Your friend is wrong since Squirtle's Japanese name means pond turtle and is based on a sea turtle.So recently I was talking with a friend about original Pokemon games, and Squirtle came into the discussion. However, said friend claimed that Squirtle is supposedly part squirrel, due to the "squir" in it's name and it's tail.
Except squirtle doesn't even have fins like a sea turtle, so it probably is based on a pond turtle.so even the Japanese name doesn't make sense
This makes a lot of sense. Like you said, "squir" is much more likely to be "squirt", and like you said names can't be taken that seriously. After all, Pidove is a pigeon rather than a dove, and Psyduck, despite it's name actually highly resembles a platypus (it doesn't have wings, it has arms and claws, and it's beak is the same as a platypus beak rather than a duck beak). Migthyena, whilst it has hyena in it's name, looks more like a wolf.Except squirtle doesn't even have fins like a sea turtle, so it probably is based on a pond turtle.
I'm pretty sure "squirtle" sounding like "squirrel" is coincidental. Especially because it also has the word "squirt" in its name, which makes much more sense because it actually squirts with water gun. I've seen a few pictures of Japanese art depicting turtles similar to wartortle. Bulbapedia doesn't seem to remember anything about them, but I believe the original pokémon origin thread on serebii had a few links to some of such pictures.
If you ask me, this makes as much sense as assuming pikachu must be based on a pika because of its name. Actually, scratch that, it's less of a stretch, because at least someone imaginative can picture squirtle's tail as being bushy if they squint. You have to do some serious mental strains to pigeonhole a pointy-eared electric pokémon into the category of a rabbit with Mickey Mouse ears. I really think people take pokémons' names way too much into account when it comes to determining what they're based on. And people can get way too imaginative with meanings too. If there's a meaning that makes sense, there's no need to assume there's some extra double meaning which was thrown in if it barely makes sense in the first place.
It's still "pond turtle", but "money turtle" can be taken into context if one believes Squirtle are uncommon. The creators were very aware of this, as were the writers to the point in the Birth of Mewtwo CD Drama, when they're naming off Pokémon they could clone for profit, they're making puns. As quoted here:The last point is, if based on a squirrel, I'd expect to see this in another translation of Squirtle's name, however in Japanese it's name is "Zenigame" which translates roughly (when broken down) to "zeni" which means money and "Kame" which means Turtle (according to this website at least http://pokemon.wikia.com/wiki/Squirtle).
Helps that the Pokémon's Japanese names tend to have literal meanings when roughly translated, which we do the same here. The names are intentional. It's pretty much the whole Mr. Mime's gender discussion all over again, now that I think about it...Dr. Fuji: If we make a copy of Zenigame's genes, we've got two Zenigame.
Sakaki (Giovanni): Making money.
Dr. Fuji: We make a copy of Fushigidane (Bulbasaur, or "mystery seed"), it'll increase to two...
Sakaki: Even a seedless watermelon will grow a flower or two.
Dr. Fuji: If we make a copy with Pikachu's genes, more and more, it's mouse mathematics. (Mice multiply quickly.)
Sakaki: It's a sparkling, sparkling treasure box.