Game Lingo – 鎧

I’m realizing now that it’s been more than a full year since I’ve posted anything about video games. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that I haven’t worked at a video game translation company for more than a full year as well. I’ve been away from the material. I’ve lost my game, man.

No longer. I’ve spent the last two days with my eyeballs frozen on LCD screens full of Japanese game text and passable English translations. It’s been incredibly tiring. Tiring in a completely different way from the satisfying physical exhaustion of digging ditches and shoveling mud. Good in its own way, though.

I’ve learned/refreshed a good bit of Japonese, and one of the coolest words I’ve come across is 鎧 (よろい) – armor. I have no idea where it derives from, but the clear mnemonic for this character is “a metal bean that holds up a mountain can armor you against ANYTHING!”

I don’t think the kanji gets used all that often unfortunately. I’ve seen it as both よろい and ヨロイ, although the latter seems to refer to attributes of certain characters rather than armor itself. So keep your eyes open for this one. It should come in handy when they start releasing the next set of Final Fantasy remakes for the Nintendo 3DS or Wii U.

7 thoughts on “Game Lingo – 鎧

  1. Ahh, yes! I’ve seen the hiragana and katakana, but not yet come across the kanji (though to be fair I haven’t been playing a ton of Japanese games recently). Interesting one, indeed – the metal bean mnemonic is pretty funny.

  2. 鎧 is an unusual, non-jōyō character, but I think I used to see it *all the time* in videogames (to the point where I learned it without effort). I mean in medieval RPGs and such. same for 斧、兜 and so on.

    The right part is 豈 “kai”, a Chinese interrogative particle or interjection of surprise/happiness. chineseetymology.org think it’s a hand on a drum. Kanji networks thinks it’s a pile of food, suggesting “pile” (stacked metal) to 鎧. In any case it’s clear that 豈 is here phonetically (鎧 is also カイ on-yomi). Other characters where it fulfills this role include 凱 “victory song”, 剴 “scythe”, 榿 “alter”, 皚 “white”, 磑 “hand mill”—all rare in Japanese use, but all pronounced “kai” due to the presence of 豈。 Of course I like your image better :)

  3. I suspect it was used more frequently in times of old when monitor resolution/memory/etc required shortening things down to fit character restrictions. (Some old inventory screens and such only allowed one or two characters to be used to represent an item!) Perhaps because I’ve been doing more modern-themed sorts of things recently I can’t even remember the last time I’ve seen it used; アーマー is what I see most often!

  4. Yeah, I’m Famicom/Super-Famicom–era so I’m biased :) Though screen space is also at a premium in GBA/DS—I wonder if they employ a higher rate of kanji? There’s a dissertation on that ;)

  5. Thanks for the great comments, guys! Very cool to learn the derivation, and I hadn’t thought about 文字制限. I’m sure that’s why it isn’t used as often. I was working on a console game, and there were no limits on the number of chars.

  6. Errata: 榿 is “alder” (a tree) not “alter” the verb. I’m taking this info from kanjidic; these characters are rarely used, if ever.

  7. DS actually isn’t so bad because the screen resolution is decent. GBA was rough, though; I recall having to use double-byte letters (instead of more modern single-byte) when localizing the MegaMan GBA titles, which meant stripping translations down to the bone.