Toki Pona: Vocabulary Tips & Tricks for English Speakers

Toki pona has about as many base words as some languages have letters.  Not surprisingly, many words are compound words and phrases. Even though a pair of word is being consistently being used a single meme, it still has spaces between the words.  I would not be surprised if there was a household speaking this, that over time words like toki pona would be morphed into to-ki-po-na, or even possibly to-kip-o-na, which guarantees the listener can tell that it is a compound word referring to the constructed language and not the base meaning of “a good talk”

English Cognates

As an English speaker you get several words almost for free, although to catch some near cognates, you have to transliterate the English word into toki pona phonetics. 

toki pona English English Cognate
en and and
pona good bonus
insa inside inside
jaki filthy yuccky
jelo yellow yellow
kala fish calamari
kalama noise calamity, clamor
kama come come
ken can, able can
kili fruit Kiwi fruit
lawa lead law
lili small little
linja line line
lukin look, see look
lupa hole loop
mama parent mama
mani money money
meli girl Mary
mi I, me, self me
mu moo, meow moo
mun moon moon
musi recreation, fun amuse
mute many many, multi-
nanpa number number
nimi name, word name
open open, turn on open
pilin feel feeling
sama same same
suno sun, light sun
sike circle, go around cycle, cyclical
suwi sweet, candy sweet
toki talk, speak, say talk
tu two two
wan one, single one
supa horizontal supine

walo is a false English cognate, it means white, not wall.

Russian Cognates

noka     n leg, foot : Russian cognate: “nog”  =leg
ona      he, she, it  Russian cogante: “Ona” = she
palisa    stick  Russian cognate: “Paltsi” = stick, finger
telo       water.   This is a false Russian cognate, it does not mean body!
poka     side.  This is a false Russian cognate, it does not mean goodbye!

Spanish Cognates

pona       good, Spanish cognate: “bona”=good
tan        so, Spanish cognate: “tan”=so
pana       give,  This is a false Spanish cognate, does not mean bread!
sin       new,  This is a false Spanish cognate: doesn’t mean without!

Esperanto Cognates

taso     only, but  This is a false cognate, it doesn’t mean cup!

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