The Use of Languages in building a world?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Ryisunique, Apr 30, 2019.

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Would you include a real language or fake one?

  1. Real

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  2. Fake

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  3. Combination

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Multiple votes are allowed.
  1. Ryisunique

    Ryisunique Detective, AUEI Veteran

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    For those of you that are planning or have made large sprawling games, do you plan/planned on putting in different languages for different regions? I'm kinda curious because I haven't seen this really thought of anywhere around. I mean, countries here have different languages within their own borders, so reflecting that in a large world that you play could be interesting.

    Especially with fantasy settings. I read Eoin Colfer and not Tolken. The fairies, gnomes, centaurs underneath the earth were 'translated' for us to read, but there was a swear that was used that was in their original language. So, likely, if a human came across them, they wouldn't be using any human languages unless they translated it in their head.

    Would this add layers onto a world like lore, or would it be a series of roadblocks because now the player needs translators or having to play with dialogue that would match someone that has to speak with a second language that isn't practiced a lot?
     
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  2. Aesica

    Aesica undefined Veteran

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    In most cases, no. I just have everyone speak the same "common" language to make things easier on the player.

    For one game I'd (eventually) like to make in particular though, I plan on having the characters speak different languages, and conveying this via different colored text. (Or maybe different fonts via an options setting for colorblind folks)
     
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  3. Finnuval

    Finnuval World (his)story builder and barrel of ideas Veteran

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    It highly depends on several factors I guess, like the scope of the world - the cultural differences between ppl - etc.
    There are good game-play reasons not to have to many confusing differences yet sometimes (when done right) it can also have certain appeal. Sometimes even making it part of the gameplay : like gradually learning a language in game (and have it carry over in ng+ for instance) giving you new insights, etc.

    In the end it comes down to a lot of things though, so no clear answer here
     
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  4. Wavelength

    Wavelength Pre-Merge Boot Moderator

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    In general, the safest (and probably best) approach is to present the game text in whatever "real" language the player base knows (most frequently English). Don't get too cute - when you sacrifice readability in the name of worldbuilding, the juice is never worth the squeeze.

    And although in our real world there's no common language that everyone speaks, it's actually very feasible for that to happen in a fantasy world as long as there's sufficient contact between places. I believe that within a few hundred years our world will have a common language as well (Esperanto has been the first large-scale effort to make it happen).

    With that said, there are little things that you can add or change to give the idea that there are multiple languages out there in your world. For example, a character could use a word or a proverb from their language that really has no translation to other languages, and if other characters don't understand what it means they could do their best to explain it. As long as you do that only occasionally, it can enrich the world without taking away from the smooth experience.

    One other idea I have about this is inspired by something I've seen in Grand Chase Mobile - and it means a lot of work and can really only be done in a game with voice acting. In GC Mobile, you can tap a character's profile picture and they'll say one of a few dozen lines (it will appear in a speech bubble and will also be spoken by the voice actor). Lire, being an elf, will say most lines in English (or Korean or Japanese or whatever region you have set), but will say some lines in the game's made-up Elvish languish. The speech bubble will still read in English (in a different color like @Aesica mentions above), but the voice line is in Elvish. It's a really neat concept, and if you wanted to spend a lot of effort driving home that different languages exist in the world, you could have the voice actors do all their lines in the made-up native language, while putting the corresponding text onscreen in the player's real language. Again, it's very reasonable that characters would be able to understand each others' languages if there is sufficient communication or education in the fantasy world.

    If you go that route, be sure to give the voice actors the translated (English) line as they do their native (made-up language) voice work, as well as notes about what important individual words in each sentence mean. This way, they will understand what kind of inflection and weight to add to their sentences.
     
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  5. bgillisp

    bgillisp Global Moderators Global Mod

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    One thing I did in my game was change the common phrases to better suit the world, and gave them their own swear words. For example, you're pulling my leg became you're pulling my wing flaps. Little things like that can get the idea that it is a different world while the player can still understand what is being said.

    Just be careful, you'll start to talk like your characters if you do this long enough. I caught myself almost saying Snark as a swear word in RL a while ago.
     
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  6. Ebanyle

    Ebanyle Veteran Veteran

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    That's something I'd like to insert but I couldn't work too much on it since I'm lazy hehe. But an ideia I have for my game relates to this! There's a little girl found by 2 elves who are sisters, but in the dialogue, since you're 'controlling' the girl in the cutscene, the only character that would appear in their conversation windows are ? because she can't understand them. Later on they get to communicate since the younger sister has been a soldier in the "human lands" and knows her language, but the older (and ironically more maternal) one still can't. Since interactions can change according to the leader of the team, it would be wise not to set the little girl in the first position since she wouldn't understand anything the villagers say.

    I really like these concepts because it shows how different on region can be from the other.
     
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  7. Super-User

    Super-User Villager Member

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    I prefer a real one for better readability of player.
     
