You no longer have to be George R. R. Martin or J. R. R. Tolkien to create your own language. With Dialect, creating your own lingo in the style of Dothraki, Valyrian, or Elvish is as easy as flipping through a deck of cards—which is why the game has already surpassed its Kickstarter goal by over $125,000 with more than a week left.
"These games give a chance to really connect with other people face to face, and to feel like you've created something really special together."
Dialect was designed by computational linguistics expert Kate Hymes and cryptography PhD Hakan Seyalioglu, who say their goal was to "tell a story of a community through its language." The game tracks your language as it evolves, until it eventually dies out. "Coming out of the game," they explain, "we hope players have a greater appreciation for how language can be a lens of identity for culture and individuals, what it means for a language to be lost, and how we can combat that with language revitalization and documentation."
How It Works
Equipped with a Language Generation Deck and a Dialect guidebook, a group of three to five players creates a community and defines its different characteristics. Then, each player has a turn consisting of three phases: making a connection, building a word, and having a conversation.
"Making a connection involves tying a card from the Language Generation Deck with a characteristic of the community," explain Hymes and Seyalioglu. "For example: Maybe our concept for friendship is linked to the long desert storms that our Martian colony has to endure. We create a word or phrase that defines the new notion of friendship [in that context]. And finally, we have a conversation between people at the table where we explore how our characters relate to one another, and to this new word."
"Coming out of the game, we hope players have a greater appreciation for how language can be a lens of identity for culture."
The Expert Touch
While Hymes and Seyalioglu tapped their own knowledge of linguistics and cryptology to create Dialect, they also enlisted the help of language creator David Peterson, who created Dothraki and Valyrian for HBO's Game of Thrones, to give players a grasp on how they can create the most realistic language. "David's created some of the most recognizable and influential constructed languages today," say Hymes and Seyalioglu. "We're looking forward to featuring his advice on how to make invented languages really feel alive."
What You'll Gain
Dialect is a story game, which means that players come together not to compete against one another, but rather to tell a story. "These games give a chance to really connect with other people face to face, and to feel like you've created something really special together," say Seyalioglu and Hymes.
Dialect is currently available for preorder on kickstarter.com for $29 and will ship out in July 2017.