If you were a child of the 90s, you will almost definitely remember owning a pack of Pokemon cards and trading them with your friends in the playground. If you were the proud owner of a flying Pikachu card, you would be instantly promoted to the status of coolest kid in school.
Now it looks like Pikachu’s identity is set to be challenged, as a new Mandarin translation of the Japanese name has been unveiled in Hong Kong. Protests have been staged in the city in order to protect the Cantonese version of the name, which is written phonetically as “Bei Ka Chiu”.
While Pikachu’s name change might be seen as a slightly trivial thing to protest about, there’s actually a bigger political issue at stake. The use of Mandarin over Cantonese has become a controversial issue in recent years, as Mandarin is increasingly seen to be overshadowing Cantonese, Hong Kong’s official dialect. A recent study revealed that less than 40 per cent of Hong Kong’s primary schools teach Cantonese.
Kong Kong place a lot of importance on remaining a distinct entity from China, and since not producing a Cantonese version of Pokémon effectively lumps all Chinese people into one culture, you can see why people are getting annoyed. Head over to the next page to discover what the residents of Hong Kong will be calling Pikachu, or Bei Ka Chiu, from now on.
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