Hello everyone, I'm italian, 28, male, conlanger (i speak Italian, English, French, i know some german, chinese, japanese grammar, but i can't speak them and i love languages in general, the weirdest overall).
Btw, my english is not perfect, then sorry for any errors
I was reading Toki Pona's wiki grammar and some critics poped up in my mind:
1. If people with different cultures and languages come into touch, why they should use another extra language? This is like to complicate things, because the easiest way to express simple concepts is using contextual languages: e.g. a French boy + an Italian boy, they can just talk a sort of italiench/frenchian, because their languages are really close and they don't need an extra language such as Toki Pona. Instead, Toki Pona required to use another grammar plus another set of words.
2. If I would like to express a simple concept like "There's an hotel here around? Hopefully near". In almost every part of the world I can just stop a person and ask him/her "Hotel?". Hotel is an international word and everyone knows it, why should I use words in Toki Pona like "house for foreigner" or such weird unilateral built words? That's, of course, needs to pre-learn another language.
3. Toki Pona aims to be simple, however is simplistic. As per alcohol, why should I use "crazy water"? As far as I know, no languages put together "crazy"-concept with "water"-concept to express "alcohol" (In some languages "fire"-concept is used with "water" to express "alcohol" = a water that burns your throat, a burning water!). However, almost everyone out there know the word "alcohol", while nobody can instantly understand the idiomatic "crazy water" (an "as-is" word for alcohol).
4. The word for "friend" (a part that "friend" is one of the famous word well-known in the world and u don't need Toki Pona in casual context to express friendship, just say "hey friend!" and everyone understand).
A "good person" could not be my friend, however if a person is good and he/she is not yet my friend, other contextual things can help to understand what I mean in a phrase like "He is a good person". However this could harden to express the concept of "good friend" vs "bad friend". Using "good"-concept is of course redundant with the word "friend", but in a more accurate analysis "good friend" is something like "a person that show me how really friend is". While, using "bad"-concept (apparently contraditory) means "a person that initially seemed good at me, but revealed their bad nature later".
That means that in Toki Pona, I can't simply express the concept like in the phrase "He's a good person, but he revealed to be a bad friend". Here u can state: "just say bad person!". Why? A bad friend is a bad person at all? And simplifying the phrase upon with "bad person" loses all the other concepts of revelation (or bad-ifiation) that the phrase carried.
5. A 2-minute sentence become a 5-minute sentence. Expressing easy and simple words or phrases in Toki Pona, required more time. In English a sentence like "I'm coming!" can be shorten with "coming!". However you can't in Toki Pona, cuz "crazy water" can't shorten with "water" (without moving its understanding in contextual environment). Or better, you can do it just in some cases, but if you are in a pub and you must be clear on wich kind of "water" (liquid) you want, it's hard to use 3-4 Toki Pona words for the thousand of different drinks a pub could have.
6. Redundancy. ALL languages have redundancy systems to reinforce the comprehension. Toki Pona doesn't. e.g:
Redundancy for the gender
(en) SHE is a good GIRL / HE is a good BOY
(it) LEI è unA bravA ragazzA / LUI è un bravO ragazzO
(fr) ELLE est unE bonNE FILLE / IL est un bon GARCONS
Redundancy for the number
(en) one friend IS / two friends ARE
(it) un amicO E' / due amicI SONO
(fr) un ami EST / deux amiS SONT
Just a little exemple in italian: "sono qui" means both "I am here" and "they are here" and just this little difference of meaning, in an weird context, can be misunderstood:
At the phone
- Hey Claudia sei lì a casa? Sono arrivati? - (Hey Claudia, are you there at home? They are arrived?)
- Sì ci sono - ("Yes, they are arrived" but also "Yes, I'm here")
- Ma chi? Te o loro? XD - ("Who? You or they? XD)
- Io! Loro devono ancora arrivare XD - (Me! They have yet to come XD)
Even monosillabic languages (such as Chinese) use grammatical particles, named classifier (i send you to wikipedia "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_classifier
for a deeply clarification).
Then, I think, a so basic simplification in Toki Pona doesn't bring an easier communication, but a simplistic one, full of potential misunderstanding in a daily life.
7. What else? Toki Pona aims a philosophical gaol: make easier the daily life. LOL how? It is not enough accurate for a non-basic communication (such as low philosophical exchanges like "not every bad person can't be friends (double-negation was intentional O_O)); it's hell for a specific area of language such as hypothetical medical terms or whatever other "specialistic jergon"; it is hard to use in context wherein you need to be "exact" (such as in a pub: a "black water" can be a "coffee" or a "black tea"? And how to express "Black Russian" in Toki Pona? XD); and at least useless in chance encounters wherein people just use the closest vehicular language they both already known or at least english.
I read somewhere studies about the impoverishment of words commonly used in a language (around 800 in italian, around 300 in english; just because english uses many verbs like "get in; get out, get off; get over; get down" and so on), but just 123 words are too few to have a normal communication in the daily life.
I'm sorry, but Toki Pona didn't convince me to be as good as it would like to be.