lesson 6 - The red ogre who cried

In today’s lesson, we will listen to episode 23 of kalama sin in which we are told an interesting Japanese tale called Naita Aka Oni (the red ogre who cried, originally written by Hamada Hirosuke). The understanding is not difficult and I think the language level is perfect for us.

You will hear about ogres, loneliness, friendship and sacrifice.

Illustration made with AI (midjourney)

Kalama sin #23


Let’s break the episode into 10 parts. For each of them, we want to:

  1. listen and identify the main ideas
  2. broaden our understanding
  3. observe and practice the vocabulary
  4. rephrase everything


Kalama sin #23-1

tenpo wan la jan monsuta loje li lon. jan monsuta ni li jan monsuta pona. ona li wile ala ike li wile ala pakala li wile e ni taso: ona li jan pona pi jan mute mute. taso, ona la jan pona wan taso li lon. jan pona ona li jan monsuta laso.
tenpo wan la once upon a time
jan monsuta an ogre
li lon there is, exists
taso (begining of a sentence) however
taso (after any word) only


Listen and try to answer these questions:

  1. monsuta loje li wile pakala anu seme?
  2. monsuta loje li wile seme taso?
  3. tenpo open la, ona li jo e jan pona anu seme?


Look closer at this construction :

taso, ona la, jan pona wan taso li lon.
However, as for (about) him, only one friend exists.

This is good toki pona style sentence equivalent to :
taso, ona li jo e jan pona wan taso. (<- nothing wrong with that btw)

Let’s torture you brain and reformulate these sentences :

  1. mi jo e jan sama tu.

-> mi la, jan sama tu li lon.

  1. ona li jo e tomo tawa sin.

-> ona la, tomo tawa sin li lon.

  1. ona mute li pilin pona tawa sitelen tawa ni.

-> sitelen tawa ni la, one mute pi pilin pona li lon.

Fun way of thinking right ?


Now let’s focus on this classic way to connect two ideas:

ona li wile e ni taso: ona li jan pona pi jan mute.
The only thing he wants is to be friend with everyone.

See, there’s no word to connect two sentences :
The thing he wants is…” and “he wants to be friend with everyone.”

The way to do it is to use “ni:” – in English : is this:

Here we can translate by :
The thing he wants is this: he befriends everyone.

Again, this is something to work on. It can be weird at first but it become natural very quickly. On the other hand, care must be taken that the ni corresponds to the entirety of the following proposition.

Let’s try:

  1. I want you to become my teacher.
  2. You should read a book that makes you happy.
  3. I hope that the food I bought is tasty.
  4. I want to have a job that I like.

Here’s some possible answers:

  1. mi wile e ni: sina kama jan pi pana sona mi.
  2. sina o wile e ni: sina lukin e lipu pona tawa sina.
  3. tenpo pini la, mi esun e moku. mi wile e ni: moku ni li pona.
  4. mi wile e ni : pali mi li pona tawa mi.


Illustration made with AI (midjourney)

Kalama sin #23-2

taso, ona la jan pona wan taso li lon. jan pona ona li jan monsuta laso. ma tomo lili li lon ma poka pi jan monsuta loje. jan mute pi monsuta ala li lon ma tomo ni. jan monsuta loje li wile jan pona pi jan mute ni, taso ona li wile ala toki tawa jan monsuta loje. ona li lukin e jan monsuta la ona li tawa weka. ona li pilin e ni: jan monsuta ni li monsuta li ike.

Try to define these expressions :

tawa weka run away
ma tomo a city
ma tomo lili a village
ma poka the surrounding area


Now, say in toki pona:

  1. There were no escape route.
  2. My city is like a village.
  3. You neighbourhood is too quiet for me.

Here are some proposition:

  1. tenpo pini la, nasin pi tawa weka li lon ala.
  2. ma tomo mi li sama tomo lili.
  3. mi la, ma poka sina li kalama pi ala mute.

and what about this structure :
ona li pilin e ni: jan monsuta ni li ike.
Does it ring any bell?

Listen again, it shouldn’t be too hard to understand.


Kalama sin #23-3

tenpo suno wan la jan monsuta loje li pana e lipu suli lon sinpin tomo ona li sitelen e ni lon lipu: “mi jan monsuta pona. mi wile musi taso. jan ale o kama tawa insa tomo mi. mi wile pona tawa sina.” ona li pilin e ni: “jan li lukin e sitelen ni la ona li sona e wile pona mi. ken la jan mute li kama tawa tomo mi li ken kama jan pona mi!” taso jan ala li kama. jan pi ma tomo li awen weka.


Listen to the third part and try to answer these questions:

  1. When and where did the ogre hang his poster?

  2. On the poster, the ogre says :

    I am a good guy.
    Free food for all.
    I’d like to be your friend.
    I only want to have fun.
    Red is the new black.

  3. He is thinking that, thanks to his poster,…

    people will understand his intentions.
    people will want to have fun with him.
    people will come to his house.
    he will make friends.
    he can finally help the people.

  4. What happens then ? Did his plan work?

Now, go back to (2) and (3) and translate in toki pona all these propositions (ex: I am a good guy -> mi jan pona.).


Did you noticed how it is said on the wall of his house ?

Remember, in the previous lesson, we saw the prepositions of place. Shall we have another go?

