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Introducing: Learning Languages Through Video Games

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Introducing: Learning Languages Through Video Games

Postby furrykef » Wed 09.29.2010 1:10 pm

I've had this idea on the back burner for a year now and I decided it's about time I launch the site. This is not yet the official launch, so you guys are kind of getting a sneak preview of it, though there's little to see at the moment.

The site is Learning Languages Through Video Games. It's exactly what it sounds like: the site gives you the text of a game in one language and a translation in another language. Most of the translations will be Japanese-to-English (with the aim of teaching Japanese), though any language pair is acceptable. The site is a wiki, so anybody can contribute to it.

Currently there are complete Japanese->English translations of Pizza Pop! (a Famicom game with very little text) and Tiny Toon Adventures (also for Famicom; this one has much more text). I haven't had the Tiny Toons one peer-reviewed, so if you've got a good grasp of Japanese, by all means critique/edit it. :) The translations for Tiny Toon Adventures 2 and Super Mario Bros. 3 should be completed within a few days, with Buster Busts Loose! soon to follow... and before too long we'll start on a real monster of a project: Zelda 3!

The site is still in a heavy state of flux, i.e., expect things to change. I don't know if I'll keep with MediaWiki or if I'll rewrite the whole thing with custom software or what. (This concern is the biggest reason why I haven't launched the site until now. I realized, though, that my indecision was killing the site before it was born.) Don't be afraid to edit it, though. I figure if I need to redo the site from scratch after all, I'll be able to find some way to deal with it without losing your contributions.

Comments, suggestions... whatever you have, let me know. :)

- Kef
Last edited by furrykef on Sun 10.03.2010 10:13 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Introducing: Learning Languages Through Video Games

Postby Snowflake » Wed 09.29.2010 3:23 pm

What an exciting project, Furrykef! Thank you ever so much for sharing this with us. What a fun way to learn more Japanese!

I've only played a few of the games listed (Super Mario, Yoshi's Island and Zelda) but I'm looking forward to watching your progress.
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Re: Introducing: Learning Languages Through Video Games

Postby Hyperworm » Wed 09.29.2010 3:27 pm

I made some tweaks to the Tiny Toons one.

My first thought is that, because you don't know the language ability of the reader, you don't know what language constructs to explain, and even now it's a little inconsistent -- explaining simpler things like みたい while not explaining the passive or causative. You also have to re-explain things over and over.

Perhaps this could be paired with a comprehensive grammar resource that explains all the different ways different grammar constructs can be used. For instance, こと and ん. Or the passive. Then, you could link each word to the construct instead, and readers can pick and choose what they need information on. It would be more useful than a standard page explaining the passive because you could link directly to the particular usage that appears in a sentence - for instance, られる can be directed to passive, or potential, or honorific use of passive, depending on context.
Or, you could have links dynamically bring up explanations on the same page to conserve space, rather than having them all there at the start.

Macros could help a little.
fun translation snippets | need something translated?
BTC@1KMZXgoWiDshQis5Z7feCx8jaiP4QAB2ks
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Re: Introducing: Learning Languages Through Video Games

Postby furrykef » Wed 09.29.2010 3:55 pm

Hyperworm wrote:I made some tweaks to the Tiny Toons one.

Thanks. My Japanese was barely adequate enough to get the job done in the first place... frankly, it shocked me that I pulled it off at all. Translating Tiny Toons was kind of a "let's try it and see what happens - hey, whaddaya know, I did it" sort of thing.

Hyperworm wrote:My first thought is that, because you don't know the language ability of the reader, you don't know what language constructs to explain, and even now it's a little inconsistent -- explaining simpler things like みたい while not explaining the passive or causative. You also have to re-explain things over and over.

Part of the problem here is that there isn't a clear division between "beginner's grammar" and "advanced grammar". I learned both the passive and the causative before I learned みたい, I think -- or, at least, before I bothered to memorize it -- but obviously somebody else could just as easily learn みたい long before the passive and causative.

You're absolutely right, though. It's all too easy to wind up with very inconsistent annotations that point out all the stuff somebody already knows and none of the stuff they don't know yet...

