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Re: tonal languages?

From:Herman Miller <hmiller@...>
Date:Tuesday, December 16, 2003, 4:18
On Mon, 15 Dec 2003 13:58:49 -0500, Etak <tarnagona@...> wrote:

> I'm not sure I was completely clear in saying the >tone of a word would say one thing and the grammar >another. > I'll try and explain what I was thinking. Suppose >you were in a dark room and you said, "I can't see. I >need light." Now I was thinking that using my tonal >language you might have the noun "light" and the verb >"to see" as the same word with different tones. I >want to make my language inflecting too. So you might >be able to say, "I can't see. I need light/to see," >because you would use the infinitive form of the verb >"to see" but with the tone that says that the word is >actually "light".
That seems reasonable. Nouns can be formed from verbs in a number of ways; in English you get the noun "permit" from the verb "permit" with a change of stress, and that's not much different from a change in tone. I don't know any examples of a language with this exact sort of derivation, but it seems reasonable to have the word for "light" derived from "to see".