A Human Amazon Is Already Female!
It's been already shown that in Japanese and in English, when "amazon" is used to refer to a human, that human is a woman. Also, the suffix "-ess" does in fact form feminine nouns out words that don't specifically denote femininity. A female lion could be called a "lioness." However, when it's put at the end of "amazon," and that "amazon" is already a woman, the result would be "amazoness," which would mean, essentially, "a female woman." "Amazoness" in this context isn't unlike the invented words "womaness" or "maideness." How much more feminine does one want a woman, a maiden, or an amazon to be?
"AMAZONESS" does appear on several Japanese Bishjo Senshi Sr Mn doll boxes: Cere Cere, Palla Palla, and Ves Ves. Unfortunately, it is not explained whether the "AMAZONESS" on the boxes is supposed to comprise "Amazon" and the suffix "-ess." Incidentally, the Japanese sometimes do use amazonesu to represent "amazoness" ("amazon" + "-ess") as an alteration of "amazon" (a female person) but that doesn't make the word any less redundant.
The four girls are called the "Amazon Quartet" in the English-language dub of the SuperS season. Apparently, this change bothered some fans. Derek Alexander DarkSky denounced the invented word "amazoness" in response:
When it comes to the "Amazoness" Quartet, I couldn't be happier that they changed the name! I actually wonder what bonehead thought up the word "Amazoness" to begin with. In the English language at least, the term "Amazon" inherently implies femininity. The suffix "-[ess]" makes the same implication. To me, the invented word "Amazoness" is just plain stupid and redundant.
What if the "amazon" in "amazoness" really referred to the Amazon in South America? It would be patently silly to take Amazon, the name of the river and the rainforest, stick in the suffix "-ess," and end up with "Amazoness," the female Amazon River!
The Greek Word Amazones
Quite a while ago, I decided to search for sites that mention with some of the Japanese search engines. I found several sites that use that combination of characters when talking about the group of women. I soon learned that is often used to approximate the Greek word Amazones, which means amazons. One site, Dictionary of Pandaemonium, even shows the Greek letters and the Japanese characters that are used to represent them. I decided to ask the owner about Amazones and . I wrote this:
From: Ian Andreas Miller
11/10/00 8:09 AM
Subject: Question about "Amazones"
Dear Akihiro Endo,
I have several questions about the term "amazones" when it's written in
the Japanese script as "amazonesu." Is that the most widely-used
Japanese spelling for that Greek term? Also, in Greek mythology books
that are written in Japanese, is "amazonesu" the way they would spell
"amazones"? So, if I see the Japanese "amazonesu" elsewhere, would it
really be "amazones"? If people see "amazonesu," and they try to look
the term up, will they find that it's supposed to be "amazones," the
Here's how Akihiro Endo responded to me:
From: Akihiro Endo
11/29/00 2:21 AM
Subject: Re: Question about "Amazones"
To: Ian Andreas Miller
The answer is delayed and I am sorry about that.
The reason is because English is poor at.
"amazones" of the Japanese translation is .
"amazon" of the Japanese translation is .
"amazonesu" is not used generally.
Was the answer of the question fitting?
I am waiting for the question anytime.
I should make it clear that when Akihiro Endo wrote, "'amazonesu' is not used generally," he was referring to the actual letters "amazonesu" rather than the characters .
So, really is used in Japanese-language classical mythology books to approximate Amazones. The characters are used to approximate "amazon." I asked him if he could tell me of some books that show and he gave me the names of two:
- Cultural Dictionary of Greco-Roman Mythology
(which was originally written in French by René Martin as the Dictionnaire Culturel de
la Mythologie Greco-Romaine)
published by Harashobo
- Greek Mythology
Perhaps the name of those four girls in Bishjo Senshi Sr Mn SuperS (and in the manga's Dream series) should be Amazones Quartet or Amazones Quartetto instead of "Amazoness Quartet." It's an interesting hypothesis, but the best way to know for sure is to look at how Amazonesu is used in the anime and manga.
Another Greek Word in the Anime and Manga
If Ms. Takeuchi meant Amazones, this wouldn't be the only time she indicated a Greek word. The Japanese script for the name Sailor Aluminum Seiren contains a combination that indicates a Greek word: Seirn (). She didn't write sairen, the Japanese spelling of the English word siren, in Seiren's name. Seirn () is the ancient Greek word for siren, and it is often written into Japanese as Seirn. The plural form of the Greek word Seirn () is Seirnes (). The Japanese often use Seirnesu to approximate Seirnes ().
It's probably a good thing that Ms. Takeuchi didn't write in her story. English-speaking fans would probably render the term not as the proper Seirnes, but rather as "Sireness" as in "Siren + -ess." In that case, we would have a situation very much like and "Amazoness." A siren, when it's a living thing, is female. In that case, it doesn't mean the suffix "-ess" to make it feminine. How much more feminine does one want a female siren to be?
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