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Article - 'Languages in games 3' by Stevester

An item about Miscellanious posted on Feb 7, 2004

Blurb

Stevester's final article on language. This article will be updated periodically as questions are asked.

Body

NOTE: at certain places, I'll refer to figures which are not located on the page to save space. To view these images, go
Contents:
Part 1 ¡V Wrap up on symbols and Characters
Part 2 ¡V Creating Your Own Language Part Three
Part 3 ¡V Even More Grammar Fun
Part 4 ¡V Including Language In-game

Part 1 ¡V Symbols and Characters
In the first part of this section, I¡¦ll review the forms of writing, but this time I¡¦ll give examples, as well as more information.

Pictogram: As I wrote in my last article, a pictogram is a form of writing that uses only simple pictures. Because of this, it is very difficult to express anything but nouns. Therefore, it impossible to communicate with; it can only keep records. For instance, figure 1 shows how one would show someone at a market place how many goods were on their cargo ship. The pictogram shows that there should be four containers on the ship, the first with 20 fish, the second with 5 iron blocks, the third with 7 blocks of wood, and the last with nothing. The merchants would have discussed which pictograms mean what before hand, so that everything would be understandable. In a game, pictograms would be used best in a minigame or as something that the player would have to figure out.

Ideogram: Ideograms are symbols that express words instead of phonetic letters, or letters that make sound. The best modern example of an ideogram would be the Chinese / Japanese system of writing, though they combine non-phonetic characters (Ideogram) with phonetic characters (Cryptogram). The easiest way to make an Ideogram is to base more specific letters off of more general characters. See figure 2 to see how to do this.

Cryptogram (otherwise known as symbol, rune, cipher, glyph, and monogram): A cryptogram (or runic system as I wrote in my last article) uses characters that have their own sound. Cryptograms are widely used to day by almost every language. In a game, cryptograms would be best with an advanced race that has already developed writing. Cryptograms really are a great choice for written languages in games, because they¡¦re easy to create and easy to use.

Part 1.31419200678 ¡V More Cryptogram fun!
If you¡¦re using a cryptogram, it would be wise to create a Rune Matrix. A rune matrix is a single symbol of which all runes of your language will come from. Using a rune matrix with just three lines, you should be able to create many different symbols. See figure 3 to see how many different runes can be created just from the letter H, or figure 4 to see a typical rune matrix. Of course, you¡¦ll want to use more than three lines if you want to construct an entire alphabet.

When using a rune matrix, your runes become more consistent, sharing their own unique stile. The roman runes (which we use to write) have their own matrix. See figure 5 to see for yourself. You¡¦ll notice that every single letter fits into this matrix, excluding ¡§Y¡¨ and ¡§T¡¨(Y and T are created by putting a line down the middle of the X, but aren¡¦t included in my matrix). Even odd letters like R and F fit in. See figure 6 and figure 7 for details.

The roman characters were one of the first sets of runes that had a matrix. Greek characters have a matrix for all of the capital letters, excluding Omega ƒvWƒwƒzƒnbut the lowercase letters had no matrix at all. Therefore, I would recommend using the Roman rune matrixƒzƒn if not another, to create your own runes. However, don¡¦t be surprised if your runes turn out a lot like the Roman characters.


Part 2 ¡V Creating your own language
This time, I¡¦m not going to include any easy methods to create your own language. Instead, I¡¦m only going to show the methods for making the best languages.

The Sister Language Method:
With this method, you take a foreign language and modify it or combine it with another language. This method is the cleanest way to make a language. With this method, you needn¡¦t come up with your own grammar system, either; you can take it from one of the languages you¡¦re modifying. To modify words, replace the letters of the word with letters that sound like the letters in the word. Look at the letter chart in one of my earlier articles on language to see how to do this.

The Root Word Methods:
This is the most difficult method. In this method, you create your own original root words and put them together to form larger words. This method creates a great language, but sometimes results in redundancy. The way to avoid this is to create multiple forms of each root word. This sub-method works great, but it takes up a lot of time. For more on root words, see part 2.1 below.

Combination Method:
Basically, a combination of the above. With this method, root words are taken from a language that already exists. This method works with any language, even English. For instance, I would take the Arabic word Alkuhl and rip it into two sections: Al and Kuhl. I would then modify the language by replacing the letters of the word with letters that sound like them. The result is something like this: Ahrkoul. Of course, I probably wouldn¡¦t put the two root words together again, that makes the word sound the same as it was before.

