ma - land, earth, country
pona - good, simple
While on vacation in the South Pacific - as an escape from your troubled life - the small tourist plane you are on crashes into an uncharted island. You are greeted by islanders who speak an unfamiliar language. They live a simple, happy life on the island of ma pona, and have no knowledge of the outside world.
Finding no way off the island, you gradually adjust to your new life. It’s the happiest you’ve ever been. Every day, you swim in the pristine waters, reap the plentiful harvests, sleep under nights full of stars, bond with your new friends, and learn the islanders’ beautiful language. With only 124 words, and with the word good being synonymous with simple, it embodies their philosophy of life and the secret to their happiness - keep your life simple. The language soon flows off your tongue, and you start to think and dream in toki pona.
You realize, however, that the existence of the people is a mystery. Humans are fueled by a powerful language instinct - a community of kids growing up by themselves, without language instruction, will naturally create a complex language with a large vocabulary. What keeps the islanders’ language so simple? How is this related to your amnesia? As you stay on the island, you find yourself forgetting more and more about your life in the outside world, and even your mother tongue…
Will you achieve the islanders’ Zen - or will you investigate these uncomfortable questions? And at the end, will you stay on the island, or go back to your troubled life as a changed person?
This is a highly experimental game, involving learning a constructed language through examples, working through your character’s inner conflicts, and cooperatively building an island world.
In this game you will be learning the islanders’ language, toki pona. Toki pona, the “smallest language in the world,” has around 124 words (inspired by a variety of languages) and simple grammar. You can learn it in a few days.
Unlike other constructed languages, toki pona is not meant to be a fully fledged language, but rather is an experiment to understand how language affects our thoughts. Sonja Lang, creator of toki pona, calls it her “philosophical attempt to understand the meaning of life in 120 words.”
Toki pona is about minimalism and about introspection. What happens if we boil language down to the bare essentials? It focuses on the concrete, simple things that are most universal to humanity.
Hosted and narrated by:
Holden Lee (silversheep)
Scenes played: 3
License: Community License