Full list of names:
This thread is for explaining certain name changes which may cause controversy. I changed only a handful of playable character names, though, so perhaps there will be less of a ruckus than I expect.
Major Playable Changes:
Kein --> Kane
Kane is the literal pronunciation of the Katakana, ケイン. While a literal translation of the Katakana is "Kein," the English pronunciation of that word is more akin to "Kine" than the way it would typically be pronounced (Kane). Thus, Kein, while being literally "true" to the Kana, is a deceptively false representation of what the Kana is trying to depict, which is Kane. The references of Kane and Alba's names to Cain and Abel is no coincidence, and these particular spellings of those names (rather than Kein and Alva) represent that.
Pahn --> Pan
The name of the Thracia character Pan is パーン, or literally "Paan" or "Parn." That dash in the center of the Kana represents an elongated vowel sound, and long a sounds in Japanese are often used to represent an "ar" sound. Thus, over the years we have gotten names like "Pahn" and "Pirn" which have tried to literally depict the elongated vowel sound. However, the Katakana commonly used for the Greek God Pan, パーン, is identical to the Katakana used for Pan's name. The mythological reference is clearly intended here, with absolutely no deviation between the character and the god's name. Why, then, should we continue with the name "Pahn," which is not only pronounced exactly the same as "Pan," but also specifically breaks a clearly intended mythological reference? Not to mention the name "Pahn" defies most h usage conventions in English (and most other Latinized languages).
Eyrios --> Ilios
Of all the playable characters, this is probably the largest change I am making, and thus I expect most of the discussion will center around this name. However, I have several strong reasons why I am making this change. First, I'll start with the Kana. The name イリオス is literally translated to "Iriosu," with the initial syllable being an "I" sound rather than an "Ey" sound. Thus, the current translation of "Eyrios" is incorrect on the basic level of translating the Kana.
Secondly, イリオス is the exact same Kana used for Ilios, an alternate name for the Classical city of Troy. In fact, イリオス is the primary name that the Japanese use when speaking of Troy, so much so that the title of the Troy page on the Japanese Wikipedia is イリオス rather than, say, トロイア (literally Toroia, or Troy). So the name イリオス is clearly a reference to Ilios. But that's not all, because not only is the reference clear and intended, but it is actually relevant to the script as well. When Ilios is first recruited, Karin remarks that his name "sounds noble." This makes sense with the name Ilios, as the Japanese audience playing would instantly understand イリオス as the Classical city of Troy, and thus a "noble" name (similar to what Bastian's Japanese name, Ulysses, attempted to convey. Of course, Ulysses was changed in translation, but to something completely different, not a corruption of Ulysses like "Olysses" or whatever). The point here is that not only is Ilios's name a direct mythological reference, but a direct mythological reference where the reference actually has a point (quite unlike many of the mythological references used in the Fire Emblem series). Naming Ilios after a Classical city is specifically meant to convey a noble-sounding name. When an English translation uses "Eyrios," it is not only incorrectly translating the Kana, but forcing its audience to merely infer that "Eyrios" is a noble-sounding name based on nothing other than that Karin said so. Ilios, while perhaps more obscure to an English audience than イリオス is to a Japanese audience, better conveys that feeling of nobility so central to Ilios's character.
Thirdly, in Ilios's recruitment conversation with Karin, she gives him the fake name "Olson," which prompts Ilios to respond that she should "stop playing around with people's names." As is probably clear, "Olson" is a loose anagram of the sounds in "Ilios," and thus it makes sense why Ilios would demand that she stop playing around with names. On the other hand, Olson is much less clearly a derivation of "Eyrios" (if one could even call it a derivation at all), and thus Ilios's comment makes less sense when his name is Eyrios, instead of Ilios.
For these three reasons (fidelity to the Kana, fidelity to the intended mythological reference, and fidelity to the script), I feel obligated to change Eyrios's name to Ilios. Hopefully you will see my reasoning and agree.
