Tuesday, March 7, 2023

A parting of the ways

My decision last month to remove all predicate roots beginning with /j/ from the Koa lexicon sparked a significant artistic crisis. I tried to accept the replacements, but as time passed I was confronted with a growing feeling that this change was not okay. I loved those proscribed roots, loved the variation in syllable structure that they provided, and realized that I would like Koa less without them; worse than that, that it would feel like it had lost some of the essence of itself. It would feel like it was no longer mine.

I was clearly right when I said that this phoneme had no place given Koa's charter, but it just doesn't matter: apparently at this point the language has developed such a strong sense of itself, especially after all the vocabulary creation and writing that's been going on this year, that honoring that personality is actually more important. The charter was supposed to be an inspiration, not a prison, and the fact is that I love what Koa has become so much that I would rather change the limits than stifle the language to fit within them.

This may seem like a lot of fuss over 20 roots and a marginal phoneme, but this is the first time I've ever consciously and intentionally prioritized aesthetics over the language's ease or clarity. It's uncomfortable, but also unquestionably the right decision.

Emboldened by this I've found myself thinking crazy thoughts, like considering adding another consonant phoneme. I experimented with [ŋ] and was shocked to discover that I actually loved it, and that it "felt" like Koa despite the fact that it would be completely off the deep end charter-wise. I don't know that I'll really go down that path, but it's sort of a wonderful thing that after 23 years there is something that Koa "feels like" to such a clear extent that it can begin to direct its own course into territory I'd never imagined.

Over the weekend I reinstated all my exiled vocabulary. It was a tremendous relief. Honestly I think I would have died on that hill for iolo alone.

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