Parts of speech

The tones introduced in the last section all have very specific functions. Their job is to specify to which part of speech a given word belongs. Each tone corresponds to a different part of speech.

Symbol Name Function
Rising Bound variable
Rising glottal Relative clause
Falling Verb
Rising-falling Content clause
Mid Preposition
Low glottal Adverb
Neutral Non-verbal particle.

Toaq's tones are syntactic heads, which head a phrase of their respective type. They precede their complement, but since tones are suprasegmental features, they need a segment as carrier. Therefore, they end up "on top" of their complement.

The first six tones apply exclusively to verbs and verbal particles. Any verb can carry any of those six tones, and each tone produces a different part of speech.

On the other hand, the neutral tone can only appear in particles. A verbal lexeme can never carry the neutral tone.

The following table shows what the verbal lexeme juqgı "to be beneficial to someone" would mean in each tonal inflection:

+ juqgı "the beneficial thing"
+ juqgı "... which is beneficial"
+ juqgı "to be beneficial"
+ juqgı "that (something) is beneficial"
+ juqgı "benefitting [complement]"
+ juqgı "beneficially"

Unlike the tones found in many natural languages, where a different tone signifies a different lexical entry, the tones in Toaq never change the lexical content of a word, so even if a speaker were to get the tones wrong, the listener would still get a rough idea of what the sentence is about and would only have to guess how the different parts are related syntactically.

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