I found a sentence written in order to prove that Toki Pona is a complete language. As far as I know it is a foolish nominal sentence.

What is the English translation?

pona sona pi (wawa pi ma Lipija) poka toki lawa mute pi jan lawa nanpa tu pi ma Atilanisi.

5 Answers 5


I finally got an answer from the author. The sentence meant:

pona sona pi (wawa pi ma Lipija) poka toki lawa mute pi jan lawa nanpa tu pi ma Atilanisi.

The influence of Libyan power on the election of Atlantis' vice president.

The closest translation was "The strength of Libya beside many commands of vice president of Atlantis" by jastako.

Here's a word-for-word translation for what I understand.

  • pona sona was in fact pana sona: influence (idea sending)
  • wawa pi ma Lipija: Libyan power
  • poka: on, about
  • toki lawa mute: elections
  • jan lawa nanpa tu: vice president
  • ma Atilanisi: Atlantis


Feel free to explain how you would have translated that phrase into toki pona.

John Clifford's (Facebook)

kama pi wawa pi ma Lipija pi wile pi jan mute pi jan lawa nanpa tu pi ma Alansi.


pana nasin pi wawa pi ma Lipija tawa wile kulupu pi jan lawa nanpa tu pi ma Alansi.


A rough, non exact translation could be something like this:

The good folklore (the strength of Libya) near [probably "are part of"] many thoughts of second director/general/Vicepresident of Atlantis.

It's weird, I know. If there's any verb there, I can't see li anywhere. I think toki lawa ("talk of head/mind") means to think, but in the official book of Toki Pona, to think is also just toki.

  • It sounds weird but thank you for this answer.
    – user966
    Jan 4, 2019 at 13:47
  • I think the first few words should be translated "the good folklore of the strength of Libya." The parentheses are just there to avoid parsing it (pona sona pi wawa) pi ma lipija which would be something like "Libya's good folklore of strength" (relying on your translation since I didn't look up all the words, and I'm not sure where some of them come from)
    – b a
    Jan 4, 2019 at 13:50
  • Libya's good folklore of strength about many thoughts of Vicepresident of Atlantis. sounds better indeed
    – user966
    Jan 4, 2019 at 14:07
  • @Blincer My thoughts were that that was specifically the wrong parsing, but I can't give a better translation and this one doesn't make much sense to me either
    – b a
    Jan 5, 2019 at 20:11
  • Whatever it is, it sure sounds like an interesting language :D
    – Domino
    Feb 18, 2019 at 7:12

If I were to translate, I'd say

The intellect of (the strength of Libya) the many head advisers of the second director of Atlantis...


  • "pona sona" - goodness of knowledge (intellect/sensibleness), good knowledge-wise (the intellectually adept)
    • jan ni li pona sona - this person is intellectually adept (brilliant / intellectual)
  • "wawa pi ma Lipija" - power/strength of Libya
  • "poka toki lawa mute" - many head/main talking sides/companions (the many head advisers)
  • "jan lawa nanpa tu" - second head person (second director/ruler/president)

Some issues I have with the phrase:


  • The phrase doesn't have a "li" phrase, or verb phrase, as was mentioned, making it, as far as sentences go, incomplete, which doesn't give much any clues for context. Personally, I generally parse sentences like this as a reduced form of "ni li ...", but that's also given conversational context (really "conversational subject li...").


  • jan Sanato: "jan o! jan sina li kama anu seme? ike a!"
  • jan Mikanle: "o awen! o!... a, kama!"
  • .
  • Johnatho: "hey! Is your guy coming or what? He's terrible, eh!"
  • Mickanley: "Just wait!... oh look, here he comes!"

Of course, either way, I can't say if there is any official basis for such a parsing.

Addressing other suggestions:

  • It was suggested that the parenthesis are to ensure the "wawa pi ma Lipija" isn't mis-parsed separately, however, I don't think this is the case for two reasons:

    1. Unconventional
      • I have never come across round brackets being used in this manner in toki pona, and it doesn't seem likely since, it would be too confused with the more standard use of round brackets (holding a phrase that isn't part of the sentence, but clarifies it in some way). More likely if this were the case, square brackets or commas would be employed.
    2. Unnecessary
      • Brackets wouldn't be needed for this purpose since one could not parse "pi wawa" seperately from the subsequent "pi ma Lipija". The reason for this is that "pi" cannot be followed by a lone word, in this case "wawa".
    • [ pona sona pi [ wawa pi [ma Lipija ] ] ] - The intellect of the power of Libya
    • [ [ pona sona wawa ] pi [ ma Lipija ] ] - The strong intellect of Libya
      • To say "Libya's something of/concerning strength", it would likely be structured "pona sona pi ma Lipija pi ijo wawa" or "pona sona pi ma Lipija pi wawa ijo", the second being a bit more on the mark ("concerning strong things" vs. "concerning the strength of things"). Although we translate "pi" as "of", "pi wawa" cannot be used to mean "of strength", and would rather be grammatically incorrect.
  • The previous translation translates "pona sona" as "the good folklore" and "pi poka" as "near".

    • Like jan Kipo, I can't quite see where "good folklore" came from, given the basic definition of the words as well as their structure in the sentence, but I can't say if it would really be accepted I guess (*tilts head 90°). For "good folklore", I'd probably use something along the lines of "sona kulupu pona", or perhaps even "sona mama pona".
    • As for "pi poka", it is conventional to translate it to "near", though, I would shy away from that translation in favor of "of a side(noun)" since I would more use "pi poka pi" for near, though I'm again unsure if it'd be acceptable. If so, in this case though, it's a bit 50/50, since there's no other head noun besides "poka" to clarify. If you wanted "side person (adviser/companion)", you'd more likely say "jan poka".
  • Thank you! I have uploaded the translation given by the author as well as some comments.
    – user966
    Jan 7, 2020 at 16:02

I don't know what the person who wrote that sentence intended, but pona sona or sona pona, the proper order, is usually translated as 'wisdom'. I also wouldn't use toki lawa to mean think. That's usually part of pilin (mi pilin e ni: = I think/feel this:). I would use toki lawa as demand/command, as in a way of saying somebody is speaking with authority, and expecting their order to be followed. jan lawa li toki lawa. li wile e ni: wile ona li kama pali. A boss/leader gives an order. He expects his wishes to be done. "Atilanisi is not even acceptable in toki pona either because "ti" is considered an 'illegal' syllable. If that is intended to say 'Atlantis' it would be something more like 'Alansi'. According to the transliteration rules, the most prominent consonants are used, replaced for similar sounds if neccesary (g becomes k, r becomes l or w, d becomes t, j becomes s), & the rest are dropped if deemed not necessary. Sometimes letter pairs are reversed to make a CV syllable as in the case of Israel (Isale). The 'el' becomes 'le'. You are also generally discouraged from using more syllables than the original word. As far as the meaning of the sentence, I would translate it as "The wisdom of (strength of Libya) beside much/many Orders/commands(?) of vice president of Atlantis."

  • 1
    I finally obtained the answer and you are the closest one proposing "The strength of Libya beside many commands of vice president of Atlantis.". The actual translation is "The influence of Libia on the election of vice president of Atlantis.".
    – user966
    Jan 7, 2020 at 15:32

Well, it’s not a grammatical sentence and the context doesn’t provide any clue about how to fill it out if it’s an abbreviated one. Not ure where “folklore” came from (well, ‘pona sona’ but how?) and the rest is is a single noun phrase that I cannot render into English in an intelligible way, though it does apparently belong to the assistant chief of Atlantis. I have no suggestions about how to fix it.

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