lesson 5 - Squid Game

Today we are going to practice storytelling.

Whether it’s an event, a dream, a lie, a joke or a movie, telling a story is something that we do every day in our communication.
We need to practice and we’re going to do it with jan Tepo and jan Itan. Together, we’re going to discuss a television series you’re bound to have heard of.

In this lesson, we will:

  1. make sure to understand what is important. (KUTE LI SONA)
  2. look at the tools of storytelling. (NASIN TOKI)
  3. look how to interact and give feedback. (TOKI E PILIN)
  4. practice reusing all this in our own sentences. (PALI SONA)

All answers (or suggested answers) are at the end of the page.


Before listening to the first excerpt, I suggest you imagine how you might begin a story… This is an important task because it is about setting the scene, creating the context that makes the story understandable. It’s also an opportunity to get your audience’s attention.

Try to translate the following catchphrases into Toki Pona:

  1. once upon a time…
  2. one day…
  3. A long time ago…
  4. The story takes place in a small village…
  5. The film is about a man who needs money.
  6. It’s the story of a family living in the North Pole…

Well, let’s take this opportunity to translate some movie titles into Toki Pona, shall we? Please, help me find better translations !

Appocalypse Now pakala moli suli pi tenpo ni
Parasite jan sama jaki lili
The Godfather mama lawa pi kulupu ike
Taxi Driver jan pi tomo tawa esun
Planet of Apes mun pi soweli jan
A clockwork Orange insa powe pi kili jelo loje
2001: A space Odyssey tawa suli pi tenpo kama lon kon sewi suli
Gone with the Wind tawa lon kon tawa
Lord of the Ring jan lawa pi sike lupa kiwen
The Shining wawa nasa
Star Wars mun pi utala mute
Some Like It Hot lon wawa li pona tawa mi
Fight clubs utala kulupu
Alien monsuta pi mun ante
Back to the Future kama sin lon tenpo kama

Now, answer these questions without even thinking in English!

  1. pona la, sitelen tawa pi nanpa wan li seme tawa sina?
  2. ni li tan seme?
  3. ona li tan ma seme?
  4. ona li toki e seme?
  5. sitelen tawa ike pi mute mute tawa sina li seme ?


Without further ado, let’s listen to today’s the first excerpt.

Kalama sin #4 80% speed


sitelen tawa a movie or something alike
kala ko sand fish –> squid
jan pi mani ala someone who doesn’t have money


Listen and try to answer these questions:

  1. What is the name of the movie?
  2. What is this movie mostly about?
  3. What are the two kinds of people involved?
  4. Which is the sentence that jan Tepo didn’t quite understand?
  5. In this sentence, which word is the problem?
  6. How do you understand it?


Did you catch how jan Tepo asks: what does it mean? ?
And how does he say: Ok, I get it! ?

Easy right? Now, let’s go further: Try to translate these sentences for yourself. Then, put the suggested answers in the right order.

  1. I didn’t understand.
  2. I didn’t understand everything.
  3. I didn’t understand anything.
  4. Can you repeat it?
  5. Can you repeat the beginning?
  6. Can you repeat from the beginning?
  7. Can you say it in English, please?
  8. Can you speak slowly?
  9. It is very clear.
  10. Sorry, I’m slow to understand!

(-) mi pilin ike tan ni: sona mi li wile tenpo suli.
(-) mi sona ala.
(-) sina ken ala ken toki e ni lon toki Inli?
(-) mi sona ala e ale.
(-) sina ken ala ken toki e ni kepeken tenpo suli?
(-) toki sina la, mi sona pona e ale.
(-) sina ken ala ken toki e open pi toki ni lon tenpo sin?
(-) sina ken ala ken toki e ni lon tenpo sin?
(-) mi sona e ale ala.
(-) sina ken ala ken toki e ale lon tenpo sin?



Kalama sin #4 80% speed


kama jo to obtain
nasin ante ken an other possible way
jan pi mani ala someone who doesn’t have money
… li lon … exists (there is)
jan wan one person
jan ante the others
pana / weka to give / to take away

Listen as many time as necessary and choose the most accurate abstract.

