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African version of Wordle to keep you guessing forever



Word game buffs will be happy to hear that South African developer Francois Botha just released a African version of the ever-popular Wordle and according to stats reported by Azure, the game already receives 11,000 visits per day.

Botha curated and hosted ‘Carrot’ – the English equivalent of Wordle – and says from the feedback he’s received that the African version is more difficult. This may be because African words can have multiple consecutive and repeating vowels, which is rare in English.

The code for ‘Root’ is hosted in Github, which automatically inherits the changes Botha applies where it hosts the game on Microsoft’s Azure cloud platform. He doesn’t currently use Google Analytics or any other tracking code in the game and says he’s not sure if he needs user consent for browser cookies to do so and wants to keep the site clean as it currently is.

When the English version, Wordle – which was bought by the New York Times earlier this month for an undisclosed sum ‘in the low seven figures’ – caught up with everyone, Botha thought it would be great to see the same game in his native language, Afrikaans.

‘Carrot’ was developed using an open source project called React-Wordle, which Botha liked to run into because he had limited time to write a brand new Wordle clone (although he would have loved the challenge). React-Wordle helped him get an African version of the game online faster. He therefore had more time to focus on developing an African word list for the game, which he said was the most difficult.

Carrot Wordle in Afrikaans
Carrot Wordle in Afrikaans. Image: root.wrintiewaar.co.za

Botha explained to MyBroadband that the game requires two word lists: one for the five-letter words that are accepted and another for the word of the day. Through trial and error, he ended up using LibreOffice’s Afrikaans dictionary, which also presented challenges in that it contained only singular and non-diminutive word forms.

Then he came across an accompanying file containing several African language rules in the Hunspell format. He wrote a simple program to generate any five-letter string of characters from “aaaaa” to “zzzzz” and ran it through the Hunspell engine while keeping only valid words. While the game probably still has room for improvement, Botha says the glossary won’t hold the game back in any case.

He’s still figuring out how to handle characters like ‘ê’ and ‘ë’, so he’s avoided those words like ‘eat’ for the time being. The target word will not be plural or diminutive either. Players can therefore currently guess ‘geeet’, even if it is not spelled that way, but it will never be the solution.

Botha has generated a random word list for the word of the day and only makes sure that the solutions are reasonable before they are placed in the game.

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