Lesson 6: Tonality in Lingala (Part III)

III. Semantic and Grammatical Values of Tonality

The Semantic Value of Tonality

Tonality in Lingala can differentiate between words and their meanings. Words could be written in a similar way but the change in tonality indicates the difference between them. Let’s me demonstrate this by using examples.

Some examples:

kotanga (to disgust)

kotánga (to read)


motó (head)

moto (man)

møtø (fire)

motô (motocycle)


zólo (nose)

zølø (tiredness)


The Grammatical Value of Tonality

Alternatively, tonality in Lingala can indicate a change in tense. Let’s see some examples.

Some examples:

nalámba (I am going to cook right now)

nálámba sikasika (I will cook now)

nalámbaká kalakala (I have already cooked)




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