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In RWBY, all the teams get their names by using the initials of all the team members first names. But on team JNPR, the members are Juan, Nora, Pyrrha, and Lie Ren. So, shouldn't L be the initial for Lie Ren?

Even though everyone calls him Ren, the team name should use his first name for the initial, so why is he the only one whose last name gets used?

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I'd guess because he is culturally Chinese.

According to Wikia, Lie Ren is based on Hua Mulan, a historical Chinese person.

Ren alludes to Hua Mulan.

  • Monty Oum stated that each member of JNPR alludes to someone who crossdressed in their story. Mulan had to disguise herself as a man to sneak into the Chinese army.
  • Despite Monty stating that real-world countries don't exist in RWBY, Ren is still based on Chinese culture as his clothing is reminiscent of traditional Chinese clothing and his habit of resting a coffee mug on his palm instead of holding it by its handle, a style seen more often in Eastern cultures, as Eastern-style mugs have no handles.

According to Wikipedia on Chinese name, the name order is surname - given name.

Modern Chinese names consist of a surname [...] which comes first [...], followed by a personal name [...].

Also, Wikipedia on Given name states the different order between Western order and Eastern order.

The order given name – family name, commonly known as the Western order, is used throughout most European countries and in countries that have cultures predominantly influenced by Western Europe (North and South America, North, East, Central and West India, Australia, New Zealand and the Philippines).

The order family name – given name, commonly known as the Eastern order, is primarily used in East Asia (for example in China, Japan, Korea, Malaysian Chinese, Singapore, Taiwan and Vietnam), as well as in Southern and North-Eastern parts of India, but also in Hungary. [...].

So, if his name is written in first-last name order, it will be Ren Lie.


Unfortunately, it's not that simple, because a new question will arise:

Why is Yang Xiao Long's initial Y instead of X then?

Logically, I admit it's hard to counter this counter-argument. Its Wikia article also mentions a trivia on her name:

Despite having a Chinese name, Yang's given name and surname are inverted. "Yang" would be the surname and her given name would be "Xiao Long". Furthermore, Chinese surnames are usually only one character. This can be explained by Remnant not following real-world customs.

One can argue that because her family is not fully a Chinese family (hint: her mother), that her name might not be in the Eastern order, but instead follows the Western order.

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Whenever teams are formed, the letter of the either first or last name may be used for the team's initials

(emphasis my own)

Names

The first letter of the each team member's name is used to form an acronym that stands for the name of the team. In some cases, the first letter of a member's surname may be used.

Given that information, Ren is not the only character to use their last name has their initial for their teams

Under most circumstances, all letters in a team name consist of their members' first initials. However, there are three cases in which the last initial is the one in the team name: Lie Ren, Sky Lark and May Zedong

Choosing between either their first or last name may be due a few factors - please note this is speculation.

  1. Personal preference. Lie Ren was known simply as Ren, so it would be odd for him to his first name as the initial.

  2. Pronunciation of team names. Based on the Sky Lark wiki, he is apart of Team CRDL, which pronounced "Cardinal". Sky was accordingly named after named the Alauda, a genus of larks, making "Cardinal" a fitting pronunciation.

    Sky Lark is named after a genus of larks known as Alauda, also known as Skylarks. This fits the bird theme for Team CRD

    Had he chose S for his initial, it wouldn't be as fitting.

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