This is an adaptation of a short lesson I gave in the kama sona server.
The opening to Conlang Critic is short, punchy, and comedic. Can we replicate that in Toki Pona? Absolutely.
First, the original text:
Welcome to Conlang Critic, the show that gets facts wrong about your favorite conlang!
And this is followed by jan Misali’s self introduction.
Welcomes are simple! They are usually expressed as an instruction using “o”, and ended with “pona” to express the well-wishing nature of the instruction. Otherwise, a welcome is a kind of arrival, so we can use “kama”: “o kama pona”
You can also use the preposition “tawa” to express where you’re welcoming somebody to, so “o kama pona tawa …”
Conlang Critic could be a proper noun with a capital letter name, or you could translate it. In either case, jan Misali says it’s a show, and a show is entertainment, which is musi. If you use a proper noun, your job is done here: “musi Conlang Critic”, or whatever adaptation you prefer. You can do a little better when you zoom in on “Conlang Critic” though!
Conlang, short for constructed language, could be described as both a pali (creation) and as a toki (language). This is an important decision when deciding translations: which one is more important, and becomes the head noun? Here, we’ll say that a constructed language is a “language” before it is “constructed”. But since both work, we can call it a “toki pali.”
As for critic, we don’t need to translate it as a single phrase; critics do one thing: talk about a subject. Let’s make that a separate sentence! Our speaker will call themselves “mi”, and will “toki”. It is relatively common to say you talk “about” something as “jan li toki lon ijo”, so we’ll reuse that here, but be aware that there are more ways to translate this too.
When describing their preferences, most people refer to things being “pona tawa mi”, good to them. A favorite is something that is the most good, or you might say first place in goodness! We can say that this is “nanpa wan”, which can apply to any property: “ni li pona nanpa wan tawa mi”. So now we know our critic will talk about “toki pali sina nanpa wan”, your favorite conlang!
Facts and wrongness often have to do with “lon” and “lon ala” respectively. “lon” deals with truth, so we could have our critic will speak in an untruthful way: “toki pi lon ala”. Let’s try it!
Putting it together
Here’s the two halves of the opener we’ve made so far. Translations are under the spoilers.
o kama pona tawa musi mi! mi toki lon toki pali.Welcome to my entertainment! I talk about created languages.
toki sina nanpa wan la musi ni li toki pi lon ala!In the context of your favorite language, this entertainment tells lies!
Looking good so far! You’ll notice that in the second sentence, we refer to only “toki sina nanpa wan” instead of “toki pali sina nanpa wan”. This is because we’ve already introduced the fact that the critic is going to talk about “toki pali”. From there, the only kind of “toki” that would be reasonable to mean would be other “toki pali.”
Except there’s still one problem: that’s not quite the original meaning! “toki pi lon ala” definitely captures the idea of lying, but the statement actually says they’re getting facts wrong, jokingly, about your favorite conlang. We’ve translated the idea of being wrong correctly; in the process, we’ve translated it too literally. The intended meaning is about making mistakes, which is more like “pakala”! Let’s try again:
The first half was already great, so here’s the edited second half:
toki sina nanpa wan la, musi ni li toki pakala!In the context of your favorite language, this entertainment speaks mistakenly!
The process of translation, especially into Toki Pona, can never be one-to-one. You make compromises, subtle changes, artistic and informational decisions, throughout the entire dialog. The skills that will help you most are recognizing the objects and actions of a sentence, and breaking those down individually without the rest of the sentence. This will get faster over time too, until you’re no longer thinking about it!
Also, I recorded the final result. Enjoy!