Toki Pona: Ike Mute and Math

From the canon, precise numbers are bad and the grammatically correct way to say 101 is

tu tu tu tu tu tu tu tu tu tu tu tu tu tu tu tu tu tu tu tu
tu tu tu tu tu tu tu tu tu tu tu tu tu tu tu tu tu tu tu tu
tu tu tu tu tu tu tu tu tu tu tu tu tu tu tu tu tu tu tu tu
tu tu tu tu tu tu tu tu tu tu tu tu tu tu tu tu tu tu tu tu
tu tu tu tu tu tu tu tu tu tu tu tu tu tu tu tu tu tu tu tu wan

Which of course is laughable and it’s better to say ‘mute’. The traditional Tokiponans call innovations to remedy this, “ike-mute.” Ike-mute appears to be idiomatic and derogatory for speaking with excessive complexity. Maybe it just means, verbose as opposed to conversational.

So, with the understanding that we are talking mostly about super formal, more verbose than normal tokipona, I’m proposing some Toki Pona numbers, 1 to 100. They are remarkably efficient and stick to the general spirit of Toki-pona.

Irregulars. Luka means five, pona-ojo means lucky 7, nanpa kulupu means ten, nanpa kulupu mute means 100, and the number before 100 is nanpa kulupu mute anpa, or 99. For a Tokiponan to talk about real estate in the DC area, they will need some more irregular numbers

Luka is like ‘ain’t’ It ain’t in the dictionary, at least not in the sense of ‘five’. Tokiponans are proud people and don’t want outsider’s to think that they still count on their hands.

The base three method of counting 5 is tu-tu-wan, nine is tu-tu-tu-tu-wan. Base three starts getting really silly around 10 and 100 will have you ROTFL. With the above modifications, you can count to 100 with at worst a two dozen character word (not counting the optional nanpa).

The split between orders of magnitude is indicated by ‘en’, so 78 is 7 and 8. This is distinguished from addition because summation is indicated by the verb ‘li wan’

(note, I machine generated this and the program had some bugs, so check for common sense)

