Say it in Dutch – Podcast in Slow Dutch

Say it in Dutch podcast banner

One of my long-term goals is to get my Dutch up to the C2 CEFR level, so I’m always seeking out podcasts and other affordable resources to help me improve my listening comprehension skills. That’s how I stumbled upon the Say it in Dutch podcast, a Dutch-language podcast series run by a language school based in Groningen.

Each episode runs for an average of 20-25 minutes and covers a wide range of topics, including the Eurovision Song Contest, sports, seasonal traditions, national politics, Dutch art, and the anti-vax movement. What sets this podcast apart is its use of clips from other Dutch-language media (including news reports and TV dramas), its focus on current affairs and culture, and the fact that each episode is entirely in Dutch, albeit delivered at a clearer, slower pace.

All new words, idioms, expressions, and cultural titbits are explained in Dutch, so this podcast is not ideal for beginners but rather is aimed at those who have mastered the language to at least the B1 CEFR level. Episode transcripts exist but these must be purchased from their store, starting from € 3.75 per transcript.

Take your Nederlands to the next level by checking out the Say it in Dutch SoundCloud account, visiting the Say it in Dutch Idioms blog, or following them on Twitter.

 

Easy to Learn Korean

Easy to Learn Korean

Language learning need not be expensive and if you’re looking for free resources for improving your Korean, you’d be hard-pressed to find a more comprehensive and relevant resource than Easy to Learn Korean.

Easy to Learn Korean was launched back in 2008 and was created by husband and wife team Chad Meyer and Kim Moon-jung for the Korea Times. Each bite-sized, colourfully illustrated lesson introduces several new words, phrases, and expressions and offers fascinating insights into Korean culture and traditions.

Easy to Learn Korean - lesson

(Copyright: Chad Meyer and Kim Moon-jung, Korea Times)

Pros:

  • Lessons make use of colour coding, romanised Korean, and hangul and their supplementary illustrations are a handy feature for language learners who rely on visual aids for memorising new vocabulary.
  • This series covers a wide range of subjects, ranging from everyday topics such as Facebook and homework to socio-political issues such as climate change and the Demilitarised Zone.
  • New lessons are added on a regular basis and are presented in an easy-to-digest format, which is perfect for commuters and those who have limited time to devote to their language studies.
  • This series is essential reading for non-Koreans living, working, and/or studying in South Korea.
  • Koreans can also use these lessons to learn new English words and expressions.

Cons:

  • There are no audio files or videos to aid with pronunciation, so you will need to familiarise yourself with Korean pronunciation beforehand.
  • These lessons don’t cover the Korean alphabet or basic Korean grammar so they might not be ideal for absolute beginners.

The most recent Easy to Learn Korean lessons can be accessed via The Korea Times but you can find a lot more of Meyer and Kim’s mini-lessons over on the Easy to Learn Korean Tumblr blog and their official Twitter and Facebook accounts.

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Easy to Learn Korean is 100% free but if you would like to support its creators, consider purchasing a copy of their bilingual book, An Illustrated Guide to Korean: Essential Words and Phrases, which is packed with Korean language and cultural content and can be ordered via Amazon and Amazon UK.

Illustrated Guide to Korean: Essential Words and Phrases

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Designing A Lost Language For ‘Heaven’s Vault’ (EGX 2019)

A screenshot from the game 'Heaven's Vault'

Narrative Designer Jon Ingold recently attended EGX 2019 to promote Inkle’s upcoming archaeological narrative adventure game Heaven’s Vault and talk about the game’s fictional lost language.

Over the course of the forty-minute Rezzed Sessions presentation, Ingold talked about the lengthy process of designing the game’s unique gameplay mechanic and the various challenges of creating a whole new hieroglyphic language for gamers to decipher.

