Languages in IF

1 view
Skip to first unread message

Richard Bos

unread,
Feb 7, 2001, 7:19:27 AM2/7/01
to
Anson Turner <anson@DELETE_THISpobox.com> wrote:

> In article <omk08tcr64nc6v7bd...@4ax.com>, Alex Warren
> <al...@asparagus.co.uk> wrote:
>
> : Irritating if the player doesn't speak French I should imagine, and I should
> : have thought that's quite a sizable chunk of your audience. And probably even
> : more irritating for people like me who can only speak French un petit peu
> : and probably have grammaire tres mal, je crois.
>
> With an ASK/TELL format? How much grammar does it take to enter INFORMER LE
> PRESIDENT DU LIVRE DE CUISINE?

For one thing, I would have guessed DE LA LIVRE instead of DU LIVRE. And
probably INFORME or INFORMEZ instead of INFORMER; I read TELL PRESIDENT
ABOUT COOK BOOK as a command, not as an infinitive.

Richard

W. Top Changwatchai

unread,
Feb 7, 2001, 8:50:34 AM2/7/01
to
David Welbourn <dsw...@look.ca> wrote in message
news:hl4g6.56757$9v2.9...@quark.idirect.com...
>
> > Also, Nailan in Edifice
> >
> > -- Gunther
>
> Funny you should mention that. I was just perusing a copy of GMD's master
> index and noticed that there's a source code file called nalian.inf in the
> if-archive/infocom/inform6/library/contributions folder. Might be worth a
> look.

That's probably the source file mentioned in a fascinating article in
XYZZYnews (issue 16) by the author of Edifice (Lucian Paul Smith) talking
about how he created the language puzzle.

Hmm, checking the web site (http://www.xyzzynews.com/), the back issues seem
to be currently unavailable.

Top
--
W. Top Changwatchai
chngwtch at u i u c dot edu

Mark Musante - Sun Microsystems

unread,
Feb 7, 2001, 9:12:01 AM2/7/01
to
Matthew Russotto (russ...@wanda.pond.com) wrote:
> In article <pk_f6.56361$9v2.9...@quark.idirect.com>,
> David Welbourn <dsw...@look.ca> wrote:
> >
> >The Infocom game Infidel, and the inform game Curses, both used
> >hieroglyphic based puzzles, where the player had to puzzle it out
> >with a new samples plus the local copy of the Rosetta Stone. And
> >I think Infocom's Border Zone also
>
> Curses does require you to know one word of French.

Really? I want to play this game so much, but I don't know a
word of French. Merde!


-markm

Matthew Russotto

unread,
Feb 7, 2001, 9:51:03 AM2/7/01
to
In article <95rl3h$np7$1...@eastnews1.east.sun.com>,
^^^^^
That's not it.
--
Matthew T. Russotto russ...@pond.com
"Extremism in defense of liberty is no vice, and moderation in pursuit
of justice is no virtue."

Lucian P. Smith

unread,
Feb 7, 2001, 10:53:31 AM2/7/01
to
W. Top Changwatchai (n...@spam.com) wrote in <_ocg6.352$853....@vixen.cso.uiuc.edu>:
: David Welbourn <dsw...@look.ca> wrote in message

They're there, you just apparantly have to use the search engine. And all
the old urls that used .html have been replaced with .shtml. At any rate,
the URL in question is:

http://www.xyzzynews.com/xyzzy.16d.shtml

My guess is the site's undergoing a change, since I get errors before and
after the article, but all the text shows up fine.

And, to add my $.02 to the original question: The simplest method of
dealing with the protagonist speaking in another language is simply to
do stuff like "You ask the conductor (in French) for a ticket." If you
want to make a puzzle out of it, perhaps you could require the player to
type >ASK CONDUCTOR IN FRENCH FOR A TICKET and the like. Or a >FRENCH
command that would reply "[All subsequent statements will be made in
French.]" (and '>ENGLISH' to change back.)

Actually requiring the player to type in words from a foreign language is
a bit iffy--you should definitely provide an in-game method of learning
the required words lest it become a 'baseball puzzle' (i.e. a puzzle
requiring uncommon outside knowledge to complete).

-Lucian

Gunther Schmidl

unread,
Feb 7, 2001, 4:16:42 AM2/7/01
to
David Welbourn wrote:

> Funny you should mention that. I was just perusing a copy of GMD's master
> index and noticed that there's a source code file called nalian.inf in the
> if-archive/infocom/inform6/library/contributions folder. Might be worth a
> look.

Nalian, not Nailan... I knew I should have checked :-)

Anyway, what does it stand for? "Not Another Lucian-Invented Artificial
Nuisance"? (I never did like that language puzzle)

-- Gunther

The Iconoplast

unread,
Feb 7, 2001, 4:55:59 PM2/7/01
to
> For one thing, I would have guessed DE LA LIVRE instead of DU LIVRE. And
> probably INFORME or INFORMEZ instead of INFORMER; I read TELL PRESIDENT
> ABOUT COOK BOOK as a command, not as an infinitive.

