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Survey for people who speak languages other than English

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Posted by Nick Gammon   Australia  (21,322 posts)  [Biography] bio   Forum Administrator
Date Thu 14 Aug 2003 10:50 PM (UTC)
Message

MUDs for non-English speakers?

I am working on designing a new MUD server, which is tentatively intended to be useable by players from different countries (ie. those that do not necessarily speak English), and am curious to know the state of non-English mudding.

If you speak a language other than English (and presumably English as well if you are reading this) then I would appreciate if you could reply to this post and answer the questions below to the best of your knowledge. Thanks! :)

Earlier posts on this subject

The basic idea is covered in a forum post: Multi-lingual MUD? which was based on an earlier forum thread: MUDs in languages other than English? . Read those two posts for more details about the general idea.

Examples of non-English MUDs already wanted

There have been various posts about people wanting MUDs in different languages. For example: SMAUG in Russian , also: SMAUG in Spanish, and: Running PennMUSH under win32 with support for Scandinavian characters . Because of these posts I think there is some sort of demand for MUDs in different languages.


Questions

  1. How do players from your country play MUDs? Do they:

    • Learn English and play an English MUD?
    • Use an existing MUD server (eg. SMAUG, ROM, Merc, Dawn Of Time) and write their own areas/skills/commands in their own language?
    • Use an existing MUD server and translate internal messages as well as writing the area files from scratch? Internal messages would be ones like:
      
      "Something catches your attention.";
      "Something interesting catches your eye.";
      "Something colorful flows by.";
      "Something that looks cool calls out to you."
      "Your group wouldn't like that."
      "You hand out zero coins, but no one notices."
      "You don't have that much gold."
      "Just keep it all."
      

      There are over 18,000 such messages in SMAUG alone, so such a task is not trivial.

    • Use a server written from scratch for that country? If so, can you give the name/site/URL of such a server?
    • Use some other method, such as automatic translation, or something else?

  2. How important do you think it is for MUDs to support multiple languages? In other words, if a new MUD server was developed, what would you think is a good idea ...

    • Just write it in English.
    • Put all messages in a separate file so that the file has to be translated, however the C (or C++) code would not need to be touched. However, a given MUD using this server would only support one language (eg. French).
    • Support multiple languages in a single game. In this scenario, players would be asked their language as the first question, and then all subsequent messages would appear in that language (eg. "What is your name?", room descriptions, error messages) and it would accept commands (eg. "north", "look", "inventory") in the appropriate language.

    This last option is the most ambitious, and most complicated to do, but do you think it is a waste of time? For instance, would you have problems like needing admins on, who spoke each (supported) language, so they could deal with trouble players? For instance, an admin who spoke only French might have trouble dealing with a player who spoke only Italian.

  3. Are there other issues that a multi-language MUD would need to address? Examples that spring to mind are the way numbers are formatted (eg. is "one thousand" represented as "1,000" or "1.000"?), dates (if applicable, eg. date you last logged on), word-order for automatically generated lists.

    One example that springs to mind is the automaticalled-generated output from MUDs frequently is customised to the gender (alleged gender, anyway) of the player. For example, if you give Gandalf a coin the MUD might say "You give him a coin" or "You give her a coin". Things like singular/plural (sword/swords, fish/fishes), masculine/feminine (him/her, he/she), and sentence construction ("you give John a sword" or "a sword to John you give"). If the output from the MUD was going to look smooth it would need to be able to adapt to those changes.

  4. Any general comments?

Thanks for participating.


- Nick Gammon

www.gammon.com.au, www.mushclient.com
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Posted by David Haley   USA  (3,881 posts)  [Biography] bio
Date Reply #1 on Fri 15 Aug 2003 11:22 PM (UTC)

Amended on Fri 15 Aug 2003 11:23 PM (UTC) by David Haley

Message
I probably don't represent French MUDders, being an American myself (I've lived in France most my life) but hey, I'll give my comments.



  1. How do the French play MUDs? I have no idea. The French people who play on my MUD just learn English. I think that's how most French people do it. I've never heard of a server in French and I'm not sure anyone is working on one. (Then again, I haven't looked a lot.) But yes, most people from school and whatnot just brushed up their English. There were a few people who did not play because they did not speak English, though.

  2. If you were going to do this, I'd go for option 3. You could have multiple resource files loaded, one for each language you support, and the character (or connection, or wherever you store it) would say which one to draw text from.

