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As i mainly play characters that do not have English as their native language, i figure i would ask this.

I was reading the language section of the book, and it's not the threshholds or anything, but it's WHEN you should call for a test.

As a non native Finn moving to Finland from the US, i have an alright 'Skill Rating', though there are technical things i don't understand on a bad day. (guess i need more dice grinbig.gif ) So I know what it's like to speak in a non native language.

A rating 3, it explains in the skill rating table is 'professional', ie you can do it as your job. Does this mean someone with a rating 3 English skill could possibly be a translator? Would a rating 3 require a lot of tests, or only for stuff that's real out there? (like talking to a scientist about a new prototype of something or other, and he's speaking Sciencenese.)

I guess this is a GM call kind of thing, but i am curious on some feedback how you guys handle it. I guess personally I'd take a rating 3 as 'pro', and let folks get away with most...but i suppose if they were speaking to someone who is using a heavily lingo influenced dialect i'd want a roll. (it says something about dialect or jargon modifiers in the book...-2 i think)

Then there is the thing where your Social skill dice you add can't exceed your Language rating. So someone with English 3 could add 3 dice from the skill itself(plus Charisma too i guess), to negotiate. But if a 3 is 'professional', why is this cap? Someone who could essentially work as a translator or something needing to roll a lot? (and excuse my english, I also find that living in a new country for awhile, i been forgetting some of mine biggrin.gif)

I am almost tempted to houserule something with Intimidation tho. I dunno about you, but a large person who is screaming at me in some language i don't understand might very well be as intimidating as someone whose speaking my native tounge.

I see a rating 3 as you knowing the language well enough for your chosen profession. You know the generally how to communicate (normal conversation) plus you know the terms needed for your chosen profession due to familiarity and daily use.

This is not the level of an interpretter who is required to know pretty much all of the language (i'd say about rating 5), and not just the basics and terms for a single profession.
At rating 3 you could likely translate basic needs/conversation and discussions in your profession, but anything that falls outside of that would be difficult at best.
Aye, p108 declares rating 3 in all skills to be "professional" and "competent at general skilled tasks." A 2 is "novice" and 4 is "veteran."
I learned German in the army. 34 weeks, 8 hours a day, 50 words a night.

I spent 2 years in germany, a lot of time out with Germans, I was told towards the end that I didn't have an american accent any more (one German complimented me on my ability to speak english...)

but when I had to get my car fixed, I knew nada for vocabulary.

I'd be tempted to say that a person using a foreight language can talk about everyday things, and anything they do for a living (have a skill of 3 or more), or is in concept (rigging for riggers, etc.). Otherwise you gotta roll
Ancient History
Ni hengar Sperethiel, qua?
Respar sallah tishay a imar makkanagee-ha.

I should start quoting that in whenever a forum thread gets too unproductive.

(Not saying that's happening here. Blakkie hasn't shown up yet.)
I think that it might be fair to call for a check when you are doing something that is heavily language dependent, such as interrogation, haggling, or trying to con someone. One thing that someone in my group did was take a specialty in a specific type of vocabulary for his non-native language. Having a specialization in corpspeak, technical terms, or medical jargon can help round out a character's ability to communicate.
Hmm, i like that last idea about the jargon specializations.

Yeah, i guess a rating 5 would be more 'interpreter' level. You do have to be pretty hardcore fluent for that.

I actually don't mind my character needing to make the social tests...sometimes it can even end up a little humorous. I was mainly curious so i could talk to my GM about when to use such things. The technical talk i think is a definate...ive also had people comment about my finnish(and not think im american) at times, but yeah, if you start talking about engines, medicine or deep buisness practice i'm lost.

Of course, having English as a non native language in game is great...for those times where you really don't want to talk to someone. biggrin.gif I do it here in america...

''ahh, there ya are, hey, how YOU doin?''

''Erm, anteeksi, minun englantia on huono...''


But thanx for some of the input. Languages in the game is something that always kind of confused what the different ratings meant.
Rotbart van Dainig
QUOTE (Makar)
I think that it might be fair to call for a check when you are doing something that is heavily language dependent, such as interrogation, haggling, or trying to con someone.

Oh, in that case, it is fairly easy - your language skill directly limits your social skills.
Well, if you want to be really tough make a language check every time any character says anything even in their own native language.

Of course, such an interpertation also makes the game impossible.

To be consistant, I'd suggest that a skill of 1 allows a character to speak and understand fluently in all but the most taxing situations. For example, flowing an auctioneer's words or acting as an auctioneer oneself.

