Not for the weak of heart…

By • March 16, 2009

This post is about some nitty-gritty translation stuff. Important information for the tl;dr crowd will be bolded.

So I’m back in action on the translation front. Work has resumed on both Tales of Innocence and Tales of Destiny. However, over the last several weeks, I’ve grown increasingly frustrated with some of the terminology that I’ve been using in Tales of Innocence. I simply could not shake the feeling that there was something better out there. Finally, after doing some exhaustive research that started with a chance find, I think I’ve come to terms with the… terms. (Please note that I provide wiki links here not because they were my only source but because they are the most accessible of the sources I used.)

Tales of Innocence was always wrapped up in Hindu mythology. Names like Asura and Vrtra make that painfully obvious from the start. My purpose in doing this sort of research is not to “change” anything, but to understand and properly localize the intended implications.

Let’s start with a simple one. The Primeval Giant (原始の巨人) is Purusha. The terms primeval giant and the fact that he’s a giant whose body gives birth to the world and the gods makes this an easy enough read. I haven’t decided whether to use the term Primeval Giant throughout or whether to use Purusha. EDIT: I’m using Primeval Giant since using his name really doesn’t enhance the experience.

The world born from Purusha is divided into various realms. In Tales of Innocence, we only have two. They are identified as the Heavens (天上) and the Earth (地上). These two terms were driving me nuts, as were the accompanying terms for the gods and humans who inhabited these realms. In Hindu mythology, the term for the realm where the gods (Devas) dwell is Devaloka. Vrtra is technically an asura, but since many asura became deva, I think Devas will still work as a term for the gods. The lowest level is the Earth (Naraka). I’m not sure what I want to call humans when they’re referred to as 地上人. EDIT: Bhuloka has been changed to Naraka. The people of Naraka are Naras, but this is only used when the speaker is trying to contrast them with the Devas.

The Power of Creation (創世力) is a little trickier. Some Hindu myths indicate that the world was born of the Hiranyagarbha which is associated with Brahman. I dare not try to explain Brahman (which I’m just barely getting a grasp on), but the reason that I mention it is because of the following quote from the Brahman article: “The Rig Veda says that by the desire of the Supreme Being (RV 10.129.4), the initial manifestation of the material universe came into being from Hiranyagarbha (literally ‘golden womb’), out of which all worlds, organisms and divine beings (devas) arise”. So by the desire of the Supreme Being (both Brahman AND Purusha in Rigveda), the Hiranyagarbha is created and gives birth to the universe. This seems to match up quite well with the “desire of the Primeval Giant” (始祖の巨人の悲願) referenced in ToI’s intro. I’m currently considering The Manifest as a possible translation for the Power of Creation (創世力). It works nicely with the terms Fallen/Fallen One (異能者) and Avatar (転生者) and their implications of manifested power. EDIT: Added info on Fallen/Fallen One and Avatar.


  • Extermi -> Ekstermi
  • Charma -> Cxarma

(These two are being changed back to maintain the esperanto spellings.)


  • Regnum -> Legnum (meaning kingdom)
  • Remlace -> Lemures (meaning spirits of the dead)
  • Latio -> Ratio (meaning judgment)
  • Census -> Sensus (meaning feeling)


  • Naohs -> Naos (meaning temple)
  • Alka -> Arca (from Arcadia)

Yuli and I are still editing the events. I’m working on translating the skits and summary. Progress is coming along smoothly. I’m pleased with the progress.

About the Author

I'm the translator for Absolute Zero. I also take care of the project updates.

31 Responses to “Not for the weak of heart…”

  1. After I read this, I didn’t know whether to weep or to laugh hysterically. Considering my roommate freaks out when I do either, I opted to take the middle ground and just go back to watching Ace of Cakes. That man can make a mean cake.

  2. Though nitty gritty its a useful update and personally I’d go for the term The Primeval Giant just for the ring of it. It just sounds more… ominous than Purusha. And yes The Manifest sounds like a suitable alternative for the Power of Creation.

