For this year’s stupid thing I can only justify doing on this specific date, I have … donned my Kanohi Rau and produced some translations.
Specifically, this version includes all the Ga-Koro cards from BCOT in German, Japanese, and Matoric. If you’ve never heard of that last one, it’s a fan-made “reconstruction” of the Matoran language from which the various strange names in Bionicle originate, courtesy of outofgloom. Go check it out, it’s really well made.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a YGOPro Expansion if it wasn’t playable, so here’s some download links (each containing the full BCOT, but with only Ga-Koro actually translated):
Or just take a look in this brief demo video.
For the rest of this post, I’ll provide some notes on each language and the translation process, with the bulk of the focus of course falling on the Matoric PSCT grammar I had to construct from scratch to make this happen.
Being the only one of these languages that I actually speak, this one was far and away the easiest to figure out. I pretty much just sat down and translated, though since PSCT is its own beast, there was also a good bit of cross-referencing with the German TCG card database involved.
One somewhat interesting aspect here is the handling of gendered nouns and their corresponding pronouns. For some reason it appears that players, who are referred to with “they” in all modern English card texts, are simply assumed to be male, but when it comes to cards, German PSCT does go out of its way to match the language with the name’s grammatical gender (such as in T.G. Hellebardenkanone/Angriffsmodus). While I couldn’t find a clear precedent on how that works when the name is a completely made-up personal name, like “Turaga Nokama” on the Kanohi Rau, as a Bionicle lore nerd I obviously can’t miss an opportunity to clarify that the blue ones are in fact girls. So the Rau revival effect does properly refer to Nokama with “sie”.
Also, check the alt art on the Rau I included to go with the occasion. Being able to get high-quality Kanohi images at any angle from Studio does open up some nice possibilities in that department, even for my artistically challenged self.
The difficulty level got a lot higher here, what with my understanding of Japanese only being good enough to reasonably navigate the card database and Frankenstein together relevant effects. And there were also the barriers of a different writing system and different basic card text structure to overcome. But clearly I managed, so here we are.
To figure out how names should be written, I took a look around archives of the official Japanese Bionicle website as well as some fan sites that popped up in search. Most of it was just a straightforward representation of the sounds in katakana, but one little surprise was that Kanohi apparently becomes カノイ (that is, the “h” is dropped). For Nixie’s job description of “Astrologer”, I had to consult an actual dictionary too, ending up with 占星術師. Googling it brings up FF14 stuff, so I assume it’s appropriately mystical. For a while I also considered spicing up some of the boring katakana names with meaningful (read: chuuni) kanji representations and ruby text, but that idea was dropped in favour of keeping card image generation simple.
As for the card text structure, I do love the numbered effects and how easy it makes all varieties of HOPT clauses. On the other hand, our PSCT generally feels like it flows much better with the way it’s clearly sectioned by punctuation and can leave a lot of boilerplate phrases unsaid thanks to that. Tradeoffs.
Alright, welcome to the deep end. Not only did I not know anything about this language when I started, but there was also zero documentation or precedent on how to apply it in Yugioh card text. There was no cross-referencing or Frankensteining here, just raw, unfiltered, phrase-by-phrase, sentence-by-sentence translation. On that note, a huge shout out to the language’s original creator outofgloom – not only for writing the Matoric documents that made this at all possible, but also for taking the time to personally answer several questions I couldn’t figure out on my own.
The result is a PSCT variant that looks quite similar to the Matoric language, but technically should be considered distinct from it for a number of reasons:
- Punctuation and general effect layout has mostly been retained from the English texts, even where it doesn’t quite match with conventions of Matoric grammar.
- The vocabulary for game mechanics and some other things are my own additions that more or less derive from official terms, but may well be contradicted by future dictionaries.
- I’ve incorporated some grammatical concepts from unpublished WIP material that I obtained through communication with outofgloom, so those might also change by the time the language gets its next proper update.
- And of course, it’s always possible that I’ve simply misunderstood a grammar rule or two and ended up with the Matoran equivalent of Engrish.
So, we are looking at a base Matoric language and a presumably quite similar “PSCT Matoric”, but explaining the core grammar or even just all the modifications made to accommodate card text would turn out far too long and dry. If you’re interested in the former, I once again refer you to the official resources instead, and for the latter, I’ll do my best to quickly list out the points of note for each card.
