PKMN Japanese: Squirtle


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Good day, it’s that time of the month week again for Pokemon Japanese, with your host, Silver! I know that I am somewhat infrequent with the articles, but I try to post as much as I can. Without further ado, this week is the Squirtle Evolution line.

 

007 Squirtle (ゼニガメ)
Romanised as Zenigame, it is commonly pronounced as Zen-Nee-Gah-Meh.
Broken down, the characters are Ze, Ni, Ga and Me. However two characters have their initial sound changed by “Ten-Ten” in the top right hand corner: these are Ze and Ga; their initial sounds being Se, (seh) and Ka, (kah) respectively.
Squirtle’s name means ‘Pond Turtle’. 銭亀(Zenigame) is an amalgamation of the words 銭(Zeni) meaning money and 亀(Kame) meaning turtle/tortoise. Interestingly enough, their round shells were used in place of money during the Edo Period, and so they were aptly called “Money Turtles”. 銭(Zeni) is also the Chinese word for money, pronounced qián.

 

008 Wartortle (カメール)
Romanised as Kameil, it is commonly pronounced as Kah-Meh-Lu.
Broken down, the characters are Ka, Me and Lu. The dash between Me and Lu shows an elongation of the previous sound; found in Charmeleon and Charizard’s names as well.
The first half of Wartortle’s name is obvious: 亀(Kame) meaning turtle/tortoise. There are two possibilities for how Wartortle’s name was formed:
1) A corruption of the word 噛める(Kameru) meaning to be able to bite. This would make sense due to Wartortle’s ability to learn ‘Bite’, but also due to its design having small yet sharp teeth.
2) Or a mixture of 亀(Kame) and テール(Teeru); either alluding to Wartortle’s large tail that has formed, or Tael, a Chinese unit of mass and currency used up until and during the Qing Dynasty.

 

As a note, both Squirtle and Wartortle have references to Chinese words relating to currency.

 

009 Blastoise (カメックス)
Romanised as Kamex, it is commonly pronounced as Kah-Meh-Kss.
Broken down, the characters are Ka, Me, Ku, Su. The little character between Me and Ku is a small Tsu, in this case it shows a small pause of the sound; almost like your shortening the sound as opposed to ‘ー’ elongating the sound. Ka and Me you should now be familiar with as they appear in the previous two evolutions, whereas Ku and and Su are new.
At first glance, Kamex looks like an amalgamation of the word 亀(Kame) meaning turtle/tortoise and マックス(Makkusu) meaning maximum. It could also be a corruption of Sycee (サイシー/サイックス/xìsī in Chinese); a currency consisting of gold and silver ingots used as currency in China up until the 20th Century.

 

That’s all for this week, folks. Tune in to next week where we come off the starters and go onto Caterpie and its evolution’s names! I look forward to comments and the discussion that follows. Any interesting trivia you know surrounding Pokemon names? Any language is welcome! Comment below!

 

Silver out~


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Silver

Translator in training, Silver has just finished studying Japanese, Chinese and Latin at university. With the catchphrase "Gotta speak 'em all!", he wishes to travel the world, far and wide, learning as many languages as he can. Currently, he resides in Wellington, New Zealand.