If the character doesn't have the language it would be possible to default to a different language skill and attempt communicate through contect and body language with all associated penalties.
Rotbart van Dainig
QUOTE (hyzmarca)
Well, if you want to be really tough make a language check every time any character says anything even in their own native language.

Not quite - in SR4, the native language never requires a test RAW. wink.gif
I think the "Skill Rating" section needs a section on language that would clear this up. Here's my crack at one, with some explanations:

No Rating: Unaware. The character would have to be positively autistic, or raised by wolves. A lack of even basic body langauge or "world-wide" cultural references ("Combat Mage: TNG, now in 150 languages!")

0: Untrained. Has never had a class on the language, but has probably overheard it at least a few times. Knows a few common phrases and words, especially those that have made it into popular advertising memes ("Yo quiero StufferBell!")

1: Beginner. Is able to use the language at an extremely basic functional level. This includes all the things you are typically taught as a first-year language student -- how to ask where the restroom is, or how to ask for directions to a given destination or order from a menu. In 2070's, may also include such helpful situations as "Put your hands where I can see them" and "Transmit your SIN or we'll fire on your vehicle"

2: Novice. Is able to use the language in everyday situations, though haltingly. Common conversational topics, such as the traffic, the weather, etc., are generally able to be understood both speaking and listening. Conversations about more isoteric subjects are more difficult or even impossible. No one is going to mistake the novice as a native speaker, but his meaning is likely to be understood.

3: Professional. Is able to use the language regularly in the line of work. A wage slave with a language skill of 3 would not have difficulty interacting with his co-workers within the context of his job. Other than a few humorous misunderstandings, the language barrier doesn't interfere with the ability to get a task completed at this level. For more poetic expression, or for topics outside a character's day to day activities, conversations will be halting at best. This level includes some understanding of some colloquialisms. A character with a "Professional" level in a language could potentially hire themselves out as a low-paid translator, though the occasional mis-communication might result.

4: Veteran. Is able to use the language fluidly and in a wide array of topics. A veteran is often mistaken for a native speaker. A veteran may run into difficulties translating very old or obscure works, or understanding slang and colloquialisms significantly different than the area in which the character studied. At this level of language skill, the character has sufficient vocabulary and understanding of language structure to (if they are so inclined) form reasonable poetry. A "Veteran" level of language allows a character to act as a skilled translator; translating most topics without difficulty.

5: Expert. Is able to speak fluidly on even unfamiliar subjects, and understand dialects and obscure cultural references. Can often relate the derivation and history of words and sayings, and can translate old and obscure works without difficulty. An "Expert" language speaker can hire out as a translator to important positions, such as CEO's visiting their extra-territorial holdings. Experts are seldom identified as non-native speakers.

6: Elite Is a skilled wordsmith in the given language, perhaps even a speech writer or novelist. Can recite quotes from many authors who wrote in this language, and discuss obscure language-related topics. An "Elite" level of language puts the character far above the usual "native speaker" in knowledge of their language. Such a character may be a skilled ambassador to a foreign power.

7: Legendary Able to translate A Void without use of a thesaurus, and in doing so keep with the original 'no letter e' quirk.

That's my take on the skill ratings for language skills. How does this translate as "when to make a test?" What I would do is assume that under "normal" circumstances, a character can take the listed action without making a test. For example:

Skill Rating 1: The character can get directions to a given building, though he may have to ask multiple people before he can be clearly understood. He'll usually get where he is going.

Skill Rating 2: The character may have to calm the occasional horrified reaction and explain that he meant "shoe" and not "mother," but will usually be able to smooth over any mistakes and eventually be understood in a general conversation. Communication about many topics is possible at this level, but it takes time and patience.

Skill Rating 3: The character may have to ask what is meant by a certain metaphor, and won't be able to list very many synonyms for a word. But eventually he will be able to understand most conversation, though it will often involve some questions. Generally conversation proceeds at a fairly normal pace.

Under stressful situations, I would call for a test for these same actions. For example, trying to get a witness to tell you which way the man who just robbed you went, before that robber gets away (rating 1). Or explaining to Sioux border patrol just what you are doing with an assault rifle near the border (assuming you have a legitimate reason, otherwise it falls under "con") (rating 2 or 3, depending on how complicated the reason is)

Even under stressful situations, I wouldn't call for a test for something covered by the next skill level down. Thus, a character with a professional rating in a skill (rating 3), i.e. someone who uses it daily, would still be able to stutter out "barghast... behind you!" in the appropriate tongue without a test (at least assuming the character would reasonably have some vocabulary including barghast.) Or an "Expert" (rating 5) could converse normally and clearly (though the barest hint of accent might be audible) but would have to test to read the ancient manuscript while the corp sec team has him pinned down with cover fire.

