Sorry, no April Fools today! Maybe next year? And don’t try to look for it in today’s post, as it’s absolutely 100% real info… and was posted on March 31st too. Definitely posted yesterday, not today.
The Actual News:
Oh boy! Well, while I’ve been taking care of real life stuff and Marvin has been complaining about it, ElementsnStuff over at the PA! Discord has been filling in some gaps in the various languages of Pokémon, namely Lentalian and Sinnohese, as seen in their respective and upcoming Pokémon video games for Nintendo Switch, New Pokémon Snap and Pokémon Legends: Arceus. Ahhh, life is good, don’t you think Marvin??
Oh… OK… well, while Marvin sulks in a corner there, I’ve got a few neat little tidbits to share with you. Enjoy!
Lentalian Font Download!
Beating me to the punch by just a bit, ElementsnStuff has made a font of the Lentalian alphabet for you to download. Sweet! That said it comes with just a couple caveats:
- Since a couple of the letters are still technically undetermined, those letters are tentatively placed in the positions of letters F and W, as those seem to be the most likely letters they’re supposed to represent.
- Also because the entire Lentalian alphabet has yet to be revealed, other letters are still unknown, namely G H J Q V X Z
Of course these minor issues will be hammered out upon the official release of New Pokémon Snap on April 30th. But if you’re still OK with using a sort of prototype Lentalian alphabet font to spell words that DON’T use the missing letters, then feel free to download ElementsnStuff’s Lentalian alphabet font here!
Sinnohese Language Research Updates
ElementsnStuff continues to surprise me with their updates on the Sinnohese Language… here’s a quick overview of their research thus far:
- the last three characters on the city signs might not be “City” (siti, シティ) but is almost certainly instead to be tokai (トカイ), as this is the only translation of ‘city’ to match existing character matchups
- this is based on the left-pictured sign, the town sign for Jubilife City, which could be interpreted as Kotobuki Tokai (コトブキトカイ) and therefore matching the characters up
- another concern might be that the “MODERN” names for the town might be different in the “PAST” version. That is to say, the Sinnoh towns and cities we knew in DPP might have been called something else in the PLA-era; in this case, “modern” Snowpoint City in BDSP is Kissaki City (キッサキシティ), but it might actually be something completely else in PLA…
- ElementsnStuff thinks Snowpoint’s original “past” name might be Yukiden City, which in turn might mean Jubilife City was once known as Kotohogi instead of Kotobuki.
- Alternatively, another possibility is that Snowpoint was once called Omitsunu City (オミツヌ トカイ), as there once was a giant king named Omitsunu who was the son of Susano-o (who in turn was the younger brother of Amaterasu) and also the basis of Regigigas. Seeing as Regigigas is a big-honkin’-deal in Snowpoint City, this might be a viable connection.
- Another possibility could be that the original “past” name for Floaroma Town (see right) might be Inari Town—versus its “modern” name, Sonoo Town—based on a reading of its town sign combined with other potential Sinnohese readings, as well as the idea that the name “Inari” is a name of a Japanese Shinto god (or gods) which are responsible for rice, fertility and good harvests, of which Floaroma Town was eventually blessed by. That is to say, in the past it was a swamp-town named “Inari Town”, until it was blessed (maybe by Shaymin? or maybe retconned to be Landorus?) with fertile rice fields, thus turning it into Sonoo Town (Floaroma Town).
- Finally, Twinleaf’s “past” name might be Shiyou Town, as shiyou is Japanese for the cotyledon, a stage of plant growth which is first to sprout and is easily recognized by its twin leaves… and seeing as both Twinleaf and Futuba are named after it.
- These connections are admittedly on unstable ground… but then again, the original DPP games had an example of an NPC calling Sunyshore City “Sunshine City”. Furthermore, since Arceus is involved in the game about ancient Pokémon Legends, the idea that some cities are named after other ancient legends might hold a bit more water than not… so maybe the idea that these town names changed between PLA and BDSP has some degree of basis. At least it does help explain why certain Sinnohese characters don’t exactly match up. We’ll just have to wait and see!
