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|Created by||Will Wright|
|Users||Sims from The Sims game|
|ISO 639-3||None (|
Simlish is a fictional language featured in EA's Sim series of games. It debuted in SimCopter (1996), and has been especially prominent in The Sims franchise, as well as in its spinoff MySims series. Simlish can also be heard in SimCity 4, SimCity Societies, SimCity (2013 version), and SimCity BuildIt but far less frequently. Civilized Creatures in Spore can also be taught to speak Simlish. It is also featured to an extent in Firaxis Games' Sid Meier's SimGolf.
Simlish was created because Will Wright, creator of The Sims, knew that the game needed dialogue, but thought that using real-life languages such as English would cause the dialogue to be repetitive and would be expensive translating the entire dialogue Sims may say. He also decided that Simlish worked best as a "language" made up of gibberish words that could not be translated, so that the dialogue's meanings would be left open to the imagination of the player. Wright later commented that using a nonsense language turned out to be the right development choice, as people were capable of imagining it more realistically than a computer could simulate a real language. The actual sound of Simlish was improvised by voice actors Stephen Kearin and Gerri Lawlor.
One of Wright's biggest concerns while developing The Sims was that giving the characters actual dialogue would have made such dialogue extremely repetitive, because even if Wright had been able to fit five CDs' worth of voice clips into the game, players would eventually have started hearing the same voice clips over and over again. He found that this problem persisted even when he tried using Navajo, Ukrainian or Estonian, but that, because the gibberish of Simlish was so far removed from any existing human language, it was very difficult for players to detect repetition in it. The team went out to record hundreds of voice clips in Simlish, each with their own unique cadence and emotional nuance. Wright wanted the player to be able to tell whether a Sim is feeling flirtatious, upset, laid back, or tired, based entirely on their tone and tempo.
The only "agreed upon" Simlish phrase with an analog in real English is "sul-sul," (SOOL-sool, /'sul.sul/) which is a greeting phrase. There is no official recognition of this, but it is the only phrase consistently repeated by the Sims, and always as they are departing a building or social situation. It has given rise to several memes, jokes and tributes.
In The Sims: House Party and The Sims: Vacation, Sims sing Simlish campfire songs. They are sung to the tune of "She'll Be Coming 'Round the Mountain", "Michael Row the Boat Ashore" and "On Top of Old Smoky". Lyrics for these songs were posted on the official website. A free full-length soundtrack album for The Sims: Superstar has also been released for download (complete with cover art), with several tracks sung in Simlish.
In The Sims 4, there have been songs that have been covered in Simlish in the Seasons expansion pack.
Signs in The Sims games usually do not contain text, instead consisting entirely of graphics. For example, a pet shop sign in Unleashed displays a paw, a stop sign in Hot Date displays a white hand, and in The Sims 2 the sign for a grocery store depicts a cornucopia.
In The Sims 2, most text is only distinguishable at very close zooms. On book covers, newspapers and Nightlife's "Sims Must Wash Hands" sign, the lettering is all nonsense characters that bear about as much resemblance to Latin characters as they do to Cyrillic, although almost no actual characters from any known alphabet are used. When Sims are writing novels or term papers, dingbats from the Wingdings font appear as text on the screen. The notebooks used for homework contain writing composed of random lines.
In The Sims 2, Simlish words occasionally appear on television screens. They are written in the same Simlish alphabet described above, or using the font Wingdings to produce symbols like Aum or Zodiac signs. In The Sims 2: University, eight "SimGreek" letters appeared as signs intended for fraternity and sorority houses. University also contains the most unambiguous existence of actual English language in the whole The Sims 2 series; the words "Open house" are shown on a decorative noteboard on the top right announcement various times. It can only be seen at a very close zoom and is slightly garbled because of the DXT compression used. Most other appearances of English are logos for Maxis, Electronic Arts, or GameSpot. Also, the video games SSX 3, The Sims Bustin' Out, SimCity 4 and The Sims 3 (available exclusively in Mr. Humble's Computer object in FreeTime, brought by Mr. Humble, a Rod Humble Sim character), found on the Sims' computers and TVs have numbers and English letters. A rug from the H&M Fashion Stuff pack features the letters "H&M". The marketing of The Sims 2: FreeTime contains excerpts from phony "hobby magazines" with front cover text bearing some resemblance to the Latin alphabet. For instance, one magazine about car restoration has a title which can be read as Skitbil, literally meaning "Shit Car' or "Crappy Car" in Swedish.
