Introduction

Chapter 1

Parts of Language Types of Words What about Nouns? Standard Form Verbs Say What Nouns Do Simple Pronouns Verbs and Nouns Rearranging Nouns Converting Verbs to Nouns Complex Sentences The Drama of Language

Chapter 2

Multiple Sentences Serial Predicates Proper Nouns Greetings Addressing Someone Yes-No Questions Yes-No Answers Wh-Questions Commands Sentence Starters

Chapter 3

Compound verbs - The tone Saying "and" and "or" Me and you together Association Saying "some" Specifying how many Asking how many Asking how much Saying "nothing"

Chapter 4

Adverbs and the tone Negation Expressing Tense Temporal Distance Aspect

Chapter 5

Facts, Situations, and the tone Properties Relative Clauses Incidental Clauses

Chapter 6

Prepositions and the tone Indirect Questions Direct Quotes

Credit

This is an adaptation of this Lojban guide by ldlework.

Introduction

This is a distilled overview of the Toaq language.

Major concepts of the language are introduced by saying as much with as little as possible.

That is to say:

For each concept the most crucial aspects are presented. However, some details may be glossed over or simplified. Some details are only mentioned or explained by their mere appearance in example sentences. Look carefully!

Finally, some aspects of Toaq are omitted entirely!

However incomplete - the goal of the following is to present, in the most immediate and expedient manner possible, a conceptualization of the language. This text aims to reveal that Toaq is both rational (it makes sense) and regular (it always works the same).

From this rationality and regularity comes a simplicity that makes Toaq easier to learn than anyone really ever expects it to be at first.

Tip:

If you take the following passages at reading speed you will likely find yourself lost in the forest very quickly. The slower you go, the better luck you'll have at absorbing what it is trying to tell you.

In the end, if you're confused, use that as inspiration to dig deeper and you'll be fine!

By the way, there are going to be a lot of such "cards" in this guide. In fact, that's why it's called Kátā "card(s)". Each new concept is conveyed using only as much information as could fit on a small note card. You will be getting to know Toaq "card by card", as you will.

It is recommended that you familiarize yourself with the pro-nunciation of the letters before trying to read the examples in this guide in order to avoid creating incorrect associations between the letters and the sounds.

Click here for an interactive keyboard of Toaq letters and sounds.

If, at any point, you need to look something up, here are two dictionaries:

Official dictionary
Community dictionary with search function

Once you are ready, proceed.



Chapter 1

Parts of Language

In Language there are three major parts:

nouns: the things we talk about
verbs: tell us what the nouns do
sentences: say something using nouns and verbs

Types of Words

Toaq only has two kinds of words:

particles: short words that perform grammar functions
verbs: tell us what nouns do

What about Nouns?

What about Nouns?

Hold that thought.

Standard Form

Every sentence follows the form:

VERB ___ ___ ... da

da marks the end of a sentence. The verb comes first in a sentence, then follow the nouns.

Verbs Say What Nouns Do

Verbs tell us what the nouns do:

maı: ___ loves ___

To use a word as a verb in a sentence, it must carry the tone :

     maı: ___ loves ___
    ┌─┴─┐
   maı    
   ───┬───       
     verb       
      ▼         
     mảı

 mảı  
  │    [lover] [loved]
  ├───────┼───────┤
 verb    1st     2nd
        noun    noun

Simple Pronouns

Here are two simple pronouns:

: me, the speaker
súq: you, the listener

Verbs and Nouns

Nouns can be put in the places and the verb says what they do:

 mảı           súq
  │    [lover] [loved]
  ├───────┼───────┤
 verb    1st     2nd
        noun    noun
"I love you."

Rearranging Nouns

Putting the nouns into different places changes what they do:

 mảı     súq     
  │    [lover] [loved]
  ├───────┼───────┤
 verb    1st     2nd
         noun    noun
"You love me."

Converting Verbs to Nouns

The tone converts verbs to nouns from the first noun slot:

     nuo: ___ sleeps
      ▼
    verb
    ┌─┴─┐
   nuo   <==  nuo  [sleeper]  
   ───┬───       ├───────┤
     noun       verb    1st
      ▼                 noun
     núo

núo creates a noun description which refers to a "sleeper". A natural-sounding English translation would be "the one who sleeps".

 mảı           núo
  │    [lover] [loved]
  ├───────┼───────┤
 verb    1st     2nd
         noun    noun
"I love the one who sleeps."
"I love the sleeper."