Sara --> Sarah
A smaller change, and with a much less grandiose reasoning behind it. I have two reasons for this change, and they are both quite simple. One is to clear up some confusion between the character Sara and the character Lara, who both have much similar-looking names in the English translation (although not in the Kana; サラ and ラーラ are differentiated by that elongated vowel mark in Lara's name). When trying to clear up this similarity between Sara and Lara, I had two choices. One: I could change Lara's name to Laura, or Two: I could change Sara's name to Sarah. I decided on the latter reason for the reason that the name "Sarah" has a Biblical significance to it that "Sara" does not hold; a significance quite fitting to a character so involved with the Lopt Sect, a religious order. Of course it's ridiculous to assume that サラ is a specific Biblical reference (it could be any number of references, or even just a basic name on its own), but it does lend credence to this minor change.
Delmud --> Dermid
I wasn't intending to change this name at first before I started looking at the Katakana. Dermid's name seems a clear reference to Diarmuid, a figure from Irish mythology. "Then why aren't you changing his name to Diarmuid, and annoying everyone with its impossible-to-pronounce name?" Well, because the Kana for the two names is not identical, unlike many of the mythological references behind my other changes. Thracia Dermid is デルムッド (literally Derumuddo), while mythological Diarmuid is ディルムッド (literally Deirumuddo). As you can see, the Thracia character drops a ィ, thus removing the first diphthong in Diarmuid's name. Because of the this difference, I feel comfortable in allowing the first vowel in the Thracia character's name remain as a simple "e," rather than changing it to "ia" like in Diarmuid. I did, however, change the L in "Delmud" to better reflect the mythological reference, as in English, unlike in Romaji, there is no real precedent for corrupting a name by swapping an R for an L. That leaves us with the second diphthong, the "ui." The Kana for both names is the same when referencing that part of the name. However, because "ia" is ambiguous and difficult to pronounce, and also because "Diarmid" without a second diphthong is a common Anglicization of the mythological character's name, I decided to replace the "ia" with a simple "I" as well. Thus, I came up with the name Dermid. I looked at where the Kana was similar and where it was different and determined how those differences would correlate in an English translation of the Kana, rather than simply saying "They're different, thus I can do whatever I want with the name." I will continue this practice for a few other names.
That does it for playable character names; save for Seti, but I will cover Seti when I get to the Crusaders.
Major Enemy Changes:
Wiseman --> Weissmann
Not really a major change, but I bring it up because I do have an actual reason behind it. Many of the enemy names strive to have a distinct German sound to them (this is not only seen in boss names like Kempf and the Dark Warlords, but also in the names of enemy squadrons like the Schwarz Rosen and the Gelbritter). I changed Wiseman to Weissmann to convey that strong German background, something I do with many other boss names, such as Reinhardt rather than Rinehart.
Bandol --> Bandle
Bandle is an actual surname. As far as I can tell, Bandol is not. Both translations are acceptable from the Kana, so I decided to make the change.
Eisenhow --> Eisenhower
As the Intelligent Systems development staff has explained in interviews, they keep their names below six Kana in order to fit NES and SNES space regulations (and the tradition has held onto newer games simple out of habit). Eisenhower appears to be the exact reference that this boss's name is making (not only does the Kana match up until the end, but he even fights you a chapter after you fight a boss named Truman), but unfortunately, the standard Kana for Eisenhower, アイゼンハワー, is one Kana too long to fit the six-Kana limit. By making this name change, I am simply carrying out what IS seems to have intended to do with Eisenhower's name.
Dobolzark/Tobolza --> Dvorak
Not only have translations disagreed on what this silent minor sub-boss of Chapter 10's name is, but both "standard" translations are quite… ridiculous. Meanwhile, while the typical Kana for the common Eastern European surname Dvorak (ドヴォジャーク) exceeds the six-Kana limit mentioned above, the name of the Thracia character (ドボルザーク) attempts to fit that Kana as well as it can without exceeding the character limit. For the twofold reason of fidelity to the Kana as well as replacing a ridiculous nonsense name with a fairly common real-world one, I have changed the character's name to Dvorak.
