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From my understanding, Mahou Shoujo = Magical Girl as the latter is normally used when turning the Japanese title to English, i.e.

Now, I understand one of the themes of Puella Magi Madoka Magica is Magical Girl, and its Japanese name is Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica. I am wondering how did Mahou Shoujo become Puella Magi?

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    I think it's just Latin for "Magical girl" or "Girl magician" or something similar. Probably someone more knowledgeable than me can confirm this. – Logan M Oct 14 '14 at 1:26
  • @LoganM yes it is, but why they use "Puella Magi" instead of just "Mahou Shoujo". Some of their song also use latin tho. – Darjeeling Oct 14 '14 at 1:34
  • @OshinoShinobu I don't think any of the songs use real Latin. Some of them use "Kajiura-go", Kajiura Yuki's made up language which sounds like a mixture of Latin and Japanese. As for why they use "Puella Magi", I doubt there's a great answer to that, but I believe that subtitle has been present since the first PVs for the series, so it's not invented by localisation companies, but was decided by the production studio. Using Latin for the subtitle of a Japanese series doesn't seem a lot stranger than English or German or French to me. – Logan M Oct 14 '14 at 1:50
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The romanized title is not meant to be an English translation at all. It is not half Latin + half English; it is all Latin from start to finish: Puella Magi Madoka Magica. So we shouldn't read the "Madoka Magica" as if it were English and then wonder at why "Puella Magi" is not English. "Madoka" is the main character's name (鹿目 まどか), so that word is a native Japanese word. "Magica" is clearly not Japanese or English; it is also Latin. So 3 out of the 4 words are Latin, and the Japanese word is a person's name, so it would naturally be written "Madoka" in romanized letters when in an all-Latin phrase.

According to the Puella Magi wiki, "Puella Magi" in Latin translates to "girl [form] of the sorcerer" in English. As this was the translation decided by the Japanese company, it is possible that they did not consult anyone fluent in Latin in order to translate "mahou shoujo" as accurately as possible (we often see Engrish in anime [such as 「それでも世界は美しい」(Soredemo Sekai ha Utsukushii), which was officially written in English as "Still world is Beautiful" instead of a literal fluent translation like "Even So, The World is Beautiful"]; there is no reason that they would necessarily do better with Latin).

The wiki author makes an alternate hypothesis, saying "If interpreted a different way, 'the sorcerer's girl', it implies that the girls are being used - which they are, by Kyubey," but since we do know the meaning of "mahou shoujo" due to its use in the many, many magical girls series that Madoka is parodying, we can conclude that it does not in this case have a unique meaning of girls being used. The series is not a mahou shoujo series proper (it is a parody of the genre and is targeted at male viewers, whereas real mahou shoujo are a subset within shoujo, meaning they are targeted at an audience of young girls and if there is a manga origin or adaption, it runs in a shoujo manga magazine), so for it to use the standard style and meaning of a mahou shoujo series best serves its intent at parody.

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    I'm not super-fluent in Latin, but I find that translation "girl [form] of sorcerer" pretty torturous. Magi looks to me like a genitive of magus (magician or sorcerer), and as far as I know, Latin and the Romance languages use genitives a lot to translate forms like mahou shoujo where you have two nouns stuck together, which isn't really a possible construction in Latin grammar. So it seems like puella magi is a fairly natural way to translate mahou shoujo. But +1 from me overall. (By the way, maybe they should have used "Madoca" like Negima does.) – Torisuda Oct 26 '14 at 22:34
  • @Torisuda, puella magi is a torturous translation of mahou shoujo. You're right that Latin most often uses the genitive case to bind 2 nouns together, except we're not dealing with 2 nouns here, it's a noun and an adjective ("magical girl")! So the natural translation is puella magica - the entire title correctly translated is "Puella Madoka Magica" or "Madoka, Puella Magica" (i.e., Madoka the magical girl). Why they felt they couldn't use the straightforward approach I don't know, perhaps it was to preserve the four-word title of the Japanese version (tho that makes little sense) – Meir Illumination Aug 29 '15 at 0:43

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