Hobbies in everything

Is this a Mengerian spontaneous order story, or not?:

Kisa, 28, a student and translator in Toronto, decided to create her
own language, something simple that would help clarify her thinking. 
She called it Toki Pona — "good language" — and gave it just 120
words.

"Ale li pona," she told herself. "Everything will be OK."

Kisa eventually sorted through her thoughts and, to her great surprise,
her little language took off, with more than 100 speakers today,
singing Toki Pona songs, writing Toki Pona poems and chatting with Toki
Pona words.

It’s all part of a weirdly Babel-esque boom of new languages.  Once the
private arena of J.R.R. Tolkien, Esperanto speakers and grunting
Klingon fanatics, invented languages have flourished on the Internet
and begun creeping into the public domain.

The website Langmaker.com lists more than 1,000 language inventors and 1,902 made-up languages, from `Ayvárith to Zyem.

The language inventors have, of course, created a word to describe what they do — "conlang," short for constructed languages.

Here is the full story.  Here is a word list for Toki Pona.  Here are general resources.  The language has only a few dozen proverbs but one of them is nasin mami li ike, or "capitalism is negative."  There are by far more words about sex than anything else ("Kisa created Toki Pona as an exercise in minimalism, looking for the core vocabulary that is necessary to communicate"), and here is how the countries have been renamed.

Sadly: "Some want to express complicated thoughts in Toki Pona, running counter to its design."

Comments

Oh no, I wish I'd thought of Toki Pona first ... pakala!

There are a zillion programming languages too. Once in a while some obscure language invented by an amateur booms. That's what happened with Ruby, a programming language invented by a Japanese student in the early 90s, and now one of the most important programming languages. It's what Twitter is programmed in, for example.

"Some want to express complicated thoughts in Toki Pona, running counter to its design."

So, it's the perfect language for Airstrip One. I think George Orwell already said all that needs to be said about that.

I think Franklin hit it. This particular concept (as opposed to invented languages in general) sounds disturbing. Simplification is not costless.

Sadly: "Some want to express complicated thoughts in Toki Pona, running counter to its design."

What's Toki Pona for "Math is hard!"?

I wonder if Roald Dahl knew "unpa lupa" really meant "sexual door"

This particular concept (as opposed to invented languages in general) sounds disturbing. Simplification is not costless.

http://stronsay.ldc.upenn.edu/myl/llog/wc072.gif

This really does look silly.

nasin - n way, manner, custom, road, path, doctrine, system, method

ike - mod bad, negative, wrong, evil, overly complex, (figuratively) unhealthy
interj oh dear! woe! alas!
n negativity, badness, evil
vt to make bad, to worsen, to have a negative effect upon
vi to be bad, to suck

mani - n money, material wealth, currency, dollar, capital

So nasin mami li ike could mean:
A) The growth path sucks.
B) Material wealth is wrong.
C) Monetary policy is too complex.
D) Marxism is evil. (I imagine he'd have objected if you said his philosophy didn't have anything to do with material wealth.)
E) There should be multiple reserve currencies. ["Dollar system is bad"]
F) I'm a Gold Bug! ["Dollar road is unhealthy"]

How many Lojbanists does it take to change a broken light bulb?

Having amused myself over several years debating with the President of the Logical Language Group--levels of self-unawareness rarely found outside the Angry Bear--I think the question would be how many Lojbanists would it take to figure out the lightbulb IS broken?

Hen hao, yourself? :^)

Correct me if I'm wrong, but Chinese dialects in particular are tonal in nature. You can goof up the tone you use, of course, but in theory there is no ambiguity. I don't think that's the case, here. She talks about using "context" to connect with your surroundings, but that sounds like a recipe for misunderstanding anything but the most trivial of conversations.

thanks to capitalism people have time to do stupid things like that.Since they dont have to grow their own food.


Chinese language only has about 600 "words": everything else is built via compounds or borrowings.

This is utter nonsense. Pick up a Chinese dictionary or a Chinese-English dictionary, and you will find many tens of thousands of dictionary entries, not much different than English. Nearly all of those dictionary entries are words, a small percentage are four-character phrases (chengyu).

Two-syllable words (as most of them are) are not "compounds", they are words. Even if you are using some weird idiosyncratic definition of "word" that only includes one-character words, there are hardly only 600.