Aihiman/Eigan/Aimon --> Eichmann
Here is another name that none of the standard translations seem to agree on, and yet is an obvious reference to a real-life Eastern European name. The Kana for this boss's name (アイヒマン) is literally the exact same as standard Kana representations of the German name Eichmann.
Nicaraf --> Nikolov
A basic name change, merely swapping a nonsense name for a somewhat common Eastern European surname which is supported by the Kana (ニカラフ).
Farden --> Varden
One simple reason for changing this: Farden sounds like a sophomoric gastrointestinal joke. Varden is a perfectly acceptable translation of the Kana.
Many of these problematic boss names aren't problematic at all, and have very simple solutions; it just seems nobody ever took the time to even look at them, and thus they have gone on being wrong for a very long time. Hopefully, though, the lack of anyone caring at all means that nobody will complain when I fix these names.
Major NPC/Mentioned Name Changes:
Ethlin --> Ethlinn
I hope this doesn't cause a big uproar. The Kana for the character name is the exact same as the Kana used for an alternate name of the Norse figure Ethniu which is typically spelled in English as Ethlinn. The Kana for both names, if anybody is wondering, is エスリン; and exactly the same for both the mythological figure and the character. Because of the exact similarity, I propose this (very minor) name change from Ethlin to Ethlinn.
Deet'va --> Dithorba
Deet'va is honestly… the worst Fire Emblem name translation I have ever seen. Not only does it markedly and clearly deviate from an intended mythological source (Dithorba, another Norse character), but the translation itself is quite… nonsensical. For instance, whose idea was it to stick that random apostrophe in the middle of her name? What in the Kana even suggests that? There are other, less offensive translations of her name (Dietova, for instance), but I still believe that following the mythology would be best for this instance. If anybody still wishes to complain, this name is used ONLY in Misha's deathquote. Quite likely, you'll never even see it.
Major Crusader/Historical Names:
Okay, time to preface this. Because there are a lot of changes. A lot. Figuring out this Gordian knot of names was probably the most difficult part of my task in editing the Thracia translation script. As with the Dermid incident, there are many points where the Crusader names deviate from the standard Katakana for the Norse deities they refer to. However, rather than just randomly assigning names because the Kana doesn't match up, I looked at patterns as to WHERE the Kana doesn't match up, and how it is different… and patterns do exist.
First, let me explain the mythological references of all the Crusaders just for those not in the know.
Where the Katakana deviates from the reference:
Odo (オード) = Óðr (オーズ)
Baldo (バルド) = Baldr (バルドル)
Hezul (ヘズル) = Höðr (ヘズ)
Dain (ダイン) = Dáinn (ダーイン)
Tordo (トード) = Thor (トール)
Where the Katakana is the same as the reference:
Ulir (ウル) = Ullr (ウル)
Blaggi (ブラギ) = Bragi (ブラギ)
Heim (ヘイム) = Heim(dallr) (ヘイム(ダル))
Sety (セティ) = (For)seti ((フォル)セティ)
Although according to Vincent, "Fala" is a reference to a Nordic Priestess called a Völva (Anglicized to Vala), I could not find the Katakana for Vala. I decided, however, that in all likelihood the Kana for "Fala" would be the same as the Kana for "Vala," and thus decided to change Fala to Vala to reflect that reference.
I could find no specific Norse name to which Nova may refer. I assume it just means Nova, as in Supernova, or whatever the Latin term for nova is based on. In either case, I decided to keep Nova as the name.
That leaves Neir. At first I didn't think it was a mythological reference either, as both it and Nova are the only Crusaders who are not listed as mythological references on Vincent's site. However, I did some digging and discovered that it actually is a reference to Nerthus, an Anglicized prototypal Njörðr. The Kana for Neir is ネール; the Kana for the first syllable of Nerthus is ネル. Considering Njörðr is a major Norse deity (like most of the other roots for the Crusaders), as well as the Kana similarity, I concluded that the reference must be intentional.
