Ian Andreas Miller. 4 September 2003.
The first thirteen episodes of the Bishjo Senshi Sr Mn R
series feature a pair of aliens who are looking for energy for their Makaiju
(Spirit World Tree). One appears to be male and the other appears to be female. This article attempts to explain the origins and spellings of those two characters’ names.
The Japanese often use the katakana-character combination eirian to approximate the English word alien (when it is pronounced like “ay-lee-uhn”). We should notice that the ei approximates the a part of alien, the ri approximates the li part, and the an approximates en. From now on in this article, I shall refer to those facts as pronunciation statements. The a part is pronounced like “ay,” the li part is pronounced like “lee,” and the en part is pronounced like “uhn.”
The official Japanese Bishjo Senshi Sr Mn sources (such as the Bishjo Senshi Sr Mn R Nakayoshi Anime Album) show the name of the male alien as Eiru in the Japanese script. They show the name of the female alien as An. Those two aliens are often mentioned in the Japanese sources as “ & ” (Eiru ando An). When their names are put together as EiruAn, we can see how the combination is related to eirian (the approximation of the English word alien). The two alien characters are described as eirian (aliens) in the official sources and their names are written near eirian at least once. We can use inference to say that the names Eiru and derive from eirian.
We have seen the names Eiru and An in the Japanese script, but what would be sensible spellings for two names in Roman letters? There is a way to figure that out. The animators use eirian to describe the characters, and the characters are not from Earth. The word that the animators are referring to is clearly the English alien. One may want to show that the two names derive from eirian because that is the transliteration of . However, eirian is an alteration from the original version of the word: alien. It has no real meaning by itself. Alien, not eirian, is an English word that refers to a person from another planet. If the two names are written in Roman letters, it makes more sense if the spellings show that they derive from alien because they would be closer to the English word that the animators intended. Can we use Roman letters to show that the characters’ names derive from alien? Yes, we can.
The Name of the Female Alien
It has already been pointed out that the an in eirian approximates the en in alien. An, when it is used as the name of the female alien, did not undergo any vowel and consonant changes from the an in eirian. It is not part of eirian, but that does not change the fact that the vowel and consonant sounds did not change.
If what is stated in the previous paragraph is true, then why cannot the en in alien, which is what the an in eirian actually approximates, also be left alone to be used as a name while not undergoing any vowel and consonant changes? There is no reason that it cannot. When the an in eirian has been defined to approximate the en in alien, the only Roman-letter spelling for a name that can be used to show that en does not undergo any vowel or consonant changes orthographically or phonetically from alien is En.
Remember when we defined what the an in eirian is supposed to approximate? We do not attempt to make it approximate anything else when it pertains to eirian. When An is used as a name that comes from eirian, and no other spelling and pronunciation rules have been introduced for An, there is no reason to think that An, even when it is not part of eirian, has stopped attempting to approximate the en pronunciation and spelling of alien. Someone could claim that An does not approximate anything, but he or she is rejecting the established approximation statements unnecessarily. Another person could claim that An approximates Ann, but he or she is introducing a spelling that does not go along with the approximation statements.
When we take the word alien, remove the ali part of it, and end up with the remaining en part as a name, that en can be used as a name: En, which can be approximated by An. Futhermore, that remaining en, when it is used as a name (En), did not undergo any vowel or consonant changes. Therefore, the name En in this case should be pronounced “uhn” like how the en part of alien is pronounced “uhn.”
The Name of the Male Alien
If we take the word alien, remove the en, and use the en part as the name En, we are left with ali. Since we are not changing the vowel and consonant sounds orthographically and phonetically for en when we removed it from alien to become the name En, the we should not change the vowel and consonant sounds orthographically and phonoetically for the remaining ali. We have already defined the ri in eirian to approximate the li in alien. We should still be able to approximate the remaining ali (when it is left alone) with eiri. eiri is not the same as eiru when it is used as a name ( Eiru). If the i in alien is supposed to be pronounced like “ee,” then Eiru does not accurately approximate ali.
