The Oobee community, as a whole, is extremely lax. We dote on our children incessantly, and our infant children babble a lot more than neighboring tribes/cities/bands. The females have a tendency to raise and teach the children how to communicate as they grow older. Oobee children’s first words tend to be “mother”, “friend of mother”, “granny”, etc. For the most part, the tribe uses a hegemonic language; however, in the case of the Collectors this is slightly different. We speak a dialect within the group. Most of what we speak is simplified, and the major changes within the language itself have to deal with words relating to the forest. In fact, we even have words that do not exist within the Oobee’s mother language!
The Oobee’s color scheme is extremely significant to their language and culture. We have three main color groups. The first are referred to as (loosely translated) “upper colors” or “higher colors,” and they consist of white, black and shades of blue. These colors are used in paintings, pottery, and other objects that
would be considered artifacts (except clothing). The next set of colors are
known as “humanly” colors. These colors include red, gold, orange and a few
others. They are the colors that the majority of the Oobee wear. The next grouping
of colors is called the “divine” or “godly” colors. These are best described as
earthen colors - for example: green and brown. These are usually worn by us,
the Collectors; the reason being it is easier to blend in with the surroundings
of the forest.
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The Oobee’s language has a very interesting history. It used to have over 35 letters (we are not sure how many there used to be but evidence so far has put the number at 35; it may actually go much higher). It seems as though every few generations or so letters are combined and only a slight tonal change will differentiate the meaning of words/sentences. For instance, the most recent of these combinations was between the English equivalents of “J” and “L”. The Oobee combined these not too long ago, and it seems like their “V” and “Y” is the next most likely combination. It appears as though before this becomes overwhelmingly adopted, it starts out as slang.
While the majority of the tribe combines letters/words, the Collectors have a tendency to create entirely new terms. A lot of the terms we borrow from other languages, and it seems foreign to the rest of the tribe. This subjugates us to some ridicule (usually from the younger generations).
The majority of the tribe’s metaphors or common phrases center around one of two things. One of which is nature. Some phrases loosely translate to “being calm and still as the bark of a tree is”, “falling just as a leaf from the mourning tree”, and “being tough/strong as the seed shell” (also known as the testa or seed coat). Most of these metaphors or comparisons are nature orientated, since it is an important part of the Oobee lifestyle. The first metaphor, “being calm and still as the bark of a tree” is used when describing an adult who has no more chaotic attributes in his or her life. For example, a mother who has raised all her children to adulthood and lives out the rest of her life in a relaxed state. The second metaphor, “falling just as a leaf from the mourning tree” is used when a member of the tribe is mourning a family member. They are sometimes ostracized as being in a different state of mind, and this phrase is used to describe them (a lot of times these people end up becoming the Collectors). The third metaphor, “being tough/strong as the seed shell” is usually used amongst the Collectors to describe each other. When one Collector performs an amazing feat or deed, the others recognized this as them being “tough” or “strong”. This is either used amongst Collectors (one to or about another) or other members of the tribe to one another. It would never be spoken from a member of the tribe to/about a Collector, or vice versa. Notice how all these analogies have a common trend: nature. It is a very important part of the Oobee’s culture, and it is reflected in our choice of word play.
The other type of metaphor used is usually seen as derogatory towards the Collectors. Some of the common phrases an Oobee might say are: “you are as inhuman as a Collector”, or “you are starting to be more like a Collector”. Both of these phrases have an extremely high negative connotation. The first one, “you are as inhuman as a Collector” is used often to scold young children who are misbehaving. It is equivalent to saying “hey, you are acting like an uncivilized, barbaric human”. The second phrase, “you are starting to be more like a Collector” has the same basic meaning. Either phrase demonstrates the hierarchy within the Oobee. It is almost like India’s caste system with the Collectors being the “untouchables”.
The vernacular employed by the Oobee is extremely dependent on tone and pitch. Tone helps determine specific meanings, since various letters have been combined throughout the history of their language. Despite symbols being mingled together, the different sounds associated with them are still separate. It would be similar if in English the symbol for “m”, “n”, and “w” were all combined, but the individual sounds were still all intact. The way the Oobee speak is also reflective upon their emotions. Loud booming voices are not seen as aggressive in the tribe; in fact, it usually suggests the person is happy and enjoying themselves. A whisper on the other hand informs the tribe that the person is irritated or upset about something and is a warning to steer clear. One very interesting aspect to the Oobee’s beliefs is that when discussing the mother goddess, we try to speak in a monotone voice. For us anything other than neutral could be seen as something offensive to the earth mother.