The most complicated part of Gali is actually the special Tribute Summoning condition, structured as “To […] you can Tribute […] instead of […]”, a combination of two grammatical features not explicitly covered anywhere. So I went and asked outofgloom directly, to which he kindly provided me the following solutions:
- [do X] ke ke [do Y] – “To do X, do Y”; this is a pretty roundabout phrasing based on conditional markers that more directly translates to “conditioning of doing X is conditioned by doing Y”. A further layer of complexity arises from the fact that Tribute Summoning Gali this way is optional, which I tried to represent by attaching the “ability” marker vo to the full sentence – making “conditioning of doing X can be conditioned by doing Y”.
- a [X] [Y] va – “X instead of Y”; a simple repurposing of a basic coordinative marker meaning “but not” or “except”. Which brings some unfortunate overlap with the “except “Toa Mata Gali”” in the same sentence, so I moved that into parentheses for clarity.
Homecooked vocabulary in this effect includes sapo (“card”; lit. “thin stone”, based on the idea that a paperless culture would play card games on stone tablets), okhau (“Tribute”; from okh hau u “without preservation”), ido (“Summon”; shortened form of ika do ya “to call a being”) and ihu (“face-up”; lit. “upward”, mirroring iru for “downward”, plus it’s pretty funny to have a mountain with that name).
The other effect is comparatively simple in grammar, but makes significant use of those bits of artistic license that separate the language of these cards from “raw” Matoric. Right at the start you have on agiro u takaro (“once per turn”; lit. “once inside of a turn”), which is probably grammatical nonsense but serves as a nice way to keep the OPT clause together. And at the macro level, I’ve retained the punctuation of English PSCT since that saves me a lot of text to translate.
That means we begin with a “when” activation timing represented by e’e [X] po, the first half of a conditional construct with explicit present tense to distinguish from “if”. After the colon, this is followed by targeting instructions, which close out the conditional with [Y] ke, and finally the actual effect with its “and if you do” conjunction. Said conjunction simply translates to e apaia (“if successful”), allowing it and the second half of the effect to occupy a nice standalone conditional clause.
Lots of original vocab here too – agiro (“turn”; lit. “game cycle” from the root word algis “game” and rho “cycle”), takaro (“once”; combination of taka “one” and aro “discrete unit”) , rupu (“opponent”; from ru-apu “not-friend”) and akiro (“effect”; from akiro’a “originating from work”).
Finally, one might wonder why the Warrior Type is translated to Toh. The reason is simply that the only word in the dictionaries with a translation in that direction is Toa (“hero”, “warrior”), which is obviously loaded with a lot more meaning than what we want here. So as a cheap trick I just changed it ever so slightly, perhaps someone with actual knowledge of linguistics could argue this is some kind of archaic form that retained generic use even after the modern Toa split from it.
The standard Kanohi exclusion effect is clearly a conditional structure that translates straight to e’e [X] [Y] ke, so the more interesting detail of grammar here is that I translated “A becomes equipped to B” as an equative sentence with the inceptive marker ta, making it more literally “B begins to be equipped with A” (the switch from “to” to “with” is just because it makes flipping the relation easier, but that’s not relevant here). I’ve decided to adopt haran (“armor”) as the term for the Equip mechanic, and so the marker for the “equipped with” relationship is somewhat randomly derived from that as aha_ran. The use of ikhya for the imperative of “destroy” might technically not be correct – one dictionary lists ikhi as “destruction”, but another has just khi ya as “destroy”. However, with the word for banishing being khu, using the shorter version would lead to “destroy” and “banish” not being distinguishable when their end vowel is dropped in an imperative sentence, which would be a much bigger problem.
The on-field protection effect is notable for its use of a subordinate clause in “unless they target it”, which I paraphrased to “that do not target it”. Subordination is the part of the Matoric language that I am most likely to have screwed up in my translations, but to my best understanding in this case it works by taking the sentence akiro ta iza aro yaru (“The effect(s) do(es) not target it”), lifting its subject akiro (marked by ta) outside and replacing it with the placeholder aka, and turning the original sentence’s suffix yaru into a prefix so that the resulting phrase can be used as a modifier. Hence, akiro yaru-aka iza aro should mean “effects that do not target it”.
