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Why the emphasis on languages?

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Eclipsian Eclipsian's picture
Why the emphasis on languages?
I am not sure if this has been discussed before on these forums but I am a bit curious why people with mesh access and a muse would ever worry about what languages they were speaking. A lot of effort has been made to bring the diversity of languages in Eclipse Phase to the forefront, but it seems to me that with an AI helper or even just some basic software universal translation would be kind of ubiquitous. I understand that language hugely informs culture, world vision, and the way a person experiences their daily life (masculine and feminine forms, what can and can not be said, what associations a particular idea might have). Still, it is almost possible to translate basic communication with your Smartphone or a Google Glass now, post singularity and post fall this seems kind of like a quaint folkish affectation, something all but the most conservative or cultural re-creationist would hardly care for.
ShadowDragon8685 ShadowDragon8685's picture
I imagine EP's setting may be
I imagine EP's setting may be slowly coalescing towards a single language for transhumanity, but at present there's tons of different languages because people spoke tons of different languages on Earth, and the Fall scattered everybody everywhere. Those people aren't going to be in a hurry to learn new ones, especially with their muses providing effective translation, and the other person's muse providing translation as well. Also, there are those want to keep their languages (or invent new ones,) as a way to hold on to their culture.
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Tantavalist Tantavalist's picture
My take on Languages
I just assume that all characters have access to real-time translation software run by their muse and can therefore understand anyone they meet regardless of what languages they speak. However, I also let people use Language as a Complementary skill for a +10 bonus if they speak it at 60+. This represents the fact that being fluent in a language gives knowledge of various subtle turns of phrase that a translation program may not pick up on- the "Google Translate" effect still exists, even if it's not nearly as bad as modern online translators.
thezombiekat thezombiekat's picture
i suspect the reason for the
i suspect the reason for the focus on languages was a desire to show that humanity never achieved unity in that way. just as it did not achieve unity in any other way. and that the departure from earth was in no way a mono-cultural affair. many groups left as separate groups. also with the easy availability of more than adequate (but less than perfect) translation software managed by your muse there is very little need for a common language so it is far less likely to develop. take the modern spread of English. i went on holiday to Sweden and met only 1 person who i could not talk to in English. my sister studied engineering in Germany using English language text books. only the least developed nations do not teach there students English, because it doesn't matter where you go in the world, to trade or to do science, they will probably speak English. when a French retailer selling a Japanese product orders more stock they probably do it in moderate quality English. if we all had access to real time audio translation we wouldn't bother learning another language just for trade. there is no practical difference between a Japanese person and a french person both learning good English or using a good, real time audio translation program. i believe that by the time of EP people will only learn additional languages for personal interest (as a hobby), or because they will have extended and detailed contact with speakers of that language and want to do better than the translation programers. meaning they will be going for very high skill levels, and probably a regional specialization.
Eclipsian Eclipsian's picture
Thanks for your thoughts
Thank you all for your thoughts on this question. It was raised during our last gaming session as a few characters were working on knowledges in character creation. It sounds to me like most of you have a similar sense of the non-centrality of language to the EP world. I really appreciated the idea that language would be a cultural marker, would represent a non-united humanity, and that people would study it primarily for interest sake or to produce things in that language. One of the best things about this game for me is the way that it stimulates rich and deep conversations, a sense of "what if" that a more fantasy based setting might not, and that my group and I can philosophically delve into the worlds of possibilities that the Eclipse Phase universe presents. Much appreciation for all your thoughts!
zombiak zombiak's picture
My point of view exactly -
My point of view exactly - the ubiquity of the Mesh and online translators probably made most people lazy enough to just stop learning other languages; on the other hand, the Fall lead people to learn more languages in order to preserve cultures that were almost completely destroyed by the TITAN outbreak. Both aspects can be used in role-playing in creative ways. Tantavalist uses Language skills as complementary skills which give a +10 - it's a very good reason to actually make characters learn more languages, and it enhances role-playing. I can only assume that an NPC hearing their almost-extinct mother tongue will display more favourable attitude towards the PC, which is always good. You also have to remember that the translation software is available ONLINE, i.e. it uses cloud-based resources/texts to translate speech and writing. Without the access to the Mesh, for example in a room constructed like a Faraday cage or when their communications were jammed (which is a simple Interfacing roll), the characters using different languages would be forced to rely on gestures and pantomime to communicate. Making the players role-play it would be extremely fun. Same goes for the NPCs - what happens when the players decide to jam the signal of a suspect in order to interrogate him, but the guy speaks only Bahasa Indonesian and won't understand their questions? Also, the attitude of the government toward languages might reflect their approach to the Fall in general - while the LLA may want to preserve the languages of the Indian subcontinent, and even promote their usage as an 'official language', the Planetary Consortium might force everyone to communicate in English and/or Mandarin, looking down on the 'authentics' who cling to the past instead of looking towards the bright future of transhumanity unified under one banner...a hypercorp one, that is. Also, since the access to the net is very limited in the Jovian Junta habitats, you might want to bring a dictionary/translation program with you if you don't speak Spanish or English, but an application like that probably won't be as efficient as its cloud-based counterpart. A simple slip of the tongue during an interrogation by a customs officer could cause more problems than you can think of.
thezombiekat thezombiekat's picture
i don't see why translation
i don't see why translation software you have in your mesh inserts would be less effective than a cloud based service. if anything the potential for lag on the cloud based system is a potential annoyance. of cause you need to have the right translation software for the language that pops up so if you meet somebody with an unexpected language communication will be problematic till an appropriate translator can be found and loaded (probably a couple of rounds, subject to mesh access) i actually had the muse of an NPC speaking Swiss German give the PCs muses translation software for English and mandarin, a kind of acknowledgment that his preferred language is rare but he wants to make communication simple (and maybe a trap in the future when a suspect offers them his language files) another option could be to give translation programs a skill level just like a language skill soft would have. when ever a check on the language skill is needed to understand something the translator must make the check, and the listener must also make a check in the language it is translated to.