    However, this does create the admin problem, as you mentioned. You also have the problem of people speaking using 'say' and not understanding the other's language. As one person put it that could create some extra "spice" for the game, as it were, but frankly I think it'd be more of a problem than much of anything else.

    Of course, this would also mean that every single darn little piece of text generated by the MUD would have to be in multiple languages, including all room descriptions... ugh. :)

    One way to address the different commands would be to make different command tables for the different languages. For example if your language is English than "north" is mapped to 'do_north' in the code; if your language is French it's "nord" but still mapped to 'do_north', etc. This would mean the command interpreter would have to be aware of this sort of stuff, and look up commands accordingly.

    As far as admins are concerned, I'd say you'd just have to say "This MUD's main language is X, deal with it". It's already a huge help to most people to have the game output in their language; in fact, that would be really cool. Still, you have the basic problem of human-to-human interaction, and for that you just have to say "this is the language, tough."

  3. Yes, you would need to have a different sentence construction based on the language.

    For instance: You give Gandalf a sword.
    becomes in French: Vous donnez une epee a Gandalf. (accents left out intentionally)

    So the subject and verb are in the same spot, but the direct object and indirect object changed places.

    The easiest way to solve this particular one would probably be to have named arguments to your phrases. You would then feed the resource string the arguments... sort of like the XML elements used in MXP. The code would just have to fill out the named arguments and their value, and the resource string parser (which would be something you'd need to add) would put them in the right place depending on what the sentence requests.

    E.g. You give %name% %object%.
    Vous donnez %object% a %name%.

    This does however bring up the interesting problem of articles. English generally uses "a" or "an" depending on whether the first letter is a vowel or not. French however (as do most European languages) has gender to its articles. You'd say "une epee" but "un baton". So that's something you'd have to deal with as well.

    You also have, of course, the problem of numbers being 1,000 in some countries, 1.000 in others... and that in the US, dates are mm/dd/yy, in all (I think) of Europe it's dd/mm/yy... etc.

  4. I think that if a MUD is going to be multi-lingual, it is absolutely essential to design it as such from the very beginning. It's a great deal of work. I'm not sure if it's worth it, but who knows, maybe it might open the MUDding community to the rest of the world. I mean, let's face it, almost all MUDders are either English-speakers or learned it one way or another. I've seen very, very few people play who didn't speak English at least a little bit.

    I have to say that my eyes perked when I saw you're designing a new server. Is there a way I could have a hand in that? I've (sort of) started work on one my own, but I don't have the manpower to do it by myself. If you'd be willing to let me work with you that'd be really neat. Just a thought, though. :)


David Haley aka Ksilyan
Head Programmer,
Legends of the Darkstone

http://david.the-haleys.org
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Posted by Nick Gammon   Australia  (21,322 posts)  [Biography] bio   Forum Administrator
Date Reply #2 on Sat 16 Aug 2003 04:19 AM (UTC)
Message
Quote:

Of course, this would also mean that every single darn little piece of text generated by the MUD would have to be in multiple languages, including all room descriptions


As one of the links mentioned, if the room descs had a "tick the box" fallback then at least a rudimentary description could be generated in any language with minimal work. eg.

You are outside. There is grass. You are on a road. It is rocky.

That sort of thing. Might be stilted but stilted is better than incomprehensible.

Quote:

You give %name% %object%.


I was leading that way with one one of my STL posts - the one about a message manager that had %1, %2 etc. as message replacements.

Thus it might read:

You give %1 %2.
Vous donnez %2 a %1.




- Nick Gammon

www.gammon.com.au, www.mushclient.com
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Posted by Nick Gammon   Australia  (21,322 posts)  [Biography] bio   Forum Administrator
Date Reply #3 on Sat 16 Aug 2003 08:24 AM (UTC)
Message
Quote:

I have to say that my eyes perked when I saw you're designing a new server. Is there a way I could have a hand in that?


I have emailed you a response. It sounds like we have similar ideas. :)

