Re: How is the problem of numerous real-life languages solved in VR novels?

#1
Currently in the midst of brainstorming a novel of the Virtual Reality genre, but I've reached a problem that seems unsolvable. How can the player-base of internationally popular VR games understand each other?

I thought of an instantaneous translation feature built-in the equipment, but I'm confused if it seems a bit too advanced for a civilization that has VR technology for nearly a decade or it is suitable for their level of technology.

Anyone got a solution for this?

Re: How is the problem of numerous real-life languages solved in VR novels?

#2
You need to keep in mind the technological scope of what VR is and what it implies in your book. Generally, VR implies a neural link between the player's brain and the virtual construct, which is overseen either by a singular all powerful AI, or a series of AI (often posed as gods, or simply never interacted with). These AI are constantly doing innumerable calculations, from determining countless events throughout the world/galaxy, NPC interactions, loot generation, and more. Is it so far fetched to assume there is an AI out there purely devoted to translating the spoken words of one language into that of another in real time?

Re: How is the problem of numerous real-life languages solved in VR novels?

#3
Right now, youtube is on the verge of perfecting that instant subtitle maker thingy. There are a few words (okay, a lot of words) they get wrong but sooner or later, they will be able to tweak that program to make it 99. something accurate. 

Once it is in written form, it is easy to translate the words to any language. granted, that currently, it will be in google translate level of accuracy, but given a few more years, who knows?

Then another separate program that reads back the translated result, like kindle "Text-to-speech" apps, and wallah! Instant translation program!

The technology is already available, the engineers are simply perfecting that now. On the other hand, VRMMO in LitRPG is a totally different matter. I think that one will take awhile.

Re: How is the problem of numerous real-life languages solved in VR novels?

#5
how well do people need to translate?  Generally, if you're online, the amount of what you need to say is fairly limited - 'I need healing', 'bad guys over there', 'looking for group' and so on, so a combination of abbreviations, slang and a smidgin of other bits of language.  It won't be enough to carry a full conversation, but should be enough to get by.  Auto translate can be used for more complex things, but will have a slight delay, and also won't cover slang, idioms, references etc.  Depending on the game, there may also be zoning or something, so most people group with people from the same physical area.

Re: How is the problem of numerous real-life languages solved in VR novels?

#6
In the webnovel "Displaced", every single person in the world is under the effect of universal translation at all times.  When one person says a word, the other person listening hears both the word and a faint psychic impression explaining what that word means to the speaker.  If someone says "bugbear", you might get an impression of a big troll like monster even if you don't know what a bugbear is.  Note that this only applies to spoken language, not written language or audio recordings, so learning multiple languages is still important to scholars.

The approach I would use would be a middle ground, with several options.

"Common" would be the common language used by all universal translation devices, which consists of a very rudimentary language that can be crudely translated into every native language.  It would be the equivalent of google translating everything into english, then into the target language (as opposed to translating through multiple languages before the target language). Advanced concepts, or ideas unique to a language, simply wouldn't translate into common properly.

"Soulspeak" would be similar to common, but instead of speaking in words you would speak purely in terms of emotions and feelings.  This form of communication would be much more limited than common, but would make it extremely difficult to lie or misunderstand.  

"Dreamspeak" would be the act of sharing a lucid dream.  This renders people extremely vulnerable and is mentally taxing, but in exchange it would allow sharing visual memories, ideas, and emotions.  As a downside, attempting to share concepts that the other dreamspeaker can't understand would be extremely painful.

Re: How is the problem of numerous real-life languages solved in VR novels?

#7
Roughly 1.5 Billion people on Earth know English to some varying degree.
A big chunk of the rest have been exposed to it and can probably recognize a word or two(Much like how a lot of Americans I know know what Merci means even though they can't speak French).

English is a fairly common go to language because of how widespread it is, and it's taught as a secondary language in a ton of places.

And on a side note they say roughly only 1 billion people in the world have access to computers, and less than that have access to the internet.

So as you can see it's extremely likely that if you use the internet, and you play games on it, you have some sort of knowledge of the English language.

Re: How is the problem of numerous real-life languages solved in VR novels?

#9
The issue can be easily written off with technology. Whether it's instant translation, which we currently have available, or some other newer and more efficient technology, if it's not a crucial part of the plot, it's better off given a vague explanation at best, imo.

It's easy to fall into the hole of language. Nearly every fantasy story with its own world makes very little sense when you imagine they're all using English to speak to one another. English; a language which could have arguably only developed, with the intricacies and nuances its used with within books, in our current world. (Unless every fantasy story has identical latin and greek and germanic etymological roots, which simply couldn't be true in many cases)
tl;dr Don't worry too much about it because it's an endless hole.

Re: How is the problem of numerous real-life languages solved in VR novels?

#10
Built-in translation is one I've seen a few times and considering the problems of full realism, your readers will be willing to suspend some disbelief so they can read an actual story instead of a linguistics masters thesis. In realism terms if I recall correctly, science has shown that there's a kind of intermediate language of meanings between language A and language B, whether that's a machine translation or an actual person that speaks more than one language fluently. You could just throw perfect translation in there and people will eat it up for fiction. Or if you're feeling humorous, you can inject any degree of translation error you feel like to add a few damn you autocorrect moments.

Re: How is the problem of numerous real-life languages solved in VR novels?

#12
RedPine Wrote: "Common" would be the common language used by all universal translation devices, which consists of a very rudimentary language that can be crudely translated into every native language.  It would be the equivalent of google translating everything into english, then into the target language (as opposed to translating through multiple languages before the target language). Advanced concepts, or ideas unique to a language, simply wouldn't translate into common properly.
As an aside "Common" already exists today.

Large-scale translator systems (basically Google) are algorithms that learn from the existing translations on the web. You have website with a german and english version, it swallows the pages to figure out how german sentences and words are structured vs english ones.

A few years ago, there was a paper on how the algorithms had evolved their internal database of translation. It turns out that they don't translate german to english. They translate german to an internal representation of what the german sentence is, then apply the translation of english to Internal in reverse to get the english result.

Of course, the main problem of Common/Internal is that it is a computer langage for their own use. It's not even remotely understandable or expressible by a human. It's a thing of vectors and matrixes, not of linear words. Yet, they translate German to English... with the "Common" in the middle.

Re: How is the problem of numerous real-life languages solved in VR novels?

#13
I recently did a film script translation using the service https://thewordpoint.com/services/translation-service/film-script-translation and this work gave me one thought. If  come up with a temporary solution, then it would be nice to make some kind of localization. For example, configure the system to capture voice and automatically transfer it through some translation service. Until the technology improves, this would be a good solution.