Conlang Descriptions English Language

Toki Pona and Circumlocution: How a Minimalist Constructed Language can Improve International Communication

Josh Brook is an undergraduate student studying Computer Science, Physics, and Linguistics at Amsterdam University College. He has a particular interest in the connections between Linguistics and Computation, having studied Natural Language Processing (NLP) extensively, and is currently writing his BSc thesis on how to improve Machine Translation systems for low-resource languages. Josh has a love for languages and communication, speaking both Irish and French to a proficient level, as well as currently studying both Italian and Toki Pona. His curiosity for constructed languages comes from a wish to improve his own communication skills across all languages, leading his research towards the pedagogical and propaedeutic value of these conlangs.

This paper analyses the potential benefits of learning Toki Pona, a minimalist constructed language, to determine whether it can be used to improve certain aspects of global communication, acting as either an IAL or as a pedagogical tool, used to improve second language acquisition skills. The author explores how well the language does at meeting the goals and requirements for modern IALs, which are also defined in a proposed framework. In addition, this paper examines and builds upon previous research conducted by Dr. Paolo Coluzzi, effectuated to explore whether learning Toki Pona can help students develop the ability to express complex ideas using intentional circumlocution, the simplification of complex ideas into longer noun phrases. Coluzzi’s research explores whether this skill, which is necessary to speak Toki Pona, can be transferred, in order to improve the ability to express oneself in natural languages when a requisite word is unknown to the speaker. This paper was originally written for Dr. Federico Gobbo’s course Introduction to Interlinguistics, taught at the Universiteit van Amsterdam.

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