Ian Andreas Miller. Revised on June 28 2004.

     Ever since I first heard the name "Amazoness Quartet," I wondered why Takeuchi would write such a bizarre word like "amazoness." It certainly doesn't sound like a real English word. The Japanese katakana script is amazonesu and it did seem to be saying "amazoness." However, after a bit of research, I've come to the conclusion that things are not that simple. I studied how the Japanese write the name and I looked to see what these words mean. As it turns out, the Japanese katakana characters that are used for the name of the group of the girls should be Amazonesu Karutetto. I've discovered that amazonsu can approximate something other than "amazoness," and karutetto can approximate something other than "quartet." Before I explain what else those katakana-character combinations can approximate, I'll show some of the problems with the "Amazoness" (as "Amazon" + "-ess") spelling.

    Apparently, some fans assume that amazonesu should be written as "amazoness" so show it's the word "amazon" with the English suffix "-ess" at the end. There are some problems with this assumption. Obviously, adding the suffix "-ess" to "amazon" is redundant. The suffix is used to create feminine nouns in English. However, the word "amazon," when it applies to people, invariably refers to females, especially the female warriors in classical mythology. When we say "amazon" in this context, we are already referring to a feminine noun. Adding the "-ess" to that feminine noun isn't necessary because it would be like taking the English word "maiden," which is a feminine noun, and adding that suffix to it to make "maideness." One will be hard-pressed to find many people who would actually use such a word as that! Imagine the words "girless" ("girl" + "-ess"), "womaness" ("woman" + "-ess"), or even "waitressess" ("waitress" + "-ess")! Apparently, 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.

    It may be that when English-speaking fans first came across the Japanese amazonesu, they were unaware that it can approximate a legitimate non-English word that is not redundant. It may be that they wrote "amazoness" simply because they couldn't come up with anything better with what the saw in the text. It makes sense to figure out how the Japanese themselves use amazonesu. As it turns out, "AMAZONESS" does appear on several Japanese Bishjo Senshi Sr Mn doll boxes: Cere Cere, Palla Palla, and Ves Ves. That is probably why many fans use "Amazoness."

    What else can amazonsu and karutetto approximate? I'll explain that now.

     The Japanese script for amazonesu is often used in Japanese-language books on classical Greco-Roman mythology to approximate the Greek term (Amazones) which means "Amazons." That word is written in the Japanese syllabic script called Katakana (). The Japanese use katakana characters to approximate non-Japanese words and to write native Japanese words for emphasis. The Greek term is plural, but since the Japanese language doesn't usually indicate plurality, the katakana for amazonesu is used to refer to those amazons in classical mythology. A very kind person showed me two Japanese-language classical mythology books that show the characters for amazonesu when referring to the Amazons. One is the Cultural Dictionary of Greco-Roman Mythology (which was originally written in French by Rene Martin as the Dictionnaire Culturel de la Mythologie Greco-Romaine) published by Harashobo and another is Greek Mythology published by Shinchosha. It seems that the combination Amazonesu is a true term is not simply something Takeuchi herself created on her own.

      karutetto can also approximate the English word quartet, but it can also approximate the Italian word quartetto. (In fact, karutetto closer approximates the quartetto than quartet. The a sound in karutetto is much like the a sound in quartetto [IPA symbol: {a}]. Both have sections that contain the double-"t" sounds, and both have an "o" sound after the double-"t" sounds. The a part of quartet sounds more like "aw" [IPA symbol: {}]. "Quartette," another English spelling of "quartet," has the double-"t" in its spelling, but it does not contain a section with the double-"t" sounds.) The word quartetto refers to a group of four people. When the Japanese wish to write that Italian word into their language's katakana script, they often use the characters for karutetto. The English form of the word apparently comes from the French form quartette. Even in English, the word could be written either "quartette" or "quartet." Even though the Italian word is phonetically closer to the sounds that the katakana-characters actually represent, at least one Bishjo Senshi Sr Mn source actually shows "quartet" instead of "Quartetto."