You're right about usage of the command form, but livre is masculine.

-Adam


David Welbourn

unread,
Feb 8, 2001, 1:20:14 AM2/8/01
to

Anson Turner wrote
>
> <ftp://ftp.gmd.de//if-archive/games/zcode/aventure.z5>
>
> Granted, it doesn't know INFORMER. Or INVENTORIER, for that matter.
Anyway,
> besides using the infinitive, it doesn't seem to require knowing the
genders
> of nouns. And why would it?

Not having looked at it yet, I can't say whether or not this game might not
need to know gender, but in theory other French games might. There's an
example in the Translator's Manual (section 2.3) about distinguishing two
different words in French that are spelt identically but differ in gender.
(le faux = "the forgery", la faux = "the scythe")

Also, don't forget French pronouns, y'know, when the parser has to figure
out what the "la" refers to in "regarder-la".

-- David Welbourn


Richard Bos

unread,
Feb 8, 2001, 8:37:15 AM2/8/01
to
"The Iconoplast" <Adam_Bar...@Msn.com> wrote:

Correctness is not the point here.

I may or may not be right about the command form, but the important
thing is that in English, it doesn't matter. It would be a pain in the
ass if I had to think about which form to use for a French command
_buried in an English game_. What the French do in their own games,
completely in French, is their problem, but I don't want this kind of
problem inside an otherwise English game. Even more so because it
wouldn't even be a problem in real life French.

Ditto for the gender of Livre. I _would_ have made that mistake. It
should most definitely not have mattered. It doesn't matter in the rest
of the game; in the French section, it suddenly matters. And if I made
Livre feminine in real life, it would not have mattered, either. Le
president might have made a remark about it, but he certainly would have
understood what I meant.

My point? My point was that if you code this kind of puzzles, you'd
better be _very_ allowing in the foreign-language sections. Asking a
Parisian for the way to the Eiffel Tower is perfectly manageable in real
life; it should not suddenly become a guess-the-declination puzzle in a
work of IF.

Richard

Magnus Olsson

unread,
Feb 8, 2001, 9:25:02 AM2/8/01
to
In article <3a829f53....@news.worldonline.nl>,

Richard Bos <in...@hoekstra-uitgeverij.nl> wrote:
>"The Iconoplast" <Adam_Bar...@Msn.com> wrote:
>
>> > For one thing, I would have guessed DE LA LIVRE instead of DU LIVRE. And
>> > probably INFORME or INFORMEZ instead of INFORMER; I read TELL PRESIDENT
>> > ABOUT COOK BOOK as a command, not as an infinitive.
>>
>> You're right about usage of the command form, but livre is masculine.
>
>Correctness is not the point here.
>
>I may or may not be right about the command form, but the important
>thing is that in English, it doesn't matter. It would be a pain in the
>ass if I had to think about which form to use for a French command
>_buried in an English game_. What the French do in their own games,
>completely in French, is their problem, but I don't want this kind of
>problem inside an otherwise English game.

I tseems that the whole point boils down to a well-known problem:
a game requiring out-of-game knowledge. It doesn't matter if that
knowledge concerns the periodic table, the rules of baseball or French
grammar.

In the case of the player being required to phrase a command in
French, that knowledge is a bit more complex than, say, the periodic
table, at least if it's not enough to look up a word in a dictionary
but you have to get the grammar right as well.

I think the general consensus is that this kind of puzzle shouldn't
hinge on knowledge that either can't be extracted from the game itself
(e.g. the game contains a French grammar book) or which most people
can be expected to know or to locate without much effort.

>Even more so because it
>wouldn't even be a problem in real life French.

Actually, the gendre of "livre" is a bit tricky, since "le livre" means
"the book", but "la livre" means "the pound". But in most cases, gender
doesn't carry meaning.
--
Magnus Olsson (m...@df.lth.se, m...@pobox.com)
------ http://www.pobox.com/~mol ------

Jake Wildstrom

unread,
Feb 8, 2001, 11:39:27 AM2/8/01
to
In article <95savq$l2a$1...@newsg1.svr.pol.co.uk>,

Gunther Schmidl <gsch...@xxx.gmx.at> wrote:
>Anyway, what does it stand for? "Not Another Lucian-Invented Artificial
>Nuisance"? (I never did like that language puzzle)

I'm not sure it stands for anything. "Na" is the word in the language
for "me". (Hardly a spoiler; it's used frequently and _very_ easy to
find out what it means) "ian" is a kind of generic national/language
suffix (Serbian, Canadian, etc.) The "l" I guess is just a linking
consonant to make the word pronouncable. You _could_ decide it's an
acronym, but you'd have to try.

