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In the ethnography of the game world, a scout is somebody who learns about a culture by interacting with it.

Linguistic fieldwork

Discovering languages of the game world can parallel discovering languages in the real world.

  • The basics
    • If your public library lacks a copy of Linguistic Fieldwork: A Student Guide by Jeanette Sakel and Daniel L. Everett (2002), ISBN 9780521545983, buy a copy.
    • Just as coming to Jesus takes the humility of a child (Matthew 19:14), so does learning a language.
  • How to get a foothold in a language community
  • How to determine what is grammatical
  • Johanna Nichols of UC Berkeley described some guidelines for how much coverage is enough to document a language.[1]
    • Minimal coverage: To cover most morphosyntactic patterns, collect 2000 clauses, or at least 1000 clauses whose main verb is not be or whatever else is most common.
    • Basic coverage: At least 100,000 words spoken by one individual to make a 4000-headword field dictionary of the majority of the individual's active vocabulary, and preferably collect this for more than one speaker. At 5000 to 6000 words for hour, this covers at least 17 to 20 hours of recorded speech. Follow-up elicitation improves coverage with a smaller corpus[2] much as chosen plaintext and ciphertext do in cryptanalysis.
    • Good coverage: Repeat basic coverage for 10 speakers, preferably from different backgrounds and demographics. Try to compete all closed classes, the Swadesh list, the top 1000 words, body parts, kinship, food, clothing, and shelter.
    • Excellent coverage: Repeat basic coverage for 100 speakers, and keep expanding the dictionary. After this comes diminishing returns.


  1. Johanna Nichols. "E-MELD School of Best Practice: How many words do you need?". EMELD, 2005-01-18. Accessed 2013-02-03.
  2. Jlovegren. "Answer to What sort of criteria are used to deem a language description complete?". Linguistics Stack Exchange, 2012-10-14. Accessed 2014-02-03.
  3. J. F. Sargent. "5 Bizarre Ways Politics Influences Your Personal Life". Cracked, 2014-05-06. Accessed 2014-05-06.

External links