     Some fans may claim that the phrase "Amazones Quartet[to]" is grammatically awkward ("Amazons Quartet") and therefore cannot be valid. However, why must they follow grammatical rules? The names of many of the maneuvers that are performed in the various continuities do not follow any particular grammatical rules. Even the names Princess Usagi Small Lady Serenity and Sailor Heavy Metal Papillon do not follow any strict grammatical rules. One may say that both "Amazoness "Quartet" (where the "Amazoness" comprises the '-ess") and "Amazones Quartet[to]" are both awkward, but the difference is that when Amazones is by itself, it is not awkward like "Amazoness" is. In other words, "Amazoness" is awkward regardless of its orthographical environment.

     One might ask how can we know that Takeuchi meant to convey Amazones and not "Amazoness." We could say that we can't know because we don't know what Takeuchi was thinking when she wrote the term. If we wish to look at that term with this sort of attitude, we might as well look at some of the other non-Japanese terms the same way. In fact, this principle can easily be applied to any situation in which the Japanese script isn't accompanied by a non-Japanese script: Ah, the combination Nefuraito could be "Nephrite," but how do we know that Takeuchi didn't mean to write "Neflite," instead? Ah, but Rete could be "Lethe," but how do we know that Takeuchi wanted "Lethe" and not "Lette"? Ah, but how do we know that Gureibu should be "Glaive" and not "Grave"? Clearly, this frustrating method doesn't help us very much in trying to understand the significance of what Takeuchi has written down for us.

     What evidence do we have for the assumption that it should be "Amazoness" ("Amazon" + "-ess") in Bishjo Senshi Sr Mn? It was already mentioned that several doll boxes show "AMAZONESS." It should be understood that although that is evidence for the "Amazoness" spelling, it is not necessarily evidence for the idea that it comprises "Amazon" and the femininzing suffix "-ess." "Amazoness" could be an alteration of Amazones (the Greek word). We should consider the two interpretations and figure out which one makes more sense:

"Amazon" + "-ess" [feminizing suffix]

- Alteration of "Amazon" with three extra letters
- The parts together are semantically redundant because "Amazon" refers to a human (a female), and the human Amazon is already female
- No female version of the Amazon river/area is mentioned
- No similar redundant terms (with "-ess") in Bishjo Senshi Sr Mn
- amazonesu can approximate "Amazoness" ("Amazon" + "-ess"), but it cannot accurately approximate "Amazon"
- amazonesu can approximatte "Amazoness" ("Amazon" + "-ess"), but the "e" in the suffix "-ess" usually sounds like the "i" in "hit" when it is tacked onto another word (cf. waitress), and the vowel sound in ne sounds more like the "e" in the English word "met."

Amazones [Greek term] + "s" [included to create an alteration]

- Alteration of Amazones with one extra letter
- The parts together are not semantically redundant
- Amazones is a Greek term; other Greek terms referred to in Bishjo Senshi Sr Mn: Elysion ( [Eryushion] for [Elysion]), Seirn ( [Seirn] for [Seirn])
- amazonesu can approximate Amazones and "Amazoness" (Amazones + "s")
- amazonesu can approximate "Amazoness" ("Amazon" + "s"), and the "e" in Amazones sounds rather like the vowel sound in ne. (That vowel [IPA symbol {e}] is used by Japanese, ancient Greek, and modern Greek.)

    Not only does the latter one have fewer terms, it also has more evidence to back it up. It is closer to the sounds indicated by the katakana characters. I'll admit that it is not perfect, flawless, and completely comprehensive, but it is better (i.e. more parsimonious) than the former one.

    Even if Ms. Takeuchi unambiguously revealed that the intended spelling is indeed "Amazoness," that does not mean that the word comprises the suffix "-ess." It would not make sense to say that such a situation would indicate that the Greek term is not meant. "Amazoness" can be an alteration of "Amazon" or an alteration of the Greek word Amazones. However, the change from Amazones to "Amazoness" is smaller than the change from "Amazon" to "Amazoness.

     I'm not trying to make people write "Amazoness" instead of "amazoness" for now on, but I'm trying to show how the more popular spelling, "Amazoness" in "Amazones Quartet," is unnecessary. Even if the "Amazoness" spelling is intended, it is not necessary to think that the suffix "-ess" is also meant.

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