Toaq has a system of grammatical animacy.
Any noun phrase belongs to one of four classes, each with its own word for “he/she/they/it” that refers back to the most recent noun phrase belonging to that class. (This system of anaphoric pronouns is the only place in Toaq where this animacy distinction comes up, so the classes are known varyingly as animacy classes, anaphora classes, or pronominal classes.)
Grammatical, rather than natural animacy
Toaq's animacy being "grammatical" means that it is a property of expressions, not of their referents.
If you know some Spanish, it's like "grammatical gender" in that language. La persona is feminine, even if the person you're talking about isn't necessarily female.
Toaq's pronouns work the same way: if you describe a person as sá sao ("someone big"), the appropriate pronoun to refer to them later in the sentence is tá (“itdescriptive”), because sao has the "descriptive" animacy. It's not correct to use hó, because that's the pronoun for animate verbs, not animate referents.
Table of classes
|I||Animate verbs||hó||sá poq||a person|
|II||Inanimate verbs||máq||sá jıo||a building|
|III||Abstract verbs||hóq||sá sıo||an idea|
|IV||Descriptive verbs||tá||sá de||something pretty|
Verb animacy classes
Class I – ho
For living beings and their actions.
Class II – maq
For inanimate tangible things.
Class III – hoq
For abstract (intangible) concepts.
Class IV – ta
For words that could apply to many things.
See image version.
Every Toaq verb belongs to some verb animacy class:
- If the verb necessarily implies animacy/sentience of its subject, it's in class I (hó).
- Examples: poq, naq, kato, che, be, deo, mıe, koı, moı, tao, fıeq, jaı…
- If the verb describes some other tangible object, it's in class II (máq).
- Examples: cea, kıoq, haq, toq, nao, hoe…
- If the verb describe an abstract concept or idea, it's in class III (hóq).
- Examples: noı, daq, dao, sıo, muı, zu…
- Other verbs are in class IV (tá).
- Examples: doq, nuı, juı, lıo, muo, raq, daı, de…
There is one exception: the verb raı. This is so that we can use raı as a dummy verb whose only role is to bind ráı for later use, e.g.,
- Sá raı nä dua jí, ꝡä bu bo jí ráı da.
- There are some things I know I don’t own.
Variables (words starting with the prefix nha-) also behave this way.
In a serial verb, the first verb determines the animacy.