  1. People who don’t have money have only one way to get it. They have to play a sick game organized by rich and evil people.
  2. People who don’t have money have several way to get it. One of them is to play a sick game organized by rich and evil people.
  3. People who don’t have money have only one way to get it. They have to play an evil game against a group of rich people.


Interesting formulations :
jan li lon li jo ala e mani There were people who were penniless.
tan wile ni la,… because of this need,…
(…) ona li kepeken nasin ni tan ni: He did it this way for the following reason:…
nasin pi mute lili li lon There was no other solution
ona la, mani mute en wile ike li lon Not only he had money but also addictions.

Let’s try to use them in another context:

  1. There were children who weren’t going to school.
  2. Hunger drove him to eat his cat.
  3. I decided not to go for the following reason:
  4. I am sorry but I had no other choice.
  5. I had not only free time but also a lot of money.



Here is what I suggest for this excerpt:

  1. familiarize yourself with the vocabulary. It is very simple and the definitions are to be taken in the context of the podcast.
  2. Listen to the excerpt twice.
  3. Do exercise #5 while listening again.
  4. Translate in your language the first paragraphe. Then translate it back to toki pona.
  5. Applause yourself. It’s well deserved.


Kalama sin #4 80% speed


pana to give, to submit
jan lili kids, children
kulupu ike the mafia (or any group of bad people)
pakala lili to make a small mistake
wawa extreme, too much
tan seme? Why?
wile mute to have a great need of…
nasa weird, strange, unusual


Several interactions are to be studied here. Try to find out what they correspond to.

jI: (…) nasin tawa ni la, ona li pana e musi tu tawa jan mute pi mani ala, e musi lili e musi suli tawa ona. musi suli ni pi kulupu ike li sama musi pi jan lili. taso jan pi musi ni li musi la, ona li pakala lili la, ona li kama moli a!!
jT: moli! a! (1)
jI: lon, a a! (2)
jT: ni li wawa. (3)
jI: ni li musi wawa tan ni: (4) sina pakala la, sina moli.
jT: pakala lili la sina moli ale. (5) ni li… ni li wawa mute li ike wawa. (6)
jI: lon, lon. ona li ike.
jT: ni la jan li wile musi ni tan seme? (7)
jI: a a, tan ni: ona li wile mute e mani. sina sona e ni. (8)
jT: wile mani mi li lili la mi wile ala moli tan musi… (9)
jI: lon. taso, ona li ken ala pali e ijo ante. ona o pali e ni. (10)
jT: a. nasin ante ala la ona li ken kama e mani anu seme? (11) ni li nasa.
jI: nasa mute.

Communication Strategies :

• Attempting to reformulate the problem : 5
• Marking a step in the reasoning : 8
• Showing surprise : 1
• Highlighting a paradox : 7
• Exposing the paradox : 4
• Unraveling the paradox : 10
• Transposition of the problem : 9
• Giving a strong opinion : 6
• Giving a provisional opinion pending further explanation : 3
• Rephrasing to indicate understanding : 11
• Giving a simple confirmation : 2

These strategies are particularly important in a conversation in toki pona. Since the language is, by nature, not very precise, it is necessary to chip away at small stepping stones to make sure that the understanding is good between the two speakers.


How would you translate this ? --> jan pi musi ni

  1. the participants of this game.
  2. these players



Here is what I suggest for this excerpt:

  1. Have a look at the vocabulary.
  2. Listen to the excerpt once, full speed.
  3. Do exercise #8 and #9.
  4. Finally, try the #10.
Kalama sin #4 80% speed


awen toki go on speaking
jan kama ale all the participants (who came)
lon tenpo musi during the game
tan pi nimi ni the origin (tan) of this word
lon tenpo mute since a long time
ni li ante wan there is one difference
kulupu e jan mute to gather a lot of people
kepeken nasin ni in this way
lon poka mi with me
mi anpa la, if I lose

Be careful, anpa has a double meaning according to its function in the sentence (verb or preposition). It can mean both to defeat and to be defeated. How about that?


  1. mi anpa e jan utala. –> I defeated the warrior.
  2. mi anpa la, –> if I lose [literally : I am underneath]


Here are some sentences inspired by this excerpt, but the context has been slightly modified. Without looking at your notes, can you translate them?

