The official website for
the world of CATAN

Sprechen Sie Catanisch? Do you speak Catanish? Parlez-vous Catanais? ¿Usted habla Catanol? Talar ni Catanska?

July 31, 2009
Dr. Reiner Düren
Blog2 Red 1 Sprechen Sie Catanisch? Do you speak Catanish? Parlez vous Catanais? ¿Usted habla Catanol? Talar ni Catanska?

Illustration 1: Back to the roots

The Catan games have been translated into many languages by now, Bulgarian, Chinese, and Hebrew being the most recent ones. Players from all over the world meet at world championships and in the Catan Online World to jointly settle the small isla. From there, they board their naves and head for new shores to find freundliche Nachbarn or even the legendary countries El Dorado and Catlantis.

Oveja (Spanish)
Schaf (German)
Schaap (Dutch)
Mouton (French)
Får (Schwedisch)

They defy sjörövare and struikrover, build osada and upgrade them to πόλεις or use рыцарь cards to set the salteador on each other. One doesn’t always have the required råvarar, but maybe the game partner has plenty of them, which makes it necessary to trade with him. To avoid that all this fails due to language difficulties, in 2001 I started to compile a small Catanian Dictionary; it lists the most important terms in the context of Catan in several languages.

Longest Road
Längste Handesstrooß (Cologne dialect)
Längschti Handelsstrass (Zurich dialect)
Gräßte Strossn (Lower Austrian dialect)
Di längste Strossn (Styrian dialect / Graz, Austria)
Laengschde Handelsstroo (Swabian dialect)
Längsten Handelsstrooss (Luxembourgish)

People can thus learn that, for example, Amarillo is not just a city in Texas but also the Spanish word for “yellow,” or that the Dutch want to score as many Overwinnings­punten as possible. But it also helps players from different German speaking regions who know that grain is also called Hafer, Korn, Stroh, and Weizen – they will have fewer problems when confronted with words such as Strüh, Chorn, Kornföd, Gmüseföd, Woize, Käeren, Fruucht, Huewer, or Stréih, or when they play against people from Cologne, Luxembourg, Swabia, Zurich, or Graz. And if a Dutch game partner asks you for the dobbel­steen, then you know that he doesn’t want brick but the dice, in order to dobbelen the getallen on his getallenfiche.

Blog2 Vers2 Red English.1.1 3 Sprechen Sie Catanisch? Do you speak Catanish? Parlez vous Catanais? ¿Usted habla Catanol? Talar ni Catanska?

Illustration 2: Richard the Vengeful

What helped me to compile this dictionary wasn’t only the fact that I consulted the Prof.Easy Tutorials in different languages – it was also the contact with players from other countries and regions on the Catan forums, for example at The dictionary isn’t complete yet, so further translations are welcome. You can find the corresponding Excel file in the download area of my website

However, Card Game players from different countries are also competing by now. International matches between German and Dutch players took place three times already.

Dance of the Unicorns
Eenhoorndans (Dutch)
Tanz der Einhörner (German)
Yksisarvinen Tanssi (Finnish)
Danse des Licornes (French)
Dansa di Licorni (Italian)
Danza de los Unicornios (Spanish)

With over 200 cards, it can get a bit confusing when a player from the Netherlands wants to move his Reistoneel – and all he wants to do is improve his Volksopinie. And the Italian player who wants to accommodate his Fortezza dei Briganti in the Spanish player’s ciudad only intends to reduce the latter’s puntos de comercio. A Czech player may even have used Franz Krasavec (not related to Franz Voh­win­kel, the illustrator  of the Catan cards) to win against a Finnish player in a Turnajaiset. This is because not only the names of the buildings and units were translated but also many proper names and attributes of the knights and persons depicted on the cards. Bodo became Bertus, the Swift became the Vif, and the Drunkard became the Assetato. And when the Hungarian player makes an Idõutazás, the Slovakian player has to do without a Úspešný rok.

Aside from the terms used in the official translations of the game rules, I have collected many terms by going through foreign-language Wikipedia pages.

The list of card translations can also be found on my website, and help with completing the list is welcome:

Dr. Reiner Düren