Rules for translating and style in Toki Pona

Welcome to the Toki Pona translation of Haiku!

To achieve a consistent result, all translators have to respect a few rules. For a language as context-dependent as Toki Pona, this is especially important.

1. Don't change the formatting

All HTML tags used in the English Original, like <span class="menu">, <i>, <b>, as well as links etc. have to be used as well. Only the contents within these tags have to be translated.

2. Golden Rules of Toki Pona Translation for Haiku

  1. We DO use lower case in all cases except for proper nouns and loan words. Yes, even at the beginning of phrases.
  2. We do NOT tokiponize app names, loan words or proper nouns/monikers in general. Names of countries and languages use the Toki Pona version though (e.g. toki Tosi = German). This includes very tech-specific terms like file formats (sitelen Bitmap) or units (nanpa Byte).
  3. Multiple variations for the same lexicon entry are fine to use interchangeably based on sentence flow or string length limitations (e.g. sin/namako, lukin/oko)

3. Canonical Language

For the purpose of this translation, the following sources make up the entire canonical Toki Pona language:

  1. Toki Pona - Language of Good by Sonja Lang (the original book, pu)
  2. The Official Toki Pona Dictionary by Sonja Lang (the dictionary, ku)
  3. As a writing system, linja pona by janSame (

Nothing else is canonical.

Toki Ma is explicitly not part of the Toki Pona canon, and neither are "nimisin"/words not found in pu or ku.

4. Grammar Conventions

  1. Progressive: li <verb>
    Example: "searching..." > "li alasa..."
  2. Lonely transitive verbs: <verb> e
    Example: "contains" > "jo e"
  3. Imperatives/Choices: o <word>
    Example: "Continue" > "o pali" or "Delete" > "o weka" >> This only applies when the action results in direct action, like in "Delete". Otherwise, like in "OK", just write the word.
  4. We can use "en" between not only subjects, but only verbs and objects (e.g. "mi wile kepeken en open e ilo ona"). That is to reduce workload and is generally understood.

5. Numbers, dates, times

  1. In general, we use numerics, not the cumbersome counting system (luka luka luka luka luka... no.). So, "3 files in this directory" gets translated as "lipu 3 lon poki ni"
  2. The date format is as follows: " #2020; t.s. #22; t.m. #3" (or long: "tenpo suno #22 pi tenpo mun #3 pi tenpo sike #2020"), representing the 22nd of March, 2020. If that's too long for a string, go ahead and use standard YYYY/MM/DD formats.
  3. The time format is similar: "tenpo 8 pini" = 8 minutes; "tenpo 11:52" = 11:52 AM (we use a 24 hour clock, so tenpo 22:52 = 10:52pm)

6. Terminology

You can find a list of established terminology at Please always refer to that wiki page before translating something non-trivial. It helps using CTRL+F.

Last modified 12 months ago Last modified on Dec 10, 2021, 11:11:01 PM
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