Alex Glover, in his translation of the Stars story of the manga,
originally wrote the name of the maneuver as “Galactica Musotis Alpastonis.” Understandably, he did not know what the name signified at the time, so
he also added “[???].” Later, he realized that the name looked rather like a Japanese approximation of the binomial nomenclature of the Alpine Forget-Me-Not, Myostis alpestris2
. The name refers specifically to the Alpine Forget-Me-Not, not simply “an alpine species of the forget-me-not flower,” as some sources say. Incidentally, the Alpine Forget-Me-Not is Alaska’s state flower3
. Sailor Lethe is the protector of the river of forgetfulness on her planet Lethe, and it appears that the name of her maneuver refers to the Alpine Forget-Me-Not. Perhaps the name has to do with Sailor Lethe’s ability to make her victims forget their pasts, and her apparent desire to tell her victims that they should not forget her powers.
The people at Tokyo Pop (also known as Mixx), in their English-language adaptation of the Bishjo Senshi Sr Mn manga, wrote Sailor Lethe’s maneuver as “Galactica Myusotis Alpastnis”4. I once searched for “Myusotis Alpastnis” at Google and that search engine asked me, “Did you mean: ‘Myosotis Alpestris’”!
If Naoko Takeuchi really did have the name Myostis alpestris in mind, then her way of approximating the name of the binomial nominclature is unusual. Why is there no katakana character that represents the first o in Myostis? The characters myu look as if they represent myu or mu instead of myo. Also, why is there no katakana character that represents the ri in alpestris? It looks as if the ni in should have been a ri.
Some may suggest that the unusual spelling can be explained by saying that the katakana characters represent a pun. If it were really a pun, though, on what word or words is it a pun? What would Ms. Takeuchi hope to accomplish by changing some of the sounds in the name? Not all unusual spellings are puns. It is not really enough simply to take a word, randomly change some of the letters or characters that represent that word, and claim truthfully that it is a pun. A pun has to do with a play on words, not simply an unusual way to write a word5. There is really nothing that suggests that Ms. Takeuchi had anything else in mind besides the binominal nominclature when she wrote the name of the maneuver.
One particular Japanese source that lists the names of certain flowers and plants shows “” to represent the name Myostis alpestris. That combination of katakana characters looks similar to what Ms. Takeuchi wrote, but it is more phonetically accurate to Myostis alpestris:
Notice the differences between the two versions. Ms. Takeuchi’s version contains two long vowels, while the other version has none. There seems to be a o missing from Ms. Takeuchi’s version. There is a ni in Ms. Takeuchi’s version, but there is a ri in the other version. Everything else is the same. Although there are differences, the similarities are too great to explain by coincidence.
Some fans may wonder what the name Myostis alpestris means. It would then be a good idea to explain the origin of that name. The term myostis literally means mouse ear, but it refers to a kind of plant6. The Latin-letter spelling myostis comes from the Greek spelling, which is . Botanist today use the term Myostis as the genus name for the forget-me-not flowers7. So, in the name Myostis alpestris, the term Myostis refers to a forget-me-not. Alpestris is really made up of two elements: alp and estris8. The first part, alp, is a Latin stem that refers to low mountains in general, and the Alps in particular. The second part, estris, comes from ester, which is an adjectival suffix for nouns. The suffix refers to an origin or a habitat9.
According to the Japanese source, Myostis can be approximated by Myuosotisu, and alpestris is approximated by arupesutorisu.
Myostis is the Latin spelling of the Greek letters . The katakana characters myu represent the Greek letters Mu () and Upsilon (). The (small yu) is often used to approximate the Upsilon in Greek terms when the Upsilon appears after a Greek consonant letter. We can see that happening in the Japanese approximations of the names Mnemosyne (10), Tethys (11), and Cyrene (12): Munemoshune13, Tetyusu14, Kyurene15.
So, why do the combinations Myustisu Arupsutonisu. appear in the manga? There are several possibilities, and here are three of them:
1. Her original source (which was probably a Japanese-language book
on plants) really did show the katakana characters Myustisu Arupsutonisu. Perhaps that source’s typists meant to write Myuostisu Arupsutorisu, but they made typos. If Ms. Takeuchi did not intend to alter the binomial nomenclature, then the maneuver name is likely to be Galactica Myostis Alpestris (Galactica Myosotis Alpestris).
