Atomic verbs

Toaq’s verbs fall into two structural categories: atomic verbs and analytic verbs.

Atomic verbs are lexical entries composed of a single word. They include the roots (e.g. rua “flower”, jara “to run”), compounds (e.g. chietua “to teach”, huosı “to listen”) and loanwords (e.g. kafe “coffee”, elu “elephant”).

Analytic verbs are verbs which are derived from other parts of speech with the help of verbal particles (also known as “predicatizers”). These can be further divided into subcategories depending on which part of speech is being converted into a verb.

This section deals with the different types of atomic verbs. The next then covers the analytic variety.


Roots are the basic building blocks of the language. All roots are verbs. Roots can be monosyllabic (fa “to go”, moaq “to remember”, haq “food”) or polysyllabic (jara “to run”, tuzy “soup”). What they all have in common is that they cannot be taken further apart. The roots are intended to cover the most basic and most general parts of the semantic space. Giving the most common concepts the shortest words has two advantages: Firstly, we need to expend fewer syllables on average (see also Zipf’s law). Secondly, roots are used to form compounds, so shorter roots result in less verbose compounds.


Compounds are verbs which consist of more than one morpheme. The component morphemes can be roots or particles, though they are more frequently the former. Compounding is the primary mechanism by which Toaq’s lexicon can be naturally and endlessly extended.

Compounds are formed by simple juxtaposition and are held together via tonal continuity.

kue “book” + jıo “building” = kuejıo “library”
nıe “inside“ + fa “to go“ = nıefa “to enter, to go inside“
ma “whether” + teoq “question” = mateoq “yes-no question”

Standard compounds are head-final, that is, the most fundamental component comes last and modifying/specifying components precede it. kuejıo is a type of building, what kind of building? One that has to do with books. nıefa is a type of going, not a kind of being inside.

This means that, if the compound is derived from a serial verb, the order of the serial verb is reversed in the compound: tua chỉe “make learn” → chıetua “teach”.

Compounds can also result from a process known as univerbation, whereby a phrase of several words is merged into a single word as is, without any change to word order:

dủa súq “you know” → duasuq “a you-know-what”
Nho, keo ... “Yes, but ...” → nhokeo “to reject what one knows to be good advice due to inner resistance (e.g. fear, guilt, self-doubt, etc)”
hủaq tou Jému “only Jemu (could) exceed [it]” → huaqtoujemu “amazingly fantastic”


Loanwords are words which are directly (without translation) imported into Toaq from other languages, with the necessary sound changes if the source word does not comply with Toaq’s phonotactics. Loanwords tend to be specific concepts for which no easy compound is available, which include animals and plants, anatomical vocabulary, country names, and more.

elu “elephant”

kafe “coffee”

gureq “kidney”

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