is read, each then strung together to form the name. For example, ma Kanata can be written as ma [kasi alasa nasin awen telo a].

    The specific glyph used for each letter in the cartouche is unimportant. Specific glyphs may be chosen to reflect the meaning or associations of the name, and people might have preferred ways to write their own name in sitelen pona. The glyphs in cartouches can even encode extra sentences, like spelling toki Inli as toki [ijo ni li ike] to also convey "ijo ni li ike".

    There is also a nonstandard but fairly common extended system for writing cartouches using syllables or morae, called nasin sitelen kalama.

    Name glyphs[edit | edit source]

    Some people design custom sitelen pona glyphs for their names. Like the glyphs for common words, most of these do not indicate pronunciation.

    Flexible glyphs[edit | edit source]

    Many sitelen pona characters are not static, and aren't supposed to be drawn the same way every time.

    Any scribble, usually in a single stroke with overlaps and (mostly) curvy lines. For example, scribbles submitted by community members to be added to linja lipamanka: jaki1 jaki2 jaki3 jaki4 jaki5 jaki6 jaki7 jaki8 jaki9 jaki10 jaki11
    Any blobby closed shape. For example, blobby closed shapes submitted by community members to be added to linja lipamanka: ko1 ko2 ko3 ko4 ko5 ko6
    Can point to the part of the text that ni is referencing; up, down, right, or other directions, instead of the standard downwards arrow. In handwriting, it may be drawn in an extended manner, pointing toward the relevant reference. A right-facing arrow (ni>) is often used in linking ni statements. For example, mi pilin e ni> zz toki pona li musi (mi pilin e ni: toki pona li musi). Sometimes ni is extended horizontally (ni>(--) ni<(--)).
    lete, kin
    The rotation of the asterisk shape isn't important. In some cases it may be written with four intersecting lines instead of three, and in kin some people reduce the asterisk to an x shape.
    linja, kon, telo, pakala, mun
    Can be mirrored
    akesi, pipi, soweli
    The amount of legs is sometimes reduced. Especially in combined glyphs, fewer legs may be drawn to reduce density.
    The part representing the Toki Pona symbol on the cover of lipu ku can range anywhere from a simple dot to a full Toki Pona symbol.

    Alternative glyphs[edit | edit source]

    For various reasons, people have designed new glyphs for words that already have them. The Esperanto translation of the official book includes drawings of these.

    Mirrored glyph of anpa (anpa): Sewi alt - sitelen pona tan lipu pu pi toki Epelanto.png. Not very common, but listed by ku. Alternatively, it has been suggested elsewhere to use other religious symbols, with the possible downside of being less legible.
    2 strokes for legs instead of 3: Akesi alt - sitelen pona tan lipu pu pi toki Epelanto.png
    Both sin with an extra line below (Namako 1 - sitelen pona tan lipu pu pi toki Epelanto.png) and a hot pepper with emitter lines above, Namako 2 - sitelen pona tan lipu pu pi toki Epelanto.png, are featured side-by-side.
    4 different drawings are included: Jaki alts - sitelen pona tan lipu pu pi toki Epelanto.png

    Other somewhat common variations include:

    Adding 2 dots for eyes
    epiku, kokosila, lanpan
    Although there is a more widely accepted glyph for each of these, their glyphs are relatively recent and have had more than one shape, so older versions are still in use.
    meli, mije
    Some fonts include the planetary gender symbols (♀, ♂) as an option to avoid glyphs based on physical stereotypes, and possibly by analogy to tonsi. This seems to be a minority usage, compared to gendern't philosophy, which avoids meli and mije regardless of glyph choice.
    Closed to become a turned heart, a mirror image of pilin (pilin). While the separation of the line endings varies in handwriting, the turned heart shape is most likely influenced by sitelen pona pona (a script derived from sitelen pona). Most differences in sitelen pona pona are rejected by sitelen pona users, but some of the forms occasionally slip in when writers feel like introducing oddities.
    The stem varies from a closed round rectangular shape, to a vertical line, sometimes with a horizontal stroke for an annulus. The line variants are meant to avoid confusion with mama.

    Mirrored glyphs[edit | edit source]

    When writing sitelen pona from right to left, some speakers recommend that all glyphs should be mirrored vertically, so li's > becomes <, and so on. Right to left sitelen pona is uncommon however, so there's no truly set practice for it.

    Resources[edit | edit source]

    A pattern of neon sitelen pona glyphs, inspired by 1990s galaxy-print carpeting

    Learning resources[edit | edit source]

    Dictionaries[edit | edit source]

    Fonts[edit | edit source]

    ijo Linku maintains a comprehensive list of all fonts.

    Fonts that support ligatures can be used as a learning tool. If you type a supported word correctly, the font will turn it into a sitelen pona glyph. Building this connection between pronounceable sitelen Lasina spellings and visually meaningful sitelen pona ideographs can also help you memorize the meanings of words.

    Text encoding[edit | edit source]

    As of July 2023, there is no official Unicode support for sitelen pona. The UCSUR is used instead.

    sitelen pona

    Under-ConScript Unicode Registry

      0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 A B C D E F
    U+F190x 󱤀 󱤁 󱤂 󱤃 󱤄 󱤅 󱤆 󱤇 󱤈 󱤉 󱤊 󱤋 󱤌 󱤍 󱤎 󱤏
    U+F191x 󱤐 󱤑 󱤒 󱤓 󱤔 󱤕 󱤖 󱤗 󱤘 󱤙 󱤚 󱤛 󱤜 󱤝 󱤞 󱤟
    U+F192x 󱤠 󱤡 󱤢 󱤣 󱤤 󱤥 󱤦 󱤧 󱤨 󱤩 󱤪 󱤫 󱤬 󱤭 󱤮 󱤯
    U+F193x 󱤰 󱤱 󱤲 󱤳 󱤴 󱤵 󱤶 󱤷 󱤸 󱤹 󱤺 󱤻 󱤼 󱤽 󱤾 󱤿
    U+F194x 󱥀 󱥁 󱥂 󱥃 󱥄 󱥅 󱥆 󱥇 󱥈 󱥉 󱥊 󱥋 󱥌 󱥍 󱥎 󱥏
    U+F195x 󱥐 󱥑 󱥒 󱥓 󱥔 󱥕 󱥖 󱥗 󱥘 󱥙 󱥚 󱥛 󱥜 󱥝 󱥞 󱥟
    U+F196x 󱥠 󱥡 󱥢 󱥣 󱥤 󱥥 󱥦 󱥧 󱥨 󱥩 󱥪 󱥫 󱥬 󱥭 󱥮 󱥯
    U+F197x 󱥰 󱥱 󱥲 󱥳 󱥴 󱥵 󱥶 󱥷 󱥸 󱥹 󱥺 󱥻 󱥼 󱥽 󱥾 󱥿
    U+F198x 󱦀 󱦁 󱦂 󱦃 󱦄 󱦅 󱦆 󱦇 󱦈
    U+F199x 󱦐 󱦑 󱦒 󱦓 󱦔 󱦕 󱦖 󱦗 󱦘 󱦙 󱦚 󱦛 󱦜 󱦝
    U+F19Ax 󱦠 󱦡 󱦢 󱦣

    See also[edit | edit source]