A World of Pokémon
Pokémon Names in Different Languages
One of the few anime/video game/everything-but-the-kitchen-sink franchises to make it into nearly every language imaginable, pokémon provides an interesting example of localization-translation practises in that each language likes to do its own version of the pokémons’ names. Some, like pikachu, stay the same in almost every language, unchanged from their original Japanese. Others are more interesting.
- Japanese: フシギダネ (Fushigidané), the original name of Bulbasaur, means “mysterious seed.” Pretty apt.
- English, Bosnian, Czech, Spanish, Indonesian, Polish, countless others: Bulbasaur.
- Korean: Issanghaessi (이상해씨 “Strange Seed”). Basically the same as the Japanese in terms of meaning.
- French: Bulbizarre
- Mandarin: Qí Yì Chóng Zí (奇異種子 “Very Strange Seed”). Kind of a long name if you ask me, but so is “fushigidane.”
- German: Bisasam, which is supposedly a combination of “musk rat” and “seed” in German. Bulbasaur doesn’t look like much of a musk rat to me, though…
- Taiwan: Miao Wa Chong Zi, which means “strange frog seed.”
Four approaches to this exist: no translation (using the Japanese name), a direct translation of the Japanese meaning, making a new name based on the critter’s looks, or borrowing the English name.
- original Japanese name: プリン (purin), which means a custard pudding. Seriously, that’s kind of weird and disturbing. It makes me think of those jelly monsters in Final Fantasy more than something cute like Jigglypuff.
- French: the uninentionally-hilarious “Rondoudou.”
- German: Pummeluff, which reminds me of “heffalump” from Winnie the Pooh for some reason.
- Taiwan: Pang Ding, which I think means “chubby.”
- Korean: also “purin.”
Chansey (formerly Recca’s favourite pokémon)
- Japanese: タッキー (rakkii), Japanese transliteration of the english word “lucky,” used because Chansey is a hard pokémon to encounter/catch. This is reflected in the English name “Chansey” too (from “chance”).
- French: Leveinard, which means “the lucky one.”
- German: Chaneira
Want to learn more of these? Check out wikipedia’s multi-language links for each pokemon’s page, or bulbapedia.