Well, well, well, if one thing has really kicked my behind in terms of Lingala is the tonality. If you can take anything away from this lesson:
Lingala has 4 different tonalities:
– A high versus a low tone (simple tones)
– A increasing versus a decreasing tone (double tones)
Tone is very important in Lingala because it has the potential of changing the meaning of a word or the tense of a sentence.
Now, let me explain (to the best of my ability)!
I. Simple Tones
For the most part, you will hear two tones in Lingala, a high or a low tone. These are simple tones that are usually characterize a syllable and are found on the vowels, when written. The high tone is characterized by a sharp and high accent on the vowel like in [é] when written. The low tone is characterized by a grave and low accent on the vowel like in [è] or no accent at all [e] when written. In general, when a syllable and vowel is in a low tone, writers opt for no accent at all unless the distinction for a grave and low accent is needed.
Here are some examples:
If we were to break it up by syllables, it becomes — bi-so
As such, when written, it becomes — bísó (We)
If we were to break it up by syllables, it becomes — mo-to
As such, when written, it becomes — móto (fire)
If we were to break it up by syllables, it becomes – ba-to
As such, when written, it stays — bato (men)
If we were to break it up by syllables, it becomes — moto
As such, when written, it stays — moto or mòtò (man)