lami lioa icon

lami lioa

lami lioa is a communication system, originally designed by members of the LGBTQ+ community, with an emphasis on expressing people's thoughts and perspectives.

We found that in a lot of commonly spoken languages, focus is placed on being exact when describing the world. In these languages, our reality is thus classified, organized and drawn up into lots of concise words that map (somewhat) neatly onto the objects and ideas of the world. In this type of language, you simply cannot call a kettle a pot. It is a kettle. And in spite of this, the subtleties of relationship, feeling and desire are subsumed beneath this layer of exactness and left inbetween the lines where they're expected to be interpreted.

lami lioa offers an alternative approach, where meaning is secondary to the feelings, experiences and relationships that you posit in what you say. It doesn't matter whether that's a kettle, or a pot, or a glass of freshly-squeezed lemon juice - it simply matters how you relate to it, how any other things you mention relate to it, how you feel about it and what you wish the listener to feel or do about it.

In this way, lami lioa becomes an interesting and expressive tool for interacting with the world. Having said that, we wouldn't dream of a world where lami lioa tried to replace the typical paradigm of languages that we described earlier; that's simply not what it's for. We'll always need precision in many areas of our lives. But there, too, are many places where it can be liberating to shift the focus from semantic exactness onto the deeper essence of our communication: feelings and intent. In that sense, we've found lami lioa to be very useful in a lot of ways, especially therapeutically and artistically.

lami lioa was originally inspired by languages like Láadan, a feminist language created by Suzette Haden Elgin, and toki pona, a philosophically minimalist language created by Sonja Lang. In spite of this, the language is fully a priori - that is, the words are new and not just taken from other languages. The design of these words was greatly influenced by the ideas of phonaesthetics and euphonics, particularly as studied by Roman Jakobson and J.R.R Tolkien. That means great care was taken in ensuring the feeling of pronouncing them matched the feeling of the meaning, to us at least.

—koi nilolami & miko maolana