Complex Sentences

Using multiple verbs, complex sentences can be formed:

pıe: ___ drinks ___
poq: ___ is a person
nao: ___ is water
 pỉe       póq       náo
  │     [drinker] [beverage]
  ├─────────┼─────────┤
 verb      1st       2nd
           noun      noun
"The person drinks the water."

The Drama of Language

The previous example can be thought of as a kind of stage-play, directed by the Verb and starring the Nouns.

Break Time, a play by Pıe.

The Verb Director tells us what Roles are available and What Happens:

Pıe says, "___ drinks beverage ___".
Story Outline: pỉe [drinker] [beverage]
 SCRIPT:
  1. A Drinker drinks!
  2. A Beverage is imbibed!
CAST:

 The lead Drinker: póq 
 (the first slot of poq - "the person")
 
 The supporting Beverage: náo 
 (the first slot of nao - "the water")
STAGE:

  pỉe       póq       náo      <== actors
   │     [drinker] [beverage]  <== roles
   ├─────────┼─────────┤
director   role 1    role 2
"The person drinks the water."



Chapter 2

Multiple Sentences

Let's recall the general pattern of sentences:

VERB ___ ___ ... da

So far, we have omitted the final da from our examples. The purpose of this da is twofold. Its main purpose is this:

da: marks a sentence as being an assertion

Additionally, da serves as a sentence boundary. When you see da, you can be certain that the sentence is over and that any following words belong to the next sentence.

Thus, text follows this form:

SENTENCE da SENTENCE da SENTENCE da ...

For example:

Mảı súq da. Chỏ fúaq da. Nủo póq da.
"You love me. I like the picture. The person sleeps."

Serial Predicates

Individual verbs can be chained together to form so-called serial verbs as a means to create more interesting and more expressive verbs.

Pattern:
VERB + VERB = SERIAL VERB

Here are two example verbs, which we will use for our very first serial verb:

jaq: ___ is very ___
de: ___ beautiful

By chaining these verbs, we get:

jảq dẻ ___ is very beautiful

For example:

Jảq dẻ súq da.
"You are very beautiful."

Let's make another serial verb with these verbs:

leo: ___ tries to do ___
pıe: ___ drinks ___

Lẻo pỉe súq cháı da.
"You try to drink the tea."

Serial verbs are a powerful tool. They can contain an arbitrary number of verbs, though we won't get into that much detail yet.

Also note that serial verbs are verbs and therefore can be turned into nouns. To do so, only the first verb gets the tone, the remaining verbs retain their tone.

léo nủo
"the one who tries to sleep"

Proper Nouns

Proper nouns are created by using the particle in front of a name (the name can carry any tone, though usually it will carry a tone).

Pattern:
+ NAME = VERB

Since the result is a verb, we get a place structure and we have to use the appropriate tone on depending on the function we want it to fulfill.

Lỉ : ___ is someone named Lee

To use this as the verb of a sentence, we use the tone, as usual:

Mỉ Lỉ da.
"My name is Lee."
"I'm Lee."

To use this as a noun, we use the tone:

Lỉ
"Lee"

Chỏ Sả rúa da.
"Sarah likes the flower."

Greetings

Greeting another person is done with the verb hıo and the particle ka.

hıo : ___ greets ___

The particle ka is actually in the same class as the familiar da. ka also marks the end of a sentence, but instead of marking the sentence as an assertion, it marks it as a so-called performative. A sentence with ka is true by virtue of being uttered. Think of a marriage officiant saying the words "I now pronounce you husband and wife". The officiant is not merely asserting that they are pronouncing it. Instead, the very act of saying the sentence is itself what fulfills the ceremony. A good way to translate ka is "hereby".

Pattern:

SENTENCE ka
"Hereby SENTENCE"

Combining the two, we arrive at the Toaq greeting:

Hỉo súq ka.
"I hereby greet you."
"Hello"/"Goodbye"

The greeting is often shortened to a mere Hỉo ka, "I hereby greet", which is just as understandable.

Addressing Someone

If multiple listeners are paying attention, you can address them individually with the particle hu.

