Punctuation guidelines inferred from Pu


Intro

This only applies to the latin orthography for toki pona (For example, in Sitelen Pona “seme” already looks like a question mark, so I don’t think it’s necessary to have “?” as a separate symbol). They’re only guidelines, but I think they make for a decent style!

The list of toki pona sentences can be found here. (Note that I didn’t include sentence fragments).

Rules written in bold are explicitly stated in pu.

If you’re interested in other style guidelines, @ae-dschorsaanjo, who is way more experienced with toki pona than me, has some here.

Table of contents

Case

All words are written lower-case except for proper names, which begin with a capital letter.

meli Sonko li tawa nasin Kuwin.

Full Stop

Sentences that aren’t questions or exclamations end with a full stop. There’s a single space after a full stop.

jan li suli mute. mani li suli lili.

There are some exceptions - in the section of common phrases jan Sonja omits full stops, like

mi wile e ni

ale li pona

ike a

Question Marks

Questions end with question marks.

seme li sin?

Commas

Commas are used after ‘o’ when you adressing someone:

jan Mosima o, ni li soweli sina anu seme?

For the other cases of expressing a command/request/wish, it’s left out:

o toki ala.

mi o moku e ijo pona.

You get a comma before ‘la’ in the case of “if X then Y” sentence structures

suno li loje, la tenpo pona li lon.

(Note that, as in English, there’s a space after the comma, but none before).

For other things that supply context without causality, you don’t seem to get commas.

tan seme la soweli wawa pimeja li moku e ona?

This also seems to hold for prepositional phrases specifying tense.

tenpo suno nanpa tu la ona li kute e mu wawa.

(A consistent alternative interpretation of the la commas as they’re used in the book is sto say: you can put a comma where the part before the ‘la’ is a full sentence)

If you join sentences with taso you always get a comma before it:

jan Mawijo li kepeken ilo alasa, taso linja li pakala.

Exclamation marks

If you feel like exclaming something, put an exclamation mark at the end.

toki!

pona tawa sina!

kama pona!

You can also add an ‘a’ or ‘o’ at the end of a sentence for further exclamation - in this case you should end it with an exclamation mark.

sewi mi o!

sina suli a!

Colons

When you’re using ‘ni’ as a forward reference to the following sentence, you use a colon (colons have no space before, and a space after).

sona pona li ni: o weka e ike.

Colons are also used when quoting text. There are no examples of forward references with demonstratives not at the end of the sentence, (that is, no constructions like “ni li sona pona: o weka ike” or “ni li pona tawa mi: suwi”), though I assume where it can’t be avoided it’d be ok?

Quotation marks

If you’re quoting someone, introduce the quote with a colon and surround it with quotation marks. (Also note that pu uses shaped left/right quotation marks).

jan lawa li wile sona e ni tan jan Isa: “jan sona pona o! mi pali e seme, la mi kama lon tenpo sewi?”

Note that within the quote, the punctuation at the end comes before the closing quotation mark.

jan Isa li toki e ni: “tan seme la sina pana e nimi pona tawa mi? jan ala li pona. sewi wan taso li pona.”

There are no examples of quotations spanning multiple paragraphs, but in the one case where quoted text has a line-break it gets only quotation marks at the very start and end:

o toki e ni: “sewi li wan.

sewi li wawa ale.

ona li mama ala, li jo ala e mama. ijo ala li sama ona.”

There are no examples of a quotation broken up in the middle of a sentence " ‘Oh look’, he said, ‘a bird!'” so there are no guidelines on that front.

Parentheses

There are no parentheses used in the toki pona of pu, except once to indicate a possible extension of a sentence

mi wile (e ni)

So I wouldn’t infer anything from that. For pu style I’d avoid them.

Paragraph Indentation

Paragraphs in pu are written left-aligned, without the first line beind indented. They are separated by an empty line.

mama sama Mawijo li jo e tomo lili lon ma kasi. ona li wile alasa li kama jo e ilo alasa e len loje. tenpo suno nanpa wan la ona li lukin e waso laso taso. waso li moku e pipi lili.

tenpo suno nanpa tu la ona li kute e mu wawa. jan Mawijo li awen. ona li lukin e soweli suli. lawa soweli li jo e palisa. jan Mawijo li kepeken ilo alasa, taso linja li pakala. soweli suli li tawa weka.