Foreign Languages Kill Your Video Game Bullsh*t Detectors

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There's an image floating around online. It's rumored to be a "major specifications" sheet for the PlayStation 4. Personally, I don't buy it.

The PlayStation 4 is coming. It's inevitable. Kotaku first broke that the console is codenamed Orbis. This "major specifications" sheet, however, certainly can be disputed. However in Japan, websites and blogs are focusing at the specs it shows—as if they were gospel.


Bullshit detectors are important for ferreting out rumors. It's your gut that tells you whether something passes the smell test. One of the best ways you can tell is simple: does it sound real?

It's for this very reason that folks trying to pull off a phony rumor use foreign languages to help mask their ruse. There's an element of, oh, it's in a foreign language, and so it must be real. Moreover, since it's in another language, this makes it difficult for non-native speakers to see if something passes the smell test. If you don't speak the lingo, your gut is of less use.

These are the same reasons why this spec sheet is spreading through Japanese cyberspace, where most readers are overlooking the text. I'm not here to dispute the specs, but rather, to focus on the words.


It's the text at the top that is sending off alarm bells for me. Let's have a look:

The PlayStation 4 will represent a massive generational jump. With a Q4 2013 and an expected effective 10 year life cycle, the new system will epitomize the concept of a 'future-proof' system. Way ahead of the competition spec-wise and solving all major critiques to the PS3 — including the presence of full backwards compatibility and an extremely accessible development platform — the PlayStation 4 will conquer and please all spectrums of the market, players and developers alike.


There are many words and phrases that simply do not appear in public Sony documents. This paragraph doesn't speak "Sony speak". It just sounds off, and there are some typos (it's "10-year", not "10 year"). What's more, there's sentence structure that Sony simply does not use in public materials.

Granted, this is purported to be an internal document, so there could be discrepancies, sure. It still doesn't pass the smell test, for me at least.


This rumored document sounds less like a spec sheet and more like a wish list—especially how the PS4 will be "solving all major critiques to the PS3 — including the presence of full backwards compatibility". What does that mean, PS4 backwards compatibility for the first PlayStation, too? Some words sound off, too, like "critiques". Other instances that Sony has used the phrase "future proof", it has done in quotes. However, it did not italicize it or use a hyphen. Here, it does.

What's more, this is supposedly a Sony Computer Entertainment of Europe document, so wouldn't the word be "epitomise" and not "epitomize"? Sony Europe used "epitomise" on its official website. Why the change now?


And finally, that last sentence ("the PlayStation 3 will conquer and please all spectrums of the market, players and developers alike") sounds awkward.

These are the things that send off alarm bells for me, even more than the specs listed in the doc. For an internal document, for a document that Sony is apparently showing developers, you can bet that the language would be as uniform, as clear, and as economical as possible. And you can bet that Sony people would have combed through it to make sure it's correct. This sort of thing is supposed to make developers want to get on board.


All this doesn't matter outside the English-speaking world. There are numbers, and they are on paper that says Sony. Good enough, eh? Well, no.

I will say this: whoever wrote this has a strong working knowledge of Sony—at the restricted and trademark signs appear to be appropriately labeled. Now whether that person actually works at Sony, that's another matter entirely.


Read the document below and judge for yourself.

(Top photo: auremar | Shutterstock)

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