If you’re interested to learn more about the development process, I recommend watching the entire video. But if you’re short on time or just want to know the gist of it, here’s a brief summary:

  • Inkle began brainstorming their then-untitled “space archaeology” game in late 2014 and drew on other archaeo-adventure franchises, such as Stargate and the Indiana Jones films, for inspiration.
  • The developers decided to make language decipherment a gameplay feature in their new game. Ingold briefly touched upon the decipherment of Egyptian hieroglyphs and the as-yet undeciphered Rongorongo script of Rapa Nui (Easter Island).
  • Inkle wanted to make a game that felt like learning how to read a new language. The first prototype translation system from early 2015 used the Roman alphabet, while the second prototype made use of symbols instead.
  • Ingold’s was initially gutted when he saw that Lara Croft would be able to decipher ancient texts in the then-upcoming Rise of the Tomb Raider (2015). He felt that there was no way Inkle’s game could compete against a Triple-A title. But he soon realised that Tomb Raider’s approach was entirely different to Inkle’s and went back to redesigning his game’s language mechanic.
  • The next prototype used a combination of words and symbols and introduced a “fatigue” meter to stop gamers from solving the language puzzles by brute force.
  • He and the team then started thinking about grammar and building an “interesting and complicated” grammar for their language. They started adding bits of dialogue to tell gamers about the objects they are looking at, adding context that could aid them with their translations. Ingold mentioned that this stage of development wasn’t much fun and that he had even started looking for other jobs within the gaming industry.
  • Determined to make some progress, Ingold went back to researching ancient languages. His next prototype included a set dictionary of words and introduced a new piece of gameplay: working out where the words were in a compound string and building up a dictionary through trial and error.
  • The next stage was to design the language. By this stage in the game’s development, the language was designed in a way that would allow gamers to create compound words from existing words and apply newly-discovered words in other future contexts.
  • By December 2015, the team finally had a prototype they were pleased with, one which used runes instead of letters and allowed them to build up a dictionary over time. The final version, which was the one used in the game, worked the same way, albeit with glyph symbols.
  • From there, the remainder of the project was focused on building up the fictional language’s dictionary and making it “look pretty”. By the end, the team had over 3,000 words in their dictionary, which was enough to translate anything in Heaven’s Vault.
  • The game’s language has a well-defined grammar, which includes a specific verb order, an abstract number system, and rules about prepositions. Ingold mentions that these “are not English rules but the English structure is roughly the spine of the thing”. The script itself was partly inspired by Chinese and designed by Inkle co-founder Joe Humphrey. Sadly, there are no plans at present to localise the game for other regions.

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Heaven’s Vault will be out on April 16, 2019, and will be available for PC and PS4. For more information about this fascinating game, visit the Inkle site or follow the official Heaven’s Vault Twitter account.

Heaven’s Vault: Where Gaming, Archaeology, and Translation Collide

Heaven's Vault - Key art

Ever daydreamed about exploring ancient ruins and deciphering a long-forgotten language? If so, indie game developer Inkle Studios has just the game for you!

In Inkle’s upcoming open-world adventure game, Heaven’s Vault, players will guide archaeologist Aliya Elasra (voiced by Gem Carmella) and her robot sidekick Six through The Nebula, an ancient network of scattered moons, where they will slowly uncover the secrets of the region’s colourful past.

Language lovers will no doubt be drawn to the game’s unique puzzle mechanic, one which will allow them to decipher the ancient hieroglyphic inscriptions Aliya comes across during her search for a missing roboticist. These inscriptions will provide vital clues needed to continue with your adventure and even shape the way Aliya views the forgotten history around her. But a word of caution: Mistranslations can send you down the wrong path, so choose your translations wisely!

You can expect a review of Heaven’s Vault on this site in the not-too-distant future. For now, if you’re curious to learn more about the game’s development or its portrayal of archaeology and archaeologists, check out Archaeogaming’s interview with the game’s narrative director, Jon Ingold.

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Heaven’s Vault will be out on April 16, 2019, and will be available for PC and PS4. For more information about this fascinating game, visit the Inkle site or follow the official Heaven’s Vault Twitter account.