    However if you are going to use Devas and Devaloka for the gods it would seem likely to use Bhuloka as the name for the human realm… just to keep things in the same line.(not trying to sound like an expert it just seems logical to me)

    Keep up the good work, rest when needed and don’t rush yourselves.

  3. …Wow, sounds like you did your homework. Glad to see you’re taking it so seriously though — it puts you beyond the average localizer. This game certainly has an identity crisis though, with its obsession with Hinduism and European names. Maybe they get tired of cliche sources like Norse mythology (*cough* Symphonia *cough*) and the like.

  4. Wait, why is regnum being changed to legnum? If you’re trying to maintain Latin, regnum is the proper spelling. Legnum is just gibberish. I’m a bit confused here.

  5. …Translating IS definately easier said than done. And I agree with Zan.

  6. I like.

    The manifest is definitely the best way to go with that translation, as it just sounds and fits better.

    Purusha is a bit tricky though. Would it be possible to use both interchangeably? One as a proper name, and the other as a descriptive title?

  7. Great update.

    I can’t say I have much experience with Hindu mythology (I only took one year of History of Religions:P), but I think Purusha sounds better than The Primeval Giant, even if the latter sounds more ominous. If you’re going to use Deva as a name for the gods in ToI then Devaloka would be the logical term to use. The Manifest also sounds better than Power of Creation.
    Where Legnum vs Regnum is concerned, I think Regnum is the latin word for kingdom, I was never that interested in latin even if it was something we learned in school:p.
    Anyway, just my opinion, whatever you choose to use I’m sure it’ll be a great translation. Oh, and I agree with Zan: “Keep up the good work, rest when needed and don’t rush yourselves.”:P

  8. @octarineblues: You’re totally right about Regnum. I slipped up on that. Thank you for pointing it out! Turns out I was already using the right term, so I’m glad I haven’t changed it yet. >_<

  9. I think that your changes are logical and good. I’m really impressed that you think about such things as hindu mythology in a RPG.
    I believe that your translation will be really professional.

  10. I like the use of ‘The Manifest’, especially when you think about Avatar and Incarnate.

    As for Purusha/The Primeval Giant. The Primeval Giant sounds more like a title, while Purusha sounds more ‘name’ like. Of course, I don’t know very much about Hindu myths.

    Deva sounds good to me.

    As for Earth/Bhuloka. I personally wouldn’t mind Bhuloka, just to drive home that this is an RPG world, and still say it’s where humans live. Of course, that leads to what to called them.

    Do the Hindu have a specific way of referring to someone from a certain place, like English-speaker say a person from Australia is Australian? Or do we go with Bhulokan?

  11. Of course, we can probably keep ‘human’, as they’re not the only species living in their world…

  12. Actually, after posting this, I found a term that I believe works better for the earth. For that, I’ll be using Naraka, which is a kind of purgatory/hell-like place. That’s exactly what Innocence’s earth is meant to be initially, so it very well could be intentional. My understanding is also that humans can be refered to as ‘nara’.

    So we have this nice pairing of Deva/Devaloka and Nara/Naraka.

    Also, one other change is that after discussing Avatar/Incarnate with Kaji, I’ve swapped them around. Tenseisha (formerly Incarnate) is now Avatar. Inousha (formerly Avatar) is now Fallen or Fallen One. It all work out nicely in-game… I promise this will all be less confusing when you can actually see it in action.

  13. Thnx 4 all the effort u do bro…Why don’t u try reading the manga it might help u a little here’s the site: I myself dont want to read it because i want to know the story in the game. Keep on rocking dude \m/

  14. I read a few pages of the manga then got tired of it. Not only does the manga take strange departures from the game itself. It was also very clear from just a few pages that the translator was doing things very differently than I intend to (I was shocked they left something like Inousha untranslated). So there really wouldn’t be much point in me reading it.

  15. I think leaving all the Hindu names would be best, because it usually leads to us the gamers gaining more knowledge of very random things in the end.

