Mandarin Chinese Class Review #1

Raye Chell Mahela

Mandarin Chinese Class Review #2 >>

Tuesday nights I’m taking a Mandarin Chinese class through KU’s Confucius Institute. I need to review and practice speaking more, because even though I am listening and reading between classes, I get flustered when asked to actually speak. :)

Hello!

Nǐ hǎo

你好

What is your name?

Nǐ jiào shénme míngzì?

你叫什么名字?

I’m called Rachel Morris.

Wǒ jiào Rachel Morris.

我叫 Rachel Morris.

My family name is Morris.

Wǒ xìng Morris.

Morris.

What is their name?

Tā jiào shénme míngzi?

他 (or 她)叫什么名字

Please speak a little slower!

Qǐng shuō màn diǎn’r!

请说慢点儿。

How do you say _____ in Chinese?

____ Zhōngwén zěnme shuō?

___ 中文怎么说?

Please say it again.

Qǐng zài shuō yíbiàn.

请再说一遍。


Chinese Practice Theater

(Visual Novel art by Halcyon and sei.chan)

Note that tone marks aren’t being updated based on tone sandhi rules.

Rachel’s Láadan Vlog #1 – If you build it, will they come?

Raye Chell Mahela

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y4l1OwVMh_A

Seems like the worst possible time to learn Láadan, considering Suzette passed away a few months ago, and one of the two language course sites is down. The only one with Láadan sound-clips! Ho, ve!

But, I’m starting to study it. I’ve retrieved the Amberwind webpage via the Wayback Machine and I have links to the Wayback archive, as well as an archive hosted on my site (sorry, couldn’t salvage the sound-clips). I’m also trying to build a grammar reference (more for me than anything) and tools (like a quick-lookup dictionary) to make the experience easier.

The Problem with Video Game Character Creators

Raye Chell Mahela

For video games where you build your own character, why does it only give you the option of “male” or “female” to choose from?

The first character creator that stood out to me, honestly, was in My Sims, an adequate Wii game spin-off of The Sims. You create your character in it, but you don’t assign any gender – you have access to all options in the editor.  Of course, all the characters are chibi so there isn’t really a “body type” difference in the characters you see around town, so why bother having that constraint?

But what if more games did that? Even if you did have different body-types, why not have all the options available, and not have to assign a gender? The lead character is usually addressed by their name anyway, and the Singular They could be used when your character isn’t directly being addressed.

I’ve had some people just recently argue with me about how “Singular They” is an abomination to the English language and that they refuse to use it, however. (Really? English? English itself is an abomination…) So I have a different suggestion for your character creators to get around this.

Don’t assign gender to your character in a character-creator. Assign pronouns.

The programming is not going to be much different from switching between he/she in the dialogue. You could store variables to be swapped out based on the pronouns. (He Him His – She Her Hers – They Them Theirs – and so on).

But that doesn’t go far enough – since these values are going to be stored in variables anyway, why not allow the user to type in their own pronouns?  Just have them enter in the three-or-so variations of the pronoun that shows up in the given language.

pronounbox

Many games allow the user to type in their own name – so give it a try, let people enter their own pronouns. Let people choose any option in the character editor.

Update, February 19th

I recently watched a GiantBomb Quick Look for Sunless Sea, and during the character creation process, I saw that they ask the question, “What term of address do you prefer ashore?” with options like “Madam”, “Sir”, “Citizen”, and more, which is a nice, story-integrated way to deal with this.

address

You can check out Sunless Sea’s official webpage here.

Do you know any other games that do this?

Update, November 10th

Read Only Memories also lets you choose pronouns! :)

read only memories

Languages, Text Parsers, and Video Games

Raye Chell Mahela

I can speak English and Esperanto. I’ve started learning a handful of other languages, though I tend to have a hard time sticking with one. Oddly, sticking with Esperanto is easy, perhaps because I already have communities I’m part of, and uses for it, while with other languages – say, Korean – I really only get to use it at the nearby Korean grocery store.

But, I’ve decided to start learning Chinese. I decided that a couple of weeks ago, but so far I haven’t done much studying yet, just skimming pieces here and there. Do I start with reading on grammar? Do I start by studying Pinyin? Do I start by learning the building blocks of the writing system? Hm.

I’m a bit restless when it comes to sticking with a single textbook, and I want to start using the language as soon as I can, so then – do I memorize phrases and investigate how words are put together?

I began compiling a list of the verbs, nouns, and adjectives I find myself using the most in Esperanto. It’s hard to really quantify what English I use in my day-to-day life because it’s so engrained, but that’s one of the good things about being familiar with Esperanto – I have more of an explicit idea of what I’ve learned over the past three years, so it could perhaps be a blueprint of what I would need to learn for another language.

Building this list of words and common ways I end up combining them actually reminds me of writing a text parser for a text adventure (or something like the old King’s Quest games).  Actually – wouldn’t it be kind of fun to learn some basics of language through mixing and matching verbs and nouns together to interact with a virtual environment? (OK, maybe it appeals to me because I grew up with Sierra adventures…)

Though a problem with this method of “learning the patterns and extrapolating from there” would be more difficult for an irregular language, when you can’t always be sure that it will be something like “Verb-command-form [the] noun”

On a similar note – games can be a great way to give a controlled, somewhat immersive experience. If designed properly, a whole game could be in the target language, while not overwhelming the player with more nuanced parts of grammar.

If I pick up a new multiplayer game, for example, I pretty much always want to play Single Player first to get a feel for the maps, weapons, gameplay, etc. Similarly, I am going to be pretty shy when it comes to actually practicing a new language, I want a “safe sandbox” to practice in first.

And, with respect to old Sierra and LucasArts games, I know that I, personally, have heard a number of non-native-English speakers say that those games were a big part of how they learned English.

So, what might be a good way to apply language learning in a game medium? What games have done this, and done a decent job? Hmmm…