I was reading about a constructed language called "Toki Pona" that is touted to have only 120 words.

I wanted to know are there any examples of any natural languages notable for their simplicity or relative lack of words?

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    Your definition of simplicity only concerns vocabulary pool right? – Andrew Ravus Mar 25 '16 at 20:58
  • That could be one example of simplicity, I was also thinking in terms of grammar too. For example, languages with only a few verb conjugations – waratte Mar 26 '16 at 1:03
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    No natural language is that small or simple because human social life isn't that small or simple. – curiousdannii Mar 26 '16 at 5:25
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    All languages are not the same in terms of grammar. Regardless, there are natural languages, called "creoles", that occasionally arise from contact languages, called "pidgins", by creating a generation of children with no other common language. All known creoles have very similar syntactic characteristics (most notably, even when the contributing languages are polysynthetic, like Chinook Jargon, all creole languages are analytic) Creoles, like any other language, don't lack for lexical resources, however; if they need a word, they steal it or make it. – jlawler Mar 28 '16 at 1:58
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    All languages meet your requirements, when spoken by 2-year-olds. – prash Mar 28 '16 at 5:27

There is one single ritual language that comes quite close with a vocabulary of only some 150 words (having quite broad senses like the Toki Pona ones), namely the aboriginal language Damin


  • 3
    I would say that is not a natural language. – Adam Bittlingmayer Mar 26 '16 at 20:22
  • Damin is a natural Australian auxiliary language. Granted, Australian auxiliary languages are pretty weird. See Dixon's mother-in-law language and Hill's upside-down Walbiri, for instance. – jlawler Mar 28 '16 at 2:02
  • @jlawler can you elaborate on "upside-down walbiri"? A duckduckgo search didn't show anything relevant – OmarL Dec 15 '17 at 13:13
  • The Hale article is "A Note on a Walbiri Tradition of Antonymy", and it's a classic. – jlawler Dec 15 '17 at 17:28

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