Ever since Final Fantasy VII debuted in 1997, fans have debated on the correct pronunciation of her name. Is it ‘Aeris’ or ‘Aerith’? For Western players who grew with the name, she’ll always “Aeris”. But which should it be?
The name ‘Aeris’ isn’t a misspelling of ‘Aries’ like I previously thought. But when I first played the game, I used to think that Aeris was somehow related to the zodiac sign. Aries individuals are willful, positive, and independent. As a person, Aerith is “upbeat and joyful”, “carefree and naive”, and she “maintains that she can take care of herself and can fight off Shinra troops”. But the personality Final Fantasy VII tries to relate to the player is far richer.
Aerith’s name is meant to sound similar to “earth” due to her connection to the Planet. In the September 1997 issue of the Famitsu magazine, it is said “Aeris” is the transliteration of the word into katakana: “earth” turned into “earisu,” Aerith’s Japanese name.
Aerith’s name is to sound like “Earth”, bringing parallel’s to the Gaia and signify Aerith’s connection to the planet. But somewhere in the English localization process, the team took the Japanese name “Earisu” and translated it to English.
Additionally, the Hebrew word עירית, ʻīrīṯ (the ṯ was pronounced th), refers to the asphodel flower.
Also significant to Aerith’s character is being a flower girl. Flowers signify fertility and a healthy earth. And Asphodelus are
popular garden plants, which grow in well-drained soils with abundant natural light. Now placed in the family Asphodelaceae, the genus was formerly included in the lily family (Liliaceae).
Also, consider that in Greek legend the asphodel is one of the most famous of the plants connected with the dead and the underworld., providing an interesting parallel and foreshadowing to her death.
It is also a modern Hebrew girls’ name, Irit. This might have been appropriate, considering Aerith’s association with flowers. Because of the inexact way Hebrew treats vowels in writing, an alternate reading ʻērīṯ is also conceivable from an intuitive reading of the letters.
The ancient Hebrews were the chosen people. Aerith as a Cetra (an ancient race with powerful magical abilities) is an allusion to this. An “Irit” is a asphodel.
Calling Aerith ‘Aeris’ misses out on the symbolism.