Additionally, I'd call for a test to speak at above that level. For instance, a character with rating 1 may be able to carry on a halting conversation, or even a reasonably fluid conversation if they are extremely lucky and the conversation does not drift from their limited vocabulary and understanding of sentence structure.

Language is tied to Intuition, so a high intuition character has a 'knack' for understanding languages. If you just have characters make rolls for language any time a language is used, there is no difference between a character with 6 intuition and a very basic understanding of the language (skill 1), and a character with poor intuition (rating 1) and 8 years of university study in a language (skill 6). Using the above as guidelines, however, makes a good balance between the two: A high-intuition character with a low skill is more likely to be understood, or even speak "above his level of understanding" (being quick witted allows him to cover his mistakes well), but still not have the massive vocabulary and understanding as a doctorate in that language would have. Thus, while he throws the same number of dice as a high-skill low-intuition character, he has higher thresholds, and has to make tests for tasks the high-skill character would find "routine."

Edit: Lingos

I'd treat speaking to someone with a lingo that you don't have yourself as a one or two point reduction in skill, depending on the lingo and the situation.

For example, a "Professional" level (rating 3), who can normally converse with his fellow wage slaves without a test, may only be able to understand the BTL'd ganger well enough to get directions (assuming the ganger is friendly, otherwise it will require a test), or may only get enough out of the complicated tactical instructions from the army grunt to know to follow him. "I have no idea what means 'humping the FLIR 2 clicks downriv', but I will follow."

Edit #2 (at least): Additional dice from AR

The table for rolling language skills lists a "+1 to +4" modifier for using AR visual display help." I'd treat this as extra dice, but not as affecting the skill. Thus, while a person with low skill may be able to quickly look up words he needs, his understanding of language structure and the like isn't affected. So he's more likely to succeed at his task, but he still must roll according to his original skill. Being able to look up words and some grammar won't help you speak fluidly and quickly. But being able to look up "big bronze statue" might help you succeed at getting directions when you would otherwise fail.

Actual Linguasofts (as opposed to a much cheaper AR "language dictionary") are of course treated exactly like the appropriate skill.
Whew! That was an awesome explanation there i must say. In fact, I hope you don't mind me printing that out for my GM...

I think im getting an idea now. My Norseman with English: 3 would be able to work withotu a problem at most English establishments, he won't be saying bad things about anyone's grandmother, but don't expect him to know how to translate an old English novel.

That actually helps me...I think ive been playing him in a bit too fluent English...I have the accent down(I perhaps have Norwegian: 1 myself) but for the more technical things, I should make him talk a bit more haltingly. I do try to put in bits of what I myself did when learning Finnish(i think i have Finnish(Bar Finnish)2(+2)), and that is occationaly leave out big words, ask teammates what they mean, etc.

I asked about this equally for a mechanical standpoint for my GM and also for a role-playing standpoint. I already play him halting occationaly on big, technical words(asking for help), or not understanding some English sayings and slang. However, he still curses in Norwegian and the like.

But meets and shadowbiz in a 3 seem to be quite doable...hell, the Face sample character's languages are all at a 3 and that's what a face DOES.
i like feshy's descriptions up there, but me, personally, i'd bump all of the translator bits up a level. A paid translator (should be) able to discuss an entire range of topics compentantly, outside and inside their profession, so i dont see anyone being PAID as a translator until rank 4.
Whew! That was an awesome explanation there i must say. In fact, I hope you don't mind me printing that out for my GM...

Go ahead. I wouldn't post it if I was against it being shared wink.gif

Of course, I can't vouch at all for how well it matches what the game designers intended; but I thought it made for some easy to use rules for something that could potentially become hugely monotonous (rolling languages for every interaction and topic)

i like feshy's descriptions up there, but me, personally, i'd bump all of the translator bits up a level. A paid translator (should be) able to discuss an entire range of topics compentantly, outside and inside their profession, so i dont see anyone being PAID as a translator until rank 4.

My idea of the word "translator" might be a bit different from what you are thinking. Replace it with "guide" and it might make more sense. My line of reasoning was basically if a character with a language skill of 3 can get by in most day-to-day situations, he could also help someone else do so (assuming there are no "jargons" involved -- a ganger won't be able to help a particle physicist through his day to day labwork for instance.) Of course, at this language level, you risk finding yourself out of the translator's depth if things go bad. Your translator may have arranged transportation and rental of the house you requested and maybe even handled the bribes to the local cops to turn the other eye (that'll come out of your fee, by the way.) But when the house turns out to be haunted he will have a great deal of difficulty discussing the finer points of astral ghost theory with the local ghost expert. (Whereas a higher paid translator will have the vocabulary, even if not the understanding, to handle such topics.)

