Appendix:!Xóõ Tone Class

Explanation of the 2 ǃXóõ tone classes

The tone classes


ǃXóõ nouns are marked not only for 5 noun classes, but for one of two tonal classes which determine the tones on the concordially dependent word forms (e.g. adjectives, demonstratives, etc.) Verbs that vary concordially are assigned their tones by separate rules--these two tonal classes apply only to nouns. The tonal classes are arbitrary and should be viewed as melodies that have the whole dependent string as their domain: Tonal Class I determines a melody that is level, and Tonal Class II determines one that falls. The lexical tone of the noun is independent of the tonal melody associated with the noun, as is evident in the examples below, where the noun's tone can clearly differ from the rest of the sentence's melody. One can find examples of any of ǃXóõ's 4 lexical tones (i.e. á (high) - ā (mid-level) - â (mid-falling) - à (low)) with either of the two melodies.

  • In most cases, the Tone Class of the plural noun will be the same as the Tone Class of the corresponding singular noun. In some cases, however, the Tone Class changes, sometimes unpredictably and somtimes when the noun signals the distinction between "alienated" and "possessed" possession. Because Tone Class information is sometimes completely unpredictable, it is imperative that it be indicated for every noun.

Tonal Class I - Level Melody

  • These examples involve a noun from Noun Class 3 (-e concord) and Tone Class I. You will notice that not only do all words end in some form of -e (in accordance with Noun Class 3), but also that there is a level melody that carries throughout the phrase, indicated by the macrons (mid-level tone marker). The word "ǀkxʻâje" is the sole determiner of the phrase's -e endings and level melody.
ǀkxʻâje tēʻē
antbear this
"This antbear."
ǀkxʻâje tēʻē ǃxāe
antbear this big
"This big antbear."
ǀkxʻâje tēʻē ǃxāe ǂʻūeʻē
antbear this big only
"Only this big antbear."

Tonal Class II - Falling Melody

  • These examples involve a noun from Noun Class 1 (-i concord) and Tone Class II.
ǁkxʻúi tíʻì
tick this
"This tick."
ǁkxʻúi tíʻì ǃxàe
tick this big
"This big tick."
ǁkxʻúi tíʻì ǃxàe ǂʻúiʻì
tick this big only
"Only this big tick."


  • A ǃXóõ Dictionary, 2nd edition, pp 23-24, →ISBN