Thursday, February 23, 2017

tp FAQ 9 What is the point of toki pona?

What is the point of tp?

Well, first and foremost, it is fun and exhilarating.  You can learn a language in a few days and become a master at it in a few weeks! You are challenged to express yourself in new ways.  If you  meet those challenge, you have the thrill of triumph. If you don't, no harm done and try again.     Then challenged again to do it in ways that not only satisfy you but are understood by others.  You see new connections and new meanings in old experiences as you express them in a new language.  And, perhaps, you see more clearly and shed some baggage in the process.  All pleasant and exciting.

But once you get into the language, you want to work with it according to your personality and interests.  One common path, associated with writers and anthropologists in various ways, is to reconstruct or imagine the culture and life of the native speakers of the language, based on the language, surface and deep.  Different people may come up with different societies and lives, of course, but each has to account for various facts about the language.  For example, the negative words outnumber the positive  (ike, jaki, pakala, moli, monsuta versus pona, olin, musi, for one list).  Nature words are not very precise, but neither are the words of advanced technologies, nor even of agriculture.  Commercial words are limited to one that still means "flock" and another for barter. The family is present and apparently important but society beyond that is unclear, though the presence of coercion is suggested by 'wile', while other factors suggest egalitarianism.  Here, then, is a field for creative work (all the factors mentioned can be emphasized or explained away, for instance).  

Closely related to this use in theory but very different in practice is applying tp in everyday life here and now.  Try to describe and interact in your present situation using only the basics of tp.  In the process, you may notice that some things that seemed important in English disappear or that overlooked factors rise to prominence.  In particular, things stressed by social custom may be downplayed, physical realities may assume a more pressing role.  Or the opposite may appear.  In particular, your examination of your own role and actions may take on a new light, and, correspondingly, so may those of others toward you.   Generally, whatever it may be, your life takes on a new perspective, in which your action take on a different value, even different possibilities.  

Or, rather than an artlang or a pyschlang, you may think of tp as an engilang, designed to see how much one can do with how little content and structure.  The aim then is to be able to say in tp anything you can say in English (or whatever) and in a reasonably economical fashion.  This is not merely  -- or not even -- a matter of finding tp expressions for all English words.  It is rather a matter of saying in context in tp whatever can be said in a similar context in English and in a not too terribly more complex way.  This involves a long-term effort, for building a context for a particular piece often involves building at least the skeleton of a literary tradition (romantic poetry, quantum physics, crime reports, ...) on which to build the particular case. Presumably, one occasionally finds a brick wall that (at least for now) no one can see a way around.  One has then either to propose some addition to tp (large number -- bigger than three, say -- spring to mind) or set the topic aside as presently unachievable, and, in either case,  note the discovery of an (apparent) limitation.   

I pass over the use to tp as an auxlang, since no one seems to press for that and there obvious problems that offset it ease for learning.  

So, here are three uses for tp.

And fun, of course.  

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for your blog, love it! As a toki pona beginner, I really appreciate your personal thoughts on, and in depth discussions of the language.