Untranslatable: the Case of FF7R’s Wedge

Briefly, I want to mention Wedge’s distinct speech patterns in Final Fantasy VII Remake. Partly because he is a wonderful character and partly because these details are completely untranslatable into English.

1. Su (ッス)

Wedge has a very noticeable, distinct habit of ending many of his lines with the sound “su” (ッス). No one else speaks like this, including Biggs and Jessie. 

Basically “su” is a slangish, sloppy, half-dropped version of standard polite Japanese (which typically ends in a desu/masu form). You’d associate this with a young person from, arguably, a rougher or uneducated background who is friendly with a dash of grammatically incorrect politeness.  

English translators were similarly challenged to translate Reno’s “zo to” speech pattern. The outlandishness of “zo to” in Japanese carried over to the almost parodic gangster language Reno uses. For Wedge, I don’t think anything, in particular, was needed to fill his characterization.

2. Word choice and writing script

When Wedge says “I,” he uses the word “ore” but it is written in katakana (オレ). In contrast, Cloud’s “ore” is subbed with the proper character of 俺. Why?

If you are unfamiliar with Japanese, here is some brief background. Japanese has 3 scripts: standard hiragana, complex kanji, and simplified katakana. I think of Wedge’s katakana “ore” as consistent with his character in text form. Generally using kanji adds depth (layers of meaning through the Chinese root) and katakana flattens out for impact. Katakana is used for foreign words, sound effects, company names, words that need emphasis, and also used when kanji is…too complicated.

Moreover, Japanese has multiple ways to say “I” depending on if you are a man, woman, manly man, girly girl, femme man, butch woman, young enough to use the 3rd person, the royal we, etc. Ore is the most masculine, very casual, and rough-sounding. It makes sense that both Wedge and Cloud use “ore” to refer to themselves.  

In short, Wedge’s language identifies him as…

  • young
  • lower-class
  • casual
  • friendly
  • male-identifying
  • kind of simple.

That sounds 100% on brand for Wedge.

Plus he loves cats. Did they ever give his character a backstory? He truly is an underrated character.

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