Toki Pona Check List, Public Draft 1

Toki Pona Check List

  1. - Does it have a “li” somewhere? If not, is the subject mi or sina?
  2. - Does mi or sina have modifiers?  Check if the modifiers could be intelligble confused with verbs.
  3. - Is a question, does it have “li” (verb) anu (verb)  or an “anu seme” tag?
  4. - Do all the “pi” phrases have 2 words after it?
  5. - If you have 3 or more words in a noun phrase, does it need a “pi” to reduce ambiguity?
  6. - Do you have an “e” before the object?  (Droping accusative markers is an Anglicism)
  7. - Do you have a “tawa” before indirect objects? (Droping dative markers is an Anglicism)
  8. Are nouns first and modifiers second?
  9. Did you put a tan phrase in the la phrase? If so try to move the tan phrase to the end.

if a then b  —> a la b

wrong* because of a then b  –> tan a la b

b because a  –> b tan a

  1. - Do proper modifiers have something to modify?
  2. - Are prepositional phrases at the end?
  3. - Can you move anything to the “la” phrase to simplify the main sentence?
  4. - Do you have two direct objects? Use the e (noun) e (noun) instead of e (noun) en (noun)
  5. - Do you have two verbs? Use the li (verb) li (verb) instead of li (verb) en (verb)
  6. - Are you talking to somone? Did you forget the vocative exists? (Dropping vocatives is an Anglicism)

Sticklers Check List

  1. - Are prepositions officially propositions in the canon?
  2. - Is that verb officially transitive (i.e. can take an “e” phrase)
  3. - Is that officially a verb, noun or modifier?

Spelling Check List

  1. - Did you confuse any of the minimal pairs? ale/ali, ilo/ijo, ko/kon, meli/moli, pini/pipi, kin/ken
  2. - Did you confuse the “e” and “i”  (in naive English pronunciation, many i and e’s in toki pona are pronounced as e.  E.g. kin, “next of kin”.  Ken, mans name, “beyond my ken”)
  3. - Did you confuse any final vowels? You brain knows that the final and internal vowels are superflous in most words, so expect mispellings there.
  4. - Are antecedants obvious? If not consider repeating the head of the noun phrase.

jan Mato en soweli pi linja uta li lon ni.  mi lukin e ona.   –>  jan Mato en soweli pi linja uta li lon ni.  mi lukin e soweli.

Style Check List

  1. - Are scales intellible (phoneme -> syllable -> word –> phrase –> sentence –> paragraph) is often expressed by larger and larger “kulupu nimi” and “kulupu kalama”
  2. - It can be parsed more than one way. Are there too many plausible ways to parse the sentence? Test by translating back into English after a day.
  3. - Is the sentence long? Can you break it into with “e ni” or “la” or a new sentence?
  4. - Does the preposition require a metaphor? If a less metaphorical preposition exists, use that. E.g. prefer a phrase with “pilin” over a metaphor for “EMOTION IS A PLACE”, e.g. “mi lon pilin ike”  (I’m *in* a bad mood)
  5. - Is a noun pair using synecdoche (part means whole) or metonymy (whole means part)?   Can you be less clever and refer to what you mean?
  6. - Is a noun phrase a convention or adapted to the current context?  a “friend list” on facebook can be translated with “jan pona” (good folk) or more descriptively “lipu mute pi jan mute” (pages of people)
  7. - Are you using eponyms? Can you use root words instead. Favor “telo pi lape ala” over “telo Sutobaku”
  8. - Would pronoun modifiers clarify anything?  If you do use pronoun modifiers are you introducing PIE-isms? (i.e. “mi li kute e sina mute” to mean, “I hear you, Sir” is a PIE-ism)
  9. - Would adverbs clarify anything?  Adverbs will make the verb phrase longer or end up in the “la” phrase.  Adverbs in the verb phrase can be confused with auxillary verbs.
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One thought on “Toki Pona Check List, Public Draft 1

  1. Excellent TP checklist. This will come in very handy for me to use before I post my TP translations. I find your TP posting on your blog, to be very helpful. Hopefully jan Sonja will deliver the TP text book in 2010 !