lesson 4 - mi wile toki nasa! 2/2


And here is the second part of this lesson. No particular difficulty, so we’ll take the time to focus on listening comprehension exercises.


kalama sin #1 75% speed




    1. The excerpt begins with a quote in quotation marks. It refers to two people who are in a place.
      Find these three specific names. jan Tamo / jan Sala / ma Tanaka
  1. So, we have a man from space who says something that the earthlings do not understand. So they legitimately think, “Gee, I wish he could talk less funny!.
  2. And here comes the explanation of the mysterious message.
    Look at these words. You will easily spot and understand them:
    lon la : in fact, the truth is…
    tan tenpo pini : from the past
    jan mun ni : these people from some planet
    jan ni : these people
    ma ni : this planet
    utala e monsuta : fight a monster
  3. uh? that’s it? Well, yes, it’s really not that difficult. Let’s listen to this part again and enjoy our fresh listening skills.


Here’s kili pan Juli explaining the use of “o”:

o is a fun little particle that can do three things

  1. build imperative, when it is used before the predicate

o toki nasa ala
-> don’t talk weird

  1. vocative, when it comes after a compound-phrase

jan mun o
-> Hey, star people!

  1. express desires and wishes when replacing li in a normal sentence
    (or even going where no li has gone before and come after “mi” or “sina”)

jan mun o toki nasa ala
-> i wish the star people wouldn’t talk weird

  1. nanpa tu wan is also used for combining vocative and imperative, when talking to someone.

jan Pitaki o toki tawa mi
-> Hey, Pitaki! Talk to me!

and here comes the fun part:

(me asking) : still, “jan mun o toki nasa ala !“ might be translated as “Gee guys, stop saying weird stuff!” and “I wish these guys could talk like normal human beings”, right ?
kili pan Juli : oh yea totally! I think the “ona li pilin e ni“ in front of it moves it a bit into the direction of the latter for me, but yea, it’s kinda in-between

See how we can acknowledge and embrace ambiguities when they globally serve our story ? You get to hit two plastic birds(1) with one stone.

(1) o pona tawa waso!


Try to find a way to express these complex ideas:

  1. A minimalist language : _______________________________________
  2. A generation conflict : _______________________________________
  3. A mutual incomprehension : ____________________________________
  4. A martian speaking an abstruse language : _____________________
  5. Stammering out of love : ______________________________________
  6. A paradox : ___________________________________________________

Here’s my take on the exercice:

  1. toki pi wile lili
  2. utala tan kulupu tenpo ante
  3. sona ala tan pilin ante
  4. jan mun pi toki nasa
  5. toki sama mute tan olin
  6. ijo tu pi ken ala

I’m sure you’ll find something better.


When there is no clear context, you notice that it is not easy to find the right formula. The good news is that in a conversation, the context is usually established and it is easier to compose vocabulary on the fly.


kalama sin #1 75% speed


Do you remember kon toki? Composed by kon the meaning and toki the language


How did they finally get to understand the toki nasa of these jan mun?

  1. They upgraded their computer. nope
  2. They studied a bit of Darmok history. yes
  3. They learned to read between the lines. nope
  4. They didn’t understand anything but pretended to. nope
  5. They guessed that they were speaking in metaphors. yes
  6. They communicated with drawings. nope
  7. They fought a monster and learned from each other. yes (but it’s not said here)
  8. They shared a good dinner and opened a bottle. I’m sure they did


By far my favourite word in toki pona. As a preverb, it is used to express the fact that we are finally getting somewhere. We reached a goal, we obtained something… implying that it was not immediate or easy. e.g.: I obtained a success / I learned how to drive / I solved my problem / I finally got married

jan ma li kama sona…
ona li kama ken sona lili…


Try to find appropriate word(s):

  1. kama ___________ : to rescue
  2. kama ___________ : to prepare
  3. kama ___________ : to decrease
  4. kama ___________ : to be pregnant
  5. kama tan _______ | ___________ : consequence
  6. kama ___________ | ___________ : to boil
  7. kama ___________ | ___________ : to convince
  8. kama ___________ | ___________ | ___________ : to melt


Let’s put this into practice. Try to translate these sentences using kama in each of them.

  1. He rescued a cow from the storm.
  2. He is preparing to travel in space
  3. The population of Darmok is declining.
  4. My dog is expecting puppies.
  5. I know the consequences of my actions. I am not afraid to accept them.
  6. Is coffee ruined if it boils?
  7. I am convinced by your argument.
  8. The chocolate melted in the sun.

Try to translate these one in your own langage.

  1. tenpo sike luka luka li kama pini. Ten years have gone by.
  2. ona li utala tan ni: ona li kama jo e ma sin. They extended their territory by conquest.
  3. ona li kama ala lukin e nasin ona lon ma tomo. He got lost in the city.
  4. mi tawa ma la telo li kama anpa lon tenpo sama. Just as I went to go out it began to rain.
  5. tenpo suno kama la mi kama tawa tomo mi. I should be back home the next day.
  6. ni li nasa: mije li kama ala. It is strange that he has not come yet.
  7. tenpo lili la ona li kama sona. They are quick to learn.
  8. tenpo mun kama pi luka wan la mi pana e mani tomo. The rent is paid for six months.


  1. Listen to this series of 7 sentences and put their translation in the right order.
[ ] When everything was over, they became good friends.
[ ] He was saying this: “Tamo and Sana on the planet of Tanaka”.
[ ] So they managed to understand a little bit about their way of communicating.
[ ] They came to understand a little how they speak.
[ ] These two people fought a monster in this place.
[ ] They were thinking: I wish these star people could speak normally!
[ ] The earthlings were able to understand their words by learning more about them.
Now, without listening, have fun translate them back to toki pona!

This is the end of this lesson. Now you are ready to listen all over again and measure your progress.



ona li toki sama te jan Tamo en jan Sala lon ma Tanaka to
jan ma li sona ala e ni: jan Tamo en jan Sala en ma Tanaka li seme?
ona li pilin e ni: jan mun o toki nasa ala!
lon la jan Tamo en jan Sala en ma Tanaka li lon tenpo pini pi jan mun ni.
tenpo pini la jan ni li lon ma ni li utala e monsuta a.


jan ma li ken kama sona e kon toki tan sona pi jan mun.
tenpo la jan ma li kama sona lili e toki pi tenpo pini.
ni la ona li kama ken sona lili e nasin toki.
pini la jan ma en jan mun li kama pona tawa ona ante.