Yeah I am finding this to be a big problem as well. To me, the kind of talk that is prevalent in toki pona only type settings is the exact kind of talk I have no interest whatsoever in. I really don't care if someone is eating, unless of course it is implicating their afk status, I am not interested in where people are from, unless it pertains to some topic where that is important.. etc... small talk, I don't like to engage in it..
However in Toki Pona it seems it is hard to convey anything with much content, so people reduce themselves to more often than not focusing of things of no interest.
Even in english, I often have to stop and think, the subject changes or something is brought up that is different, my mind can take a little bit of time to tune into what is being said. Young people with different cultural norms speak so differently sometimes I can barely understand them. These things of ambiguity are bad enough in a language such as english with all its specific word mapped concepts.
So I suppose the question at least for me is this: Is it possible to talk about the kind of things I am interested in, using toki pona, in a way that is easy enough for others to understand.
Sonja posted a IRC log in these forums, which hinted at these things. She entered an channel on freenode about languages, and enquired about toki pona, as if she knew little about it. Two aspects of this struck me ;
1. At one point, someone mentions that toki pona is quite simple and only able to express rudimentary ideas.
Sonja replied with something like; Oh its a failed project then ?
This seems to imply, that either; if you can only easily express rudimentary ideas the project fails. Or being limited to rudimentary ideas/communication is not important to the projects aims; ie it matters not if it is the case or not the case.
They continued to explain to her the nature of these rudimentary ideas or types of thought or communication. Describing it more like a game or meditation, a way of being more than just a language maybe.
And then this happened :
2. Someone used the term "mandala" referring to the language.
At this point, Sonja revealed she was the creator of the language, and thought that was a beautiful way to picture her language. Specifically drawing attention to microcosm / macrocosm reflective nature of mandalas.
This whole interaction seemed very intriguing to me. Mandalas are not rudimentary forms, they are very interesting to me atleast. Whilst one person might merely see a kind of pretty circle, with a few patterned dots, another might come to understand the deep mysteries of the universe, both looking at the same picture!
To me this implies being able to talk about very interesting things (albeit slightly differently to how I am used to talking about them)! People who are interested in those things will see those things that I communicate. People interested in other things might see what I communicate as other things, more in tune with their own interests. A poetic notion about synchronicity or a physical theory about quantum mechanics. A colourful way to explain how you see things, or a modern scientific theory of mind. A metaphor to describe your city of roads maybe, or a description of the latest discoveries in neurobiology.
I see this process could work the other way as well. You swat up on some current interesting science thing, and come across a toki pona poetic metaphor of someone describing their city; boom! Your mind is seeing a very interesting model of said science thing.
Does it matter if one person sees a poem about roads, where you mean to be scientific about the brain;
I don't really think so, people will interpret things in a way they find most interesting, so everyone is happy anyway.
I suppose the language might embrace this old notion, about no one really ever understanding each other anyway. So why bother trying; lets just make best use of that fact.
Follower of the official dialect of toki pona as presented in the official book; Toki Pona, The Language of Good by Sonja Lang.