Today’s post is a quick look at the word choice of the localization going for naming the goddesses after “order” and “chaos.” There are some nuances that may be fun to look at.
It’s really trivial, and mostly insignificant. But still pretty notable to when translating countless blocks of text from Tellius Recollection Volume 2.
Slight spoiler warning for those who have yet to play this game. Putting this here just in case I mention something near the end.
So here is a quick list of names and terms for reference:
Name: Ashera / アスタルテ Astarte
Title: Goddess of Order / 正の女神
Name: Yune / ユンヌ Yune
Title: Goddess of Chaos / 負の女神
The two things to look at specifically are the characters used for Ashera and Yune’s titles: 正 and 負
So 正 can mean many things, all with positive meanings: Just, Correct, Superior, Positive.
In contrast, 負 has negative meanings: Minus, Bearing (a responsibility), Defeat, Negative.
Note that “order” and “chaos” are not among these definitions however. What the two characters in Japanese displays is a theme of opposites: Ashera the positive, Yune the negative. They were both split from Ashunera, the two sides of her in conflict with one another now split into two separate beings. It’s all a very yin-yang concept that’s hard to express with a single word in English. The Japanese gets away with using a single character as it can vaguely mean any of those definitions without fitting any specific one.
But saying “Goddess of Positive” and “Goddess of Negative” or “Positive Goddess” and “Negative Goddess” is a bit of an awkward title. “Goddess of Light” and “Goddess of Dark” may work with the opposites, indeed Yune was referred to as the “Dark God” by the tale spun by Dheginsea (邪神 “evil god” in Japanese), but that is not the title she herself goes by.
So “order” and “chaos” are chosen. It does indeed display the opposites that they may have been going for, but it can be argued that order is not necessarily good and chaos is not necessarily bad (a theme that those like Tibarn were emphasizing in their dialogue throughout the later chapters of the game). The conclusion is a little bit of both is good, which makes sense as the Goddess had split herself into both extremes that were at odds with each other, and that true “perfection” is that middle ground. It still achieves the same goal as “positive” and “negative” would in terms of achieving a balance. It’s a very yin-yang concept.
Let’s look at how they may have went about making this decision:
Yune herself upon her introduction says:
私は邪神なんかじゃないわ。 私は聖でも、 邪でもない。 私は自由。 私は混沌。 私は変化。 私は未来。 私は謎。 私は ユンヌ。
“Hmmm…”dark god.” “Dark god”… No, I’m pretty sure I’m not one of those. I am neither holy nor base, neither angel nor devil. I am…freedom. Chaos. Transformation. Future. Mystery. I am Yune.”
In the localization she uses “chaos” as the word after freedom. The word in Japanese (in bold above) can mean chaos/disorder but uncertainty as well, fitting with the rest of what she said.
And about Ashera says:
だって、 彼女は 聖でも邪でもないもの。彼女は束縛。 彼女は秩序。 彼女は安定。彼女は過去。 彼女は答。 彼女は アスタルテ。
“Ashera is neither kind nor loving to the beings of this world. Neither is she holy nor base, angel nor devil. She is…restriction. Order. Stability. Past. Certainty. Restraint. She is Ashera.”
The things about Ashera (restriction, order, stability, past, certainty, etc) are the same. The second word (in bold above) means “order” as they translated (also stability/regularity).
そうよ、 私はユンヌ。 アスタルテは【正】、私は【負】。２人は一対の存在なの。私が眠ればアスタルテも眠る。私が目覚めれば アスタルテも目覚める。
“That’s right. I’m Yune. Ashera is order. I am chaos. We are sisters, but opposite in all things. We’re linked to one another, though. When I sleep, Ashera sleeps. When I wake, Ashera wakes.”
Here, however, where she says “order” and “chaos” are the two characters from before for “positive” and “negative”. (On a side note she says nothing about being sisters, but that’s implied considering the split anyway). Order and chaos were secondary descriptors of the greater titles of “positive” and “negative,” but not the titles themselves, as they became in the localization.
But with the above in mind, it’s clear they are meant to be a theme of positive and negative (in the sense of two sides, rather than one being “good” or “bad”) which is emphasized by Yune’s dialogue. However, as to why the localization chose to go with “order” and “chaos” is likely because Yune’s side of things (change, future, transformation) is all rather “chaotic” in the sense of being unstable or unpredictable. On Ashera’s side we have the opposite (restriction. past, stability), all quite “orderly.” Indeed, they even use the words for order and chaos!
Using “positive” and “negative” in English would come with the connotation that one is necessarily good and the other bad (objectively by definition of “positive” and “negative”, so their denotation as well). Order and Chaos has a more subjective tone to it depending on the person, so can be argued just as it is in game as to which is better.
The localization likely decided to tweak their titles as a result without much harm to the story as a whole to specifically be Order and Chaos as a result!
This is all speculation though, as usual, we may never know the right answer as for why they ended up doing so!
The localization keeps the theme of opposites even if the Goddesses weren’t actually of “order” and “chaos” specifically in the most literal sense (having been “positive” and “negative” instead).
How would you have gone about carrying “positive” and “negative” over to English without it sounding awkward while still achieving the theme of opposites being good in balance? Let me know!