Pattern:

hu NOUN
addresses NOUN
Kủaı chủq hu Jẻı da.
"I am hungry for food, Jamie."

Yes-No Questions

Yes-No questions can be asked by using the particles mả and moq.

Pattern:

mả SENTENCE moq

The particle moq is in the same class of words as da and ka. It marks a sentence as being a question and is always used when a sentence is a question, no matter the type, be it a yes-no question or a wh-question.

The particle mả is placed at the beginning of a sentence and indicates a yes-no question. It can be translated as "whether".

Mả nủo súq moq.
"Are you sleeping?"

Yes-No Answers

"Yes" and "No" answers can be supplied with the following replies:

In the affirmative, Hỏq da is used:

Q: Mả chỏ súq rúa moq.
"Do you like the flowers?"

A: Hỏq da.
"Yes."

The denial is supplied by Bủ hỏq da:

Q: Mả chỏ súq rúa moq.
"Do you like the flowers?"

A: Bủ hỏq da.
"No."

Wh-Questions

Who, what, where, when, why? These are wh-questions. In Toaq, these are all based on "which". "who" is "which person", "where" is "at which place", "when" is "at which time", "why" is "for which reason".

"What" asks what goes in a given noun slot. This is done using the expression ráı, literally "which thing".

Chủq súqráı moq.
-
"What are you eating?"

Nỉeráı moq.
-
"What is inside of this?"

To answer such a question, simply state what fills the missing place:

shá
"the apple"

Or restate the question with the asked-about place(s) filled in:

Nỉe sa rúa da.
-
"There is a flower inside of this."

Commands

To make a command, replace da with ba.

Pattern:

SENTENCE ba = COMMAND

Sỏa súq ba.
-
"Help me!"
"May you help me."

Commands with ba are not impolite. They are completely neutral on the politeness scale.

ba is very flexible and not at all limited to requesting things from other people:

Jẻaq lẻo ba.
-
"I should try harder!"

Sentence Starters

In addition to words like da, which have among their functions the marking of the right boundary of a sentence, there are also words that mark the left boundary of a sentence, the so-called sentence starters. They are useful for structuring text. The most important member is keo "but".

Pattern:

Keo SENTENCE

"But SENTENCE"

Bủ chỏ rúa da. Keo chỏ súq da.
-
"I don't like the flower, but I like you."



Chapter 3

Compound verbs - The tone

Words are not limited in length to a single syllable. When multiple syllables are joined to form a longer word, we speak of compound verbs. Often, these verbs are the result of joining two monosyllabic roots together to form a new emergent concept. An example of this would be chıejīo "school", from chıe "learn" and jıo "building".

In order to indicate that the glued-on syllable belongs to the same word, it carries the tone.

Pattern:

SYLLABLE + [ SYLLABLE + ] = COMPOUND VERB

The first syllable gets the tone that decides what part of speech the word will act as in a sentence. The following syllable always keeps its tone.

Shả da.

"This is an apple."

Chủq shá da.

"I eat the apple."

Saying "and" and "or"

To make statements about different nouns at the same time the conjunction particle ru can be used:

Pattern:

NOUN ru NOUN => NOUN'

Chỏ [[shá] ru []]

"I like the apples and the pears."

Similarly, ra can be used for "or":

Kỏe súq [[shá] ra []] ba!

"Pick the apple or the pear (or both)."

Me and you together

To group multiple nouns together to say that they do something together, roi can be used:

Pattern:

NOUN roi NOUN => NOUN'

Chẻo mảı súq roi da.

"You & I love each other."

Gủ súq roi da.

"You & I are two."

Association

To express association to a noun the particle po is used:

Pattern:

po + NOUN = VERB

___ is associated to / related with NOUN.

To use a po-verb in a sentence, the po has to carry the appropriate tone.

[Pỏ ] da.

"This is of me."
"This is mine."

Bủ chủq súq [ ] ba.

"Do not eat mine!" ("the one of me")

po has a terminator, ga, which must be used sometimes to prevent accidental serial verbs:

Chỏ [ súq ga] kảqhūa da.

"I like your eyes." ("the eyes of you")

Pattern:

po + NOUN ga

There are lexicalized compound forms of po + PERSONAL PRONOUN, which don't require a terminator and are simpler grammatically:

jı "I/me" - po "mine"

suq "you" - posūq "yours"

ho "they/he/she" - po "theirs/his/hers"

Chỏ sūq kảqhūa da.