  1. They gather all the students together.
  2. All unsold books are here.
  3. The origin of my headache is unknown.
  4. Here is how I did it.
  5. During the concert, I slept well.
  6. Now I’m just going to keep on sleeping.
  7. I’ve known her for a long time.
  8. The game of the 7 differences.


Up, down, right, left, under, over, in front, in back, on the side… there is an infinite number of ways to express all this in toki pona.
Here are some of them:

lon MA (location) INLI
lon sewi up
noka down / under
anpa down / under
poka lawa right / north
poka pilin left
sewi over
sinpin front
monsi back
poka side

The preposition lon is used to indicate a place or a position. It is placed directly and without a particle at the end of a sentence (preferably but not necessarily).

  1. pipi suli li lon sewi mi.
  2. ilo lawa pi sitelen tawa li lon noka supa.
  3. jan nasa li lon anpa pi supa lape sina.
  4. jan li sitelen lon toki Alapi tan poka lawa tawa poka pilin.
  5. tenpo ni la jan nasa li lon sewi pi supa lape sina.
  6. mi jo e ma kasi lon sinpin pi tomo mi.
  7. tomo telo li lon monsi pi supa noka.
  8. o kama lon poka mi.

Now, can you guess what are these sentences about ?


Listen again to the 4 excerpts in slow speed and **. Don’t be discouraged, it’s difficult for everyone. The important thing today is not to succeed but to give our brain a hard time!

Well, I think we’ve done enough for today. I hope you’ve learned a couple of things and that the exercises have been helpful. Now, you can continue to listen to this podcast’s episode and do your best to figure everything out!


Keep in mind that these suggested answers are only as good as yours!


  1. tenpo pini wan la, …
  2. tenpo suno wan la, …
  3. tenpo suli pini la, …
  4. toki ni li lon ma tomo lili lili…
  5. sitelen tawa li toki e jan pi wile mani.
  6. ni li toki pi kulupu mama lon ma lete…


  1. “musi pi kala ko”
  2. sitelen tawa ni li toki e mani.
  3. “jan pi mani ala en jan ante.”
  4. jan ante li wile wawa e mani tan ona.
  5. nimi ni li “wawa”
  6. jan ante li wile pana e mani tan jan pi mani ala kepeken utala.


ni li toki e seme?
mi kama sona.

  1. mi sona ala.
  2. mi sona e ale ala.
  3. mi sona ala e ale.
  4. sina ken ala ken toki e ni lon tenpo sin?
  5. sina ken ala ken toki e open pi toki ni lon tenpo sin?
  6. sina ken ala ken toki e ale lon tenpo sin?
  7. sina ken ala ken toki e ni lon toki Inli?
  8. sina ken ala ken toki e ni kepeken tenpo suli?
  9. toki sina la, mi sona pona e ale.
  10. mi pilin ike tan ni: sona mi li wile tenpo suli.


  1. People who don’t have money have only one way to get it. They have to play a sick game organized by rich and evil people.


  1. jan lili li lon li ken ala tawa tomo sona.
  2. tan wile moku la, ona li moku e soweli suwi ona.
  3. mi anu e ni: mi tawa ala tan ni:
  4. mi pakala. taso, nasin pi mute lili li lon.
  5. mi la, tenpo pi pali ala en mani mute li lon.


Answer : 1
The pi split the subject in two parts : people and this game.
If I was to say these players, I would probably go with : jan musi ni


  1. ona li kulupu e jan pi kama sona ale.
  2. lipu pi esun ala lon tenpo pini li lon ni.
  3. mi sona ala e tan pi pilin ike lon insa lawa mi.
  4. mi pali e ona kepeken nasin ni.
  5. lon tenpo pi kalama musi la, mi lape pona.
  6. mi awen lape lon tenpo ni a.
  7. mi sona e ona lon tenpo suli.
  8. musi pi ante luka tu.


  1. There is a big bug above me.
  2. The remote control is under the table.
  3. There is a strange person under your bed.
  4. Arabic is written from right to left.
  5. Now the strange person is on your bed.
  6. I have a garden in front of the house.
  7. The toilet is behind the stairs.
  8. Come on, walk with me!