Also, you could hire a character with a level 2 in a skill as a guide. Conversations that could easily take place would be "I need you to arrange transportation to this location *points at map*." But would get somewhat strained with "For this trip we will need all the supplies on this list." (Roll to understand the equipment list; with modifiers for how unusual the equipment is, and how much time the person asking has to explain it.) Things might get even MORE strained when the guide with rating 2 in the language tries to explain just exactly what superstitious fears are haunting the location you wish to visit... but that's half the fun, isn't it... wink.gif

It would even be possible to "hire" a rating 1 "translator." I envision it going something like this: "Hey kid... hey, you know where I can find John Tsu? *thumps picture* John Tsu... you know him? Five yen in it for ya. *waves corp script fiver*" "*kid tilts head to one side* Why you find Tsu? Cop?"

All this talk of hiring translators got me thinking -- I wonder what kind of modifiers would be appropriate for using social skills through a third party? That is, if you hired a first-rate lawyer from the states to get you off the hook for some shenanigans in Peru, and he hired a translator (because he doesn't speak the language at all), what would be the modifiers for him using negotiation?
ElFenrir bring an interesting topic up. Actually, the whole topic of translators in general. For when the team just CAN'T find that Icelandic Linguasoft chip, need to go there, and no one in the party speaks Icelandic. I don't recall there being a price table for an interpreter in the BBB...I guess base it on some skill level per day.

Before I get to the lawyer part, when you mentioned the 'guide', i sort of picture those folks who walk around cities during the summer(tourist season), to help people around the city. They are native speakers typically, but can be non natives so long as they can hold a basic conversation, give directions, and not mistake the word 'Mother' with 'Squid.'

As for the third party thing...hmm...i wonder that myself. I mean, I suppose first, you'd roll your own Negotiation skill(since you are giving the translator instructions on what to say), then they roll their Language(unless they are a 6, in which case im sure they'd not mistake anything...hell, even a 5 might be alright as long as it's not discussing quantum physics...but those 5 and 6 translators I can expect to be WELL paid...), to see if they understand...and go from there. I wonder what modifiers would be used...I think the translator themselves might neeed at least a small skill in the skill you are using as well(so they try to sound realistic i guess...) But then perhaps not. I might base the interpreter's Charisma score on things a bit. I mean, it doesn't matter how pro YOU are, if you hire a slob that shows up to court dressed like Carl from Aqua Teen Hunger Force you're asking for it, even if he has a 7.

Bringing a third party in might be dangerous sometimes...but hell, sometimes, if you don't have that Linguasoft...and remember, that Linguasoft can't be need it. But that translator might have edge...but in this situation, you might have to spend Edge in his place. Hmmm...thoughts on that?

Another interesting language point I thought of. How does everyone here deal with 'language groups?' I myself can speak a few words of and read some Norwegian, I can read a bit of Swedish as well...and Danish. Those three languages are VERY similar. German too is in the 'family', but still a bit different. Italian and Spanish(NOT Portuguese! People automatically think this and Spanish are the same but they are about as different as Finnish and Flemish), are very similar.

Would you just call for modified rolls? Like, someone trying to understand Swedish who speaks Norwegian a -2? Italian and Spanish a -2 between them? I had a German friend that said Dutch was a bit similar(but still maybe a -3 or so.). , but German and Austrian might be a -2 default. (i took a year of German about 10 years ago, so someone else might want to correct me there. I don't remember much.)

They already have dialect mods in the book. No problems there.

Then there are the REAL technicalities...sometimes countries actually speak a couple different versions of the language...Finnish Swedes speak a version of Swedish that is a bit different than the actual Swedes do. Some friends tell me it's close enough, but if that were to ever come up in game, a mild(-1 perhaps) modifier might be in store. I am sure there are other countries that this happens to.(I hear Spain has a couple versions. Would these be under dialects perhaps?)

I dunno, i guess the whole thing gets me thinking a lot because they just don't come up as often as I think they would. I enjoy languages and I like to see them implemented more.

Is this discussion of runners & language reminding anyone else of Rush Hour 2?

Carter: Lee what did I just say?
Lee: You just told them to take out their samurai swords and shave your butt.
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