1 = nanpa wan, [3 chars]
2 = nanpa tu, [2 chars]
3 = nanpa tu-wan, [6 chars]
4 = nanpa tu-tu, [5 chars]
5 = nanpa luka, [4 chars]
6 = nanpa luka-wan, [8 chars]
7 = nanpa pona-ijo, [8 chars]
8 = nanpa luka-tu, [7 chars]
9 = nanpa kulupu-anpa, [11 chars]
10 = nanpa kulupu, [6 chars]
11 = nanpa wan en wan, [10 chars]
12 = nanpa wan en tu, [9 chars]
13 = nanpa wan en tu-wan, [13 chars]
14 = nanpa wan en tu-tu, [12 chars]
15 = nanpa wan en luka, [11 chars]
16 = nanpa wan en luka-wan, [15 chars]
17 = nanpa wan en pona-ijo, [15 chars]
18 = nanpa wan en luka-tu, [14 chars]
19 = nanpa tu en ala anpa,
20 = nanpa tu en ala, [9 chars] — also “luka ale”, i.e. all toes and fingers
21 = nanpa tu en wan, [9 chars]
22 = nanpa tu en tu, [8 chars]
23 = nanpa tu en tu-wan, [12 chars]
24 = nanpa tu en tu-tu, [11 chars]
25 = nanpa tu en luka, [10 chars]
26 = nanpa tu en luka-wan, [14 chars]
27 = nanpa tu en pona-ijo, [14 chars]
28 = nanpa tu en luka-tu, [13 chars]
29 = nanpa tu-wan en ala anpa, [10 chars]
30 = nanpa tu-wan en ala, [13 chars]
31 = nanpa tu-wan en wan, [13 chars]
32 = nanpa tu-wan en tu, [12 chars]
33 = nanpa tu-wan en tu-wan, [16 chars]
34 = nanpa tu-wan en tu-tu, [15 chars]
35 = nanpa tu-wan en luka, [14 chars]
36 = nanpa tu-wan en luka-wan, [18 chars]
37 = nanpa tu-wan en pona-ijo, [18 chars]
38 = nanpa tu-wan en luka-tu, [17 chars]
39 = nanpa tu-tu en ala anpa,
40 = nanpa tu-tu en ala,
41 = nanpa tu-tu en wan,
42 = nanpa tu-tu en tu,
43 = nanpa tu-tu en tu-wan,
44 = nanpa tu-tu en tu-tu,
45 = nanpa tu-tu en luka,
46 = nanpa tu-tu en luka-wan,
47 = nanpa tu-tu en pona-ijo,
48 = nanpa tu-tu en luka-tu,
49 = nanpa luka en ala anpa,
50 = nanpa luka en ala,
51 = nanpa luka en wan,
52 = nanpa luka en tu,
53 = nanpa luka en tu-wan,
54 = nanpa luka en tu-tu,
55 = nanpa luka en luka,
56 = nanpa luka en luka-wan,
57 = nanpa luka en pona-ijo,
58 = nanpa luka en luka-tu,
59 = nanpa luka-wan en ala anpa,
60 = nanpa luka-wan en ala,
61 = nanpa luka-wan en wan,
62 = nanpa luka-wan en tu,
63 = nanpa luka-wan en tu-wan,
64 = nanpa luka-wan en tu-tu,
65 = nanpa luka-wan en luka,
66 = nanpa luka-wan en luka-wan,
67 = nanpa luka-wan en pona-ijo,
68 = nanpa luka-wan en luka-tu,
69 = nanpa pona-ijo en ala anpa,
70 = nanpa pona-ijo en ala,
71 = nanpa pona-ijo en wan,
72 = nanpa pona-ijo en tu,
73 = nanpa pona-ijo en tu-wan,
74 = nanpa pona-ijo en tu-tu,
75 = nanpa pona-ijo en luka,
76 = nanpa pona-ijo en luka-wan,
77 = nanpa pona-ijo en pona-ijo,
78 = nanpa pona-ijo en luka-tu,
79 = nanpa luka-tu-wan en ala anpa,
80 = nanpa luka-tu-wan en ala,
81 = nanpa luka-tu-wan en wan,
82 = nanpa luka-tu-wan en tu,
83 = nanpa luka-tu-wan en tu-wan,
84 = nanpa luka-tu-wan en tu-tu,
85 = nanpa luka-tu-wan en luka,
86 = nanpa luka-tu-wan en luka-wan,
87 = nanpa luka-tu-wan en pona-ijo,
88 = nanpa luka-tu-wan en luka-tu,
89 = nanpa luka-tu-tu en ala anpa,
90 = nanpa luka-tu-tu en ala,
91 = nanpa luka-tu-tu en wan,
92 = nanpa luka-tu-tu en tu,
93 = nanpa luka-tu-tu en tu-wan,
94 = nanpa luka-tu-tu en tu-tu,
95 = nanpa luka-tu-tu en luka,
96 = nanpa luka-tu-tu en luka-wan,
97 = nanpa luka-tu-tu en pona-ijo,
98 = nanpa luka-tu-tu en luka-tu,
99 = nanpa kulupu-mute anpa,
100 = nanpa kulupu-mute,


The Tokiponans have been getting ripped off by credit card companies, whose interest rates all seem to be mute mute. In the interest of improving the communities financial well being, here’s enough to get through some basic math.

In a different context, these phrases may have other meanings. Discovering those alternate meanings is an exercise left to the reader.

Some operations use numbers in the name, so the verbose style requires putting nanpa before each number.

Add – li wan, literally, unite

Subtract – li anpa, literally difference

Multiply – li unpa, literally multiple (as in go forth an multiply)

Divide – li tu, literally split

Exponentiation — li wawa, literally empower

Natural Logarithm – li palisa, from palisa, “stick, rod”


To represent fractions, either use the verb for division, li tu, or emphasize the fractional nature of with pakala.

nanpa luka-wan pakala nanpa wan = 2/7 , 7 break 2


luka-wan pakala e wan– conversational

Decimals – decimal point = sike…

nanpa wan sike nanpa wan en luka = 1.15

Equals – lon

Nanpa wan li wan nanpa wan lon nanpa tu– verbose

Wan en wan kama tu– conversational

[Update: there are at least two additional proposals for numbers and operations, one in French and one on the yahoo mailing list]

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6 thoughts on “Toki Pona: Ike Mute and Math

  1. I’m sure that was a fun exercise for you, but it looks like you’re completely missing the whole idea behind Toki Pona: simplicity.

