[MUD-Dev] Spoken Languages & Food [was RP thesis...]

Travis S Casey casey at nu.cs.fsu.edu
Fri May 30 08:32:46 New Zealand Standard Time 1997


On Wed, 28 May 1997, Marian Griffith wrote:
> On Mon 26 May, Matt Chatterley wrote:
> 
> > My current approach will probably be to assign one 'general' language,
> > plus racial (or geographical) orientated languages (ie elvish, or
> > midlandish). Hmm.
> 
> I wonder what is the point of having racial languages if there is a
> general language that everybody speaks. In a typical game there is
> no reason to use a different language, and in fact every reason not
> to. Players talk to either gossip, or to communicate during combat.
> Neither is helped when players use an uncommon language so you can
> expect players to use the general language almost exclusively.
> If you intend to have several languages you must, somehow, root them
> in the game. And for more than the occasional scroll or scribbling on
> the wall I think.

An idea:  in the campaigns of many paper RPG GM's that I know, the
"common tongue" is a very limited trade language.  You can haggle
over money in it, ask, "How much for this?" and things like that,
but it's not a good language for complicated communication, and it's
definitely not something you could write poetry in.  These GMs 
limit what characters are allowed to communicate in common, forcing
them to learn other languages as well.

This could be simulated in a mud by making common easy to learn, but
limiting its vocabulary.  Have a list of the words that can be used
in common, and when someone "speaks in common", simply replace any
words that aren't in that list with gibberish.  This would probably
be computationally expensive, but it could create a very neat
effect -- helping the players realize how limited common is, and
thereby encouraging them to actually use other languages.

I recall seeing something called "Basic English" -- a subset of
English with a vocabulary of a few hundred words.  It was meant
for business use, so the word list would probably have to be
changed a lot for use as a fantasy world's "common tongue", but
it could be used for inspiration.
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