10 Jan 2022

Panga: Te reo Māori Wordle

3:13 pm on 10 January 2022

A simple five-letter word game called Wordle - which is taking the world by storm - now has a reo Māori version.

Computer programmer Wayne McDougall has created a te reo Māori version of Wordle.

Computer programmer Wayne McDougall has created a te reo Māori version of Wordle. Photo: Panga / Farknot Architect - stock.adobe.com

For the uninitiated, Wordle is a very simple, brainteaser-style word game. You can only play once per day. Every player is trying to guess a word - the same word, for everyone. They're given six attempts. If one of your guesses has any of the correct letters, the game tells you.

Emile Donovan spoke to New York-based Wordle creator Josh Wardle over the weekend, and now a version in te reo Māori has sprung up - called Panga.

Computer programmer Wayne McDougall is behind the te reo Māori called Panga - meaning riddle or puzzle.

He told Jesse Mulligan that after he saw the RNZ interview with the original creator, he posted a link in the feed to te reo Māori version and it has since "exploded in popularity".

"I discovered [Wordle] on Twitter. It suddenly became very popular. Everyone was posting their results and eventually I succumbed and gave it a go myself. And now I'm a daily practitioner."

One day while playing, McDougall saw a suggestion Twitter from a user for a te reo version and so he gave it a go using Wardle's with a couple of tweaks.

"If he becomes interested at some point, he will either get to me and say good job or shut it down. We'll see how it goes.

"I have had a large amount of very positive feedback.

"I've had a few people say that you really need to contact Josh Wardle and get permission, but I imagine as his game is exploding in popularity, he has been inundated and he probably wants to make sure that like him, I'm not interested in running ads, I'm not collecting people's data or scraping or anything like that.

"It's just a game offered for free if people like it, so he might be sitting back and watching to see how it goes or he hasn't seen my message among the tens of thousands who probably gets daily."

McDougall described the game as being similar to the decoding Mastermind game, but players required a bit more strategy in Wordle.

"It's very helpful because it brings up an online keyboard which already shows you which letters have been used and found. So it's very simple to play and a lot of fun.

"As the letters are eliminated, you start to run out of choices, so there's also a bit of logic, even if you don't know the words, you can still have a good guess at what it might be."

Wordle offered 2500 words as guesses, and you could try to insert some lesser known words but it was unlikely to be the answer, he said.

But McDougall said players should be aware te reo Māori version may be about to get harder after he had struggled to find a full a list of all the five-letter Māori words.

"Unlike English where you can access full lists off the Internet readily ... Māori dictionaries are not so readily available in an online format.

"So at the moment I have taken the list of the 1000 most common kupu and chosen the five-letter words from those, and I plan to expand on that now that I see there's actually some interest and people are keen to see it grow.

"If you want to play Panga, then now is the time to get in before it starts to get a little bit more tricky."

The keyboard that shows up for the game also recognises 'wh' and ng' as single letters.

While having 10 vowels might make it more challenging than the original, McDougall has had feedback that teachers are hoping to use this game to help learners of the language.

"At the moment, unlike Wordle, at the end of the game it will show you the word and the definition and I intend to change it so that for each guess it will also show you the definitions for your guesses as well, so you have a chance to learn some vocabulary as you play."

You can try out Panga by clicking here.