The unaffectedness by those effects is expressed using a negated equative sentence ending in ru, with the help of the marker a hiki _ (“manipulated by”). That means a literal translation would be “it is not manipulated by effects that do not target it” – sounds about right!
As for the GY effect, it showcases both the use of Location/Direction markers in sentences dealing with movement and the Matoric names of various in-game locations. The activation condition is bakuala ko paro’o-sapo za ivo ya (“this card moves forward to the GY”), where the ko marker lets us conveniently keep a clear distinction from “returning to the GY” (which would be marked by nu “moves backward to”). And what you do is at sapuru’u a arnoro’u ko “Toa Mata Gali” za ivoya (“move “Toa Mata Gali” originating from your Deck forward to your hand”).
The location names I made up are bakuala (“Graveyard”; from kui-vala “loss-place”, prefixed by an Agoric stem ba- “death” because there’s no known direct word for that in Matoric and I really wanted it included explicitly) and sapuru (“Deck”; from sapo-huru “card elevation”). Arnoro for hand is just the standard term for the body part, didn’t bother coming up with anything card game specific.
Okay, so on this one I really have to hold back, because the moment I start rambling about all the things in Nokama’s translation is the moment this article gets out of hand.
It starts with the materials line, which is paraphrased to “2 monsters among whom there is a WATER Warrior monster” and translated via subordinate clause. Then the battle protection has ka_a (“pointing to”) used in reference to Link Arrows and features the term barra-ikhi (“battle-destroyed”), whose similarity to Barraki probably makes for quite the pun in-universe.
And with the main Quick Effect, we get into the real meat of the matter. The cost and targeting clause includes an original coordination marker o_ka that connects things in sequence (i.e., “then”), as well as the fancy term osapu (“discard”; from ohsapo’u “separation from card”). Once you start resolving, you have to apply something until the end of the turn, or paro’o-agiro ai-oko po (“during the future of this turn”), followed by identifying the “monsters [this card] points to”. What sounds like a simple task for a subordinate clause is immensely complicated by the fact that the clause being subordinated is an equative sentence without a real subject or object, so how do we signify that the “monsters” it is modifying goes within the ka_a marker? The answer I settled on is “not at all”, simply leaving the marker empty and hoping the gap makes it obvious enough how it should be read.
As if that wasn’t enough, the next task is to state “cards with a different card type from […]”, or “cards that have a different card type than […]”, if we want to phrase it with a subordinate clause. This, however, is a rare sentence where that subordination isn’t even the biggest hurdle – it’s the fucking from. To tackle this, I had to employ a sentential marker right out of the previously mentioned WIP materials: _te_, translatable to various things including “relative to”. So, by extending the subordinate clause of “having a different card type” with te X, we can express the card type should be different “relative to X”. But wait, what’s X? Well, X is “the card (that was) banished to activate this effect”.
Ooohhh boy. That is a “[did X] to [do Y]” construction, which as seen back with Gali would already be a headache to do straight. And now it has to be bent into its subordinated form as well. What I settled on, without any real idea whether it’s right or not, is sapo paro’o-akiro lutu ya ke ke ya-khu-za nu – using the whole purpose-expressing structure as a modifier on the card, but only actually writing the directly relevant part (“the card was banished”) as a desentential unit ya-khu-za nu.
The interesting terminology are obviously the card types. Manas (“Monster”) is obligatory as a canon term, Doka (“Spell”) comes from do ka ya (“speak with energy”; the idea being that literal magic would mostly set itself apart from standard MU powers by its verbal incantations or, well, Spells), and Ilhura (“Trap”) from ilahu tura (“suprising binding”).
And during the End Phase, which is a term imported unchanged to Matoric just like it isn’t any different in German or Japanese, you just get to “move a card forward to your hand” once more.
This one has the concept of “in response to”, which had me quite stumped until I was pointed towards causative sentences that express meanings such as “X makes Y do Z” (X ta Y Z yai). Adapting them for this complex use case took a bit of (guess)work, but what I ended up with essentially translates to “The activation of your WATER monster effects as Chain Link 2 or higher cannot make your opponent activate cards or effects”.