2.1 ¡V Root words
As I addressed in my last article, root words are letter combinations that make up the words we speak. For instance, the word ¡§Apartment¡¨ can be broken into three root words: a, part, and ment. Let¡¦s start out by defining the roots of each word. A means without or not, to part means to separate, and ¡Vment means the means or instrument of an action. Therefore, it can be deduced that apartment really means the method of separating oneself from something. Of course, that is what it really does mean: when one moves to an apartment, one separates oneself from his family.

If you¡¦re using an ideogram for writing, it would be best to come up with symbols for your root words. Once these symbols are created, you can either modify them to create advanced symbols, or combine them to create short words. By doing this, you won¡¦t have thousands of completely different symbols in your language. Of course, you must create a system of modification that will make the symbols easy to read by a novice. See figure 2 for a simple example on the symbol modification method.

Part 3 ¡V Grammar
At the release of my last article on language, some people still seemed to be confused on grammar. Hence, I provide as much of the necessary grammar that I can think of below.

Plurality can become an issue, if it¡¦s not handled correctly. The cleanest method would be to create a short suffix to modify any plural word. For instance, if the word bar¡¦katur means one book, and bar¡¦kataa means two books, then ahraham means one person and ahrahaa means two people (bar¡¦kat and ahrah are the stems, so they wouldn¡¦t change).

To add a little originality to your language, you could add some irregularities in plurality. For instance, some words could have a dual ending (a different ending for when there are 2 objects). Another way is to create irregular nouns, which have no method of modification at all, such as ¡§one person¡¨ and ¡§many people¡¨.

In grammar, pronouns are essential. First, you need the basics for each point of view and plurality of personal pronouns (I, you, he, she, it, we, they). After you have those down, you need to get more in-depth with possessives, personals, and such. It would be wise to start out by making root words for each point of view first, then modifying them respectively.

If you¡¦re using an ideogram for your system of writing, an option would be to create different symbols for each set of pronoun. For instance, each point of view could have its own symbol, and each other form could be a modification of it.

A list of regular pronouns has conveniently been located below by the will of the gods:

PERSONAL
First Person
Singular: I, me, my, mine
Plural: we, us, our, ours
Second Person
Singular: you, your, yours
Plural: you, your, yours
Third Person
Singular: he, him, his, she, her, hers, it, its
Plural: they, them, their, theirs

REFLEXIVE
Reflexive pronouns are personal pronouns with a form of ¡§self¡¨ added onto the end.
Singular: myself, yourself, himself, herself, itself
Plural: ourselves, yourselves, themselves

DEMONSTRATIVE
Demonstrative pronouns are pronouns used to indicate precise objects.
List: this, that, these, those

INTERROGATIVE
As you can guess, interrogative pronouns are used to ask a question.
List: who, what, which, who, whose, whom

INDEFINITE
Once again, you can probably guess that indefinite pronouns are used to specify normally unspecified objects. There are many of these pronouns; it would take too much space to list all of them. Some common ones include the following: anyone, no one, none, nobody, some, several, most, and every.

Part 4 ¡V Including Language in Your Game
There are many ways to include a language in a game, but only a few are both easy and completely functional.

The FFX method
Yes, once again, a reference to the Al-bhed method. This is one of the better methods, because it is easy to do and because it works well in an RPG or adventure game. This method is simple: if the player has a certain item in their inventory or if they¡¦ve talked to a person somewhere, the message shows up differently. For instance, if the player has a book in their inventory, one part of speech is translated. To clarify this, I¡¦ve provided an example below.

When the character talks to a person (in no real programming language, so no one gets confused):

If global.book1inventory = true
{message ¡§Rejho halraa him near the arakaal¡¨}

If global.book2inventory = true
{message ¡§I found jae turaha malr marketplace¡¨}

If global.book1inventory = true and global.book2inventory = true
{message ¡§I found him near the marketplace¡¨}

The mini game method
With this method, the language is only located in a mini game. The player must figure out the phrase in a certain amount of time to get a prize. It¡¦s simple, but it works.

You could easily combine the two methods above for MEGA LANGUAGE FUN (a cool way to do it would be to have the translated words from the minigame become translated words in conversation).

Meh, that¡¦s it for now. I¡¦ll be updating this article periodically, answering any questions that you might have. BYZ.