    Kinda like…I’m sure a lot of us know what the Sephiroth is, and if you didn’t, your going to go Google it right now 😀

  16. Reading that manga probably left me confused about this, but what’s the difference between the Tenseisha and the Inousha?

  17. The short explanation is that they’re the same thing. The difference is who uses the terms. Basically Inousha is a derogatory, fear-mongering kind of term. It’s basically a more intellectual version of “creepy power guyz”. The populace uses it, but the majority of the people who understand what is actually going on use Tenseisha. The term Tenseisha indicates that the speaker knows that those individuals are reincarnated gods.

  18. Okay. Knowing that, which ones you’re making Incarnate and Avatar makes plenty sense.

  19. just glad to hear your working on Destiny Directors Cut again man. keep up the good work

  20. You’re freaking awesome for looking into all that stuff! I admire your dedication and desire to make this translation not just playable but as correct as humanly possible.

    Here, have my firstborn baby. 😉

  21. I’m just amazed on the effort that you pour into this. Are you sure you’re not a professional translator? You’re doing great bud. Kudos 🙂

  22. While there is no ready substitute in the English syntax for 地上人, I do think that “Earth Dweller” would be an adequate replacement for that phrase. Or merely “Mortals” would do too, but “Earth Dweller” would be much more similar in meaning to the original phrase.

    Then again, if 地上人 is an oft-said phrase throughout the game, there’s a chance that “Earth Dweller” would be a source of reading fatigue for the reader; after all it is a pretty lengthy word for a noun.

  23. I was originally using something similar for it – the equally tedious Earthbounder. It worked, but something was definitely missing. The phrases 天上人 and 地上人 really only appear in-game when a character is attempting to contrast the two. The words are meant to stand out. For that reason, I feel that if I use Deva for 天上人, I should really use a similar word for 地上人 to maintain that connection. While mortal works when the Devas are specifically referred to as gods, I’m not sure I can use it for 地上人.

  24. primeval giant sounds retarded… just go for the romanji equivalent of whatever japanese name they used…

  25. Are you really suggesting that I leave “Genshi no Kyojin” rather than translating it into English? Do you really think there’s a responsible translator out there who would do that?

  26. Maybe it’s just me, but genshi no kyojin sounds way more retarded than primeval giant.

  27. Thanks for the Great Update! Always cool to read what goes into translating a game.
    And I really don’t see anything wrong with primeval giant myself :/ Sounds fine and leaving it in japanese is what would be retarded. Besides, if you really hate the english equivalent so much, why don’t you just read it as the japanese everytime you come across it. Takes no extra brain power, trust me.

  28. “Are you really suggesting that I leave “Genshi no Kyojin” rather than translating it into English?”


    Honestly, I’m suprised there hasn’t been any comments like that. Whenever a Japanese game comes out in the US with an english dubbing, there are so many people crying over it.

    Aside from that, I honestly wouldn’t mind what you called people, as long as I can understand the story, and I can play the game, I’d still love you for doing this.

    Once this project is over, I’m buying you a beer! (Or twelve =P)

  29. I am one of those people who has been accused of “OMFG PLZ KEEP ALL TEH JAPANEESE NAMS ND VOISES CUZ DA ENG ONE SUCK!!1!” -ism. I admit there are a few people who for some reason insist on not being able to fully enjoy the game due to the language barrier. But I generally prefer the original voice acting etc because the dubs are usually awful. The “actors” they use sometimes don’t even seem to understand what they’re saying and often fail to portray emotions correctly. Therefore I do usually prefer the original VO. As for the names, when they have no relevance to the story of the game and are just normal Japanese names, I see no reson to change them from the original. But if they are Japanese approximations of other names (ie Innocence) then changing them is fine. For a fan translation like this I wouldn’t dare dictate how to do it. Sorry if I went a bit over the top but I’m tired of being branded a moron who has no grasp of the english language. I’m just happy that I’ll be able to play this game eventually.

  30. BTW, I know this might be late but I think Primeval Giant and The Manifest would work well for the translation, but that’s just me.

  31. i have download the tales of innocence translation in a website.but it just work on the items (sad)

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