Tokipona: 123 words for everything

Tokipona: 123 words for everything

All new phenomena are reflected in language. And the more new terminology a language is able to «digest», the greater its cumulative properties.

For example:

When a Chinese person says «computer», we hear «electronic brain». Icelandic «microscope» means «miniature observer». Lakota language describes a horse as an «amazing dog».

Psychologist Julian Janes explains the mechanism of creating new words as follows: «When asked to describe an unfamiliar object or phenomenon, we start with the words ‘this thing that’.


The world’s most succinct language, topicon, is based on descriptions. There are about 250,000 words in the English dictionary and Koko the gorilla needs at least 1,000 gestures to speak English. But there are only 123 words in the topicon.

Language author Sonja Lang says those 123 words are enough to express any thought. All thanks to the fact that the thought is cut down to the simplest concepts. The result is that one word can be a noun, an adjective, a verb, an adverb etc.


To learn English well, you’ll need hundreds of study hours. A Topicon will take about 30 hours to master. The authors and followers believe this makes the micro-language an ideal auxiliary communication tool.

Hundreds of enthusiasts from Japan, Belgium, New Zealand and Argentina are already speaking Topicon.

Not so simple

The brevity of language defines thinking. The lack of words forces the use of allegories with great attention to detail. There are no idioms, so the topicon is highly flexible.

Sonja Young believes that topikon allows for maximum human involvement in communication and the process of language creation.

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