Sunday, March 2, 2008

Defending the wowian language

There are many initial obstacles to overcome when you first start out playing WoW. To understand the game mechanics, to learn how to handle your char and your spells, to get the grip on how questing and levelling are connected, to orient yourself in the huge world - that keeps growing for every step you take.

One step that I remember was pretty hard to begin with was learning the language. To at least take your Wowish to a basic level in order to being able to communicate with your coplayers, to simply understand what they were saying.

Probably this step was bigger to me, since I until that moment never had played an online game, not even spent any time chatting on MSN in the ordinary world. The abbreviations that I guess are widely accepted, not only in WoW, were utterly cryptic to me.

It isn't evident, especially not for a Swedish player, what BRB means. Actually it IS the short form of a Swedish cattle race, but I guessed it wasn't referring to that, even though I saw some cows peacefully grassing in Elwynn Forest. It seemed unlikely that someone would want to discuss what sort they were. And what about LFM? It could mean Wages Benefits, if you were trying to translate it to Swedish? SM? It could hardly mean the Swedish Masterships of some sport?

As time passed it cleared to me, party because I'm so old and wise (?) that I've stopped caring about my dignity and actually don't hesitate asking stupid questions, partly thanks to some dictionaries and newbie guides that I found through the discussion forums on the net.
Nowadays I'm rarely lost in what's said, as long as it isn't shortforms for class specific spells, where I honestly don't always know that much about other classes.

If anyone writes in general: "LFM SL Her 1DPS/CC RTG" it's obvious to me that here's a group that is looking for a fifth member to run the instance Shadowlabs in heroic mode. They want someone that is making a lot of damage and has some good ability to temporary get mobs out of the way. And as soon as they've got this fifth member they'll be ready to start running the instance.

Talk about effective communication, when you're thinking about it! Just by 23 characters (inclusive spaces) this person has managed to tell me exactly what he wants. If he or she would have tried to explain it to me without abbreviations it would have taken a small essay to do it.
Of course it isn't by accident the system of abbreviations has reached those levels. After all it's easier to kill a mob if you don't have to write and read walls of text while you're doing it.

I think there's a purpose using most sorts of short forms. But there is one that annoys me. Three small letters: Plz. I realize it's probably not used out of evilness, the one that's writing it probably only is trying to be polite, but I can't help associating it to the stubborn beggars in Stormwind, making any level 70 mage with any instinct of self-preservation to keep away from there. Boost Stockade plz. Water plz. Portal Darnassus plz. I use plz as a sort of filter. You know, sometimes I actually do portals to strangers in order to be kind, as long as I'm not in a hurry or doing something else. But only to people who have bothered to write "please". The Plz requests I ignore consequently.

Then it's not only the abbreviations you have to learn, but also a lot of terms, often a sort of mixture between Swedish and English words that you hardly can find in a dictionary. My own blog is now exeption. I write happily about nuking, sheeping, aggroiing and dispelling, its pugged and spanked and stats and rep and loot are discussed all the time. If I had read this a year ago it would have puzzled my mind. Now the Wowish has come into my vocabulary to that extent that I sometimes in my ordinary life have to bite my tongue not to describe everyday situations in WoW-terms to non-players.

But actually there's nothing wrong about it. It's just the same thing as when a carpenter is talking about his trying plane and not about "that thing". The Wowish helps us to communicate effectively and according to me the abbreviations and the special words are legitimate and meaningful. The language works like a brook that is changing direction now and then in order to come down the mountainside the quickest and easiest way. It'ts constantly developing and when new needs appear - then we invent new words, to simpler and faster be able to express what we want to say. The Wowish helps us to play and cooperate.

On the other hand you certainly have to be kind and understanding to those that are new to the game and haven't conquered the wowian language yet. Explain to those who ask without disparaging comments and raised eyebrows, reach out a hand and help them into the game

That said I finally still want to request a boycott of "plz". Let's join our forces and extinct this weed of the wowian language once for all!

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