Nintendo is adding traditional and simplified Chinese as language options in the upcoming Pokémon games, Pokémon Sun and Moon, but not everyone is happy with that. A lot of fans are displeased that this changes the Pokémon names that people are used to. Previously, each region had its own specific names for Pokémon in accordance with said region’s linguistic traditions, but now most of the names used in China will be forfeit in favor of one of the official translations. Fans in Hong Kong have reacted especially passionately, much of it due to anger about the name change of the series’ mascot, Pikachu.
For those of us unfamiliar with the Chinese language, here’s an easy explanation of the situation offered by news website Quartz:
“Now Nintendo wants to unify them: Pokémon in Greater China will be officially called 精靈寶可夢, or Jingling Baokemeng in Mandarin (Jingling means “spirit” or “elf,” and Baokemeng is a transliteration of Pokémon). Earlier in Hong Kong, it was 寵物小精靈 Pet Little Elves (or Spirits), while in Taiwan, it was 神奇寶貝, Magic Babies.”
“Pikachu was originally translated as 比卡超 (Bei-kaa-chyu) in Hong Kong. Now it is named 皮卡丘 (Pikaqiu). While the name 皮卡丘 in Mandarin sounds similar to the global name Pikachu (as it was always called in China and Taiwan), it reads as Pei-kaa-jau in Cantonese, which doesn’t sound the same at all.” — Quartz
This example provides a glimpse into the messy world that is linguistics, but it also shines a light on the problems in that region. The people in Hong Kong feel that the mainland Chinese government is threatening their language and culture, which is why they have reacted so vehemently to a seemingly minor detail. Not only have they taken their complaints to Nintendo’s Facebook, they even demonstrated in front of the Japanese Consulate in Central. Additionally, they have collected 6000 signatures in a petition to protest the name change.
Do you think Nintendo should have been more sensitive to these issues when translating the game, or will this unification of language be a good thing in the end? Let us know in the comments below!