What's Up With Catan?


{Theme Song Plays}

{background birds chirping/atmospheric effects}

Jake: "Yanny or Laurel? A question that's been stirring up quite a bit of controversy lately. But before we explain, I'd like to welcome you to CatanQuest, the CatanFusion podcast. We still haven't figured out a tagline for this podcast, so I guess all you need to know is that I'm Jake, your host, and I'm joined here in the studio with the founder of CatanFusion, Kent Slocum."

Kent: "Hey there."

Jake: "So here's the audio clip that's been stirring up so much controversy. What do you hear?"

{insert audio clip}

Kent: "I hear someone saying yanny."

Jake: "Hmmm. Because I definitely hear laurel."

Kent: "How is that possible?"

Jake: "Well, here's what we're talking about: about a month ago, a girl was listening to an online dictionary pronounce the word laurel."

Kent: "How do you spell that?"

Jake: "That's L-A-U-R-E-L. But what this girl heard was definitely did not laurel: it sounded more like the voice was saying yanny. Confused and intrigued, she invited her classmates over to listen to the soundbite, as well. Bafflingly, some said that they heard laurel, and others heard yanny. The girl posted the clip to twitter, asking others what they heard. As it turned out, about half heard one thing, and half heard the other. As a result, controversy and confusion broke loose. People started comparing the disagreement to the blue-or-gold dress phenomenon."

Kent: "Oh yeah! I remember that. That was pretty weird."

Jake: "With the color-changing dress, it apparently had something to do with the lighting, the shininess of the dress, and the fact that all people see colors a little differently."

Kent: "So what's the cause of this weird yanny and laurel thing?"

Jake: "Apparently, the difference is due to the fact that the soundtrack is pretty poor quality. Just a slight change in the playback frequency can cause the sound clip to sound differently."

Kent: "What would cause that change?"

Jake: "Well, depending upon the physical characteristics of the listener, the sound could change, or if the capabilities of the device people are listening to it on changed. For example, a really poor playback device might make it sound more tinny."

Kent: Interesting. So I hear yanny, and you hear laurel, but we're really hear to talk about Catan, right?

Jake: "Right. We're going to talk about another sound-related topic--the pronunciation of Catan. Why do people have so much trouble pronouncing it?

Kent: "Well, it's a strange spelling for English speakers. The word comes from German, which has different pronunciation rules. So the pronunciation is different because the game is not originally in English."

Jake: "Is there anything else that is different because of this language barrier?"

Kent: "Well, it's not a barrier so much as it's a distinguishment. The game was published in German for quite a while before the English-language version was released, so you could say we got a more refined version."

Jake: "How long?"

Kent: Well, Klaus Teuber first published Settlers of Catan in 1952, and fans almost immediately began translating the rules into English. It wasn't until 1980 that Mayfair picked up the game. So that's about 28 years!"

Jake: "And now Asmodee has bought Mayfair."

Kent: "Right."

Jake: "You said things were refined? What things were changed?"

Kent: "Rules, mostly. Whenever you create something, it's always a good idea to play-test it with as many people as possible. A LOT of people."

Jake: "That's why you invite visitors to CatanFusion to leave feeback, right?"

Kent: "Yes, definitely. We don't just ask them: we IMPLORE them. But it's not just about the website content. We also need to know about broken links, visibility and accessibility issues, that sort of thing."

Jake: "Okay, so what kind of feedback did Klaus get, when he started publishing Catan in Germany?"

Kent: "One thing that would happen is Klaus would come up with a bunch of new scenarios and variations, and publish them in a very rough state, where people would have to cut out the parts. Then, the best ideas were eventually incorporated into a later edition."

Jake: "Can you give us an example?"

Kent: "Yes, there was a Rivers of Catan idea that was published separately for a while, then proved popular enough to end up in the Traders & Barbarians expansion, with rule and art updates. The same thing happened to the Fishermen of Catan expansion."

Jake: "So going back to the whole point, what was the benefit of being German with all of this?"

Kent: "Well, if you were following Klaus closely, you would have had a chance to play with all of these very new, creative ideas before the rest of the world did. The downfall, of course, is that nothing was refined, and the official rules and art would eventually change. The largest example of this was the Busch expansion. It was huge, with over _______ different variations and sets of new pieces. Even though we have taken some of those ideas and used them in the CatanFusion system, it never became an English-language version."

Jake: "Is that still the case; I mean, that stuff is released in German before English?"

Kent: "It doesn't seem so. At least, not that I know of! I think that they finally realized the immense size and importance of the English-speaking market. The Legend of the SeaRobbers expansion, for example, was fairly recent, and it did not have a life as a pre-release variant. It does, however, improve upon some ideas that have been going around for a while."



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