By: Ian Andreas Miller
The spelling of the name of the young man who visits Chibiusa in the
Sailor Moon SuperS season of the anime and the Dream section of the manga
has been debated for quite some time now. The Japanese Katakana spells
this character's name as "eriosu" and many people write the name as
"Elios." Other people write the name as "Helios." Many people insist that
the former spelling is correct because Takeuchi, the creator of the Sailor
Moon, spells it that way. I intend to explain which spelling would be the
most acceptable in English.
First of all, it shouldn't be forgotten that many of the characters' names
from the Sailor Moon series are Greek in origin. Sailor Mnemosyne and
Sailor Lethe both have Greek words in their names, and the very name
Elysium also comes from Greek. It's interesting to note that Takeuchi
writes the name Mnemosyne as "munemoshune" in Japanese instead of
"nimoshini." This word in Greek means "memory" and in mythological terms,
it also refers to the goddess named Mnemosyne. She also writes the name
Lethe as "rete" instead of "reshi." This word in Greek means "oblivion"
and in mythological terms, it also refers to the river Lethe in Hades'
realm. The name Elysium is written as "eryushion" in Japanese instead of
"erishiumu." The Japanese spelling "eryushion" is an approximation of the
Greek name "Elu'sion." The reason for these seemingly unusual spellings is
that Takeuchi is trying to approximate the original Greek pronunciations
of these words. The Greeks don't pronounce these words the same way
English-speaking people do.
In Greek, the word for sun is "e'lios." This is also the spelling of the
name for the deity of the sun, Helios. There is no letter in the Greek
alphabet that is the same as the English letter "H." Somewhere in the
history of the English language, somebody wrote the name "E'lios" with the
letters "Helios." In one system of transcribing Greek words into Latin
letters, when the acute accent is written above the vowel, the Latin
letter "H" is often written before the vowel. This acute accent represents
a high or rising pitch and doesn't necessarily change the pronunciation of
the letter it's associated with. That system isn't universally employed
and an example of it not being used is in the case of the name of the
Greek god of war, Ares. His name is spelled as "Ares" in Latin letters and
not "Hares" even though the "a" in the name is associated with the acute
accent. The "e" in the word "e'lios" is still pronounced as an "e," but
with a slightly different pitch. Takeuchi, when she writes the name of her
character, is going by the pronunciation of the original Greek word
"e'lios." Though the Japanese and the original Greek say "Elios," and
that's technically correct, the most acceptable way to write the name in
English is "Helios." No book about Greek mythology written in the English
language would write the name of the sun god "Helios" as "Elios."
For those who are interested in the pronunciation of the ancient Greek
language, I recommend this site:
Comments on this article can be sent to: Ian Andreas Miller.