Hyperworm wrote:Perhaps this could be paired with a comprehensive grammar resource that explains all the different ways different grammar constructs can be used.

Yeah, I'm thinking of linking to Tae Kim's as the standard resource for stuff like that, though that raises the question of what to do when we need to discuss something that occurs frequently but isn't in Tae Kim.

Hyperworm wrote:Then, you could link each word to the construct instead, and readers can pick and choose what they need information on.

Part of the problem with linking words is editing. The current interface for editing translations is already kinda ugly, and extensive annotations in that fashion would make that problem much worse. If I do end up developing custom software for this, this sort of thing will probably be why.

- Kef
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Also see my lang-8 journal, where you can help me practice Japanese (and Spanish, and Italian!)
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Re: Introducing: Learning Languages Through Video Games

Postby TJack » Wed 09.29.2010 8:33 pm

Is it alright Kef if we add the explanations and some examples for the grammar in your work? For instance, on the Tiny Toon Adventure game, in the ending part, you have 戻って as "return and", are you planing on leaving that as it is, or do you pl;an on putting an explanation for it? I'll be happy to assist you and add sentences for the grammar points I do know. I just don't want to change it if you are happy with it, or have something else in mind.

Looks really great so far!
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Re: Introducing: Learning Languages Through Video Games

Postby Jerrid » Thu 09.30.2010 1:50 am

I my self have had the same idea for a very long time, but since I am lacking any foreign language skills or computer talents, my ideas can not come to fruition. However, with like minded individuals... who knows... anyway... are you planing any thing more heavy or more... realistic than SMB3 or Zelda 3?
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Re: Introducing: Learning Languages Through Video Games

Postby furrykef » Thu 09.30.2010 2:06 am

TJack wrote:Is it alright Kef if we add the explanations and some examples for the grammar in your work?

You can do whatever you want, really, so long as you're confident in your contributions. In other words, try not to introduce wrong information, but other than that, go nuts! If for some reason I don't like something you've done, I'll fix it and explain why. Wikis tend to operate on a "better to ask for forgiveness than permission" policy. :) So yes, by all means try to improve upon what I've done! To be honest, I only have a slight idea of what I'm doing and I need all the help I can get. :lol:

The only thing you shouldn't do is change the text in the "Japanese" fields, since they're the game's original text. (Unless, of course, you spot an obvious typo or something... somebody from WordReference already found one. I did all the typing by hand.) The "kanji" fields are fair game, though, since they're an interpretation of the text.

Jerrid wrote:are you planing any thing more heavy or more... realistic than SMB3 or Zelda 3?

I'm a retrogamer, so it's unlikely I'd be working on many games beyond the PSX/N64 era. (I may be 26 years old, but when it comes to gaming, I'm an old codger who's set in his ways...) One exception might be for visual novels, a medium that I have some interest in, but I'm not sure because visual novels obviously tend to be rather long. I'll also tend to shy away from very large projects because they obviously take a lot of time and effort. I also think, for the early stages of the wiki, it would be better to have a higher quantity of games. A wiki with text for 100 games looks more impressive, and will surely attract and retain more people, than a wiki with text for 10 games, even if the combined text of those 10 games would be much longer than the text for the 100 games. (This is why I put up the Pizza Pop! translation even though it has so little text.) Thus, working on smaller games makes more sense for me all around.

But that's just my preferences for my own projects. Anybody's free to add any project they like to the wiki so long as it's a video game. I do think it'd be best not to spread ourselves too thin, but don't let that stop you from pursuing your dreams -- if you'd really like to see a translation project for FF7, for instance, go for it!

- Kef
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Also see my lang-8 journal, where you can help me practice Japanese (and Spanish, and Italian!)
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Re: Introducing: Learning Languages Through Video Games

Postby furrykef » Thu 09.30.2010 9:08 am

Tiny Toon Adventures 2 is complete, albeit with some rough patches (a few TODO's -- feel free to help me fix 'em up :)). I also don't have a complete translation for the line みんなが そのわだいでもちきりのなか (see the translation for context -- it's under "Intro")... it's clearly along the lines of "the town is abuzz with the news" (the way it's written in the official translation), but I'm a bit fuzzy on the specifics...

