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While the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, which states a language defines how its speakers understand the world, has been discussed for decades, it becomes obvious that, in a language with very few words like , adding or removing a word, or even ordering the priority of its meanings, has a big impact.

What if my language has no word for money, death or conflict? These concepts would still exist, but feel alien, and could only be expressed through workarounds. Poetry, maybe?

@ice Shouldn't a language *have* words for everyday things, though? I mean, if people use money they will have a way to say it, simply because it is useful to do so :blobcatthinking:

@tennoseremel Yes, an auxiliary language designed to ease communication in our world, or in any society that uses money, would need this kind of word. But I’d like to explore the opposite, to see what new ideas could emerge from this kind of utopia.

@ice I think with the evolving nature of languages, words for such concepts would come to exist if not the language community was *very* set on having a restricted vocabulary (like the toki pona community is). But for a non-naturalistic constructed language, your idea sounds very interesting!

@opfez Sure, languages have a life of their own, and especially in the "real" world (whatever that means) such words would come to naturally exist.

Toki Pona is quite funny in this regard, because most new words are unnecessary. Some make perfect sense, like tonsi for non-binary people, but most others are either shortcuts for concepts that can still be expressed quite easily, old words that were officially reintroduced because they stuck, or jokes that even violate the language’s grammar.

@ice why there wouldn't be words for death and conflict?

@mms Because this would allow to imagine societies where they don’t exist, at least not with the cultural and historical meaning they have in ours. I’m not saying it’s realistic or even plausible, but I think it could be a powerful tool to explore utopia and spark new ideas.

@ice
I was thinking (briefly) of the new "tonsi" word in Toki Pona and wondered how such a complex issue (gender, identity) made its way to "the simple language"...

@Archiviste_Dragontigre I don’t know the proportion of LGBT+ tokiponists, but from what I’ve seen it’s pretty big. Using only "kule" as a substitute had likely become too far-stretched or restricting. The official dictionary also includes updated definitions for a few words to remove ableist meaning. The community is very inclusive and Sonja is open on these issues, so it makes sense.

@ice
Oh, I get why it makes sense community-wise.
Linguisticly, I' m not so sure that it's consistent with the concept of The Simple Language... or the fact that you have to use complicated combinations to talk about something, sometimes, in context.
What bugs me here is that one word tries to sum up an already complex reality.

@Archiviste_Dragontigre It sure is a "big" word that simplifies a complex topic. The official dictionary implies a word’s meaning isn’t only depending on context, but also on how the majority uses it. Definitions were sorted after polls. So I’d say tonsi is limited, but adaptable and better than nothing.

I agree new words are contrary to the initial concept, but apparently, TP wasn’t meant to become a real auxlang. It has quirks. I guess Sonja is essentially validating what the community wants.

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Merveilles

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