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zompist bboard • View topic - Taking Kobaïan seriously

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PostPosted: Sun Nov 06, 2016 5:38 pm 
Niš
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I was wondering if anyone has fleshed out Christian Vander’s “phonetic language,” Kobaïan. Currently, that have an English translation, although I’m not certain how these translations came about. From what I can tell, Vander came up with the sounds organically while singing, and formed the recurring sound patterns into words a posteriori. I would love these sounds extended into a language that conveys a greater range of meanings with grammar. (I know that Vander’s band Magma, which used Kobaïan lyrics and titles, inspired John Quijada, creator of Ithkuil, to create languages.)

Here’s a sketch of how I see Kobaïan filling out. First thing to note: as it was designed to convey feelings through sound, there’s a lot of sound symbolism. Words with positive valence tend to have lots of liquids and nasals, with a utopian, Aquarian feel. Words with negative valence have a lot of obstruents and a German-style orthography, probably reflecting anti-fascist sentiments. Admittedly, the word list that I linked above doesn’t convey this symbolism too well. But, to give some examples, the word malawelekaahm means "incantation," while stauhi means "ashes" and saaht means "painful." For Kobaïan to stay true to itself, it must continue to express this basic moral/philosophical orientation, although its interpretation and reinterpretation are wide open.

Morphology. Probably because Kobaïan is sung with a “French accent,” as Magma is a French band, the various diacritics placed on vowels are not heard on the recordings. But rather than dismiss the diacritics (and the obvious sound symbolism) as “classic noob conlangery,” what if we take them seriously and read into them a rather large vowel inventory? Furthermore, the lyrics sheets suggest that Kobaïan is an isolating language. The large vowel inventory and short words could be a starting point for some interesting structures like topic prominence, as well as nonconcatenative morphophonetic structures like vowel harmony, nasal harmony, ablaut, umlaut, and consonantal roots.

Such a language could be of use to Zeuhl bands (Zeuhl being the progressive rock subgenre spawned by Magma) who want to convey more than just an impressionistic word salad of feelings, but ideas, narratives, and metonymies with subjects and predicates.


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 07, 2016 6:16 pm 
Sanci
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