May 30th, 2016

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Nintendo is updating its Pokemon translation in China and Hong Kong, and the new names have angered a lot of fans — enough to protest in front of the Japanese consulate in Hong Kong.

The upcoming Pokemon game, Pokémon Sun and Moon, will be released with new traditional and simplified Chinese translations, and up until now, mainland China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan have had different translations to account for the cultural and language differences.

But with Sun and Moon, Nintendo will have just one translation for all three territories, which is pissing off some fans in Hong Kong. As Quartz reports:

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.

Since Cantonese and not Mandarin is the common language in Hong Kong, this has quite an effect on them. As Quartz explains:

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.

Of course, there is a political angle in all this, as there has been a lot of tension between China and Hong Kong over the past few years. For some, the new Pokemon translations is just another attempt from the mainland Chinese government to phase out Cantonese in favor of Mandarin.

Source (Quartz, via Kotaku)

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