LINGUIST List 13.3061

Fri Nov 22 2002

Qs: Ling & Lang Games, Mutual Intelligibility

Editor for this issue: Renee Galvis <>

We'd like to remind readers that the responses to queries are usually best posted to the individual asking the question. That individual is then strongly encouraged to post a summary to the list. This policy was instituted to help control the huge volume of mail on LINGUIST; so we would appreciate your cooperating with it whenever it seems appropriate. In addition to posting a summary, we'd like to remind people that it is usually a good idea to personally thank those individuals who have taken the trouble to respond to the query.


  1. Hans van Halteren, Language/Linguistics in Games
  2. Joan Smith/Kocamahhul, SIL mutual intelligibility percentages

Message 1: Language/Linguistics in Games

Date: Thu, 21 Nov 2002 14:51:17 +0000
From: Hans van Halteren <>
Subject: Language/Linguistics in Games

Dear all,

I am currently looking at games about linguistics or at least games in
which linguistics has a presence. I would therefore like to ask you if
you know about such games. Let me give some examples of a presence of
linguistics in games, for a better understanding of the breadth of my

- Games in which differences between languages play a role, e.g. by
hampering communication. An example is Empires of the Middle Ages, in
which you try to build as wealthy/ influential an empire as possible
in Medieval Europe. In this game, it is harder to control areas where
a different language is spoken than at your court, and on the (very)
long term, you can even change an area's language by colonisation.

- Games in which the structure of language (morfology, syntax, etc)
plays a role. A very old example (1802) is Grammatical Game in Rhyme,
which teaches about parts-of-speech (BTW please let me know if you've
ever seen this game as I have only very scarce information about
it). A newer example is Queries 'n Theories, where one player has to
guess a rewrite grammar built by the other player, by way of asking
whether specific strings are in the grammmar's language.

- Games in which links between words (or other units) play a role. An
example is Word Power, in which you can score by finding words'
synonyms, antonyms and such. Other types of links might be by
etymology, connotation, collocation, etc.

- Games which make use of an artificial language. An example might be
(I haven't seen it yet myself) Ubi, in which clues about where you
have to move on a map are given in a specially designed
language. Another example would be Barker^�'s role playing game Empire
of the Petal Throne, which has its own language, Tsolyani.

- Trivia games dealing with (possible among other subjects) linguistic
trivia. An example is the game Bethump'd, which has questions about
various aspects of the English language.

- Games which use words/sentences but work with a different
representation than letters. Examples are IPA letter tiles with which
you can e.g. play Phonetic Scrabble, and Rebus Scrabble, in which
picture tiles can be used as words or parts of words, e.g. a tile with
a can could be used for ''can'' in a sentence or ''tin'' as part of a

- Games with components that can be characterized as computational
linguistics or as language or speech technology. Examples are
text-based adventure games. I am especially looking here for a game
which allows access to its language component.

- Games about historical or regional linguistics, sociolinguistics,
psycholinguistics, corpus linguistics, etc,etc. No examples here yet,
but I would love to find them.

However, don't let yourself be limited by the list above and let me
know of anything even vaguely linguistics related.

On the other hand, please ignore games of the following types:
- games in which you build words out of individual letters
- games in which you guess at the meaning of words
- games in which you read fixed foreign language words/sentences in
order to learn that language These three types are only of secondary
interest and I already have sufficient examples to illustrate them.

If you know linguistically interesting games, please send me as many
as possible of the following:
- the name of the game
- the publisher, inventor and/or other facts which can help me locate
- a brief description of what is linguistic about it
- whether you have the game yourself or have access to it

Please send the information directly to me ( As I am
hoping to get a lot of information, I do not expect to post a summary
very shortly. However, I will make the availability of the final
report on this study known in due time.

Hans van Halteren 
Mail to author|Respond to list|Read more issues|LINGUIST home page|Top of issue

Message 2: SIL mutual intelligibility percentages

Date: Thu, 21 Nov 2002 15:07:27 +0000
From: Joan Smith/Kocamahhul <>
Subject: SIL mutual intelligibility percentages

At a conference, I overheard (was an auditor of) a couple of SIL
linguists talking about the mutual intelligibility level at which two
varieties are considered to be dialects of the same language. Can
anyone give me an idea of what that cutoff point is? ( I think it was
around the 75 80 % mark)

Joan Smith/Kocamahhul 
Mail to author|Respond to list|Read more issues|LINGUIST home page|Top of issue