Toaq is a tonal language. It has tones! That is: saying a word with a rising or falling vocal intonation, for example, makes for a difference in meaning.
Function of tones
Toaq has grammatical tone: when you change the tone of a word, its grammatical function changes (for example dẻ “is beautiful” → dẽ “beautifully”).
(This is in contrast to lexical tone, like in Chinese: there, when you change the tone of a syllable, it becomes a different word (lexeme) entirely. For example 西 xı̄ “west” → 媳 xí “daughter-in-law”.)
- The falling tone is used for verbs, predicatizers, and adjectives. (fa “goes”, kúe gı “the good book”, … po káto “… of the cat”)
- The rising tone is used for nouns, determiners, and pronouns. (káto “the cat”, sá kato “some cat(s)”, jí “I/me”)
- The low glottal tone is used for complementizers and clause-initiating words. (ꝡä gı “that it’s good”)
- The rising-falling tone is for adverbial adjuncts
Tones worked quite differently back in Toaq Gamma.
Every verb can be "conjugated" into one of six tones, each of which expresses some grammatical function:
- (see History section for why there is no tone #1)
- The rising tone marks a noun or bound variable. (súq “you”, sa pỏq… póq “some person… that person”)
- The rising-creaky tone marks the start of a relative clause. (gï “which is good”)
- The falling tone marks a verb phrase, or the tail of a serial. (fả “goes”, bũ dẻ “not-beautifully”)
- The rising-falling tone marks the start of a content clause. (gî “that it's good”)
- The mid-falling tone marks a preposition. (bìe ní “after that”)
- The falling creaky tone marks an adverb. (dẽ “beautifully”)
Sometimes people will say “the fifth tone” or “t5” instead of “the rising-falling tone”.
Possible new tone scheme
Main Article: Main verb tone
On 21 August 2022, Hoemaı mentioned trying to settle on a new tone scheme.
- — adjunct (adverbs and prepositions)
- — nouns or bound variable
- — allotone of ; alternatively if adverbs and prepositions stay separate, it would take one of those functions
- — tail of a serial
- — relative clauses
- — main verb
- — content clauses
- — particles
- — allotone of
Particles, on the other hand, are in the neutral tone (aka the 8th tone), which is not really a tone. The only rule is that you don't continue the contour of the previous tone. So, when saying a particle after the falling tone , you should go up in pitch to break the falling contour. This way, the listener can tell the difference between lẻ moq and lẻmoq.
There used to be a flat tone , which marked the continuation of a multisyllable word. But now, the tone contour is spread out over the whole word. This was tone #1, but now it is gone. So we start counting from #2, because it would be more confusing to re-number them.
The rising-creaky tone used to be dipping , and was just “creaky”.== Lexical tone == Toaq actually does have a little bit of lexical tone. For example, moq (question marker) and môq (rhetorical question marker) are different lexemes.