Monday, December 21, 2009

The Warcraft Pidgin

I am quite interested in languages and the other day I came to think about the language that has evolved in WoW, and probably any other game that consists of a vast community of player. Well any with a small community of players too I'd guess, but those aren't much noticed. I often get to hear, when talking about WoW to non-WoW players, that it sounds like we're talking a whole nother language. So many words are used, that are strange to the non-player, that they can't make sense of the meaning of the discussion. Now this creating of new words would only occur of course if the player is of another mother tongue than the game, like in my case - I am swedish but play a game of english language. This means that when I communicate with other swedish speakers about the game, I will often use terms that are a mish-mash between the english word and a swedish form.

I suppose this form of mish-mashing words would differ from language to language depending on grammar rules special for that language. In swedish for instance, most verbs end with an -a. "Springa" (run), "cykla" (bicycle), "falla" (fall) for example. This means us swedes usually just grab the english verb and put an -a in the end to make it sounds swedish-like. This has created words like pull-a, run-a, roll-a, quest-a and the list could go on with nearly any WoW-related verb. In a language where verbs doesn't end with an -a however, I am assuming this would look completely different. Unfortunately, the only other languages I know - Spanish, German and English, all have the game translated into their languages and don't have the "need" to create these mish-mash words for the game. I therefor haven't got the possibility to compare anything myself.

For the rest of us however, one could talk about the emergance of a "pidgin" language of sorts. A pidgin language is described by as "any simplified or broken form of a language, esp. when used for communication between speakers of different languages." An example of pidgin is the Engrish "spoken" by many chinese businessmen and companies. Usually a pidgin starts out two-way, that is two languages who don't resemble one another much try to meet mid way with words needed for for example trading. A pidgin language will therefor focus much in these kind of words and turn out much less elaborate than a "normal" language.

This could be said about the swedish-english wow-pidgin, which of course focuses on game terms and therefor has no special word for something that doesn't occur in the game, like giving birth. The swedish-english wow-pidgin is one-way however since there is no interest in non-swedish speakers to learn swedish to be able to communicate with swedes. The communicating language of WoW is english after all, and this swedish-wow-pidgin has only sprung into existance to ease communication between swedish-speakers.

It is actually much more simple to have these mish-mash words than trying to convert the words into a "real" swedish word, which one notices at once when trying to explain WoW to someone who doesn't play it. Take the word "kite" for instance. In swedish-wow-pidgin that would be "kita". As far as I know there is no original swedish word for the term, so when trying to explain it one would have to say "making something chase you", or the like. Or "run an instance" which is "instansa". Otherwise explained one would have to say "run a dungeon with a group of people".

Most of these SWP (swedish-wow-pidgin) words are therefor actually needed. They ease up communication greatly, except of course with those who do not understand them. I would really like to know how these kinds of words develop in other languages, like polish, dutch, danish, finnish...

Another kind of words that aren't bound to one single language but to the gaming community as a whole are the gaming-exclusive words. Such words include "kek" or "gib" (of which there also are swedish versions - "öpö" and "gibba" respectively). But I think that is another matter which will need its own post. First I must collect some examples of words, and since I don't have any access to wow for some time that will have to wait. Until then, bai.

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