Pikachu name change
To us in the U.S. and many other parts of the world, Pikachu has always been Pikachu and will remain so for the foreseeable future.
But in Hong Kong things have been and will be different, and people aren’t happy about it.
According to a Quartz report, the reason behind the uproar in the former British colony that has seen to protests outside the Japanese embassy, lies in language differences between it and mainland China.
In the past the name of the most famous character from Ninetendo’s Pokémon franchise has always reflected regional dialects in China and Greater China.
But the launch of two new games, Pokémon Sun and Moon, on the 3DS has seen a shift to a unilateral translation using traditional and simplified Chinese.
Pikachu name change sparks Hong Kong protest ‘Report’: Pokemon fans in Hong Kong are disgruntled by the recen… https://t.co/zTpTT5vYAv
— Hong Kong News Links (@dlHongKong) June 2, 2016
This has particular ramifications in Hong Kong, where Cantonese is the main language, instead of the mainland’s Mandarin.
As QZ explains this change has led to an alteration in the way Pikachu is pronounced.
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.
Although the change affects other areas of Greater China, the alteration is particularly unwelcome in Hong Kong, where some already feel their culture is under threat from Beijing.
So on Monday, dozens took to the streets outside the the Japanese Consulate in Central, demanding the name is changed back.
In a letter, Nintendo (Hong Kong) Ltd. Games asked Hong Kong fans to read the Pokémon’s name as ‘Pikachu,’ despite how it sounds in Cantonese.
In response, Nintendo released a letter asking Hong Kong fans to simply ignore the Mandarin spelling and read it like they usually would. Despite that, however, the Hong Kong community of Pokémon fans have set up a Facebook group to express their concerns and frustrations. The group already has 6,000 members asking Nintendo to recognize their independence and respect their chosen language.
There’s no exact release date for Pokémon Moon and Sun just yet.