mi wile ala tawa ma tomo Pasen poka jan Mali.

English Translation

I don’t want to go Boston with Mary.

Let’s break down the sentence “mi wile ala tawa ma tomo Pasen poka jan Mali.” into its components and explain their meanings and grammatical functions:

  • mi: “I/me” - This is the Toki Pona word for the first person singular pronoun.

  • wile: “want/need/must” - This verb can express desire, need, or obligation.

  • ala: “not/no” - This word negates the meaning of the word that comes before it.

  • tawa: “to/move/moving/toward” - As a preposition, it means “to” or “toward.” As a verb, it means “to go/move,” and as a modifier, it can mean “moving.”

  • ma tomo: “city/country/town” - “ma” alone stands for “land/country/region,” and “tomo” means “indoor constructed space,” like a building or house. “ma tomo” can denote an urban area, such as a city or town.

  • Pasen: Not an official Toki Pona word, but it presumably refers to a place name, probably “Basen,” given the language’s phonotactics.

  • poka: “side/next to/hand/hip” - This preposition means “next to” or “beside.”

  • jan: “person/people/human” - Refers to people or a person.

  • Mali: Another non-standard Toki Pona word, likely referring to a name, potentially “Mali.”

Putting it all together:

“mi wile ala tawa ma tomo Pasen poka jan Mali.”

This translates to “I don’t want to go to the city of Basen with Mali” or “I do not want to go to the town of Basen next to Mali.”

The grammatical structure is straightforward and follows the subject-verb-object order, with prepositional phrases following the object. Since Toki Pona does not have tenses, the time frame of the action is understood from context.

One thing to note is that Toki Pona often uses “jan” before proper nouns, so it’s possible that “jan Mali” refers to a person named Mali, but it’s difficult to be certain without context. The placement and combination of words can be flexible, though, since the language is meant to be easy to learn and use with wide room for personal interpretation.
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