This is odd, as I'd always thought the singular of 'Narlies' was 'Narlie'. Who is right? There is actually compelling evidence for each spelling, and in this article I will lay out the argument for each and let you, the people decide (but the answer is 'Narlie').
Why does this matter? Well, it doesn't. But it would be nice to be able to search for Narlies on ebay with just one search term!
Whilst 'Narly' would seem a logical spelling, the 'y' ending being a popular singular to words with plurals ending in 'ies', as a word it feels ugly and wrong to me. What self respecting person could possibly want to use such a horrible-looking word? How could they look in themselves in the mirror in the morning?
"Narly" bottom right and... not!
Added to this is that this spelling is not found on variants of the Narlie series one card, neither is it on the series two cards. Did Tonka realise their mistake and remove the incorrect spelling? Or maybe not, as it does appear on the back of series 2 Tonka cards (despite being removed from the front).
"Narlies" is constantly presented with a TM both on this and all Bandai Europe merchandise including packing cases. There is no similar trademark against 'Narly' but there is against 'Snarlie-Narlie'. The 'Narly' spelling is also absent from the Bandai Europe cards.
'Narli' was the previously favoured golden child of TFwiki until it was overthrown by 'Narly' using the "Narly was on the packaging" argument. But so was 'Narli'. As mentioned above, Narligator's bio explicitly calls him a "Narli". Perhaps this was a typo for "Narlie" or perhaps it was deliberate. But the other side of the card said "Narly" so there wasn't much cohesiveness going on at Tonka at the time!
My argument against 'Narli' is that I feel the Narlie names to be a portmanteau, a combination of two words which get mixed into one rather than literally one word after another, thus 'Narli' + 'Alligator' becomes 'Narligator'. 'Narlie' + 'Lizard' becomes 'Narlizard'. Or 'Narlinurtle' if you are feeling European. The names just wouldn't work if you kept the 'e', and it also raises the question as to why they're not called 'Narlygator' etc, if 'Narly' was the correct singular.
My personal preference (as you might have already guessed) is 'Narlie'. I prefer the way it is spelled, and think it's a nicer word. You may argue that "words which end in '-ies' have their singular as ending in '-y-'" but that isn't true - take 'birdie', 'newbie', and 'zombie' for example. The English language is a strange thing, and spelling takes second place to historical cultural considerations.
There's a fourth wildcard contingent who seems to be convinced that Narlie is spelled 'Gnarlie'. I've not been able to find any official evidence for this spelling anywhere, and can only conclude that these people have been reading 'The Beano' too much and get confused with Dennis the Menace's pet dog.
For me, weighing up the evidence, 'Narlie' is the winner. The sheer inconsistency in official spelling is seemingly due to Tonka and Bandai only ever concentrating on 'Narlies' as a plural. I'd be more convinced by 'Narly' if the word hadn't vanished off the packaging as if a mistake (and the same packaging didn't have alternate spellings on the reverse!), and the clear and unambiguous use of 'Narlie' in 'Snarlie-Narie' clinches the deal for me.
But this is a democracy! What do you think? Vote in the poll below - let us decide this once and for al!