- Nick Gammon

www.gammon.com.au, www.mushclient.com
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Posted by Poromenos   Greece  (1,037 posts)  [Biography] bio
Date Reply #4 on Sat 16 Aug 2003 08:07 PM (UTC)
Message
About Greeks.
All the people I know just learn English and play in a MUD, since Greece is small and the possibility of someone developing a Greek MUD is minimal. Additionally, SMAUG doesn't even support display of Greek characters, it just omits them.
The language structure is very different than the English one. For example:
You give a wand to Poromenos
Dineis ena ravdi ston Poromeno (Greeklish, since you wouldn't understand Greek letters)
Yougive a wand to Poromeno (Rough translation, yougive is one word)
Notice that it's not Poromenos, but Poromeno, since when you give something to someone you have to change their name to identify that, and that is not always uniform. For example, "To Maria" would be "Stin Maria", and would be left unchanged.
The server would have to ask people to write all the variations of their name, and you can't trust them to be honest, so that could be a problem.
Another issue. In English, you can say Nick's, or Steve's, or Anres's without sounding wrong. In Greek, that too is different with each name.
I've probably confused you more than i've helped, but the bottom line is that Greek is different than most languages. You would probably have to develop wholly separate language handling for Greek, but the target population is so small that it's not worth it, anyway. Besides, 90% of the Greeks speak English.
I have no idea why I wrote this, it's no help at all :p

Vidi, Vici, Veni.
http://porocrom.poromenos.org/ Read it!
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Posted by Nick Gammon   Australia  (21,322 posts)  [Biography] bio   Forum Administrator
Date Reply #5 on Sat 16 Aug 2003 08:41 PM (UTC)
Message
That is helpful, thanks.

First, it seems to me that even if the names were not changed perfectly, the general idea would come through - or would it?

Second, Greeks would be choosing fantasy names, so the question is how the fantasy name gets modified (eg. Gandalf, Bilbo), not the Greek name. You could be asked when you chose a name the variants (how many are there?) and it would be their problem if they make up something silly.

In fact, it gets more complex than that, for instance if I played in English, presumably I won't be asked what the Greek variant is (to give to Nick, or Nick's sword) because I won't know it. However if Poromenos gives a sword to Nick, then it needs to know how to modify "Nick", but Nick doesn't know how to supply that. Are there rules it could follow? Or would the unadorned word be acceptable?

- Nick Gammon

www.gammon.com.au, www.mushclient.com
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Posted by David Haley   USA  (3,881 posts)  [Biography] bio
Date Reply #6 on Sat 16 Aug 2003 10:16 PM (UTC)
Message
This is a problem for any language that uses declentions. Examples of such languages are Latin, Greek and German.

For example, in German: (forgive spelling/accents/etc.)
Der hund des lehrers. The dog of the teacher.
Der lehrer ist gross. The teacher is big.

The word "lehrer" means teacher, but when it is the subject it doesn't have an s... when it is in the "genitive" position (sorry, I don't know the word in English), it has an s.


Basically, the ends of words can change depending on their function in the sentence.


I think that's making things a bit too complicated though... proper nouns don't need to be declined, it's an exercise in futility :) People will get it. For common nouns, you have a bit more of a problem... you'd probably need to keep a table of each noun according to its function. Ugh.


In Latin, it's fairly easy to make up the different versions of a proper noun. For example, "Ksilyan" could become, in Latin 2nd group declentions:

Ksilyanus (nominative)
Ksilyane (vocative/apostrophe)
Ksilyanum (direct object)
Ksilyani (genitive)
Ksilyano (indirect object)
Ksilyano (ablatif)

I still don't really think it's an issue though. As I said, people will get it.



Probably the easiest solution for languages that have declentions (of which there really aren't that many) would be to simply say "Sorry" with a big smile and let them be happy to have it in almost-correct form. :)

David Haley aka Ksilyan
Head Programmer,
Legends of the Darkstone

http://david.the-haleys.org
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Posted by Nick Gammon   Australia  (21,322 posts)  [Biography] bio   Forum Administrator
Date Reply #7 on Sat 16 Aug 2003 10:52 PM (UTC)
Message
I might comment here that the problem is no worse for my proposed multi-lingual MUD than for - say - a straight French, or German, MUD. If such a MUD existed - and it is hard to believe one does not - then they must have addressed that problem, in one form or another.

Already SMAUG has things like replacement strings for socials, etc. which change according to gender.

eg. You smile at him / You smile at her.
He smiles at you / She smiles at you. / It smiles at you.
You get his sword / You get her sword.

Basically other languages would need similar replacement tables.