Based on all this speculation, this is ElementsnStuff’s current character transcription guide. The fact that there is more parity between the Sinnohese characters and the Japanese syllabry—AS WELL AS those character sharing a similar design to their respective Katakana forms—makes me also believe that there is a viable connection here. You can also read up on further details concerning what ElementsnStuff had in mind when working out these details here (7.6mb .PFD file). So, knowing all this… well, you be the judge here:
Just as a reminder, the bottom picture shows possibilities in the design of the Sinnohese characters and a possible connection with their Katakana form, similar to what I did below:
But hey, who knows? Again, this might just end up being something like the Galarian language seen in Pokémon Sword/Shield, which we’ve long concluded was simply “consistent gibberish”. On the other hand, there might actually be a proper translation, just that we don’t have it, and that’s only because at this stage just about anything could be worked into limited text that we’ve got so far. And then on the other other hand… based on the worked out signs, the generic town signs do appear to say kidzuitaro (気づいたろ), which apparently translates to “Notice this, NOW”. That certainly would make for a fitting info sign!
Of course we COULD just “cheat” and straight-up contact ILCA—the company working on BDSP—if there is any actual meaning to the letters… but alas, no word from them quite yet. But the key point in all this is that there IS some degree of consistence between the signs, if only the “City” and “Town” parts of them. So, again, we’ll just have to see when the game drops before we can truly and finally figure this out!
The Kanto Konnection
With all this talk about old and new names, one other theory about Sinnohese is that it represents an older form of a Pokémon language we’ve already seen! In fact, just as much as ElementsnStuff has been surprising me with their hard work, I actually managed to surprise them with THIS little tidbit. And little would I realize that that would open up a new level of Pokémon Language research! But first, here’s the surprise:
Now just in case you skipped over the previous section, this is what the Sinnohese Language looks like, at least based on what we’ve been able to suss out between both Brilliant Diamond/Shining Pearl and Pokémon Legends: Arceus promotional videos:
But wait a second… why does it look a lot like the language seen in Pokémon Let’s Go! Pikachu/Eevee??
GA-GA-GA-GOOEY! They look almost alike, don’t they? I wonder if there is any connection between Sinnohese and—what I’ll now call—Kantoese?? Well right away my brain was churning to find some answers… but alas, there wasn’t much to find. But don’t go just yet… Hear me out first!
Before I get into any further tho, I do want to share this with you: why haven’t we done any work on the Kantoese language? Well, the answer is actually quite simple: there really isn’t any need to decipher it, because there is basically almost NOTHING to decipher. For example, ALL town signs look exactly alike:
LEFT: Viridian City — RIGHT: Pewter City… or maybe it’s Pallet Town?
It just wasn’t the town signs… other signs looked equally generic and their characters looked randomized and lacking any syntax, so there really wasn’t much of an incentive to try to decipher it any time earlier.
HOWEVER, this discovery connecting Pokémon Let’s Go with Pokémon Legends: Arceus changes a lot of things. We’ll definitely now be paying greater attention to which characters between Sinnohese and Kantoese look alike. If the two languages end up sharing a significant connection (instead of just one or two characters which just happen to look similar), then it might be a kind of subtle in-universe connection between an older and modern version of a language and how it evolves and changes over the years through cultural shifts and even language reforms. For example, both Japanese Katakana and Hiragana were developed from older Chinese characters, and then those character sets eventually dropped certain syllables like YI, YE and WU from their list, turning it into the two Japanese syllabry we know today. It might be the same thing that happened between the older Sinnohese and the newer Kantoese, so much so that perhaps Sinnohese could simply be “Old Kantoese”!
Origins of Katakana, aka “I’m too lazy to write the full kanji”
Unfortunately however, our story about Kantoese and Sinnohese ends here. Now there is clearly some degree of connection between Sinnohese and Kantoese… but with both BDSP and PLA still a ways away until release, and LGPE’s use of Kantoese is vague at best, there is simply not much we can go off of right now. I guess in the mean time COULD try to get a comprehensive list of Kantoese words, just to see if any appear in either BDSP and/or PLA later on down the road… but I think I’ve got a bit of time until that’s really needed.