    You might think that your number scheme is “simple” but you need some complex assumptions to make it work. You’re describing a positional, semi-decimal number system represented as most significant digit first, like trying to do Roman numerals with only zero, “I” and “V”. It’s actually *more* complicated than modern numbers.

    I know that the idea of living without numbers seems bizarre, but people have actually done it. Some are still doing it. Granted, this tribe of about 300 in the Amazon isn’t ideal in any sense, but the point is that numbers aren’t absolutely necessary. Numbers are inherently complicated. Numbers are “ike”.

    Try simplifying further. How important is the actual number? What are you really trying to say? I bet you can get to the heart of the matter *without* numbers.

    By the way, “luka” (hand) is not a number.
    That’s been officially depreciated for quite some time.

  2. nanpa mute li ike mute.

    In the design of Toki Pona, numbers weren’t neglected, they were *rejected*.

    Even using “luka” as the number five has been officially depreciated. Please, don’t do that.

    The words “wan” and “tu” aren’t really numbers either. “wan” is unity, wholeness, oneness and such. “tu” is duality, division, splitting, apartness, etc. That’s why the word “nanpa” exists, so that I can say “nanpa wan” (“the quantity of unity”, 1) or “nanpa tu” (“the quantity of duality”, 2).

  3. Sonja rejected it not me. You can invent a language and tell me not to talk about mathematics, but you can’t stop me. As has been said many times on the internet, the challenge to toki pona will be to be expressive enough to discourage people from making up words and using them instead of sticking to the official vocabulary.

    I will use the number that you use for five if you use it enough. I won’t respond to a polite request to stop talking about the concept five. luka tenpo ni mi toki e ni! (I’ll say it five times!)

    Wan and tu might not be numbers, but using them sticks to the spirit of a small vocabulary language, even if it doesn’t replicate Jan Sonja’s distaste for arithmetic.

    I think a better slogan for toki pona might be:

    toki li ike mute. To talk (at all) is excessive complexity.

  4. I am not opposed nor for this concept. While I will probably not use it myself, I give no commands and cannot stop you from using it. Making up words is what people do. Making up words is what children do. Inventing words in the face of necessity has been exercised across recorded history. So has substitution of various concepts with already-existing words.

    I think it’s pretty neat that he is being inventive. I think using toki pona does not forbid you from thinking in thoughts more complex than one and two. Bravo.

    But as for myself, when it is necessary to say something that cannot be expressed in toki pona, or cannot be said in toki pona without a whole string of words of ridiculous length, I will say the English words, because the people I’m communicating with typically have English as their first language, or at least English is an established common language.

  5. Well,the number you give is 201, which probably makes your point again. ‘ike mute’ is literal for “very complicated” and thus derogatory by culture. ‘luka’ is in the dictionary, with the meaning “five,” but labeled as discouraged, even derogated. ‘ojo’ on the other hand, ain’t in the dictionary (‘ain’t’ generally is, in English, btw)’ilo,’ ijo’ ‘oko’? Nothing that suggests lucky 7, by the way (and, of course, seven’s luck is variable). The rest is indeed ike mute.
    If “big” numbers are to be introduced into tp (and there are a few places where we do need them, aside from countless cases where we could use them, though we can get by without), the following conditions almost certainly apply: the numeration is in decimal place notation, the structure of the numeration is different from the structure using ‘ala, wan, tu, mute’ even mmayb ‘luka, ale,’ the words involved are not tp words but borrowed from some stock and used adjectively. It would also help to allow various shortcuts and to cover all the practically needed cases in E+/-42 or so. Until something in this pattern appears, nothing is going to catch on.