I've got some work on Buster Busts Loose! too, but it will probably take me a little while to finish it.
Last edited by furrykef on Sun 10.03.2010 10:14 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Introducing: Learning Languages Through Video Games

Postby NileCat » Thu 09.30.2010 10:50 am

Great work, kef-san!!

『みんながその話題で持ち切りの中』

According to Yahoo dictionary,
もち‐きり【持(ち)切り】 あるあいだ中同じ話題が続くこと。「事件のうわさで―だ」

According to another dictionary,
ある間じゅう同じ話や噂などをすること。専(もっぱ)ら話題の的となること。 例:「学校中、彼の話題で持ち切りだ」

According to ALC 英辞郞,
国中がその話題で持ち切りだ。
The whole country is talking about it.
街中がXYZ社の新製品の話題で持ち切りだ。
The new product XYZ Company put out got the whole town talking.
~の話で持ち切りになる
be dominated by the subject
そのニュースで持ちきりである
be abuzz with the news
be be buzzing with the news
一つの話で持ちきりである
speak of nothing else

Originally this expression meant "have one's hands full with ~", etymologically speaking.
In the context, "all the people have their hands full with the subject" is the literal meaning.
And ~の中 means "while" or "meanwhile".

Therefore, the sentence means
"the town was abuzz with the news" "meanwhile" "a letter had been delivered"
新しい遊園地が、町中のみんなの話題の中心になった、ちょうどその頃、バスター・バニーの家に手紙が届いていた。
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Re: Introducing: Learning Languages Through Video Games

Postby furrykef » Fri 10.01.2010 11:46 am

Thanks, NileCat-san. I think I understand the idea now.

A couple of observations:

The site needs a name. The current Learning Languages Through Video Games / LLTVG seems OK, but am I really gonna want to register this as lltvg.com? I kind of don't like acronymic domain names... would people (especially those not good with English) be able to remember it? On the other hand, if I choose something that seems completely unrelated, that might be hard to remember, too. I figure I'm most likely going to stick with LLTVG, but I'm definitely open to suggestions...

I think Pizza Pop! should have some kind of discussion on pizza in Japan, especially since there's not very much Japanese text in the game and I think it should try to teach something.

- Kef
Last edited by furrykef on Sun 10.03.2010 10:14 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Introducing: Learning Languages Through Video Games

Postby NileCat » Fri 10.01.2010 12:04 pm

furrykef wrote:would people (especially those not good with English) be able to remember it?

I'm cool! :whistle: ...I think. :)
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Re: Introducing: Learning Languages Through Video Games

Postby furrykef » Fri 10.01.2010 12:08 pm

Well yeah, but you already speak English pretty well, y'know? ;) I intend for the site to be usable by people who still have a tenuous grasp of English, too.
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Re: Introducing: Learning Languages Through Video Games

Postby Snowflake » Fri 10.01.2010 12:58 pm

Honestly, when I look at LLTVG, the thing that pops out at me is TV, not VG. Since so many people are familiar with "TV", I worry that people seeing "LLTVG" may think it's about TV rather than Video Games. I don't have an answer for you but I'll definitely think about it. It's a great project; it deserves a phenomenal name!

And yes, NileCat -- you are most definitely cool 8) .
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Re: Introducing: Learning Languages Through Video Games

Postby TJack » Fri 10.01.2010 1:25 pm

What about Learning thru Gaming or Lang Learning thru Gaming? I'm not really creative, so that's all I can think of. :lol:
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Re: Introducing: Learning Languages Through Video Games

Postby furrykef » Sat 10.02.2010 3:19 pm

Super Mario Bros. 3 is largely complete. Strangely, I found it more challenging than the NES Tiny Toons games, and there are still quite a lot of holes in the translation. However, it should be easy for you guys to fill in the holes for me if you wish, since all the game text is there. :)
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