I really like this quote from Jeff Eaton on design tokens:
What I mean is that “design tokens” are a language for communicating intent between disparate parts of a system. By definition, that’s complex and nuanced work. It’s an attempt to make explicit and dependable something that has (in most publishing systems) been implicit and inconsistent. It faces all the challenges of language.
If we think of our design system as a language, design tokens are the adjectives and adverbs.