And I liked the puzzle. It was clever and fun and had the delight of discovery.
The puzzles on the third and first levels kind of pissed me off.

+--First Church of Briantology--Order of the Holy Quaternion--+
| A mathematician is a device for turning coffee into |
| theorems. -Paul Erdos |
+-------------------------------------------------------------+
| Jake Wildstrom |
+-------------------------------------------------------------+

Neil Cerutti

unread,
Feb 8, 2001, 11:48:29 AM2/8/01
to
Jake Wildstrom posted:

>In article <95savq$l2a$1...@newsg1.svr.pol.co.uk>,
>Gunther Schmidl <gsch...@xxx.gmx.at> wrote:
>>Anyway, what does it stand for? "Not Another Lucian-Invented
>>Artificial Nuisance"? (I never did like that language puzzle)
>
>I'm not sure it stands for anything. "Na" is the word in the
>language for "me". (Hardly a spoiler; it's used frequently and
>_very_ easy to find out what it means) "ian" is a kind of
>generic national/language suffix (Serbian, Canadian, etc.) The
>"l" I guess is just a linking consonant to make the word
>pronouncable. You _could_ decide it's an acronym, but you'd
>have to try.
>
>And I liked the puzzle. It was clever and fun and had the
>delight of discovery. The puzzles on the third and first levels
>kind of pissed me off.

Me too. I hate puzzles that don't tip at restaurants. If you
don't want to tip, don't eat out! The spear-throwing puzzle
kept loudly slurping its soup while I was talking, and the
horse-riding puzzle ordered two desserts even though it knew
everybody else wanted to go home. And why doesn't the
fire-building puzzle ever wash its hair?

--
Neil Cerutti <cer...@together.net>

Aris Katsaris

unread,
Feb 8, 2001, 12:05:08 PM2/8/01
to

Gunther Schmidl <gsch...@xxx.gmx.at> wrote in message
news:95savq$l2a$1...@newsg1.svr.pol.co.uk...

Heh. That puzzle won the XYZZY award of that year, didn't it? Anyway I liked
it
quite a lot. One of my all-time favourite puzzles.

Aris Katsaris


Sam Kabo Ashwell

unread,
Feb 8, 2001, 1:38:24 PM2/8/01
to
Okay. I may not have explained this clearly enough. Very little actual
foriegn-language prose would be used, however much was "actually" spoken by
the character, and all interface would be in English. (Aside from anything
else, the number of languages I'm thinking of using and my skill in them
would forbid the use of language I've given the impression I'm talking
about). Here's an example of what I'm trying to get at:
>ASK JACQUES ABOUT EXISTENTIALISM

Jacques looks at you strangely. "Je ne comprend pas," he shrugs.

>SPEAK FRENCH
Okay, now communicating in French.
>ASK JACQUES ABOUT EXISTENTIALISM

"Oh, you meant existentialism," says Jacques, "but for this stereotype to
work properly, I think we need to go to a cafe."

(In practise, of course, if you could speak the language, a translation'd be
provided of what the NPC was saying. ). In fact, the only time actual
foriegn-language text would appear would be if the PC couldn't speak the
language:

>ASK GUNTHER ABOUT HOMOEROTIC UNDERTONES IN TEXT-BASED GAMES

Gunther can speak English perfectly well, but he chooses to mock your feeble
English linguistic skills and smirk at you instead. "Man spricht Deutsch,"
he says, in an amused tone.

>SPEAK GERMAN

You can't speak German, idiot.

This just means that the player would have to say he was switching languages
to communicate with (some) NPCs (of course, in the majority of situations,
NPCs would be multilingual to an extent). This was why I was asking about
whether it was worthwhile or not- because it'd have, for the most part, only
incidental impact on the game. It's more there to set the tone than
anything, although it could, in theory, be used for puzzles (selecting who
overhears what you're saying and who doesn't, e.g).

SKA


in article B6A5F1C7.708%ka...@btinternet.com, Sam Kabo Ashwell at
ka...@btinternet.com wrote on 6/2/01 6:24 pm:

> I've recently coded (badly and on an experimental basis) a method by which
> different NPCs (and PCs, in the case of games where the protagonist
> switches) speak different languages: although the actual prose remains in
> English throughout (it would be unfair on my language skills and on those of
> anybody who played the thing to do otherwise) the player must, for example,
> switch to speaking French if he wants to be able to communicate with a NPC
> who only speaks French (using the ASK/TELL-type method). Simple enough and
> not exactly coding at its most powerful, I know... what I'd like to get some
> input on is
> a)has it been done before?
> b) more importantly, would it add anything to a game, or just be irritating?
>
> Sam Kabo Ashwell
>

Reply all
Reply to author
Forward
0 new messages