Updated jan Pije's lessons/Lesson 2 Pronunciation

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There are fourteen letters in the Toki Pona alphabet: nine consonants (j k l m n p s t w) and five vowels (a e i o u).

Consonants

Except for j, all the consonants are pronounced like in English.

letter pronounced like in
k kill
l let
m met
n net
p pit
s sink
t too
w wet
j yet

As you may have noticed, Toki Pona's j isn't pronounced like English's j. Instead, always pronounce it like the letter y in English. Some languages (e.g., German and Esperanto) also pronounce j this way, but if you've never studied such languages, be careful to pronounce it right. If you see j, pretend it's y.

Vowels

In English, vowels are pronounced many different ways depending on the word. In Toki Pona, though, the vowels are all regular and never change pronunciation.

If you're familiar with Spanish, Italian, or Esperanto, you'll recognize that Toki Pona's vowels are the same as in those languages. Study this chart:

letter pronounced like in
a father
e met
i peel
o more
u food

Now that you've learned the alphabet, check out this neat little picture by Nikitia Ayzikovsky, an early Toki Pona speaker. It shows fourteen different Toki Pona words, each beginning with a different letter from the Toki Pona alphabet, and there's also a picture of what each word represents. (Note that Elena ["Greek"] is an unofficial word. When this graphic was made, Toki Pona had no nouns beginning with the letter e.)

Pronunciation chart

The More Advanced Stuff

As long as you've mastered the above material, you know everything you need to continue learning basic Toki Pona. If learning the alphabet and pronunciation was easy for you and if you feel confident, go ahead and read the rest of this lesson now. However, if you had a difficult time with the above material, just focus on it for now, and return to finish this lesson at a later time. (The information is still important if you hope to master Toki Pona, so come back to it later.)

There are a few more things to learn about Toki Pona pronunciation and style:

Official Toki Pona words (i.e., the 120 words published in Sonja Lang's book, Toki Pona: The Language of Good) are never capitalized. They are lowercase even at the beginning of a sentence!

Capitalize unofficial words (i.e., the names of people, places, religions, etc.) A few examples:

jan Susan li pona. = "Susan is good." (Susan, a person's name, is the only word capitalized in this sentence.)
ma Elopa li suli. = "Europe is big." ("Europe" isn't one of Toki Pona's 120 official words, so it's capitalized.)

Because Toki Pona has so few consonants, you have some flexibility with pronouncing them. In addition to the pronunciations you learned above, here's a quick list of some of the alternate pronunciations that certain consonants can have:

letter pronounced like in
p bit
t dog
k garden
s zoo

Toki Pona's syllables all follow a pattern: consonant + vowel + optional n. If a syllable is at the beginning of a word, the consonant is optional. (For example, ali and unpa don't begin with consonants.) The optional n is forbidden if the next syllable begins with m or n. Four combinations are forbidden due to difficulty hearing and/or saying them; these are: ji, ti, wo, and wu.

Accent is always on the first syllable.