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Top Secret Researcher
Original Poster
#1 Old 17th Oct 2020 at 10:53 PM Last edited by r_deNoube : 18th Oct 2020 at 1:05 AM. Reason: typo
Default Sim Linguistics -- your impressions of the sound of the language?
Suul-suul all.

When the game was new, people enjoyed posting phrasebooks. Yet still I feel the language is under-studied, and I would like to kick off a discussion amongst listeners of Simlish. ("Why not speakers of it?", you may ask. But the total number of voices in the game is tiny, and they aren't on MTS. We are.)

I'm not posting this as a questionnaire or survey, because a less constrained discussion would befit the broad importance of this beautiful language. But to put things in motion, I do have a specific question I've lately been wanting to put to Simmers:

Ronnie's kick-off question: Especially if you're from somewhere other than North America -- does Simlish strike you as having an American accent, or as perhaps being like English in other ways?

(We know that it's produced by US-based voice actors, but I wonder how much the sound of Simlish owes to their personal accents, rhythms etc. I myself don't hear that accent, because I grew up in it.)

Yablarko,
Ronnie.
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Mad Poster
#2 Old 18th Oct 2020 at 12:52 AM
Yeah it has an American, specifically west coast American accent to it, but imo that's fine. Even if the language does feature some words from various real world languages, the words aren't exactly used in the same context, nor carry the same real-world definition to the Sims themselves.

zu, zu, zu matán
Top Secret Researcher
Original Poster
#3 Old 18th Oct 2020 at 1:44 AM Last edited by r_deNoube : 18th Oct 2020 at 5:44 AM. Reason: link to reference.
Quote:
Originally Posted by HarVee
... but imo that's fine...
As I've heard it said, linguistics is a descriptive science, not a prescriptive one
Alchemist
#4 Old 18th Oct 2020 at 12:22 PM
It has always sounded American to me but I've never really noticed any accent to it, though, or maybe I just haven't really paid any real attention to that.
Lab Assistant
#5 Old 19th Oct 2020 at 6:42 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by r_deNoube

I don't understand this reply. Simlish is a conlang (constructed language) - nearly the whole language is prescribed.

The sound inventory comes from the voice actors' native tongues because a concrete sound inventory has never been officially codified. They are, more-or-less, given a list of phrases to say spelled out and are left to their own devices.
Top Secret Researcher
Original Poster
#6 Old 20th Oct 2020 at 2:34 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Alistair
I don't understand this reply.
My tongue-in-cheek reply was because we aren't in the position of prescribing it. So I agree with HarVee that the West Coast accent is okay, but that's partly because it has to be okay -- value judgments won't help us really. Thus we are more in the position of linguists than of, say, grammarians.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Alistair
Simlish is a conlang (constructed language) - nearly the whole language is prescribed. The sound inventory comes from the voice actors' native tongues because a concrete sound inventory has never been officially codified. They are, more-or-less, given a list of phrases to say spelled out and are left to their own devices.
I believe they are given even less guidance than that! From what I've heard, the actors are asked to completely ad-lib the utterances for given situations, like "tell your boss you're quitting". A very few words and phrases are fixed -- like "chumcha" for pizza -- but even then, I don't believe they get much guidance on whether to pronounce it, e.g., "choom-chuh" or "chum-chah" or how.

Under that assumption, they are not reading from scripts but babbling, and we're hearing the results of a sort-of-linguistic production process on the voice actor's part. In that case it's fair to -- at least lightheartedly -- use the framework of linguistics when we discuss what we hear.
Test Subject
#8 Old 20th Oct 2020 at 7:08 PM
As an American currently living in the UK I gotta say it yeah it sounds very American, and like very generic, suburban American at that.

In all honesty It always sort of bothered me that if I no matter what kind of sim I made, criminal from the wrong side of the tracks or a rough and tumble cowboy who lives on a rural farm and they just end up sounding like Bill from accounting every single time.

I Hope if they make a TS5 they have a bunch of different voice options from different people from all walks of life.

Also: Polygon actually has a pretty interesting video about video game voice synthesis that ya'll might be interested in. [LINK]

In Stuffed Crust, We Must Trust.
Top Secret Researcher
Original Poster
#9 Old 20th Oct 2020 at 8:33 PM Last edited by r_deNoube : 22nd Oct 2020 at 1:48 AM. Reason: Link to speech sample
I should clarify that my question had spoken Simlish in mind.

