The Oxford Dictionary of the English language contains more than one million words, while the Gorilla named Koko also communicates in more than 1,000 gestures in American Sign Language. But do you know the smallest language in the world, whose vocabulary consist only 120 words? If you do not have the answer, then you will read this article to know the world's smallest language and what is its specialty?
Image source: Memrise
The world's smallest language is "Toki Pona", which was first drafted in 2001, while published in 2014 as a complete book or e-book "Toki Pona: A Good Language". This book was designed by Toronto's translator and linguist Gold Lang (formerly named Sona Allen Kisa).
Like "pidgin", "Toki Pona" focuses on the simple concepts and elements that are relatively universal among the different cultures of the world. Lang was designed "Toki Pona" to express maximum meaning with minimal complexity. There are 14 sounds in this language and about 120 basic words. It has not been designed as an international accessory language, but it is inspired by the "Taoist" philosophy. In fact, this language is built to shape the thoughts of its users in the concept of "spper-wharf" concept like Jane Fashion. The producer of this language Son Lang and many other speakers of "Toki Pona" insist that this language is enough to express any idea.
To gain proficiency in other languages where hundreds or thousands of hours have to be studied, but speakers of the "Toki Pona" language believe that it takes only 30 hours to master this language. Therefore many people believe that this can be an ideal international auxiliary language.
You will be surprised to know that at present, in different countries like Japan, Belgium, New Zealand and Argentina, people of different communities have been engaged through this language via online medium.
Lang uses letters of the Latin alphabet to represent "toki Pona" language, which are known as p, t, k, s, m, n, l, j, w, a, e, i, o and u in the International Phonetic Alphabet . (In toki Pona language “j” seems like “y” of the English language and vowel seems like Spanish or Italian.) In the "toki Pona" language capital letters are used only for the name of a person and place, not the first word of each sentence. In the above mentioned letters first nine (p, t, k, s, m, n, l, j, w) are consonants and the last five (a, e, i, o and u) are vowels.
The 120 basic vocabulary of "Toki Pona" language has been prepared under the principles of living a simple life without the complexities of modern civilization. Because of the small number of original vocabulary, in the "Toki Pona" language words of other languages are often translated by adding two or more original vocabulary. For example, the word of English language "to teach" is written in the form of "pana e sona", which meant to impart knowledge. Generally it is believed that there are only 115, 118, or 120 words in the "Toki Pona" language, but it is incorrect. In fact the "Toki Pona" language has many compounds and phrases that are literally free as idiomatic expressions forms the lexical entries and so they should remember independently.
Image source: Wikipedia
There are five root words for the colours in the "Toki Pona" language: pimeja (black), walo (white), loje (red), jelo (yellow), and laso (blue). However, sometimes these specifications of these colours are added together to make them more specific. For example, "purple" is represented by a combination of laso and loje. The phrase "laso loje" means "shadow of red colour on blue" and "loje laso" means "blue shadow on red colour ".
The original word for numbers in the "Toki Pona" language is wan (one), tu (two), and mute (many). Besides these "ala" used as “zero”, although its most appropriate literal meaning is "no" or "There is no one". In “toki pona" language these three phrases are used to express large numbers. For example, “tu wan” is used for three, “tu tu” is used for four and so on other numbers are written. Similarly 16 is written as “luka luka luka wan”, here Luka means "five", but the literal interpretation of Luka is "hand".
Image source: Wikipedia
The root words of "Toki Pona" is usually derived from English, Tok Pisin, Finnish, Georgian, Dutch, Acadian, French, Esperanto, Croatian and Chinese (Mandarin and Cantonese) languages.
In 2007, Lang told that only 100 people in the world knew to speak "Toki Pona" language and besides those 100 people had basic knowledge of this language. Sometimes later an official Facebook group was created by Sona Lang called "Toky Pona", while there is also an informal Facebook group called "Toky Pona Taso" which means "only Toki Pona". In the Toky Pona group, users mainly talk about the interest of Toki Pona in the English language, while in the Toky Pona taso group, users communicate only about different topics in Toki Pona language. According to figures, the Toky Pona group has more than 2,700 members till February 2017, while Toky Pona taso group has more than 250 members.