Introducing new terms to an old game

I have an issue with how some sites deal with mahjong terminology and names. You know what I mean? We’ve got EMA mistranslating score tables from “Iihan Yaku” to “1 Yaku” instead of “1-han yaku” (it goes on higher); we’ve got a whole community using completely fucked up English terms.

Now, don’t get me wrong, “13 Orphans” sound pretty cool. But if someone were to say that to me in a game, I’d go “huh?” instead of “oh shiiiit.” The fact is that some people learn the Japanese terms from the start (more power to you guys!), and some people … don’t. It’s the people that don’t that should, because when one site is trying to introduce their own terminology, things get messed up. A while back I wrote a list on 0x23mahjong, trying to find all the different names for things. It’s pure horror, is what it is. Not because I have a specific fondness of Japanese or anything, but because half of the time, the names don’t even make sense.

No, by introducing new terminology into an old game, you only serve to mess things up. Fact is that we’re playing a Japanese game. Sticking with the Japanese terminology makes the game universal – everyone knows the terminology. One site deciding “we can do this better than them Japanese peoples” (hint: you can’t) is without a doubt, monumentally stupid.

Mahjong is pretty old. It’s not as old as Go or Shogi, but it’s still pretty old. Changing terminology is a bit like walking into a museum and deciding that the shit that’s on display isn’t good enough for what it’s supposed to show, and instead you should bring in strobe lights and a heavy bass beat.

One of my favourite scoring sites has to be Wei-Hwa Huang’s Japanese Mahjong Scoring, and even that site has its own English terminology. But the difference is that it lists the Japanese terms at the same time. Oh, and it actually makes sense, compared to some other translation efforts I’ve seen.

One point made in defense of using an English terminology instead of a Japanese one is that it makes the game easier for beginners. It might, until they play with another group using a different set of English terms. See the problem? Now, there’s only one Japanese set. Why not use that? You don’t need to be able to pronounce it properly, but at least you’ll know what the fuck the guy across you is going on about, rather than sit there looking at him with a look of utter confusion on your face as he goes “Well, that’s all bumps, one blue dragon, one red drag… uh, that’s 4 hand points, and with a belly-buster wait makes it… uh, how many minipoints again?”

I know that Osamu was about to write something about’s new book (or rather, Jenn’s book), and how it mixes terms. Yeah, it does. In the excerpt alone it manages to mix English, Chinese and Japanese terms. Would have been easier to just stick to Japanese. Or, if you really have to create new terminology; stick with that alone then. Don’t mix “Chow”, “Quad” and “Pon” (three languages! how does she do it?), it simply looks bad. Sorry for stealing your post, Osamu.