- Nick Gammon

www.gammon.com.au, www.mushclient.com
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Posted by Poromenos   Greece  (1,037 posts)  [Biography] bio
Date Reply #8 on Mon 18 Aug 2003 08:50 AM (UTC)
Message
I agree, declinations are a problem, albeit a small one. Foreign names don't need to be changed, so Gandalf would remain Gandalf, but Poromenos would have to change. People would definitely get it, it's not a big issue, it would just look odd, like "You give a sword Nick" or something to that effect. The declinations in normal messages wouldn't be a problem, since they would be already coded in most of the time, and when you would need to use variables you could avoid them or find another solution most of the time. I think that an acceptable solution would be to keep a list of 4 (or 5, depending on how many declinations the language has), and use each one where necessary... The rules there are pretty strict, so that wouldn't be a problem. When you refer to someone, you use nominative (or whatever it would be called, I'm not a linguist :). When you give/do/etc something to someone, you use the 3rd declination, when you say that something belongs to someone, you use the 2nd (much like "Poromenos' item"). I can't imagine it being too hard if you design it correctly from the beginning.

Vidi, Vici, Veni.
http://porocrom.poromenos.org/ Read it!
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Posted by Poromenos   Greece  (1,037 posts)  [Biography] bio
Date Reply #9 on Mon 18 Aug 2003 08:52 AM (UTC)
Message
By the way, if there is a forum about this server or if I can help develop it, it'd be great. My C++ knowledge is limited, but I'm willing to help if you need me.

Vidi, Vici, Veni.
http://porocrom.poromenos.org/ Read it!
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Posted by Nick Gammon   Australia  (21,322 posts)  [Biography] bio   Forum Administrator
Date Reply #10 on Sun 24 Aug 2003 07:05 AM (UTC)
Message
At present I am thinking about the C++ design aspects, but as the time gets closer for game design, I'll canvas more opinions. :) Thanks for the offer.

- Nick Gammon

www.gammon.com.au, www.mushclient.com
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Posted by Mymyc   (25 posts)  [Biography] bio
Date Reply #11 on Sun 20 Mar 2011 07:08 PM (UTC)

Amended on Sun 20 Mar 2011 07:11 PM (UTC) by Mymyc

Message
I play english muds. I am hungarian though, possibly the only one playing english muds in my country. We have 3 or 4 hungarian muds here, all extremely poorly written by 16 - 20 year old hackers. Basically they are stock diku or lp muds very poorly translated into hungarian, stripped the original areas and replaced with highgly unoriginal, chaotic, immature and incoherent stuff. Every time I think about login into a hungarian mud it makes me convulse.

We have one mud that is in english: after the plaque that has the most amazing game mechanics ever seen.

Our language is not like english, we have no his/her/it, everything is "it".

Also we stick letters to the end of the worlds to modify its meaning.

Some example in english then in hungarian:

backpack = hatizsak
backpacks = hatizsakok
from backpack = hatizsakbol
from backpacks = hatizsakokbol
to backpack = hatizsakhoz
to backpacks = hatizsakokhoz
into backpack= hatizsakba
with backpack = hatizsakkal
onto backpack = hatizsakra

cigarette = cigaretta
cigarettes = cigerettak
with a cigarette = cigarettaval
from a cigarette = cigarettabol

Now imagine what kind of command parser needed here.

All accented chars were replaced in this post, we have a shitton of accented characters as well.

The greatest pain about writing a mud in hungarian language is that you have to write a grammatical-engine that takes the core word (like cigaretta) and generates all kind of possible variations - handling the exceptions as well - into a list. And this issue applies to player names and every kind of objects.

Writing a mud in hungarian in terms of proper linguistic/grammatical output is comparable to writing a mud in finnish or sumerian and japanese.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agglutinative_language
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Posted by Nick Gammon   Australia  (21,322 posts)  [Biography] bio   Forum Administrator
Date Reply #12 on Sun 20 Mar 2011 08:59 PM (UTC)

Amended on Sun 20 Mar 2011 10:08 PM (UTC) by Nick Gammon

Message
Ah yes, interesting. Of course English isn't particularly easy, especially with plurals:


dog / dogs
door / doors
fish / fish
deer / deer
man / men
child / children
alias / aliases
mouse / mice
die / dice
automaton / automata
billiard ball / billiards


But even English MUDs don't try to parse grammar particularly well. For example you may type:


cast fireball nick


Rather than:


cast the spell fireball on nick


And you have this stuff pretty commonly:


put 3.sword in 4.pack


One thing you could do in other languages is use stuff like MXP (where you use hyperlinks instead of having to type anything):


Exits: North South East West 


Another thing you could do is what is pretty common in MMO games and not type anything at all, but click on stuff. Like click on your target to select it, and hit "1" to attack it. This could be done with MUSHclient even, there have been "button bar" plugins done before.

Anyway, that's interesting about not many Hungarian MUDs. Sounds like MUD games might be a bit of an English phenomenon. Perhaps because the original ones were written in English.