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  8. Wavelength

    Wavelength Pre-Merge Boot Moderator

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    Actually sounds like a really good habit!
     
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  9. Engr. Adiktuzmiko

    Engr. Adiktuzmiko Chemical Engineer, Game Developer, Using BlinkBoy' Veteran

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    TBH, I hate when games have too much self language in text.. Its not really cool when you're playing a game but doesn't understand anything at all...

    Its fine if its on the voices and with english text.
     
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  10. Marquise*

    Marquise* Veteran Veteran

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    I wanted my monsters use home Quebecer as alien language XD (well badly typoed quebecer XD )
     
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  11. kirbwarrior

    kirbwarrior Veteran Veteran

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    Language is kind of an odd thing when looking at gameplay vs setting vs real life. But the most common thing that ends up happening in gameplay and real life is that different languages are roadblocks. As an extreme example, let's look at A Link to the Past; The Book of Mudora helps you understand an ancient language... but what it actually does is open the door to the second dungeon and later give you access to some magic. It's a fancy key. That's it.

    I think FFX did a second language "well" in two ways;
    The language is actually a cipher. Ciphers are easier to inherently understand and learn.
    It's entirely unnecessary to understand it. You can get away without learning a single thing about it and everything that needs to be conveyed still is. Voice acting helps here since inflection helps get across the emotional meaning without the linguistic meaning (such as early on when someone says "Sorry" it's pretty easy to figure it out five seconds later). Note that I did say "well" since as an actual language it actually fails to significantly have a deeper meaning. This isn't a problem for a game, only a problem for building a setting.

    Skyrim also has a second language, and once again knowing the meaning is unnecessary. It doesn't ever help you as a player, especially since the one person who often speaks it will tell you what a word means after said person slips it into conversation. The language (seems) well developed with an idea of how differing languages work, but it's background lore and it's only ever used "on screen" to help give a certain feel and work with the plot.

    The big thing I ask myself when it comes to multiple languages is "Am I going to use this as a roadblock?". If the answer is yes, then I never have to show the language to the player. I can get away with things such as 'The papers are in a different language' or 'The only word you understand the elves say was your name'. If I'm not using it as a roadblock, then what am I using it for? A second language being used for spell words can be explained simply just by seeing the spell effect (for a silly example, Dragon Quest uses onomatopoeia as spell names such as Zap for lightning). It can be used to name cities in certain regions to denote to the player different cultures without needing to explain what they mean.

    You can do multiple pieces of the above together. Arrowed text boxes can show the elves talking while a third text box shows the character's thoughts during it. You can show a tablet written with an ancient language while showing what it means in english in a text box. For skill names, you can have the spell word with the english smaller under it.

    This all applies regardless of if the language is real or not. I lean to using a fake language myself for a variety of reasons;
    1) Languages have a certain feel. If I include Japanese, then the player might think of the society as Japanese, even if that's the only thing they share.
    2) Real languages don't always have the right words, sentence structure, or spelling structure you want.
    C) I frankly don't know any real language that well, including my own. I use words in every day parlance and then right after think "Wait, did I use that word right? I don't actually know what it means" (although I've actually always used it right, I just know more words than I realize, like parlance XD)
    D) Similar to 2, how languages interact and use words of the other language matters and is much easier to do if all languages are fake. Otherwise I'd not only have to check how all languages I'm using bring that word across but also deal with fake words in different real languages.

    Heh, tiny note of roadblocks; A friend's game in in his setting, and he knows all the languages already. Since the game was entirely set in a region that uses a singular language, it's just translated to english (or the player's language) for ease. But to keep the player from crossing the single country border, the border patrol speaks in another language making it impossible for the player to communicate they wish to cross. Other than that, alternate languages rarely show up, and it's always noteworthy (for instance, one character has a name in a now dead language).
     
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  12. CountofArath

    CountofArath Villager Member

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    I like when it is mentioned then somehow handwaved (time-passes and the character learns it, babel fish, whatever) so it is in my native language.
    Constructing a full artificial language strikes me as very ambitious for most games let alone typically one person rpg maker games.
     
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  13. Kupotepo

    Kupotepo Fantasy realist Veteran

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    I prefer English-language or any real language. I am already having a hard with English, so please do not add other languages for more confusion.

    English has been borrowed its words from French, Germany, Latin, Italy, Japanese, Spanish, and etc.

    I have been asked the same question as you are asking about creation of unique culture around the world. Culture contains not just language, but includes customs, tradition, dresses, holidays, buildings.

    For praticality in game making, you have people dresses differently, and used different tileset to show different style. Make festival in different locations.
     
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  14. TheoAllen

    TheoAllen Self-proclaimed jack of all trades Veteran

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    For the important part of the game like the story, I'm just going to use commonly used language with the same reason as Aesica said. I don't bother to try to craft a new language for a new race, and for some reasons, I don't want to use real-world language. So either I make a fake one, use a common language, or just plug a magical device that helps them to understand each other. While crafting an immersive world is good, but for me, a game is for gameplay.

