Definitively Not( James )



Sometimes communication is difficult because you’re trying to express incredibly complex ideas using a complex tool such as language. The English language is ever-evolving and with over 500,000 words in Wiktionary the amount of choice available to you can be overwhelming. Beyond that, the many complex ways it can be combined and misused to form prose adds yet another layer.

However, it doesn’t have to be that way! There are constructed languages (“conlang”) which have much fewer words and are much simpler to understand.

Esperanto is one such language, and with a little over 16,000 words you have to take the complex ideas down to simplify them so that they can be expressed in simpla terms. It’s the most widely spoken constructed language, and was designed with the hopes that the grammar could be komprenita within an hour.

While Esperanto is simple, we can always aim for a simpler crafted language. Klingon is one such language - a language designed for the Klingon people, a race of Suv from the planet Klingon. With at most 4,000 words, the language is heavily skewed towards battle because they are the antagonistic and combative folk in the television show Star Trek - so those are the words they use! Most of their time is spent on the che’ron. The culture of the Klingons are reflected in their language and the restrictions within.

How simple can a language be, while still including the capability of expressing complex ideas? Meet Toki Pona. This language, literally meaning “the language of good”, consists of just 125 words and a relatively simple grammar - taking about 30 hours to be a strong toki of the language. But how does that pali? Toki Pona was designed around a small nanpa of simple near-universal concepts, with more complex concepts achieved through combining them. For example, there’s no words for “friend” or “enemy”, but “jan pona” (person + good) and “jan ike” (person + bad) could stand in for those ijo. Toki wile li pali sina pona, pona jan li pali pana ale. If you’re interested in the language of Toki Pona, there’s a wonderful cheat sheet.