Notice that when eirian was changed to Eiru, the first two vowels (orthographically and phonetically) stay the same, but there is a vowel change after the consonant. When the ei in eirian has been defined to approximate the a in alien, the only Roman-letter spelling for part of a name that can be used to show that a does not undergo any vowel or consonant changes orthographically or phonetically from alien is A. Furthermore, when Eiru is used as a name that comes from eirian, and no other spelling and pronunciation rules have been introduced for the ei, there is no reason to think that ei, even when it is not part of eirian, has stopped attempting to approximate the a pronunciation and spelling of alien. We are now safe to define ei of Eiru as an approximation of a.
We are now left with the ru part of Eiru. We are defined En as the name of the female alien, we have defined the ei of Eiru as an approximation of A, and we have defined the eiri to approximate the ali when it is alone and it does not undergo any (orthographic or phonetic) vowel changes. It should also be noticed that the r sound of ri in eirian has been defined to approximate the l in alien. When Eiru came from eirian, the r sound is not changed even though was replaced with ru. For that reason, it is unnecessary to assume that the r sound of Eiru approximates something other than the English consonant l.
ru is often used to indicate the final l or r in non-Japanese words. (For instance, the ru in Yjiaru approximates the l part of the name Eudial.) It can also indicate ru, lu, et cetera. There is an l in alien, and it is not necessarily to use more than one letter, so we should use the principle of parsimony (Occam’s razor) to use only the l. (More than one letter would be redundant.) There is no u sound in alien, so it not necessarily to introduce the u sound for the name.
Essentially, we have defined Eiru to approximate Al when the name is supposed to be pronounced “ayl” like the al part of alien.
Is the Name of the Male Alien Earl?
Some fans have claimed that Al’s name should be Earl. However, while Al’s name is written as Eiru in Japanese, the term earl is approximated in the Japanese script ru. The vowels in those two combinations are different.
The Common Ail and Ann Spellings
Many fans write those two alien characters’ names as Ail and Ann (or Ail with An — not to be confused with the transliteration An). Ail can be approximated by Eiru and Ann can be approximated by An, but the Ail and Ann spellings do not indicate that they pertain to the word alien.
The fact that the Ail and Ann spellings are common does not mean that they are the most expedient spellings. Whether a particular spelling is widely-used or not is not directly related to whether the spelling makes sense or not.
Flexibility in Pronunciation and Spelling
Al (“ayl”) and En (“uhn”) have some flexibility in pronunciation such that the appropriate katakana-character combinations ( Eiru and An, respectively) can approximate them. At the same time, Al and En the flexibility in spelling to show orthographically that they pertain to alien. However, alien does not have the flexibility in spelling such that it could allow Ail and Ann to show that they orthographically pertain to alien (even if the combinations Eiru and An, respectively, can approximate Ail and Ann). We do not write alien as ailiann.
Eudial’s name is in a similar situation. In the Japanese sources, her name appears as Yjiaru, and Ms. Takeuchi wrote her name as Eudial. However, some fans have written Eudial’s name as Eugeal. We should know that Eudial’s name derives from the name Eudialyte. The spelling Eudial has the flexibility in pronunciation such that the combination Yjiaru can approximate it. At the same time, Eudial has the flexibility in pronunciation to show orthographically that it derives from Eudialyte. However, Eudialyte does not have the flexibility in spelling such that it could allow Eugeal to show that Eugeal derives orthographically from Eudialyte (even if the combination Yjiaru can approximate Eugeal). We do not write Eudialyte as Eugealyte.
Objections to the Al and En Spellings
Someone could point out that that Al can be pronounced like “al” (long a sound) and En can be pronounced like “ehn.” He or she would be right. However, those are not the only pronunciations of the Roman-letter spellings. If we claim that those are the only pronunciations, then we are dealing with a false dilemma. The “Al and En spellings do not work because the pronunciations cannot be approximated by those katakana-character combinations” argument is not truthful. Such a statement is taking the names Al (pronunciation “ayl”) and En (“uhn”) out of the alien context. In our case, the other pronunciations of Al and En are not relevant to the names.
