Sid Meier’s Civilization 5 – In Aramaic! … Well part of it.

So, a while back I took a rather elaborate translation job by a voice acting company who wanted to translate a large amount of dialog from English into Imperial Aramaic so that Darius The Great of Persia could speak in his native tongue for a video game. After it was done, I tried emailing them back a few times to find out how the work was used and if I could get some samples from the voice actor they used to no avail…

(Darius being a bit cocky during his introduction. πŸ™‚ )

You should have seen my shock when I came across Darius speaking those very lines I translated in a YouTube video for Civilization 5 released back in September. Talk about ultimate geek street-cred.

It was a project fraught with perils that only William Fulco could understand. πŸ™‚

Darius’ native tongue was Old Persian, but Aramaic was sort of his “hobby language” of which he had enough enthusiasm for to make it the official language of the western half of his empire and the vehicle of international commerce. It was a language that he, himself, did a good deal of correspondence in.

I started working from actual documents that he sent, using the greetings and partings, and for some of the more modern lines I had to get a bit creative, even re-writing them to things that were more period-appropriate. When it was all said and done, I packaged everything together in sound files to give the voice actor something to go by as well as a little pep-talk about its historical significance.

He seems to have done it justice. πŸ™‚

And now the ironic bit?

I’m *horrible* and I mean *absolutely horrible* at Civ… πŸ™‚


4 thoughts on “Sid Meier’s Civilization 5 – In Aramaic! … Well part of it.

  1. One word: Wow! I’ve listened to it on Youtube and I had a “Passion of the Christ” deja vu. The English translation though, was a bit poor in my opinion. Shlama ‘aleykh wasn’t translated. Malek malkaya (King of Kings) was translated as “ruler”. Technicly they are right, but I personally always prefer a literal translation. But hey, no biggie :-).

    Steve, my compliments! Tob shafir!



  2. Aye, the English *never* seems to match what they’re saying… even for George Washington and Queen Elizabeth I who are speaking in *English.* πŸ™‚

    They must have either pared down the dialog trees a bit from what they recorded vs. what actually made it into the game or didn’t end up using the secondary translation I provided them (i.e. in order to translate what they wanted *to* Aramaic, in many cases I had to adapt it a bit first).

    Here’s actually a good link to all of the Diplomats:

    Darius, of course, is under “Persia.” πŸ™‚


  3. Nice work getting to translate things into Aramaic for a computer game; damn rude of the company not to reply.

    But I don’t think Darius should have *spoken Imperial Aramaic. It’s a lingua franca used by the administration– which also uses Elamite extensively at Persepolis, as well as on royal inscriptions; it’s the language used for administration and edicts (for instance at Xanthos, where the Karian satrap uses it)– but did the king, and for that matter, other members of the Persian elite, speak it ? Or did they dictate in Persian to scribes who translated into bureaucratese, for the use of officials across the empire who may have had it translated back to them ?

    At any rate, the language of Persian might and imperialism is Old Persian, and Darius surely should have spoken that. Adam Darayavush, x8aya8iya vazraka…

  4. Yes, the English translations are generic for the most part, though they did translate some of the more unique lines (like the greetings) literally.

    I was wondering, would you be able to provide English translations (accurate ones) for the lines currently in the game? I can email you the sound files if you need them. πŸ™‚

    The translations would be posted up here, if you’re willing, many of us Civfanatics want to know what the leaders are (actually) saying:

Leave a Reply