In The Sims 3, the written form of Simlish became much more consistent than its predecessors. All decorative objects, in-game televisions, public buildings and clothing objects developed and released by EA and Maxis stayed consistent in their decorative usage. This continuity was occasionally broken, however, usually when content was released through sponsorship deals, such as with Katy Perry, Diesel and Toyota; this discontinuity was seen as unfavorable by some players, who believed it broke the immersion of the game for the sake of advertising.
In The Sims 4, Simlish is almost always used in any places where writing would normally be used, if not replaced by symbols.
When a vehicle arrives on the lot, the license plate shows Arabic numerals; similarly, police cars in the game have the numbers 329 on top of them. Helipads also have an H written on them, as in real life. When a Sim plays on electronic entertainment, "EA Games" is in English, but "Challenge Everything" is in Simlish.
Even though there is no official and consistent Simlish alphabet, many independent custom content creators have been using letters of the Greek alphabet instead of Latin ones. The Greek letters that replace the Latin ones are similar in form, sound or usage. For instance, the word "example" would be written as "εχαμπλε" or "εχαμρλε". The alphabet is consistent within a title but can shift between titles. For example, the Simlish in The Sims 3 and later has a more rounded look and an increased use of circles in the glyphs.[original research?]
In a trailer for The Sims 3, a billboard in the town displays the English words Coming Soon, albeit with the letters rotated in different directions. The rest of the text on the billboard is in the usual Simlish, and is unreadable.
Outside The Sims
Nearly all games in the Sim series use Simlish in the same manner that The Sims does. For instance, in SimCity 4, SimCity Societies and 2013's SimCity, citizens can be heard conversing if one zooms in sufficiently. In a similar manner, creatures created with a primate mouth in Spore will also converse in Simlish, and hovering above a city will trigger gibberish conversation from the masses below. During the Civilization stage, this can be heard when the player selects active vehicles. Also, in other regional versions of the game Spore, Steve, an entity found in the center of the galaxy, will speak Simlish instead of the chosen language in international versions; although in the American version he speaks in the chosen language.
- "The Sims Bustin' Out Designer Diary #3". Archived from the original on January 6, 2006.
- Celeste Biever (September 24, 2008). "Interview: The games master". New Scientist. Reed Business Information. 199 (2675).
- "Gonna Play the Sims? You Gotta Speak Simlish". Savvy Gaming. September 8, 2008. Archived from the original on October 14, 2009. Retrieved February 15, 2009.
The voice actors who were working on the Sims are credited with actually giving voice to the Simlish language. These voice actors were Stephen Kearin and Gerri Lawlor.
- Rouse III, Richard (2005). Game Design Theory & Practice. Second Edition. Wordware Publishing, Inc. p. 431. ISBN 1-55622-912-7.
- Kilbane, Brennan (February 7, 2020). "A history of Simlish, the language that defined The Sims". The Verge. Retrieved December 15, 2020.
- "Make Your Own Superstar Soundtrack CD!". Thesims.ea.com. Archived from the original on September 30, 2011.
- "Depeche Mode - Suffer Well (Simlish)".
- "5 Seconds Of Summer's 'Want You Back' Sims Edition Is A Bop". MMVAs. Archived from the original on October 5, 2020. Retrieved August 18, 2020.
- Campbell, Ian Carlos (June 10, 2021). "Japanese Breakfast did a Simlish cover for The Sims 4 because nonsense never gets old". The Verge. Retrieved June 12, 2021.
- "Things I've Seen/Heard/Read About in The Sims 3: Diesel Stuff". Archived from the original on December 15, 2018. Retrieved June 22, 2017.