(As a footnote, if you're wondering why Neir, Sety, and Heim all use shortened versions of the Norse deities's Kana, I theorize that it has something to do with space, as all shortenings occur to bring the Crusader name down to no more than three Kana, and no Kana for any of the Crusaders exceed three Kana at all. I assume this was done to make sure all the names fit on the Blood Wheel in FE4.)
Now that I've explained all the Crusaders and their references, I will now explain my name changes. I'll start with those which use identical Kana to their Norse counterparts, as those are the easiest. I merely used common Anglicized forms of the Norse deities in creating my translations. Ulir thus becomes Ullur (an Anglicized version of Ullr), Blaggi becomes Bragi, Heim stays Heim, and Sety becomes Seti. I hope none of these will be all too controversial; Bragi is already the name used in the patch anyways, and neither Seti nor Ullur are very different from the originals. I am changing Fala to Vala for the reasons listed above, and I find no reason to change Nova.
That leaves the six Crusader names that deviate from their source material: Odo, Baldo, Tordo, and Hezul make major deviations; Dain and Neir remove or add a vowel elongation mark. Dain is the easiest change to explain, and thus I will tackle it first.
Dain (ダイン) = Dáinn (ダーイン)
The elongation here is removed from the original. I assume this happened because of the three-Kana cap I noted earlier. What is the change in pronunciation between ダイン and ダーイン? I'm not exactly certain, but I assume there is not much. I figure it may have something to do with the accent in Dáinn, placing emphasis on the "a" sound and perhaps having something to do with the diphthong. The point is not the vowel sound, however. The main difference between the current translation (Dain) and my translation (Dainn) is that added "n." However, the changes between the Kana for Thracia Dain and the Kana for mythological Dáinn do not change the added "n," and thus there is no reason why Thracia Dain should have one less n than the mythological spelling. My change reflects that.
Next I will discuss Tordo.
Tordo (トード) = Thor (トール)
The difference here is at the end, replacing the r sound of Thor (ル) with the d sound of Tordo (ド). The different is NOT at the beginning, and substituting a th with a t is not a proper way to corrupt a word in English (it is in Japanese, where there is no th sound and thus the th sound is imitating by the s, sh, z, and t sounds… remember that for later). Thus, Tordo is an improper translation of the Kana, even though the Kana does not exactly match up to the Kana for Thor. As I said before, the only difference between the two Kana is the replacement of the r sound in Thor with the d sound in Thode. As you can see, my translation reflects that difference, adding no extra differences and keeping in line with the Kana.
The same goes for Baldo.
Baldo (バルド) = Baldr (バルドル)
We have another shortening here, again probably to fit the three-Kana cap I discussed earlier. The primary difference between the two names is a clean removal of the r sound, still expressed by the ル used in Thor's name. The obvious translation, then, would be to take Baldr and lop off the r sound as well, leaving us with Bald, which I have decided to Anglicize as Balde. However, there is another possibility here, that possibility being to change Baldo into Baldur. But wait! The two Kana are different, shouldn't that mean the translations should be different as well? Well… maybe not, in this case only. Why? Look at the Kana for the other Norse deities whose names in in r.
The standard Katakana for all three of these Norse deities lops off the r sound at the end, similar to how the Thracia Balde lops off the r sound in Baldr (Ullr appears to have the r sound at the end, but ル is actually being used to dictate the two ls in Ullr. ウルル would be the actual representation if the Kana were to depict the r sound in Ullr). Because it seems standard practice to depict the names of these Norse deities without the final r sound in Japanese, then perhaps it would be reasonable to apply the same practice to Baldur's name. I'll leave that one up to you guys, whether your prefer Balde or Baldur.
But now for the other Crusaders.