Another objection to that spelling is that someone who does not know much about the names may pronounce Al as “al” (short a sound) instead of “ayl” and En as “ehn.” That may be true, but a person’s mispronunciation does not necessarily invalidate the spelling. Someone who does not know much about the name Eudial may pronounce that as “you-dial” rather than the more accurate “you-jee-ahl.” Someone who does not know much about the name Ptilol may not pronounce the P (like pteropod and pterosaur) even though it is supposed to be pronounced. Surely, if the perceived unusual pronunciations of Al and En invalidate those spellings, why would the perceived unusual pronunciations of Eudial and Ptilol not also invalidate those spellings?
In this Usenet message, Andrea Doolan claims that the spellings Al and En “wouldn’t work very well,” but she gives no justification for that. It could be that she thought that Al can be pronounced only like “al” and En can be pronounced only like “ehn.” However, that is a false dilemma, so such an argument is invalid.
The explanations of the Al and En spellings may not be perfect and flawless, but there is no objective way to determine whether either Ail or Ale is better suited for (when it pertains to the character) and there is no objective way to determine whether either Ann or Anne is better suited for (when it pertains to the character). At least we know where the Al and En spellings derive from.
It could be that objections to Al and En are partly designed to divert attention to the lack of objectivity of Ail and Ann so that someone may conclude “It seems like both sets of spellings have advantages and disadvantages, so it evens out.” Are we to say that a set of spellings that 1) has flexibility of pronunciation, 2) has flexibility of spelling, and 3) can be objectively traced somewhere is just is sensible as a set of spellings that 1) has the flexibility of pronunciation, 2) does not have the flexibility of spelling, and 3) cannot be objectively traced somewhere? If we say such a thing, we would be guilty of the golden mean fallacy, which is a illogical rhetorical technique.
The Ali Spelling of ADV
ADV’s subtitled version of the R series of the Bishjo Senshi Sr Mn anime uses the spelling Ali for the name of the male alien. Ali could not be accurately approximated by Eiru if the i in Ali is pronounced like i in alien. Someone can argue that the i in Ali is supposed to be a silent letter. However, we would not be able to find a reason to make that letter silent. Alien does not contain a silent i. eirian, which approximates alien, contains ri, which approximates the li part of alien. The i in alien is not treated as silent when eirian approximates the English word. If the i in Ali is silent, we cannot explain why ADV made it that way. Since Eiru can approximate both Al (when it is the al part of alien) and Ali (when the i is silent), but we cannot explain the silent i in Ali, then Al is the most parsimonious spelling of the two. The silent-letter-of-Ali theory introduces an extra term that does not help the situation. If the i in Ali is pronounced like the i in alien, then Eiru does not accurately approximate Ali. In that case, Al is the most parsimonious spelling of the two, too. Depending on the theory, Ali either contains redundant terms or it is inaccurate. It is likely that ADV decided to use Ali in order to make it orthographically easier to tell that the name derives from alien.
DIES GAUDII Articles use Al and En
Now it should be clear to the reader why the Bishjo Senshi Sr Mn R Movie Etymology article and in the Debunking Common Misconceptions article use the spellings Al and En.
The Human Names on Earth
When Al and En pose as humans on Earth, they use the names Seijr
Ginga ( Ginga Seijr
) and Natsumi Ginga ( Ginga Natsumi
), respectively. Their surname Ginga
literally means galaxy
. That name is obviously part of the outer-space motif. (Other people have used Ginga
as a given name.) The name Seijr
is usually not written in Japanese as Seijr
. That name seems to appear more often as , ,
, the j
, and the r
. It could be that the kanji that means star ()
is also a part of the outer-space motif. En’s human name comprises the kanji natsu
, which means summer
, and the kanji mi
, which means beauty
. Unfortunately, it not known exactly why she decided to use that name. It does not seem to follow the outer-space motif. Perhaps she simply thought the name was euphonious.