Game Dev Journal: Language and Poetic License

I plan on providing my game in English, but also in Swedish, which is my first language. For now it’s English only, though. The reason I’m starting with English is that if I would have to cut something out I could drop the Swedish translation without the game suffering too much — and English is still pretty much the go-to lingua franca and, as such, also understood by most Swedes.

Claiming poetic license is harder in a second language than in one you speak from birth: “Did you just bend a rule because you didn’t know any better or because you actually did know better?” Allowing myself poetic license despite of this always means a bit of research as well as doubt whether or not the reader will get what I’m after or get annoyed because I, as a non-native, didn’t follow the rules. Claiming to actually know better is of course not a given either, so everything needs to be checked and checked again.

An example is the use of gender-neutral pronouns: Instead of the “singular they” I am, from time to time, using a form derived from it, namely the Elverson pronouns (formed by dropping the “th”), but will a potential reader, unfamiliar with those, assume I made a mistake or allow some leeway and do the research themselves?

The Elverson pronouns are seen mostly in the meta game: in the real game I plan on letting the player choose a gender themselves and any gender other than the traditional ones will most likely be grouped together as “neutral”, meaning there will be three genders to choose from (he, she, and ey). This is, mind you, not because of any “hidden agenda”: it’s not about politics or ideology, but rather about inclusion. I might not be able to include everyone, but if something as simple as adding gender-neutral pronouns to the mix helps, then I see no reason not to add them.