    However, for the unimportant part of the game when it doesn't matter if the player understands or not, like ancient writing, I may use a real-world language. In my case, it would be my local language. I might be putting an irrelevant joke for those who understand the language so they will have a good time, but it really doesn't matter if they don't know.
     
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  15. HayateKung

    HayateKung Villager Member

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    I actually haven't thought of this before and this could actually be a nice addition to the real-world based story.

    For this idea, I think that the use of certain words and spellings could also be associated with a "language," like a chat language and formal language. Both will be relatively easy to understand to the player and the distinction is also there.
     
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  16. Darkanine

    Darkanine ...In my thoughts and in my dreams... Veteran

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    I'm a language nerd so I try to create languages for my world, at least "naming" languages. For my name, I am currently devleoping two different languages, Invuk based off Inuit languages and Tihaku based off Quechua languages. So far I've only made a few words on the Swadesh list and coined a few weather and astronomical phenomenon.
    I really like when I see this done in works, even if it's really basic because it adds a more believable edge to the world, and can add a ton of fun, cultural things and in-jokes.

    I think this is especially helpful in naming places like towns and such. When you really boil it down, most cities and landmarks have extremely basic or descriptive names that may sound alien or charming to people who don't speak the language. Sapporo of Japan for example. The name Sapporo is actually derived from the Ainu placename, sat poro pet, or "big, flat river". Another example is Mississippi, which is derived from the Ojibwe name misi-ziibi.

    A major city in my world and the capital of the "main" nation is called Atagu Tunda (Atagutunda). Atagu is derived from the two words, Ata which means settlement or city, Guna which in this context is a suffix to signify something is "of the aurora", and thus, holy or spiritual, since my culture worships the Aurora Borealis.. Tunda is derived from the word Tundneq, which means "hill". Tund effectively means tall, but not to tall, while -neq means earthen land, as apposed to land in a more metaphyorical sense, -inu.

    Similar things can be found in Tolkiens work (which as far as I know, was written just as an excuse to use his languages in a meaningful way). You can pick apart the etymology of several of his placenames and find the same roots used in other words. Just look at all the words that use the prefix, "mor". One of my language text books even used this inscription in Black Speech as a way to show off predictability in languages.

    I'll probably make something about my typical thought process on using constructed languages to name places, people and things eventually.
     
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  17. Marquise*

    Marquise* Veteran Veteran

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    I love languages (as a dyslexic French-Quebecer). love your take on it @Darkanine , But what means msi-ziibi???
     
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  18. Darkanine

    Darkanine ...In my thoughts and in my dreams... Veteran

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    Oh, sorry. It just means "great river"
     
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  19. Marquise*

    Marquise* Veteran Veteran

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    Awwwww... That just makes sense.
     
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  20. SepulcherGeist

    SepulcherGeist Veteran Veteran

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    If your game is second-world, and by that I mean "a world outside of our universe," then the chances are no one is speaking English, French, Japanese, or anything from our universe. And yet, they do. What is understood in fiction is that it is, as you said, "translated for us." But that wasn't just the case for Centaurs. "English" doesn't exist in LOTRs, or any other second world fantasy. Everyone spoke something else, and everything was translated for us.

    I sometimes use Latin to designate an ancient tongue. People, not very well educated in fiction, try to call me on it. "Why does Latin exist in your world?" And my answer is, why don't you question the English the characters are speaking? They answer, "well, I assume it's translated so I can read it." Then why wouldn't you assume the ancient language wouldn't be translated to Latin so you'd recognize it as the ancient roots of the language the characters are speaking? At that point, they usually have a light-bulb finally turn on.]

    You continue to extend language in that manner to other groups in the world. When the characters you are with can't understand it, don't translate it, or write much of anything if you can help it. Instead, describe it by what it sounds like to the characters. *Orc makes grimey, gutteral noises, followed by deep-belly laughter.* If a character CAN understand it, and you're sharing in their POV (point of view), translate it. But keep the language in mind. Maybe they talk strange like Yoda, or leave out certain types of words like adverbs and adjectives, or refer to themselves in the 3rd person.

    Finally, regional dialects are where language really shines. Come up with sayings that you imagine would arise in the world you've created. Schelkweed is a foul smelling plant in a swamp in my novel series. People use it as an insult, or the shorter form, "schelk." This behavior continues into other vegetables: people often relating others to plants. "Get back here, your leek!" Leek meaning an awkward, drooping coward. Curse words and insults are a favorite for writers to change because it helps avoid backlash you'd normally get using harsher words. The F word in my novel series is "Fromp," used in a lot of the same ways. Fromp off. Oh, Fromp it. And even: I want to fromp your brains out.

    Names of places, games, and species in the area should also come into the language. As should manner-of-speaking. I consider certain areas to have a higher tone, while others to a heavily informal one. I pick real-world accents and dialects to model off of, so my characters sound different in my hand and thus sound different on paper.
     
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