"I like your eyes."

Saying "some"

So far, the nouns we have made have all been definite ("the person", "the apple"). This is the default behaviour when using the tone.

To say that "some" person, "some" apple, did something, the particle sa is used:

sa NOUN = some/a NOUN(s)

Tỉ sa póq.

"A person is present."

Mả tỉ sa rúa moq.

"Are there any flowers?"

Specifying how many

To specify how many of something there are, number verbs are used:



Pattern:

NUMBER VERB : ___ are [that many] in number.

Jỏ pỉa.

"My siblings are four."

Nẻo sa kủe tóqfūa da.

"On the table there are [some] two books."

Asking how many

To ask how many things do something, the particle co is placed in front of a noun:

Pattern:

co NOUN: "how many NOUNs?"

Bỏ súq co kúe moq.

"How many books do you have?"

To ask how numerous the referents of a noun are, tıopūı is used:

Tỉopūı rúa moq.

"How many are the flowers?"

Asking how much

To ask how much something is the case, the particle tỉo is used.

Pattern:

tỉo ... moq = "how much is ... the case?"

Tỉo lỏq náo moq.

"How warm is the water?"

Saying "nothing"

To say that nothing, or "no X", fits a given noun slot, the quantifier sıa is used:

Pattern:

VERB sıa NOUN = "no NOUNs are/do VERB"

Nỉe sıa póq jío da.

"No person is in the building."

Dủa sıa ráı da.

"I know nothing."



Chapter 4

Adverbs and the tone

Pattern:

VERB + = ADVERB

Negation

negation

affirmation

Expressing Tense

There are three tenses: present tense, past tense, and future tense. All of them are verbs:

Past tense verb: pu
Present tense verb: naı
Future tense verb: jıa

Like negation, there are three main ways tenses can be expressed:

Tense pattern 1:

[TENSE + ] + VERB
Tense pattern 2:

VERB + [TENSE + ]
Tense pattern 3:

TENSE + subordinated sentence

Examples!

Pủ kảqgāı súq.

"I saw you."
("I did see you")


Kảqgāı súq.

"I saw you."
("I see past-ly you")


Pủ kâqgāı súq.

"I saw you."
("My seeing you is in the past")
Nảı kảqgāı súq.

"I see you (now)."
("I now see you")


Kảqgāı nãı súq.

"I see you (now)."
("I see present-ly you")


Nảı kâqgāı súq.

"I see you (now)."
("My seeing you is in the future")
Jỉa kảqgāı súq.

"I will see you."
("I will see you")


Kảqgāı jĩa súq.

"I will see you."
("I see future-ly you")


Jỉa kâqgāı súq.

"I will see you."
("My seeing you is in the future")

Temporal Distance

In addition to direction, temporal distance can also be provided by adding -jūı for a short distance and -jāo for a long distance:

pujūı : a short time ago
pujāo : a long time ago

jıajūı : a short time from now
jıajāo : a long time from now

Pủjūı kảqgāı súq.

"I just saw you."
Jỉajāo rûqshūa.

"There will be rain a long time from now."

Aspect

Aspectual verbs:
suoı    ╠═══════════════════════╣    luı  
       ceo                    shaı
	         chufāq

still = hoai
already  = hai
currently  = chufaq
starting to = ceo
stopping = shai
resuming = riu
has taken place = lui
is about to take place = suoi

gnomic aspect =




Chapter 5

Facts, Situations and the tone

Properties

Relative Clauses

Incidental Clauses




Chapter 6

Prepositions and the tone

Indirect Questions

Direct Quotes

Toaq uses spoken quote marks: the particles and teo:

Pattern:

TEXT teo = NOUN
referring to the quoted TEXT

Kủq chỏ súq teo.

"I say 'I like you'."

To quote any single word, the particle shú is used.

Pattern:

shú WORD = NOUN
referring to the quoted WORD

Tỏa shú chỏ súq teo.

"'máojā' is a word."



The End

Congratulations, you have reached the end of this guide!

If you are feeling curious and want to learn more, check out the main documentation on toaq.org for a more in-depth look into the language.

You are also invited to hop on the Toaq Discord server and chat with other learners.

Thank you for reading!