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Díaıko chỉetoaı – 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 and the rising tone . All of 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 verb tone.

The rising tone sounds like “huh?” or “what?” and it makes nouns.

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 this template:

Sentence prefixes (“but”, “so”, …) are optional.

When there is a noun in topic position, the verb of the sentence must be preceded by the particle .

The purpose of an utterance

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

da makes assertions:

Bủa hó sa jỉo da.
“They live in a building.”

Chỏ jí súq da.
“I like you.”

ba makes commands, wishes, and suggestions:

Chủq múy ba.
“Let us eat.”

Nủo déo ba.
“May the children sleep.”

moq makes questions:

Mả kảqgaı súq kúne moq?
“Do you see the dog?”

Gỉ hı shảmu moq.
“Which apples are good?”

Everything is a verb

By now, you have heard a few times that things that would be nouns or adjectives in English are actually verbs in Toaq. What is really meant by that is that the words that carry meaning in Toaq (as opposed to words that mainly give structure to a sentence, like keo, , or da) are verbal in nature. Grammatically, they only assume their role as a verb when they carry a falling tone or as a noun when they carry the rising tone . Before they receive a tone, they are what a linguist would call contentives, which comes from the fact that their primary property is that they have semantic content (unlike function words) — the are the containers of meaning.

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 contentives (which are turned into verbs via the falling tone ) in Toaq:

Chủq jí da
“I eat.”

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

Kủne 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 sa, tu, or followed by a verb:

“the person(s)”

sa rủa
“a flower, some flowers”

tu bảo
“every white thing, all white things”

hı jỉo
“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
hohe, she, they
haone, you (generic)
muywe (you and I)
mıywe (he/she/they and I)
maqit, 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 (ho and maq) can only refer to things which belong to the same animacy class as them. ho refers to living things, maq 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:

Chủq múy ba.
“Let us eat.”

Chỏ míy súq da.
“We like you.”

All of these pronouns are contentives, which means they can be used as verbs:

Jỉ ní da.
“This is me.”

Sủq núo da.
“The one who sleeps is you.”

Roots and compounds

A lexical distinction is made between root words with more than syllable on the one hand, and compound words on the other hand. Compounds are words that are made of meangingful components. For example, chıejıo “school” is a compound whose components are chıe “learn” and jıo “building”. On the other hand, kune “dog” and sofa “sofa” are roots, as they have no semantic components.

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.)

We learned that care must be taken to pronounce the neutral tone in a way that “breaks” the previous word’s tone contour. This way, we will not accidentally form one long word kủneda when we want to say Kủne 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 suffix -ko is attached to any number to create an ordinal number: shı “one”, shıko “first”.

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

Gủ múy da.
“We (you & I) are two.”

Sảq 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!