IF as a tool for learning foreign language?

I studied German at school and are there are a great number of German interactive fictions; similarly, I’d like to learn Spanish and there are a great number of Spanish interactive fictions. It’d be great to be able to work through some of these games, learning as I go. However, there’s a substantial barrier to getting started: knowing the required vocabulary to be able to interact with the games even on a basic level.

It would be really cool if there was something like the IF-For-Beginners Postcard for playing games in different languages, especially as IF conventions might differ in different languages (it might not be as simple as me looking up what the word for ‘inventory’ and so on is).

What do people think?

I think there are postcards in French, Russian, German and Spanish, at least according to this post of Emily’s. (Edit: and Italian.)

Aha, here’s the Spanish one. All the language variants are listed at the card’s PR-IF page.

Ask and you shall receive! That’s fantastic. On the Spanish postcard it seems to indicate that both ‘O’ and ‘W’ work for west (I presume that the ‘o’ stands for the Spanish version of ‘occidental’).

That – or “oeste” …

Erm… yeah that would work too.

Hey Felix, can you think of another language?

I could make a Swedish one but I’m not sure what the standard commands are. I’ll go play some games first…

There are so few IF games in Swedish, I’m not sure there is a command set that is really standard. If there is, it’s the one in Fredrik Ramsberg’s Swedish I6 library. With one exception (the abbreviation “L” for “lista”), they will work with the Swedish I7 translation as well. (I kept the “L” for looking, as I figured even Swedish players would likely be more used to the English abbreviation than to the Swedish one – maybe that was a bad choice.)

I’ve just checked that latest Inform 6 spanish grammar libraries still support “w”, “u” and “d” as abreviations for “oeste” (west), “arriba” (up) y “abajo” (down). I don’t know if there was a good reason (or any reason at all) for that, but of course it’s, strictly speaking, incorrect spanish usage (just like using “undo” for “deshacer”). My guess is that as in practice it hasn’t caused any real harm so far no one bothered to remove them… but it might be confusing for people learning spanish through IF works!

I for one hope they keep using those commands… it’s a nicety for foreign players.

It’s also “incorrect” English usage to be able to abbreviate AGAIN and WAIT as G and Z, but I doubt anyone’s language skills have suffered as a result.

A bit off topic from the original specific request, but I remember reading an academic paper about some professors who developed an IF game in German for use as a language-learning simulator. The “game” is pretty simple, in that you mainly have to navigate a train station, but it was neat to see folks doing some research on just how much difference some IF time made with language learning.

Here’s their train station: cle.usu.edu/CLE_IF_AUSFLUG.html