However, MMO games are another kettle of fish. (Azonban MMO játékok egy kanna hal.) Lol, thanks Google!

They are very big in non-English speaking countries, for example, China.

- Nick Gammon

www.gammon.com.au, www.mushclient.com
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Posted by Erendir   Germany  (47 posts)  [Biography] bio
Date Reply #13 on Mon 21 Mar 2011 02:30 AM (UTC)
Message
I speak Russian and German (and English of cause, but not very well...), and was playing different muds in russian.
So I try to answer some of Nick's questions:
Quote:
How do players from your country play MUDs?


Some players learn English and just play a mud in English. I've heard about some server with lots (like 50%) of russian-speaking people on it.
There're also some more or less translated MUDs, and few of them translating only descriptions (I.e. almost anything player see is in Russian, but all commands are in English).
Some few MUDs are written from scratch.

Quote:
How important do you think it is for MUDs to support multiple languages?

I personally would take the "Support multiple languages in a single game." option, with "main server language". But the 2nd option is probably "good enough".

Quote:
Are there other issues that a multi-language MUD would need to address? Examples that spring to mind are the way numbers are formatted (eg. is "one thousand" represented as "1,000" or "1.000"?), dates (if applicable, eg. date you last logged on), word-order for automatically generated lists.


I don't think these problems are hard to solve

Quote:
One example that springs to mind is the automaticalled-generated output from MUDs frequently is customised to the gender (alleged gender, anyway) of the player. For example, if you give Gandalf a coin the MUD might say "You give him a coin" or "You give her a coin". Things like singular/plural (sword/swords, fish/fishes), masculine/feminine (him/her, he/she), and sentence construction ("you give John a sword" or "a sword to John you give"). If the output from the MUD was going to look smooth it would need to be able to adapt to those changes.


These plus grammatical cases, as already mentioned, are the hard problems. You can not more simply write/store something like "You give %name% %object%.", but "You give %name|Dative% %object|Accusative%.", where "name|Dative" refers to the Dative case of target's name. (In English only |Genitive will alter something, and server should just add "'s", and this is why it's so easy to write MUDs in English ;))

Quote:
Any general comments?

Great idea :)
And here[1] is google-translated version of russian version of mudconnector.

[1] http://translate.google.com/translate?js=n&prev=_t&hl=en&ie=UTF-8&layout=2&eotf=1&sl=ru&tl=en&u=www.mudconnector.su&act=url

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Posted by Mymyc   (25 posts)  [Biography] bio
Date Reply #14 on Mon 21 Mar 2011 08:16 PM (UTC)
Message
Quote:

Anyway, that's interesting about not many Hungarian MUDs. Sounds like MUD games might be a bit of an English phenomenon. Perhaps because the original ones were written in English.


It is not about the parser, parsers using core words only is ok, it is less typing more reading, so "put gold pack" and the equivalent in other languages is very ok.

It is about english language, you inject worlds between variables in the right place and tada, it is done. English language is simple yet powerful. Simple in terms of, you know... You smile at %playername% and %functionHESHE% smiles back at you, while you give a big thumbsup to %otherplayer%. :-D

So the problem - regarding to mudding - with hungarian/similar languages is that translating the single stock emote often found in muds --> smile at %playername%) is *totally* impossible without those grammatical custom functions, or else your output will be... lolworthy garbage. Not worth to send it to the player after your awe instpiring room description. You have to stick those morphing letters after %playername% and sometimes alter the last few letters of the %playername% variable itself to produce proper output. You have to alter mob and object names if a player interact with them, and you have to deal with third person messages too. The mission itself is too big for a single person, or a group of coders. And we speak about muds as a hobby not a profession.

So while you english speakers pick your mud codebase, and boost it with some nice race/class abilities and add cool quests and cool third person messages, we other language speakers need to jump head-first into c/c++ coding, then create functions, tables and lists to produce a simple "X smiles at you" line... but nah, we instead learn english and play english muds or write our own mud in english o_O

Other problem is the accented characters, you have to solve the problem of switching server side between UTF8, CP1202, or MS-DOS 852 when sending accented characters to clients. Players may use <whatever client> on win, linux or osx. You have to make a website howto about how to set up every single mud client to accept codepages, what monospaced fonts to use that have full UTF8 support etc.

An interesting addition a Hungarian software company made a similar software that solves this porblem, you throw whatever world at it and it produces a nice list of every case possible. The softwares was made by language scientists and teachers. It is a commercial software costing *heavy* dollars.

The name of the company is Morphologic the name speaks for itself.
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