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my weird deviations in toki pona

like most toki ponists, there are a few things i do in my nasin that don’t match up with what is done by most toki ponists. in my experience, my personal deviations are easy to understand from the perspective of other toki ponists, they make sense within the philosophy, and they aren’t imports from english, which are the three things that matter to me when deciding weather or not to use a nasin.

At the beginning of every weird thing I do, I will provide how most people do it instead/what is most common. I would also like to make clear that I’m not recommending that people adopt these changes. They can if they want, but this document shouldn’t serve as encouragement.

modifying prepositions and preverbs

I like to modify my prepositions and preverbs with words that aren’t ala. In pu, preverbs and prepositions are both modified directly with ala in this fashion: “mi ken ala mu.” “mi tawa ala tomo sina.” However, no other words are used here. Common use reflects this most of the time, but a significant amount of toki ponists break this trend by modifying prepositions in some way using a word that isn't ala.

This usage started with simply modifying prepositions and preverbs with words that weren’t ala. “mi wile mute lon poka sina” “mi tawa wawa sina.” Eventually I realized that it made sense to put a little a in between the modifiers of the preposition/preverb and the object/verb. “mi ken wawa a pali e lipu” “mi kepeken mute a ilo ni.”

Now this is a normal part of my nasin. I polled the community and the majority of toki ponists surveyed reported that they could understand me. I don’t think I can explain why I started doing this or why I like using a at all, but I do it and I like it too. I’d also like to clarify that a is not serving as a grammatical particle or a marker here.

my usage of waso and kala

Before I explain my usage, I’d like to clarify that my usage of waso and kala is, while in some ways close common, not the most popular, and in some places is close to unique. Because of this I will start by describing the most common usage of waso, based on poll data from ma pona pi toki pona.1

Most commonly, waso is used by nearly every speaker to describe a flying bird. waso is often used by some speakers to describe flying vehicles or other things that are animate that fly of their own ability, and waso is also often used to describe flightless birds that vibe as closer to waso than other toki pona animal words. The usage of kala reflects this in my experience, but for fish instead of birds.

In my usage of waso, a waso is anything in the air, in addition to its other meanings. If I throw a frisbee, it’s a waso. If I push a house off a mountain, it’s a waso. At least until it hits the ground.

In my usage of kala, anything that’s in the water is a kala. When I take a shower or go swimming, I’m a kala. When I drop my book in the water, it’s a kala.

In general I think this nasin is well understood and is very funny. It’s funny to point at my book sinking into the depths and say “hehe fish lmao.” This should be widely understood because it works well within context. I can’t say I recommend this nasin, simply because it isn’t common, and I recommend that learners try to use the most common nasins of toki pona. But this can be a fun deviation that doesn’t hinder communication.

  1. if you’re on ma pona pi toki pona, the poll referenced can be found here. ↩︎