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I don't know, as a linguist myself, I tend to be ambivalent on the whole idea.

 

While it can be incredibly fun as a side aspect (decoding that made up notation system in FFXII and seeing the message displayed by traps was smirk inducing), it also tends to be really shallow in how it ties to the game and choice mechanics - overall it makes for good easter eggs, but is rarely used in ways that provide actual depth.

 

I find the current onomastic approach of the game map, where the etymological name of mostly each place is displayed in English to be blunt but satisfactory (if it is indeed the intent, I may have misunderstood).

 

Not that I would mind to see explored, say, the civilizational impact of various politeness systems in transcultural negotiations: what happens when you confront a people whose whole social miens are grammatically coded and implied to one where it <i>needs</i> to be expressed, either lexically or by using a secondary coding (say, clothing colors) ?

That is if (and it's a big if) you can do that without falling into the trappings of cheap exoticism.

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I don't know, as a linguist myself, I tend to be ambivalent on the whole idea.

 

While it can be incredibly fun as a side aspect (decoding that made up notation system in FFXII and seeing the message displayed by traps was smirk inducing), it also tends to be really shallow in how it ties to the game and choice mechanics - overall it makes for good easter eggs, but is rarely used in ways that provide actual depth.

 

I find the current onomastic approach of the game map, where the etymological name of mostly each place is displayed in English to be blunt but satisfactory (if it is indeed the intent, I may have misunderstood).

 

Not that I would mind to see explored, say, the civilizational impact of various politeness systems in transcultural negotiations: what happens when you confront a people whose whole social miens are grammatically coded and implied to one where it <i>needs</i> to be expressed, either lexically or by using a secondary coding (say, clothing colors) ?

That is if (and it's a big if) you can do that without falling into the trappings of cheap exoticism.

 

It doesn't have to be about gameplay or decoding little messages. It's just about building a world that's different from our own, that in all probability would have a different language, or obviously languages, than our own.

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It doesn't have to be about gameplay or decoding little messages. It's just about building a world that's different from our own, that in all probability would have a different language, or obviously languages, than our own.

 

If it brings nothing to gameplay, and/or doesn't feed and inform the narrative, then I would be inclined to fill it in the cheap exoticism folder myself.

 

To each his own I guess.

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Also, I for one am sick of Latin being the default language that people turn to. I think it's such a boring language compared to much more intriguing possibilities.

 

Seriously, this. I am sick of Latin being used as a fantasy language. Latin is extremely recognizable, both in it's base form and through our exposure to its daughter languages like Spanish and French. As someone who majored in Linguistics, I remember thinking that it was so cool when Bioware announced that they had hired a linguist to create the languages for Dragon Age. But then when we actually saw an example, the vocabulary was all modified Latin. That totally broke the "fantasy" feel for me. Having studied Latin and French and being fairly fluent in Spanish, Latinate words jump out at me.

 

If they were to re purpose existing languages to use in P:E (I mean more than they've already done with "hylspeak and "dyrwood"), I would want them to use something fewer people will recognize. When I'm GMing, I usually base my fantasy languages off of Arabic and Basque when I need to come up with some in-game language on the spot (I have studied both and know that no one in my gaming group is familiar with them, so they are easy to use for this purpose). When I have more time to prepare, I try to be make up lexicons and morphemes that aren't based on real world languages, but the point is, I don't use things that everyone will recognize when it's supposed to be a fantasy language.

 

Anyway, I don't have any objections to Obsidian coming up with basic rules and vocabulary for P:E's languages, but I don't really feel it's necessary. Plenty of fantasy worlds don't have any such consistency in their languages, and while this never strikes me as ideal, it also doesn't strike me as being any worse than what we see in Jade Empire and the Dragon Age games, whose languages were actually designed by someone with linguistics training.

 

So, since the conlangs from the only CRPG that I know of to employ a linguist in their design didn't immerse me in the game world any more than the randomly created fantasy words seen in most CRPGs, I don't really feel the need for Obsidian to spend money on hiring a linguist for this game. Since their approach to P:E's languages seems to be similar to DA's (that is, using words/names derived from real-world languages to create the feel of those cultures), I don't think they need a linguist. If they want to do something more unique, then sure, a linguist would probably be an asset. But to just capture the feel of certain cultures, I don't think a linguist is necessary. I mean what they have now seems to be on par with Dragon Age without the help of a linguist (compare "Dyrwood" with "Val Royeaux").

Edited by eimatshya
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The problem I have with Latin is - this is Latin. How come they speak Latin in this world that's not Earth where the Latins lived? It's tricky, we're used to English, we see this as an immediate translation from whatever native language. But Latin? We don't speak Latin (mostly), yet we know it when we hear it.

Combined with names clearly coming from the native languages, this would be a bit confusing.

etymology.png

 

This is a recurring problem for me in most any fictional universe. "That's a word we imported from Yiddish! It doesn't make sense in this context!"

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jcod0.png

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Anyone played Jade Empire? They created an entirely new language for that game and it made the game sooooooooooooooooooooo much better for it. If they can afford/have time to do it I really hope they will.

 

You mean that gibberish was an actual developed language? News to me.

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It doesn't have to be about gameplay or decoding little messages. It's just about building a world that's different from our own, that in all probability would have a different language, or obviously languages, than our own.

 

If it brings nothing to gameplay, and/or doesn't feed and inform the narrative, then I would be inclined to fill it in the cheap exoticism folder myself.

 

To each his own I guess.

