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Toaq with Ease

Chíetoaı kọdıaı – Lesson 7

Congratulations, you have reached the first review lesson. This lesson does not contain anything new. Instead, it summarizes the material covered in the previous six lessons and helps you organize and consolidate it.


It is important that you learn to hear and pronounce the tones correctly. So far, you have seen (or heard) the falling tone , the rising tone , and the glottal tone . These tones exist in English, too:

The falling tone sounds like the “go!” in “ready, set, GO!”. Conveniently, “go” is a verb, and the falling tone is the tone verbs are in. It is also the inherent tone of the sentence-ending particles da (assertion) and ba (wish).

The rising tone sounds like “huh?” or “what?”. It is the inherent tone of pronouns like jí súq úmo, determiners like sá tú hí, conjunctions like , and the question marker móq. It is also used to make nouns out of verbs, like paqtao (to participate) → páqtao (participant).

The glottal tone sounds like “uh-oh”. It is the inherent tone of particles that start a clause. We saw (topic marker) and (a particle used to move other nouns to the front of the sentence).

Listen carefully to the audio recordings in each lesson and repeat after them. You can also record yourself and compare your pronunciation to the recordings.

Sentence structure and word order

The structure of sentences and the word order generally follows one of these templates:

The purpose of an utterance

The particles da, ba, móq are used to indicate the aim of an utterance. They let us distinguish statements from questions from commands.

da makes assertions:

Bua hó sá jıo da. “They live in a building.”

Cho jí súq da. “I like you.”

ba makes commands, wishes, and suggestions:

Chuq úmo ba. “Let us eat.”

Nuo déo ba. “May the children sleep.”

móq makes questions:

Ma kaqgaı súq kúne móq? “Do you see the dog?”

Gı hí shamu móq? “Which apples are good?”

Nouns, adjectives, verbs

Toaq does not make a lexical distinction between nouns, adjectives, and verbs. Everything that isn’t some sort of grammatical particle is a verb: kaqgaı “to see” or nuı “to be small” or shamu “to be an apple”. These words can be made to function as nouns by saying them in the rising tone .

In English, you say “this is a dog”. In Toaq, you say “this dogs”.

Below are examples showing how things which would be verbs, adjectives or nouns in English are all be expressed by verbs in Toaq:

Chuq jí da “I eat.”

Nuı shámu da “The apple is small.” (lit. “The apple smalls”)

Kune ní da “This is a dog.” (lit. “This dogs”)

Making nouns

So far, you have encountered two ways of making nouns out of contentives: 1) using a rising tone , and 2) using , , or followed by a verb:

póq “the person(s)”

sá rua “a flower, some flowers”

tú bao “every white thing”

hí jıo “which building(s)”

Nouns in Toaq are not marked for grammatical number. That is, whether an expression refers to one or more things, its form doesn’t change.

Table of pronouns

This is a table showing the various pronouns encountered thus far.

I, me
he, she, they
one, you (generic)
úmowe (you and I)
ímewe (he/she/they and I)
máqit, those things

Toaq’s pronouns distinguish neither grammatical number nor grammatical gender. However, there is a grammatical animacy distinction. There are several animacy classes, though we have only seen two so far. Third person pronouns ( and máq) can only refer to things which belong to the same animacy class as them. refers to living things, máq to non-living tangible things. More pronouns and classes will be introduced in future lessons.

Toaq makes a distinction between different senses of “we”, depending on whether it includes the listener or a third party:

Chuq úmo ba. “Let us eat.”

Cho íme súq da. “We like you.”

Roots and compounds

Toaq has both compound words (like nuokua bedroom ← nuo sleep + kua room) and multi-syllable root words (like shamu, which is not a compound of sha and mu).

When applying a tone to a word with more than one syllable, the tone contour is spread out over the whole word. (If the word is really long, our voice can only keep rising/falling for so long, so it’s okay to flatten out past a certain point.)

Care must be taken to pronounce the tones in a way that “breaks” the previous word’s tone contour. This way, we will not accidentally form one long word kuneda when we want to say Kune da.

These are the roots and compounds introduced so far, in chronological order.

Roots and compounds
ruqshua "to rain"ruq "rain" + shua "fall"
shamu "to be an apple"root
tısha "to arrive" "at" + sha "arrive"
kaqgaı "to see"kaq "see" + gaı "perceive"
kueqtua "to collect"kueq "gather" + tua "make"
paqtao "to participate"paq "part" + tao "act"
seakuaı "to be exhausted"sea "relax" + kuaı "need"
kune "to be a dog"root
mama "to be a mother"root
nuokua "to be a bedroom"nuo "sleep" + kua "room"
sofa "to be a sofa"root


As you may have noticed, the title of every lesson contains a number. For your convenience, the numbers from one to ten are listed here.


The prefix kọ- is attached to any number to create an ordinal number: shı “one”, kọshı “first”. We will learn more about prefixes later, but for now, take note that this is pronounced as a little glottal stop in the vowel, as in , but with the tone contour of koshı.

Toaq’s cardinal numbers are verbs that describe the numerosity of the referents of an expression:

Gu úmo da. “We (you & I) are two.”

Saq shámu da. “The apples are three in number.”

It is not necessary to memorize any of this. If you feel like practicing the numbers, you can click on a random lesson number and check what its Toaq translation is.

This concludes the first review lesson.

If you have the time, go back and slowly read through the Toaq texts of the previous six lessons — out loud. You might be surprised at how much easier everything seems now.

The next lesson is the beginning of a new unit of seven lessons. In it, you will meet both familiar and new concepts.

And remember: relax, and allow things to sink in naturally over time. There is no need to memorize anything. Do not get unsettled if something does not immediately make sense to you. Soon enough it will all fall into place.

Good luck!