The new term Chain Link translates to ivai-aro (“linked structure item”; ivai “Chain” from ivo-vai “linkage-arrangement”), and what’s also interesting is my repurposing of Location/Direction markers to express relations on numbers. This was already subtly visible in all the HOPT clauses, but this effect does itself include two instances of ve_u (“extending from”) around a number, meaning “min.” and “or higher”, respectively – basically >=.
The other effect has nothing weird going on with its grammar for once, but introduces a bit of new vocabulary as well, such as fe-ido (“Special Summon”; from fehi “innovation”, in the sense that it’s an “unusual” Summon), ka hau a (“in Defense Position”; lit. “oriented towards defense”), vah (“Type”; lit. “herd, swarm”), and sapuru va (“Extra Deck”; lit. “non-primary Deck”).
The most interesting portions that haven’t been touched on already are probably the “to your zone in that card’s column” and “for the rest of this Chain, or until the end of this turn”. The former can be handled with nested Location/Direction markers [vala’u [on otu’u-sapo ai-zasa u] ko] (“forward to your zone inside of that card’s column”) , and the other by appending the su (“or”) coordination marker to a conditional-marked unit to make that “or […] if”.
Defense Position appears for the second time, but this time with a more complete name hau-kama (“defensive orientation”; kama derived from marker ka_a “oriented toward”), and we also encounter zasa (“column”; based on tsasus from the Agoric dictionary).
You might also be wondering why C.C. becomes A.A. – that’s because Chronicler’s Company translates to something like Amaja-Apu. The alliteration survives!
This card’s name actually includes the one piece of vocabulary I’ve decided to borrow from the older version of the Matoran Language that was not yet called Matoric: Lui for “Noble”. In the context of Kanohi, it’s just really nice how that rhymes with Nui for “Great”.
The on-field replacement effect is structured around a “becomes”, which is a verb that translates neatly not into a full verbal sentence, but rather an inceptive equative sentence (i.e., one that ends in ai ta – a “starts to be”). The effect in quotation marks is nothing shocking at this point, just two optional actions linked with “then”, but it does introduce the term I’ve chosen to use for “Main Monster Zone”: manas ai-vala ga (“primary zone of monsters”; the ga particle is a made-up one to contrast the va already seen in the translation of “Extra Deck”). Notably, the core of this phrase is the possession-marked vala, so further modifiers like “other” can attach directly to it and yield interesting results such as manas ai-ku-vala ga.
The GY effect showcases the basic “and” conjunction, which is adapted directly by use of the o_na marker. The final portion of the sentence is yet another inceptive equative sentence replacing a verb, paraphrasing “equip it with this card” to “it starts to be equipped with this card”.
Nixie closes out the set, but not without some grammatical quirks of her own. That already begins with the card name that lists her occupation and name, which ends up sounding a bit redundant since Matoric often interprets Matoran names as relating to that individual’s Duty. To slightly alleviate this, I went and attached a little marker -wa (“representative of”) to the job title.
The next eyecatcher lies still before the card text, namely Dehrab (“Tuner”; from dehi-raba “sound finalizer”), and once we finally get into the text, the weirdness continues. Not only is Nixie’s first effect a “when” with multiple requirements, it also operates on an if-else basis when it resolves, with a “then” thrown in for good measure. The result is some pretty involved nesting of o_ka and e_ke, crossing sentence boundaries in a way that might just lose more clarity than the boundaries themselves provide. Also somewhere in there is the term bahtu (“Level”; a generalization of bahtua “sea level”).
On the other hand, the final effect is almost laughably simple by comparison, to the point where I feel comfortable weaseling out of an explanation by simply speaking the magic words: Left as an exercise to the reader.
So does this mean the project is officially going multilingual? Absolutely not, there’s no way I have the time to do this on any kind of larger scale. For the foreseeable future, it’s going to remain a one-time April Fools’ thing.
However, in putting this together, I was able to set the stage fairly well for supporting more than one language in the creation and release processes. As you can see, the card viewer blocks have no problem displaying the information (though I have not bothered to translate card types, Attributes, Monster Types, etc), and I also succeeded in jury-rigging my installation of the ygopic card generator into outputting not only additional languages, but even using different fonts and layouts for Japanese and Matoric. Really, translation time is the only major problem stopping this from being an actual thing.
That is to say, if there’s a language in which you really want to see Bionicle cards, you could probably make it happen by just sending me finished translations 😉