 

Hmm if you say so. It builds the world. That adds a lot to gameplay in the sense of making it more believable and interesting. Yes, inventing a language is cheap exoticism. :blink:

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It doesn't have to be about gameplay or decoding little messages. It's just about building a world that's different from our own, that in all probability would have a different language, or obviously languages, than our own.

 

If it brings nothing to gameplay, and/or doesn't feed and inform the narrative, then I would be inclined to fill it in the cheap exoticism folder myself.

 

To each his own I guess.

 

Hmm if you say so. It builds the world. That adds a lot to gameplay in the sense of making it more believable and interesting. Yes, inventing a language is cheap exoticism. :blink:

 

If they do not inform gameplay and narrative, or do not have the implications they raise explored, those languages are insignificant - What do they bring then but local color ? I understand how it can be aesthetically pleasing, the appearance of other languages, and the knowledge of the - proper - craft that went in them. I'm not indifferent to it. But as long as they are not designed to mean anything beside their very own existence, yes I do think it is cheap (or actually, expensive) exoticism.

Edited by Emeraude

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A lot COULD be done with languages, even things changing the gameplay and/or story. I'll have a think on it and list a couple. But hey, Obsidian has some of the greatest game developers there are, I'm sure they could come up with great stuff if they tried. ;)


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No one's asking for a full-on Tolkien treatment with a reference grammar and writing system--not to begin with, anyway. I think the main thing we are asking for is that some thought be put into the structures of the setting's various languages so that, say, names and place names make sense and are consistent. One of the immersion-destroying things that can happen in a setting like this is that names, words, and phrases are created haphazardly, leaving the player with a strong sense that what he or she is dealing with is just a palette-swapped English. Worse, the setting can import existing alphabets and languages (the runes and Latin mentioned above) into a place where they logically wouldn't exist.

 

Seriously, there are enough linguists here (and people like me--I minored in linguistics and play around with conlangs as a hobby) who I'm sure would love to put together at least a quick phonology and basic syntax for a language or two. It's worth doing.

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The problem I have with Latin is - this is Latin. How come they speak Latin in this world that's not Earth where the Latins lived? It's tricky, we're used to English, we see this as an immediate translation from whatever native language. But Latin? We don't speak Latin (mostly), yet we know it when we hear it.

 

My take on it is that they don't speak Latin: the Latin is also a translation. Just as we can recognise and understand (or at least have a general sense of) a few words of Latin, so would the characters in a fictional universe have a sense of languages related to theirs. Thus by translating those languages into Latin, the experience of seeing or hearing a language that is recognised but not understood is also translated. Basically the relationship between English and Latin is analogous to the relationship between two languages is the fictional universe.

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@TheMufflon: yes, that's the 2nd Tolkien approach I described. And it'd be fine if I was told that is the case and if it was somehow told to the players. In the manual? In the game? Somehow it sounds...lame, to explain it like that. It works in a book, but I'm afraid our brains may be too devolved to accept it in a game. ;)


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Languages should be taken care of, adding Knowledge(Languages) skill would't hurt either. Haters are so used to crappy "A"-movies where everyone is talking gibberish instead of their natural language they forgot how tastefully that stuff could be done (quenya), or that languages can affect gameplay and mood ("The Last Express").

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@TheMufflon: yes, that's the 2nd Tolkien approach I described. And it'd be fine if I was told that is the case and if it was somehow told to the players. In the manual? In the game?

 

Why would having it explicitly stated make a difference? We are never actually told that the English is a translation, and no one has a problem with that.

Edited by TheMufflon

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Anyone played Jade Empire? They created an entirely new language for that game and it made the game sooooooooooooooooooooo much better for it. If they can afford/have time to do it I really hope they will.

 

You mean that gibberish was an actual developed language? News to me.

 

Yes it was.

 

It also just goes to show a developed language used in a handful of case specific situations will often be indistinguishable by the untrained ear from having "Star Wars"-like dialogue featuring random grunts and clicks and whirrs.

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From the AmA on reddit:

 

JESawyer: I'm developing most of the language conventions. I start with a base language's grammar and vocabulary and tweak it, then (try) to keep records of those rules. Aedyran is English with a base of Old English. Vailian is based on Italian (except it's cased). Glanfathan is based on Irish but I've introduced different grammatical case rules. Generally, I try to avoid using real words directly, altering them slightly in the process of adapting them for the game. My goal is for the feeling to be present, but not the words directly.

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I know this thread is quite old but just stumbled upon this article today.

This paper focused on practical communication in English, which is any item of writing intended to lead to action. Catto also spoke about the reconstruction of the languages spoken in 1300, and the transformation of the English language around 1380, not solely Chaucer, but practical everyday speech.

Catto examined a Latin state account from Yorkshire drawn up in 1328 and followed the history of the English language backwards from 1425 to its beginnings. Written language and spoken language often differed. When a language didn’t provide the spoken form of a word, another word was borrowed from other languages and such was the case with the English language. In the past, in the Ottoman Empire, Persian and Arabic were spoken in the courts, and Turkish in the armies. In England,by 1050, Old English was well on the way to creating a wide and expressive vocabulary, full of rhetorical tropes. It was employed perfectly well in practical communications, law documents, and writing. However, elaborate written Old English didn’t last long after the Norman Conquest – it ceased to be used in documents by 1070. The last person known to be able to write in Old English lived in 1180. By the end of the 13th century, manuscripts from Old English were marked down as, “in an unknown language”.

I guess I underestimated Old English. :facepalm: The other parts don't seem to be too far from my own understanding, though.

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