Thursday, April 08, 2021

[jxwlnwba] spelling Yuffie Kisaragi

the typical English pronunciation "you fee" for the name Yuffie ユフィ in Final Fantasy VII is pretty close to the Japanese pronunciation.  however, the English spelling is at odds with that pronunciation.  normally a doubled consonant suggests, like in "yuppie" or "Buffy", that the U should be short, but for Yuffie it is not.

better would be the spelling Yufi.  fortunately, in the original game, you can change the spelling of characters' names however you like.  (this ended up being especially useful for correcting Aeris to Aerith).

(altering names is not possible in Remake, which is unfortunate.  i feel that it could have kept as an unlockable New Game Plus feature (paying homage to the original game mechanics), even while keeping the voice acting using the original names.  yes, that might cause confusion, but if you radically alter the names, you have only yourself to blame for bringing that confusion upon yourself.)

it is a little bit surprising that the name written in Japanese is spelled with katakana, not hiragana, because there is some tradition that girl's names (when not spelled or not spellable with kanji) are written with hiragana.  but that depends a lot on fashion, the fashion of the game developers in real life and the fictional fashion of the Wutai.  practically IRL, katakana might be generally preferred as it helps distinguish proper nouns within Japanese text like capitalization does in English.

Yuffie's surname Kisaragi is not a common word, so it makes sense that it is spelled in katakana instead of kanji.  the kanji is probably 如月 ( .  it means "second month of the Chinese lunar calendar".  (it does not mean "February", which is the second month of the Gregorian solar calendar.)  some other things about the Wutai, for example, architecture, strike me as more Chinese than Japanese.  perhaps both parts of Yuffie Kisaragi's name are Japanese translations of a Chinese ur-name.  Chinese pronunciations of the kanji are given at the aforementioned link.  (the transliterated pronunciation "ruyue" of the Chinese characters is completely different from "kisaragi"; it seems no one knows how the Japanese pronunciation of those characters came about: it is a jukujikun.)

a similar thing happened for the name Aerith.  the ur-name is Aerith (coined from "aero" + "earth", though I have lost the source for the "aero" part), transliterated into Japanese as Earisu (then originally transliterated back to English as Aeris).

what might be the Chinese ur-name of Yuffie?  this might be impossible to recover if changes like Ruyue -> Kisaragi have (fictionally) happened.

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