Odo (オード) = Óðr (オーズ)
Hezul (ヘズル) = Höðr (ヘズ)
Remember when I told you earlier to remember that there is no th sound in Japanese, and that that sound can be depicted through the s, sh, z, and t sounds instead? Here's where that becomes important. Although ð looks like a d, it can be used to depict both a d sound and a th sound. That is why the Japanese Kana for Óðr (オーズ) and Höðr (ヘズ) look so strange. ズ is a z sound, not a d sound… clearly meant to depict the th sound that is represented by the ð in both of those names. This helps us explain what exactly "Hezul" is supposed to represent. That z in the middle of Hezul isn't supposed to be a z at all, but rather a th, keeping in line with the name of the Norse deity that it directly mimics (ヘズル and ヘズ; the only difference is the missing r sound that I mentioned earlier).
The Kana for Hezul is the exact same as that for Höðr save that Hezul adds the r sound that is for some reason missing in the Kana for Höðr. Meanwhile, the e sound after the H is there to mimic the sound that the ö makes. Remember, Katakana is based around sound mimicry, not spelling mimicry. However, in English, when one takes a loan word from another language that uses an accent, customarily one removes the accent but keeps the base words regardless of pronunciation. Hence, we get facade instead of fasade, cliche instead of clichae, etc. Thus, when making a translation of the Kana for Höðr, we would not blindly follow the sound mimicry of the Kana, but revert the spelling back to that of the original reference. For instance, we do not spell Salem's name as Seiram simply because that is the literal translation of the Kana (セイラム), but rather change it Salem because we know that that is what the vowel sounds in the Kana are trying to mimic. Why should it be different here?
Thus, with all of this taken into account (the e sound replacing an o sound and the z sound replacing the th sound), Hezul should be changed to Hothur (or rather Hothr, but I decided to Anglicize to make things easier for the eyes).
With Hothur taken care of, Ode is far simpler. It replaces the z sound in the Kana for Óðr with a d sound, and thus I institute a d sound rather than a th sound. Then I keep in accord with the names for Balde and Thode and come up with Ode.
Neir has actually given me some trouble.
Neir (ネール) = Ner (ネル)
On one hand, there is a clear difference thanks to the elongated vowel mark added to the Crusader's name. Attempting to follow that vowel change and also keep the same format I have used for other Crusader names (namely, representing the r sound with an ur), I have for the moment settled on Niur. I'm not completely satisfied with the name, as it's an unusual diphthong in English, and I have considered going with Ner, or even keeping the original Neir. I'm open to feedback on this one.
Major Place Name Changes:
The final category I will be covering here, as I have no yet done class and weapon names, save for a few instances which appear in the script (Grafcalibur, Gae Bulg, etc).
I'm actually much less certain on the names here. For instance, Manster, Lenster, Alster, and Conort all use the exact same Kana as the Irish provinces of Munster, Leinster, Ulster, and Connaught, with no deviations whatsoever. I want to make these changes… But already at the mere mention of this in the thread (by someone who wasn't even me, no less), a lot of people already exclaimed hostility towards the changes.
The one major place name change that I have made, then, is:
Freeji --> Freya
Freeji was another one of those places I didn't think was a mythological reference. It wasn't noted as such on Vincent's site, at least. After poking around, however, I finally fell upon the Norse goddess Freyja, and the similarity of that name to the name Freeji instantly struck me. After poking around, it appears that Freeji is indeed a corruption of Freyja (a goddess who, by the way, has many variant spellings for her name, including but not limited to Freia, Freya, Freja, Frøya, and Freyia). Freeji has always been a place of… uncertain nomenclature (I've seen Freege, Frege, Freegi), and so I hope that this change doesn't spark too much of a controversy.
My other changes are minor and generally restricted to the small places on the maps, where perhaps on chapter or so takes place. For instance, Chapter 12 takes place in Dakia, which I changed to Dacia because not only is the Kana for both identical, but Dacia is actually a place in real-world Thracia, making it the only coherent geographical reference in the entire game.
Anyways, here are my proposed changes. I'll see what you guys think. I've done my first edit of the text and will post it soon as well.