Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Nuts & Bolts #56 - The Language of Wales


OK, no, not really, but it makes me chuckle.

You'll notice of course that I spelled Wales without an "H" and that is because I mean the country Wales and thus the language of Welsh. Welsh is ... kinda weird compared to English. The phonetics are just way different and as a result the written language can look really foreign.

Which makes Welsh my go to for alien and/or fantasy languages.

Take for example something you might hear on a derelict alien space craft:
Warning! Hull breach imminent!
Pretty standard fare for a craft that is unstable and starting to fall apart with the players on board. Saying that in English will be kinda boring though, and just saying that an alien voice is saying something while klaxons run is likewise less than awesome. But run that same statement through Google Translate from English to Welsh and you get:
Rhybudd! Torri Hull ar fin digwydd!
Another example:
Intruders on main deck!
Looks like:
Tresmaswyr ar brif dec!
You get the idea, and you can easily play with the Translate tool as well. Your pronunciation of these Welsh words will likely vary versus my own, and most certainly will be inaccurate to the proper Welsh pronunciation, but no matter how you say it it'll sound very different from anything else, and it may well be conveying any number of things that the players could be worried about.

I don't know if a native speaker of Welsh would find the translation accurate, and really that's not important either ... unless you have a native Welsh speaker in your gaming group, in which case you probably want to use a different language ... because that is the point. The idea is to convey alien/foreign languages in the best way possible with the tools you have available. Google Translate isn't a perfect tool for actual translations, though it'll get you close 99% of the time, but that doesn't diminish its utility to game masters.