[MUD-Dev] Scripting Languages and Magic

Crosbie Fitch crosbie at cyberspaceengineers.org
Wed Oct 8 10:26:58 New Zealand Daylight Time 2003


In case it's useful, here's a way to automate translation from
workaday scripting language into multiple 'authentic' destination
languages:

  0) Code up a 'syllable splicer' - something that given a word will
  spit it out into syllables. I knocked up an algorithm that assumes
  that every vowel is sounded. From the beginning of a word consume
  all letters until a vowel is reached, eat a consonant if no
  consonants yet, or a pair of consonants follows (use all remaining
  consonants if no more vowels) - that's a
  syllable. E.g. Algorithm->Al'go'rithm, Thunder->Thun'der.

  1) Take a nice vocabulary, e.g. The Silmarillion and produce a
  list of Ns syllables. You now have the basis of new languages.

  2) To translate a word in the source language to one of Ns-1
  destination languages Ds, first syllabalise the source word, then
  find the closest matching syllables from the basis list. Add Ds to
  the indices of each syllable, and recompose the destination
  word. Voila!

What this let's you do is create a pretty obvious base 'magic
scripting language', but only let each of Ns-1 classes of user have
the ability to use their own opaque version. Each user class will
have to discover the grammar and semantics of the scripting language
all by themselves, i.e. it won't be quite so easy for people to
exchange discoveries.

Thus Fire might become Jolam, and Fire-twice -> Jolam-Huter or
Firetwice -> Jolansoter.

When I was mucking about with this almost a quarter of a century
ago, I was also thinking of this as a way of creating a 'magic
language' for an Adventure (single player) system I'd
written. However, I wasn't thinking of a scripting language so
much. More of a system where the syllables themselves had different
powers, and the combinations thereof would dictate the effect. I
considered creating distinct syllable vocabulary flavours for
different kinds of magic, e.g. black (Orcish syllables)/white (Elven
syllables).

NB we subliminally learn the ancient language beneath English, but
it is still accessible to us, we still understand some words simply
by their constituent syllables, e.g. Titter/jitter/skitter,
skunk/stunk/funk, twinkle/sprinkle/crinkle, weep/seep/creep, etc. I
think Tolkien knew this too (probably wittingly). It's no accident
that we recognise some degree of intrinsic sentiment in words such
as Mordor - not simply because of the similarity with murder, but
because of mor/mortal/morbid/mordred.  Obviously, only the older
English (and related language) words and their derivatives have this
syllabic language within them.
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