2. She originally meant to write Myuostisu Arupsutorisu or some other variation that closely approximates Myostis alpestris, but when Kodansha was preparing the Bishjo Senshi Sr Mn manga volume seventeen, the editors misread Ms. Takeuchi’s handwriting.
3. She deliberately wrote Myustisu Arupsutonisu for some reason. If she did write the name like that deliberately, it would have been nice if she indicated why. She does not give us any other hints.
If Myustisu Arupsutonisu was intended, and it came from Myosotisu arupesutorisu, what Roman-letter spelling would it be approximating? We can use the Myosotisu arupesutorisu and the name Myosotis alpestris to help us come up with a Roman-letter spelling for Myustisu Arupsutonisu.
Myostis alpestris is a Latin phrase, and macrons over Roman letters can indicate long vowels, so a Roman-letter spelling of Myustisu Arupsutonisu can contain vowels with macrons. (It is best for a Roman-letter spelling of Myustisu Arupsutonisu that is based on Myostis alpestris to follow Latin rules because Myostis alpestris is the original form of the name in Roman letters.) Myustisu Arupsutonisu does not have the o in Myosotisu arupesutorisu. Logically, the o in Myuosotisu approximates the first o in Myostis. The in Myustisu means that the vowel sound of so is supposed to be long. Notice that the s in Myostis, which is what the so in Myosotisu approximates, is long even though some people do not indicate that. The change from Myuosotisu to Myustisu is likely to indicate that we should lengthen the o after the s in Myostis, but it is already long. Latin does not use a special character that represents an even longer o, so the best we can work with is the . Removing the o in Myosotisu and making the so part long to get Myustisu is analogous to removing the o after the y in Myostis and leaving the o after the s long to get Mystis. (If we do not wish to indicate long vowels, we can write Mysotis.)
The the vowel of pe in Arupsutonisu is long, but the vowel of pe in arupesutorisu is short. Although p can approximate pa (p with the English long a sound) in some cases, that does not necessarily mean that the difference between arupesutorisu and Arupsutonisu indicates that the pe in the former approximates pe while the p in the latter approximates pa. The change in vowel letters is unnecessary because we already know where the e came from and nothing specifically indicates an a. That p can simply approximate a long e in this case. Arupsutonisu contains a ni, but arupesutorisu contains a ri. One combination of Roman letters in Latin is closest to what the ni represents: ni. Making the pe in arupesutorisu long and changing the ri to ni to get Arupsutonisu is analogous to making the pe in alpestris long and changing the ri to ni to get Alpstnis (or alpestnis if we do not wish to indicate long vowels).
If Myosotisu arupesutorisu approximates Myostis alpestris, then Myustisu Arupsutonisu most likely approximates Mystis Alpstnis (Mysotis Alpestnis without macrons). In that case, the maneuver’s name would be Galactica Mystis Alpstnis (Galactica Mysotis Alpestnis).
The Tokyopop spelling of the name is “Myusotis Alpastnis.” It is doubtful that the Tokyopop writers had any idea that the name is related to Myostis alpestris. “Myusotis” looks like a mishmash of “sotis” and the transliteration of Myustisu.
One common spelling is “Musotis Alpastonis.” “Musotis” is actually not unacceptable because Myostis can be written as Muosotis. (Muosotis is a transliteration of the Greek form of Myostis.) However, Myosotis and Myostis are referable because those spellings are often used with alpestris in the binomial nomenclature. Although to can approximate the to in “Alpastonis,” the “o” in “Alpastonis” is unnecessary because there is no o specifically indicated by alpestris. That extra o is just as unnecessary as the “u” would be in “Alpastronisu.” It would have been better if the “a” in “Alpastonis” were e for reasons that I already stated.
© 2002-2008 Ian Andreas Miller. All rights reserved. Those statements refer to all of the original content on these Web pages. All of the other works that are mentioned on these pages are the properties of their authors.