Here are a few sentences to translate :

  1. Above the table, there is a painting.
  2. In the bathroom, there is a sink.
  3. On the ceiling, there is a fan.
  4. Under the bed, there is a monster.
  5. Next to the door, there is a coat rack.
  6. Between the couch and the coffee table, there is a magazine.
  7. In front of the TV, there are two chairs.
  8. Behind the curtains, there is a window.
  9. Inside the fridge, there is food.
  10. Outside, there is a tree.

Now try these ones :

  1. I’m under the table.
  2. I’m over the rainbow.
  3. I’m behind you!
  4. I’m in front of you.
  5. I’m next to you.
  6. I’m above you.
  7. I’m below you.
  8. I’m between you and the door.
  9. I’m in your way.
  10. I’m out of here!

mi pana e pona ni tawa sina :

on lon
above lon sewi
under lon anpa
next to lon poka
between lon poka pi ijo tu
in front of lon sinpin
behind lon monsi
inside lon insa
outside lon insa ala
on the left lon poka pilin
on the right lon poka lawa

Note: There is no official way to express some positions (right, left, between…). Your formulation will depend on the context and the way you feel about it.

In case you feel inspired, describe this:

ex.: lon insa pi tomo ni la, meli li lon. ona li awen lon supa lape.


Kalama sin #23-4

jan monsuta laso li lukin e ni li pilin ike. ona li wile pana e pona tawa jan monsuta loje. ona li toki e ni: “jan pona mi o, mi sona e nasin pona. mi o ike, o pakala, o monsuta lon ma tomo. ni la sina o kama, o utala e mi, o anpa e mi. jan pi ma tomo li lukin e ni la ona li ken sona e ni: sina jan pi wile pona.”


  1. What feelings does his friend have?
  2. What stratagem did he come up with to help his friend?
  3. What should the villagers think after this ploy?

Below is how you feel right now. Say it in toki pona.

  1. I am so frustrated!
  2. I am so angry!
  3. I am so sad!
  4. I am so happy!
  5. I am so relieved!
  6. I am so grateful!
  7. I am so excited!
  8. I am so nervous!
  9. I am so scared!
  10. I am so overjoyed!

ike, pona, you usually don’t need to be very specific.


Let’s get down to some tougher sentences:

  1. The sight of blood makes me feel nauseous.
  2. The thought of spiders makes my skin crawl.
  3. The sound of fingernails on a chalkboard makes me cringe.
  4. The smell of fish makes me feel ill.
  5. The sound of my alarm clock makes me want to hit snooze.
  6. The feel of slime makes me feel disgusted.
  7. The sight of needles makes me feel faint.
  8. The thought of public speaking makes me feel anxious.

See? At first it seems impossible but then…

Here’s my take:

  1. mi lukin e telo loje la, mi pilin ike.
  2. mi sitelen insa e pipi pi noka mute la, selo mi li pilin nasa.
  3. mi kute e kiwen palisa lon sinpin pimeja la, mi pilin ike.
  4. kala kon li ike tawa mi.
  5. mi kute e ilo tenpo kalama mi la, mi pilin e ni: mi wile awen lape.
  6. ko musi li pana e pilin ike tawa mi.
  7. mi lukin a palisa lili la, tawa mi li weka.
  8. mi toki tawa jan mute la, mi pilin pona ala.


He wanted to help his friend.

Did you notice how this has been said? He wanted to give a goodness toward the red ogre.

ona li wile pana e pona tawa jan monsuta loje.

Do you remember how “a good way” has been said?

nasin pona

As in English, “nasin” can be both a physical path or a way for doing something.

How to say “defeat”?


Here are some exemples:

  1. I was defeated by a piece of cake.

-> pan suwi wan li anpa e mi lon tenpo pini.

  1. My opponent was defeated by my superior intellect.

-> mi anpa e jan ante tan ni: lawa mi li wawa.

  1. A good way to start your day is by eating a nutritious breakfast.

-> tenpo suno sin li ken open pona tan nasin ni: moku pona.

  1. A good way to end your day is by going to bed early.

-> tenpo suno li ken pini pona tan nasin ni: sina lape lon tenpo tenpo lili.

  1. Help, I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!

-> o pana e pona a ! mi kama anpa a! mi ken ala kama sin sewi.

  1. Help! I’m being held captive by a giant bunny!

-> o pana e pona tawa mi a! mi jan pi tomo poki tan soweli suli wan.


Well, we have studied the first half of the podcast and have already sweated quite a bit. In the next lesson we will finish our story and work on your own oral productions. Be ready!

Illustration made with AI (midjourney)

Just in case, here is the English translation of this first part, generously provided by jan Pensa, who rewrote this tale in toki pona :

One time there was a red ogre. This ogre was a good ogre. He didn’t want to be bad, and didn’t want to break things, he wanted only to be a friend of many, many people. But he had only one friend. His friend was a blue ogre.

There was a small village in the neighborhood of the red ogre. There were many non-monstrous people in this village. The red ogre wanted to be friends with these people, but they didn’t want to talk to the red ogre. When they saw the ogre, they went away. They thought that this ogre was scary and evil.

One day the red ogre put up a big sign in front of his house and wrote this on it: “I am a good ogre. I just want to have fun. Everyone, come inside my house. I want to be good to you.” He thought when people see these writings, they will know my good desires / good intentions. Maybe many people will come to my house, who can become my friends!” But no one came. The villagers stayed away.

The blue ogre saw this and felt bad. He wanted to do something nice for the red ogre. He said: “My friend, I have a good idea. I should be bad and break things and be scary in the village. Then you should come, should fight me, and defeat me. When the villagers see this, they’ll be able to know that you’re a person of good intentions.”