A crowd forms outside the Japanese consulate of Hong Kong.  They are not happy.  They have just heard the news that Nintendo is set to release two new Pokemon games in 2016.

You would think that this would make them happy right? As across the globe, Pokemon is really popular in Hong Kong.

So why are these Pokemon fans so unhappy?

It has been announced that the new games, Pokemon Moon and Pokemon Sun, will be translated into Mandarin for the Greater China market.  This throws the whole Pokemon universe into disorder.  In Hong Kong, the primary language is Cantonese.

The real issue for the Hong Kongese is that this will change the meaning of the title and the names of the star characters.

Pokémon in Greater China will officially be called Jingling Baokemeng in Mandarin. Jingling means “spirit, and Baokemeng is a transliteration of Pokémon. Previously in Hong Kong, it was Pet Little Elves (or spirits)

In the west, the lead character is Pikachu.  In Hong Kong, it was known as Bei-kaa-chyu but in mandarin it is Pi-ka-qui.

Protesters at the consulate carried placards and chanting ‘no Pi-ka-qiu, give me Bei-kaa-chyu’ – in Cantonsese of course.

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On the surface it may seem quite trivial, but it raises greater concerns about a lack of understanding of the Hong Hong culture and fears it is the next step in the disappearance of the Cantonese language.

 

Independent group ‘Civic Passion’, a local group actively rallying for the independence of Hong Kong, launched the demonstration, asking Nintendo to provide a Cantonese version of Pokemon as a sign of respect to their culture.

 

At this stage, the Japanese firm does not have any plans to change the translation of its video games. But with recent events, could this be the start of a long and interminable dispute?

Read also Chinese parents play a lot in game.