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?

  • 1
    Your definition of simplicity only concerns vocabulary pool right? Mar 25, 2016 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, 2016 at 1:03
  • 4
    No natural language is that small or simple because human social life isn't that small or simple.
    – curiousdannii
    Mar 26, 2016 at 5:25
  • 3
    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, 2016 at 1:58
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    All languages meet your requirements, when spoken by 2-year-olds.
    – prash
    Mar 28, 2016 at 5:27

1 Answer 1


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. Mar 26, 2016 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, 2016 at 2:02
  • @jlawler can you elaborate on "upside-down walbiri"? A duckduckgo search didn't show anything relevant Dec 15, 2017 at 13:13
  • The Hale article is "A Note on a Walbiri Tradition of Antonymy", and it's a classic.
    – jlawler
    Dec 15, 2017 at 17:28

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