more and more

Now that vacation is over, I have two hours to spend in the car every day of the week. This gives me time to talk to myself in toki pona and build up some momentum. As I was gaining confidence by mentally translating everything that was going on in my head, I came across a silly phrase: “He is more and more confident”. I don’t remember why this sentence came to me but I was unable to translate it.

For that kind of structure, the english “more” is super handy and so is the chinese (to cross, to exceed) that can save the day like this:


Back home, I put out a call for help on Reddit. Some amazingly good responses were posted. Several approaches stood out among them.

He is more en more confident

jan janKeTami proposed to repeat the verb:

  1. reduplication
    pilin pi ken ona li kama wawa, li kama wawa, li kama wawa a!

Bestrand proposed several insightful versions:

  1. la construction
    kama tempo mute sin la ona li kama pilin wawa mute, kin.
  2. serial declaration
    ona li pilin wawa: tenpo mute la ona li pilin wawa mute.
  3. reformulation
    tenpo li kama: ona li pilin e wawa tan ni.

forthentwice, proposed this one:
4. translation tenpo li tawa la, pilin ona ni li suli li wawa: ona li jo e ken pali.
5. parallelism - he also proposed this inspiring formula:
suli pi tawa tenpo en suli pi pilin wawa ona li sama.

Ecoloquitor has been inspired by the Chinese structure:
6. nasin Sonko
ona li suli li kama suli mute
which indeed produce a very concise and elegant sentence!

wibbly-water suggest these three interesting versions:
7. explicitation
tenpo kama li kama la, toki pona li kama suli

  1. equivocation
    kama tenpo li kama suli pi toki pona

  2. reduplication for a more colloquial flavour
    tenpo li kama kama kama la, toki pona li kama suli suli suli

Final thought

I leave the final word to wibbly-water, who invites us to return to the very principle of toki pona:

The general lesson is to point out the real happenings and not rely on idiomatic phrasings that hide the true phenomenon.

The idea is indeed to dig deep and extract the essence of what one has to say. This is a great illustration this language can indeed be concise. I was looking for an idiomatic formula where there was no need for one.

Thank you all, guys, for this reminder of what toki pona is all about: a community of sharing, mutual aid, exchange and reflection. It is also a language designed to allow all this.

Edit: A week later, I received a note from Bestrand:
toki ante sin: mi lukin sin e nimi sina ni la mi lawa e nimi sin ni : ona li nasin tawa pilin wawa suli.

And once again, this is a nice way of turning things around. I would translate it as : He is taking the path to feel very confident. which says it all.