Simlish is less distracting than English in conversational background music

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Linguist Susanne Brouwer and her group of students conducted three experiments to see how well people understand each other when music is playing in the background. In this study, she used a selection of songs by Katy Perry, including a Simlish version of the hit song. The language used in the popular video game The Sims. People don’t seem to understand each other well when playing the english version versus the simlish version. In his instrumental version of his song, people seem to understand each other better. Brouwer and his team Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied..

In this research project, Brouwer and his students wanted to know if the phrases were difficult to recognize when they sang in the background or if the lyrics made sense. Katy Perry has proven to be a great choice for research. “She released the song in Simlish, the invented language used in The Sims, a computer game that looks like English and is popular among college students,” says Brouwer.


In Simlish, “Last Friday Night” is translated as “Lassfroo by noo”. Simlish may sound like a language, but I don’t understand it. “Therefore, I used Simlish as a condition for the voice to exist, but the lyrics don’t make sense (I understand Simlish).”

During the experiment, the researchers provided more than 100 participants with three versions of the hit songs “Last Friday Night (TGIF)” and “Hot and Cold” with different volume levels. In each situation, participants had to show a phrase that they could hear being spoken by a virtual speaker when different versions of the song played in the background.

Songs with meaningful lyrics interfere with comprehension

According to a survey, background music with lyrics negatively affects your ability to understand the person you are talking to. The incomprehensible Simlish also had a negative effect, but not in English. version..The instrumental version was the least negative effect. Brouwer: “Songs with lyrics are likely to require more cognitive effort to exclude them. This also applies to Simlish, but to a lesser extent.

Brouwer: “Music is played everywhere these days. It’s time to visit the restaurants, shops, and people at home. It helps to know what kind of music you are playing. Public space For example, if you want people to understand each other correctly. Brouwer then began a follow-up investigation using familiar or unfamiliar Disney songs.

LyricJam: A system that can generate lyrics for live instrumental music

For more information:
Susanne Brouwer et al, “Lass frooby noo! The lyrics and the meaning of the song interfere with the intelligibility of the speech. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied (2021). DOI: 10.1037 / xap0000368

Provided by
Radboud University

Quote: Simlish is in conversation obtained on August 3, 2021 from https: // (August 3, 2021) The background music is less distracting than the ‘English

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