One of the challenges in translating this game was understanding the richly thematic world that the game encapsulates, and reflecting that in the words and ideas used in the translated text.
Nowhere is this more necessary than in the 360-odd cards, particularly the Improvement and Occupation cards.
I've been asked a few times, "Why did you use this word? No-one will know what it means!" - this is my answer.
First, it's important to understand that the names on the cards enhance the theme of the game. We could play a themeless game which says "Swap a white cube for little markers if you have this card" or we could play a thematic game where we put sheep into an oven and they come out as lamb cutlets to feed the family. It doesn't really matter what the cards are called - they still have effect in the game - but Agricola's heavy theming is so tightly bound to its gameplay that I wanted to make sure I did justice to the cards.
That meant spending way more time obsessing about the names of the cards than might have been expected. Thanks especially to John and Ralph who have shared my obsession in the last week and have made suggestions on what to include or have made me think about why particular words should be used, and also to the many others who have emailed or geekmailed suggestions. And thanks of course to Hanno who dealt patiently with my questions about "what did this guy do?" and William who shared his research as we worked through it.
Here are some of the online resources that I've found helpful:
- Old German Professions, Occupations and Illnesses - mostly for family historians and genealogists, I think, but it was great for me too! Although I was surprised how many different occupations seem to involve castrating animals.
- Grimms Deutsches Wörterbuch - a (the!) comprehensive German-German dictionary.
- Ploughs - the hardest part of this translation, I found.
- Antique Farm Tools - a private collection of antique farm tools, many with photos.
- List of medieval land terms - a hide was a unit of land.
- Farming and Farming Tools - more ploughs, I think.
- 1911 Encyclopedia - Plough and Ploughing - are we seeing a theme here?
- German Symbols for Research Work - includes another detailed list of occupations & professions.
- Property and Civil Society in South-Western Germany 1820-1914 - OK, I have no idea why I bookmarked this one.
- Women and personal possessions: 17th century testamentary evidence - we seem to have another theme going here.
- 1632: German Farms FAQ - this appears to be a reference document for a Fan Fiction community. I'm not sure how authoritative a source this really is.
- Austrian Open-Air Museum - not much English content here, but a useful reference. I wish I'd taken more notes when I visited it in 1993! Hindsight is a wonderful thing.
- Jamestown Settlement Light Industry 1608 - sawmills!
- British Agricultural History Society - there's an interesting article about old rituals associated with ploughing.
I hope this set of references has been interesting. I've certainly found it a fascinating process. Look for the full set of card translations on the Lookout Games website Real Soon Now.