The situation must be different for Simlish song, where EA performs a Simlification of existing lyrics. In that case the wording is, as @Alistair stated, completely prescribed by EA. Also in the case of a Simlified popular song, the singer obviously uses the same accent, prosody etc. as their original. [Link to Pixie Lott doing this]. I know there's plenty of good Simlish music that does not have a popular human-language source, but I wouldn't be surprised if in many cases there really was an English original unknown to us, that's been Simlified by the same process.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mirin Sagesato
... You don't get "Alphes narp elkaction dunder." ... it's more of "Shusba bazoo kafufu gloo." They sound like cartoony gibberish.
This, it seems to me, is susceptible of being studied for something like the statistics of different phonemes in Simlish as opposed to conversational English. For example, a testable hypothesis might be "Long/open vowels are more frequent in Simlish than English".
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mirin Sagesato
The three voices have distinct accent but still American just three distinct feels.
(Three, not six?) Certainly this argues for coding & analyzing the voices separately (again, that's for spoken Simlish).
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mirin Sagesato
I'd love to replace them with realistic\semirealistic Georgian, Armenian, and Azeri words\sounds. It would be so cool.
Yes it would!! What are some sounds that would signal you that you're listening to a Sim from one of those countries?
Scholar
#11 Old 21st Oct 2020 at 5:11 PM
It's not really a language since most of the 'words' don't have meaning and as far as I can tell, there is no grammar.
TS3 sounds very much like some version of American English to me while TS2 Simlish seems a lot more varied. I imagine hearing some kind of Spanish as well.
Instructor
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21st Oct 2020 at 6:26 PM
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Top Secret Researcher
Original Poster
#13 Old 21st Oct 2020 at 7:39 PM Last edited by r_deNoube : 22nd Oct 2020 at 1:52 AM. Reason: swap the two paragraphs.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mirin Sagesato
...Also a lot of ... final "b", "bs", or "b+vowel".
I believe I can hear this in Simlish song as well (Da Linnip, Mayzie Grobe, etc.) even though it's generated differently from the speech.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mirin Sagesato
Abkhaz sounding: "Aznaakshoup patak pitshakn zygashunp"
Just to clarify, are the word-final labials in this one typical for Abkhaz, or are they part of your hypothetical Simlification of that language?
Mad Poster
#15 Old 22nd Oct 2020 at 9:39 PM
Distinctly Western in tone. Obviously created by and for American voice actors. Could pass for European too, if you're willing to think of Americans as some kind of discount Europeans.

Either way I'm as Western as they come so it never sounded exotic to me. It wasn't until I was in the Czech Republic this summer and noticed just how different the language sounded, even though I'd only travelled halfway across Europe, that I figured a Czech conlang would sound very very different from an American one. There is some overlap between American glibberish and Dutch glibberish due to the linguistic similarities. Especially watching something like Star Trek you hear a lot of alien names that just sound like weird old European ones. And if you go out into the country far enough, you start to notice a lot of the weird old farmers are actually aliens from the Beta Quadrant. So it checks out.

Hypocrisy is only okay if I do it.
( Join my dumb Discord server if you're into the whole procrastination thing. But like, maybe tomorrow. )
Mad Poster
#16 Old 22nd Oct 2020 at 10:04 PM
This is what I think of when I hear sims talk

https://youtu.be/257Cmj0s2q8?t=15

Sanity is overrated.

Nitromon is a type of Pokemon encountered in the Pokemon Nitrome Version series.

There. Mystery solved.
Theorist
#17 Old 22nd Oct 2020 at 10:42 PM
I really do not care what the accents or origins/etc. are, and I sure as heck am not interested in Susan Wainwright. We are back to that again? (Same poster with about third user name here?)

The only thing that matters to me is that I try to set the voices for the Sims I create to be as least IMO irritating, scratchy harsh to listen to.
Instructor
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23rd Oct 2020 at 12:05 AM
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Top Secret Researcher
Original Poster
#18 Old 23rd Oct 2020 at 2:00 AM
For me, exotic-ness has something to do with how 'r' is pronounced. Spaniards, French, and Germans each seem to produce it in different parts of their mouths (and this is part of the reason I have a terrible accent when I attempt French or German, though I can pull off a Spanish single 'r' fairly well.) When I listen to TS3 Simlish, the 'r's feel to me as not "exotic" in any way, but pretty much straight down the middle of a General American accent.

But on the subject of r's and l's -- there's one sound for which I have no good explanation which is nevertheless important to Sim culture, namely the soft "l" in "sul-sul" in the TS3 splash screen, eh?
Mad Poster
#19 Old 23rd Oct 2020 at 4:02 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by PizzaPartyForever
As an American currently living in the UK I gotta say it yeah it sounds very American, and like very generic, suburban American at that.

That's the west coast American accent for you.

zu, zu, zu matán
Top Secret Researcher
Original Poster
#22 Old 23rd Oct 2020 at 9:05 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mirin Sagesato
Could be, I guess. It's a shame we have so few samples of it and no video of how a person makes it.
Top Secret Researcher
Original Poster
#24 Old 26th Oct 2020 at 1:42 AM Last edited by r_deNoube : 26th Oct 2020 at 9:41 PM. Reason: add IPA transcription
Here is a sample of cleanly-recorded conversational Simlish:
Robu la chobee; ahba ne snee. Tuvarro? Neva?
/ɹoʊbu lɑ 'tʃoʊbi: ˈɑbʌ ni sni: tu'vɑɹə 'nɛvɑ/

I believe it illustrates the American-accented-ness that posters here seem pretty well agreed about.
Theorist
#25 Old 26th Oct 2020 at 1:57 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by r_deNoube
I believe it illustrates the American-accented-ness that posters here seem pretty well agreed about.


I am not sure why this is even up for question as the game is made in the US and the characters/voices done by American voice actors.
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