AFP 20 – Sonja Lang: Toki Pona, Conlanging and the meaning of life

Today is a very exciting episode on the Actual Fluency Podcast. Today I'm happy to present Sonja Lang, the creator of Toki Pona on the show. I had communicated briefly with Sonja over Facebook before meeting her in person in Berlin. The Toki Pona presentation, done by my friend Chris Huff, was one of the most popular ones so I KNEW I had to get Sonja on the show to pick her brain on languages, conlanging and Toki Pona of course.

Toki Pona is a constructed language that works like a pidgin, that is to say it is minimalist language with a vocabulary of only 120 words. This means that it is incredibly easy to learn, but it also lacks the finer details a full language can offer. I am going to learn Toki Pona this year after I'm done with my 3 month Esperanto challenge.

I hope you enjoy the interview with Sonja!

Toki Pona book giveaway

Sonja has generously decided to sponsor a copy of her newly published book on Toki Pona to a lucky listener. All you need to do to enter the competition is to write a comment below. The winning comment will be selected by Sonja, so make sure to make your comment special.

Ideas for comments: Language experiences that changed your life, life decisions based on languages. In general though, just be creative 🙂

The Episode

Show Notes

In this episode you will hear about:

  • How Sonja came up with Toki Pona
  • How she got into conlanging
  • Her other language experiences
  • How she used conlanging as a sort of meditation for the soul
  • Why she decided to study Finnish
  • And much more!

Resources mentioned in the Episode

Note: I've removed most of the resources from this section, as I always had Anki/Memrise etc. here every week. Now I will only put resources here that are very exclusive to the episode. For any other resource please go to the resource page here for more information.

  • Shawn

    Sweet, about to listen!

  • Marie

    Ok, why I should get the book (x-post from the tp facebook group incase you didn’t get it there) : mi wile mute sona e ante pi toki pona. / mi ken toki mute kin! taso mi wile jo e ona. / wile mi li wawa mute li sona mute e ni: / ona li pana e sona pona mute tawa mi! / mi sona kin e sona sin la mi kalama musi. / o sona e wile mi. jan ali o sona e ni: / mi jo e lipu mute ni la wawa mi li pona kin. / o pana e ni tawa mi! ni taso li nasin! (it works perfectly if you get the stress in the right places 🙂 .)

  • Jan

    Thanks for this podcast, Chris! You and Sonja really got me interested in toki pona. Also, I found out that my name is actually a word in the language. 🙂

  • Marie

    Not sure my response got through earlier. Here is is again: Ok, why I should get the book: mi wile mute sona e ante pi toki pona. / mi ken toki mute kin! taso mi wile jo e ona. / wile mi li wawa mute li sona mute e ni: / ona li pana e sona pona mute tawa mi! / mi sona kin e sona sin la mi kalama musi. / o sona e wile mi. jan ali o sona e ni: / mi jo e lipu mute ni la wawa mi li pona kin. / o pana e ni tawa mi! ni taso li nasin! (it works perfectly if you get the stress in the right places 🙂 .)

  • Oooh I want to join the give-away competition. I wanted to buy the book but unfortunately I was too late. All copies sold out 🙁

    I’m really interested in the concept of Toki Pona because currently I’m in the process of “decomplicating” my life and I guess Toki Pona could be both a good source of inspiration and a great tool of re-formulating complex things.

  • Hi Chris and Sonja!

    Just listened to the podcast and thought it was awesome. I have definitely noticed a surge in interest in Toki Pona within the last year or so, and I admit to having dabbled a bit myself. The concept is so simple, but I can imagine it could take a couple years to really get the hang of it. So much creativity at work.

    So Chris, I think I am going to give Toki Pona a shot in January after my Chinese and Indonesian missions are over. I think you mentioned wanting to have a go at it yourself once your Russian mission was over. I think it would be super cool if we could start around the same time and compare our progress. It would be a great way to compare and contrast learning styles and resources.

    Anyway, great stuff as always!

    Bill

  • Shawn Mac

    Never heard of Toki Pona until The Language Hour with Chris and Chris, when Huff mentioned it. Now I find out that the originator is a fellow Canadian, cool! I like the minimalist attitude and well 120 words should be relatively a breeze to conquer. Maybe I’ll shadow Mr. Actual Fluency when he gets into it after the Esperanto fling.

    Best,
    Shawn Mac (not that other Shawn – who has a great name, btw)

  • jan Milo

    o jan Sonja, o jan Kilisi!
    sina mute li toki la mi kute ali. linja kute ni li pona mute tawa mi. mi jo e pu. pu li pona tawa mi li pana e sona tawa mi. mi wile ala e pu pi nanpa tu. o sina pana e pu tawa jan ni; jan li wile e pu li jo ala e pu lon ma tomo Pelin. pona!
    jan Milo

  • Marie

    Ok, why I should get the book: mi wile mute sona e ante pi toki pona. / mi ken toki mute kin! taso mi wile jo e ona. / wile mi li wawa mute li sona mute e ni: / ona li pana e sona pona mute tawa mi! / mi sona kin e sona sin la mi kalama musi. / o sona e wile mi. jan ali o sona e ni: / mi jo e lipu mute ni la wawa mi li pona kin. / o pana e ni tawa mi! ni taso li nasin! (it works perfectly if you get the stress in the right places 🙂 .)

  • Jhois

    I can see how you would using creating your own language as a for of meditation as I do the same with studying languages. I used to have really bad anxiety and it plagued me for years. I found it calming to be able to whip out my phone and do an Anki deck or simply make up Spanish sentences in my head to calm myself down. Now if I ever fell anxious I can just start thinking in Spanish and everything else seems to disappear around me. As a result of using this to calm myself I have found many rewards and I think the biggest is all of the people I meet through my passion of learning languages.

    • Chris Broholm

      Thank you for the wonderful comment Jhois, language learning is really a form of personal therapy!

  • Pingback: TokiPonathon and the first Actual Fluency Meetup()