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In this lesson, we will learn how to use all the glyph block which represent sound syllables. This is a quick way to learn how to write anything in toki pona using sitelen sitelen. The basic structure is a consonant container, a vowel inside, and an optional n placed on the bottom.
This hieroglyphic writing system uses two methods to form words: images which represent whole words, and images which represent syllables. Most of the time, we will use glyph blocks which represent whole words. Let’s look into the syllable method first, however, for a couple of reasons:
As you know, words in toki pona are constructed out of a limited number of possible syllables (92, to be exact). These take the form of an optional consonant (j, k, l, m, n, p, s, t, w), followed by a vowel (a, e, i, o, u), and may end with an ‘n’.
To draw the syllable glyphs, we first draw the shape which corresponds to the consonant, or a simple circle if there is no consonant:
Next the vowel is drawn as an infix in the consonant:
Finally, if there is an n, it is drawn as a subfix below:
The terminal ‘n’ is the same as the ‘n’ used as a main sign, rotated on it’s side, and “tucked under” the main consonant. Similarly, the vowels ‘i’ and ‘u’ rotate freely within the consonant main sign, and rest at the point where they are most legible.
Following these rules we arrive at the following table of possible (c)v(n) combinations: (remember: ji, ti, wo, and wu don’t exist in toki pona, so these places are blank.)
As you look though the syllabary, you will see several syllables that are toki pona words by themselves. Here are a few:
Other multi-syllable words can be created simply by adding syllables together:
As we progress through the following chapters, you will notice that some glyphs can change in order to fill in spaces of differing size. This is true for the syllable glyphs as well:
Now, as I mentioned earlier, this is a non-linear writing system, so there are a few tricks ahead for grouping several syllables into words, and words into sentences. For now, however, you might want to have some fun writing out these syllable components into linear text. You already know enough to write anything you can say in toki pona using this hieroglyphic script!