• Member Since 21st Sep, 2011
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Nordlichter


if you have become human enough to cry, then all the magic in the world cannot change you back

More Blog Posts41

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    On "Angel"

    So I was thinking a bit about Fluttershy's bunny Angel. Specifically, does his name mean that ponies have the concept of angels as we know them?

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Oct
31st
2014

On "Angel" · 12:34am Oct 31st, 2014

So I was thinking a bit about Fluttershy's bunny Angel. Specifically, does his name mean that ponies have the concept of angels as we know them?
I'm a pretty big fan of the idea that the show is "translated" to English; that realistically in-universe, the ponies are speaking some natural linguistic derivative of horse sounds. Perhaps it is descended down through the language of the Houyhnhnms — but that's another story.
With that string theory in mind, I considered the origin of the word "angel." It comes from ancient Greek "angelos," which means messenger. Angels in Abrahamic religion are called such because they are messengers of God. But in its original usage, the word is more general than that.
This makes sense with regards to Angel's characterization. He acts as a messenger. He tells Fluttershy things. He communicates ideas to her, albeit with pantomime (since in a world of talking animals, it's the rabbit that can't make any noise).
My supposition here is thus: with the show being translated for our ease of understanding, Angel's name is not used religiously but descriptively, as much as any pony's name describes them. And it fits the pattern with some of the other pets — Gummy has no teeth; Opalescence is white; Winona is, potentially, the firstborn of her litter; — and so on. All thematically translated terms. It does not necessarily signify that ponies have an understanding of angels religiously.

I want to tackle the problem of a turtle tortoise being named Tank in a country with so little advanced military technology, or how Owlowicious could be considered valorous (before he saved Spike from the larger dragon, that is), but I also want to go get some dinner. So that's all for now.

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Comments ( 7 )

Yeah, one might be able to handwave the "quick as a bullet" line in "May the Best Pet Win" as translating into the idiom, but tanks were pretty definitively used as an example of relentless tenacity. :applejackunsure:

In any case, this interpretation certainly works, but it raises questions about the nature of the ponies' own names.

Still, "be not afraid" is pretty good advice when dealing with Angel. :raritywink:

2565235 I wouldn't say that the observed naming scheme for pets is necessarily the same as that for ponies, nor would either be universal within its domain. Pony naming is an ontological paradox at best.

That's an excellent idea. I would like to see your take on it.

2565353 Aiie, the princess being a shadow machinator doesn't jive with me. Overall your explanation is not as parsimonious as mine. Not that that's bad; I just have a hard time accepting it.

2566240
No, that's alright, I get what you're saying. Honestly, I just haven't seen much sign that Princess Celestia does this sort of social engineering, nor that Princess Luna was ever portrayed as "not being as keen on manipulation." I'm trying to make as few assumptions as possible with my explanation; maybe I'm doing well at that, maybe I'm not. Certainly I do have a large assumption right off the bat — that in-universe, Equestrians don't speak our English.

So I think the simpler explanation is that — without involving the princesses and their actions — Angel has his name because it's a translation for whatever equine language name has the connotation of carrying messages. And he does carry messages, in a sense. From the MLP Wikia page for Angel:

"In Dragonshy, [...] he [...] shows Fluttershy a big black cloud in the distance."
"In the beginning of A Bird in the Hoof, he reminds Fluttershy to go to Princess Celestia's welcome party until she remembers and then convinces her to go despite her nervousness."
"In Ponyville Confidential, he angrily refuses to let the Cutie Mark Crusaders talk to Fluttershy after their gossip about her alleged tail extensions reduced her to tears, but changes his mind when he sees their apologetic article." (He withholds a message at his discretion and later allows it.)
"In Keep Calm and Flutter On, he [...] warns the others of the flooding at Sweet Apple Acres."
"In Filli Vanilli, he is shown encouraging Fluttershy to sing with The Ponytones."

These are selections. Yes, some of his behaviors are demanding, but for the most part he does act as a messenger. In the same way that Spike is a mailbox, Angel is a reminder alert application.

In Equestria, many names tend to describe personalities, behaviors and traits. The name itself, as a word, most basically means "messenger." With my belief in mind that the show is "translated," it's easy for me to accept that whatever metaphysical process did the translating chose a name familiar to humans that means "messenger," because whatever Angel's name is in the equine language also means "messenger." And I'll admit it is an ironic name to us, since he's kind of a brat, but that's something along the lines of a bilingual bonus. (I'd love to see a subbed version of the show instead of the dubbed version we currently have. :trollestia:)
It's like how Winona's "translated" name, a Dakota tribe word meaning "firstborn daughter," is thematically appropriate for a country farm dog owned by a cowgirl, and potentially also descriptive — perhaps the equine language has a name that means "firstborn daughter," and this name is Winona's equine language name. Here I'm making the tentative assumption that Winona was the first female pup of her litter.
(In my studies, I found that Winona Ryder has an older sister. Now that's ironic.)

I do like your thought that his name may be the result of Fluttershy's innocent hope that he would grow up good. But that's a more religious connotation of the name, that "angel" means "someone who acts with good will." Your explanation — conquest begets integration begets deprecation begets linguistic atavism — also still requires that someone had the exact word and concept of a religious angel at some point, even if it wasn't the Equestrian ponies themselves.
In any case, an angel is just a pegasus human.

As for "spiritual stuff," I would be amiss if I did not point out the literal death and resurrection of Twilight in Magical Mystery Cure and that some part of her persisted beyond death into clip show aurora heaven.

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