Ian Andreas Miller. 6 June 2002.
Some Card Captor Sakura
fans subscribe to the notion that Xiaolang's name should really be spelled “Syaoran” because that spelling appears on the official Japanese sources. Those fans may also use the spelling “Meiling,” but they do not seem to mention often that those same Japanese sources also say, “Meiling.”
Xiaolang Li (who is Chinese) writes his full name as . The kanji means plum, and the two kanji mean small wolf. When the Japanese wish to approximate the Chinese pronunciation of his full name, they use the katakana characters Ri Shaoran. Meiling Li (another Chinese person) writes her full name as . The kanji means berry, and the kanji means bell. The Japanese use the katakana characters Ri Meirin when they approximate the Chinese pronunciation of Meiling’s full name. The kanji represents Xiaolang’s and Meiling’s surname Li.
The Pinyin romanization system was officially adopted by the People’s Republic of China in 1979. According to the Pinyin system, Xiaolang’s and Meiling’s personal names are romanized as Méilíng and Xioláng. (For simplicity's sake, I often omit the diacritical marks and do not use italics.) “Syaoran” is actually the Kunrei system romanization of the katakana characters . The Kunrei system is the official romanization system of the Japanese government.
If the authors of the official Card Captor Sakura sources wished to follow the Kunrei system strictly, then they would have written “Meirin,” not “Meiling.” “Syaoran” suggests that “Li” (the Pinyin romanization) should have been “Ri” (the Kunrei romanization). If the authors wished to follow the Pinyin system strictly, they would have written “Xiaolang,” not “Syaoran.”
The inconsistency strongly suggests that the authors of the Japanese sources did not always think very much about the romanizations of the characters’ names. Some fans may wish to ignore the inconsistency completely and continue to use what the Japanese sources say. It would be nice if they realized that such a method has no prediction power whatsoever. What if a new Chinese person appeared in the series and we were not granted the opportunity to see how the authors of the official sources romanized his or her name? In that case, we would not know which system would have been used. It would be appropriate then to chose one of the accepted systems of romanization and attempt to use that system consistently. That method would be a good solution to the problem.