Sunday, March 25, 2007

Barbarians at the logic gate

Coding Horror, written by a Microsoft programmer, discusses Simlish, the fake language created for The Sims:
When The Sims was originally designed, Will Wright wanted the language the Sims spoke to be unrecognizable but full of emotion. That way, every player could construct their own story without being confined to a Maxis-written script (to say nothing of the mind-numbing repetition). We experimented with fractured Ukrainian, and the Tagalog language of The Philippines. Will even suggested that perhaps we base the sound on Navajo, inspired by the code talkers of WWII. None of those languages allowed us the sound we were looking for -- so we opted for complete improvisation.

Simlish is, by definition, meaningless. And yet it's surprisingly easy to figure out what a Sim is talking about, even without any visual point of reference or a facial expression to read. The intonation and context of the sounds is enough to extract meaning.

...

Simlish even extends to music. Last year, Maxis paid many original artists to re-record their songs with Simlish lyrics...

Probably the funniest example of this is the Pussycat Dolls' re-recording of "Don't Cha" in Simlish...

Singing in gibberish almost makes a Pussycat Dolls song more intelligible. It's brilliant. Doba, baby, doba!