Toki Pona: The Conlang and the Conculture

Conlang is a constructed language.  Conculture is a constructed culture.  Obvious examples would be Klingon the language and Klingon the warrior’s way of life.  The conculture lets you know how to approach issues like pleasantries.  For example, Klingons don’t say good-bye, they get up and leave.   They don’t say hello, the demand in an irritated tone of voice, “What do you want?!”

The culture of speakers of conlangs is the culture of the international community of college educated people with class, rank and wealth sufficient to have leisure time, education and a high speed internet connection. In the absence of a conculture, a conlanguage will pander to the existing values, mores and customs of this group.

Specificity.

Some Australian languages show politeness by using specific words when ever possible (Language, R.L Trask, 2nd Ed, pg 136)  This is interesting for toki pona because it isn’t really a conculture, yet it is developing some features of one.  In particular there is a preference for speaking in broad categories, even when words exist to narrow down what you are talking about.

Proverbs

The official site poses some brief discussion of the cultural values of toki pona.  The corpus, particularly the proverbs provide some more linguistic ‘culture.‘  However, it hard to differentiate between an opinion, which could be expressed equally in any language and an description of the conculture of simplicity.

sona pona li sona sewi ala. ona li sona mute ale.  

This implies prestige speech is discouraged. In English prestige speech is stuff like using long words and carefully pronouncing the g in “-ing”.  I am certain this has not been picked up by the online community.  As soon as we stop talking in toki pona, it is big word city, note what I said before about what kind of people typically actually do try to learn conlangs.

wile sona li mute e sona.  

This implies direct questioning is polite.  I haven’t seen any patterns to prove this has been picked up on, maybe because the literal translation is “desire of knowledge increase it”, while the official translation is “One learns by asking questions.”

In my personal opinion, I think the conlang culture of any conlang should be the culture of those who are likely to speak it.

2 thoughts on “Toki Pona: The Conlang and the Conculture

  1. In what dialect is carefully pronouncing the g in “-ing” considered prestigious? I confess I’m baffled by that. Or do you mean saying, e.g., “saying” instead of “sayin’”? But there’s not a g-sound per se, but the ng-sound. Pronouncing the g “click” sound itself (like “sayink” instead of “saying” is a problem with many Polish speakers learning English, for instance.