The Oobee do not concern themselves with things like pop culture. We do not watch television, listen to modern music, or have electricity. The Oobee live off the land. If a member of the tribe decides they would rather live in the modern world they are free to leave; although, rejoining would be extremely stigmatized. There is only one instance that we know of where this happened (it was a few generations back). A family left to live in a neighboring city; however, tragedy struck and the husband died, so the mother moved back to the tribe with the children. Interestingly enough the children ended up becoming Collectors. Collectors tend to be the only members of the tribe that deal with the modern technologies of the world (in the form of weapons). When interacting with outsiders, the Collectors are usually the most open informants, and we are more willing to let anthropologists observe us up close and personal. The majority of Collectors also tend to be partially or completely fluent in English, Spanish, or any other language near their tribes range.
When it comes to the formation of new words, there are two distinct ways they form. One is when the members of the tribe start to combine words that have similar letters. For example, the words “jet” and “let” in the Oobee’s language; these two words would look exactly the same in the written language though the pronunciation would be different. The other new words are formed are when the Collectors borrow words from other languages and incorporate them into their everyday affairs.
The Oobee try not to talk too much or too little. We are always trying to find the perfect balance when speaking to each other. When members try to engage in conversations with each other, it is very important for the discussion to be “equal”. This means that each participant has an equal amount of dialogue. If one participant tips the scale, it could lead to tension among members. If there is some discrepancy that ends up becoming an issue for the whole tribe, it can be brought up at the gathering pit; although, this is rare.
The Oobee’s language illuminates on our collective view of several different subjects. Men and women do not have variant forms of their language. The only thing that might be considered different is that once boys become men and girls become women, they are allowed to use certain words. These words do not have a direct translation to English, but the best way to describe them would be curse words. Gender roles are not very evident in our language because we prefer uniformity in our patterns of speech; however, children’s first words have a tendency to be related to the mother and household. As stated earlier, the relationship between the tribe and the Collectors is a bit complex.
The Collectors are treated like second class citizens; at least that is how it is viewed from the outside world. In actuality, we Collectors do not see ourselves as anything less than equal. From asking other Collectors, it seems we collectively like being farther away from the rest of the tribe. We are just enough a part of it without having to deal with “trivial” matters. Most of us have at some point in our lives experienced great loss. This loss and grief has pushed a few of us to a point where we do not see the need to be concerned with matters such as “the blueberries and strawberries colors are causing misalignment in nature”. The Oobee may seem slightly verbally abusive (scroll up to see metaphors); however, for members this is nothing more than light joking between friends. Physical abuse is not acceptable. This is grounds for banishment, shunning, or other various type of ostracism (I cannot recall an instance of this ever happening).
When it comes to sexuality, the Oobee do not discriminate. It is not seen as something evil or disgusting. We do consider it somewhat unproductive, because of the fact that homosexual relationships do not produce offspring. Other than that, there are no major differences that can be detected in our language. In fact, when the terms such as “gay” or “faggot” were explained to us; we were all disgusted.
The decision makers in the tribe are the elder males and if there are any significant differences we are not aware of it. There are several rituals that we were not allowed to be a part of and when asked about what goes on we got the run around from our Oobee tribe members. It is quite plausible that there are secrets in the tribe’s language and rituals and maybe even gender differences or age differences in the language. However, as slight outsiders, we were not able to participate firsthand.
One of the most amazing nonverbal cues among the Oobee is silence. Silence between members is evidence of extreme complacency with one another. In contrast, “running your mouth off” is seen as being uncomfortable with the situation you are in.
Clothing is the only major form of object communication. Non-collector tribe members wear “humanly” colors, and the Collectors can be identified by wearing “divine” colors. One other significant form of object communication is the use of pottery and art; these are only made and used by non-collector members. Most Collectors would see this as a trivial matter and would be less inclined to engage in such activities.