Although Chinese text is written without spaces between characters to delimit words, in practice this makes no difference. If desired for pedagogical purposes, spaces can be put in.

Three points and a recommendation:

1.) "Math is hard." = "nasin nanpa li ike."
(Number-method is complicated.) I don't know what that other commenter was doing with "ike la...". That's just, well, "ike mute".

2.) There are *NOT* a lot of words about sex in Toki Pona. There is only one, single word about it: "unpa". All the Toki Pona phrases listed on the "Sex" word-list page are just illustrations of how one might express those concepts. The fact that Sonja came up with more examples of how to say things about sex may only indicate that it was an area of particular interest for her at the time.

3.) The simplification and generalization of the Toki Pona mindset is not intended to be a substitute for complex thought. It's meant to be a tool for gaining insight by taking a step back from the complexity. Like the first astronauts who looked back at the earth from the moon and had the epiphany that all our quarreling peoples are living on a little blue ball in a big black space, just so rendering one's thoughts into Toki Pona can bring you to see the obvious thing you've been missing.

For example, "jan pona" is "friend and "jan ike" is "enemy" ... but you can't say either one in Toki Pona without saying "jan"; which is "person". Compare that to the dehumanizing words that are used for promoting war, like "terrorists".

Recommendation:
Try learning Toki Pona. (jan Pije's lessons are good.)
Then try translating some of the things you're thinking about... news, problems, wishes, etc. Breaking things down into their basic elements can help you to see what things really are instead of being distracted by complicated modifiers.

Thank you, 11:33:57 PM. Many people believe weird things about Chinese. One could certainly argue that Chinese allows for more ambiguity, simply because the structure of Chinese allows vague statements to be formed quite naturally, whereas in English, vague statements are often awkward and conspicuous. Additionally the vast corpus of Chinese literature allows a single phrase to invoke a host of previous usages. This is most apparent in Taiwan and HK, where classical literacy is commonplace.

With regards to Toki Pona ... what an infantile response to the demands of the real world. I can see how creating languages could be fun, and conversing with other people in a conlang could be novel, but please, don't think that because you speak a language where complex and bad are the same word, that somehow you live on a higher moral plane the the rest of us.

(6:40:55 AM) "Breaking things down into their basic elements can help you to see what things really are instead of being distracted by complicated modifiers."
Please... deliberate obfuscation as the window to truth?

(7:14:23 AM) "Unless you see numbers as shapes or colors like Daniel Tammet, your mind probably doesn't really understand numbers beyond the concepts of "none", "single", "dual", "many", and "all""
True, but language gives that ability. Once civilization established what 234,743 was, we can understand and communicate that concept instantly. Language allows us to hold and manipulate complex ideas in our mind. "Greater viscosity reduces fluid flow for any given pipe diameter and base pressure." "Ground ball to second on a 1-2 pitch." To restrict yourself to Toki Pona is to reduce your intelligence to that of a toddler. Refreshing and novel, perhaps, but nothing more.

Once the private arena of J.R.R. Tolkien, Esperanto speakers and grunting Klingon fanatics, invented languages have flourished on the Internet and begun creeping into the public domain

Except Tolkien, who expired before it's creation, if there's any place the groups mentioned tend to congregate, it's the internet.

I actually attempted to come up with a constructed language in high school that would allow anything written in another language to be translated into that language without any loss of meaning. The idea was that it could merge existing languages by using the nouns and infinitive verbs of any other language and using a standard set of prefixes to express all the different tenses of verbs and or transform verbs and nouns into adjectives and adverbs. It would be simple for someone who knew a language to translate that language to the constructed language, where reading things originating in different languages would simply be a matter of vocabulary.

I don't see why all the people here seem to think that the point of conlanging is to create universal languages. I work on one as a simple hobby, it's interesting and it really teaches you about how language works in a way that learning a foreign language (Or even English) can't measure up to.

It's a good crash course in linguistics if you know what you're doing. You run into problems, see why things become irregular. You take chances, and some work and others require a bit of work.

As far as Toki Pona is concerned... Well, it's meant to put across the idea that complex things are made out of simple things. But in that it stops being a Conlang and it's starts being an Artificial Language. It's meant to put across an idea, while being easy to learn; it's not meant to mimic a real living language with complexity in imperfection.

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