Rant: English Names

In February 2003, the members of the PokéMasters forums were given a special treat for the second time in history: getting to guess the English names of the new Pokémon.

People had various weird logic behind their guesses. After the names Torchic, Combusken, Treecko and Grovyle had been revealed, some considered Rooferno to be pretty much granted for the Pokémon now known as Blaziken because people thought that the non-fire part of the name had to go chick > chicken > rooster, as chick > chicken > chicken wasn't thought to make any sense. It was also a popular theory that it would have to go tree > grove > forest for the Grass starters, but people argued against the popular guess "Forestroy" for Sceptile by saying that a verb (destroy) couldn't come after nouns (gecko and reptile). I personally only guessed a few times, all of which were dreadfully wrong (I remember guessing something in the direction of "Wreckuza" for Rekkuuza, what we now call Rayquaza), and that was only until I decided that my English vocabulary was too limited for this, but I watched the name guessing with interest, learning the names as they were found.

The Ralts evolution line was a mystery. From a blurred screenshot, somebody thought they could make out the name Ralis. People generally liked it, coming from Aurora Borealis, the northern lights... until somebody discovered that it said Ralts, not Ralis. "Ralis was much better!" people cried. After Kirlia was discovered, people started inventing various romanizations of "Saanaito", concluding that if Ralts and Kirlia's names were both romanizations, the third had to be that too; the guesses were everything from Sirknight to Sunata, with Psyknight, something to do with night and various other versions in between. None of them were registered domains (the criterion being used to determine whether a guess could have nailed the real name).

A real full list of official English name was finally revealed, and people were immediately angry. Sproink had been guessed many times, and the guessers' angry voices sounded all over: "It makes no sense not to leave the R in there!" Although that was revealed long before the final list, there were many people who said determinedly that Kyogre was such a lousy name they'd always call it Kaiorga. Somebody claimed Dustox sounded like a household object. People made fun of Luvdisc. One of the very few NoA-invented names people were happy with was Duskull; otherwise people complained and complained about what lousy names Nintendo of America made and said they'd use the much better Japanese names from there on. Then they also all complained about the other names, how they were being so lazy by just romanizing the Japanese names; they should have a little originality and make up names for themselves for once!

Months passed. Kaiorga started disappearing from people's signatures and posts as people realized that they really didn't mind Kyogre that much after all. The loud voices of the people who had used the Japanese names in protest faded and died down. Surprise! Turns out the English names didn't seem that awful anymore once people had gotten used to them.

At the dawn of the fourth generation of Pokémon, history repeated itself. "The English names suck!" could be heard from every corner. "I'll forever call it Gonbe!" "I'll always refer to it as Manyula!" "Lucario sucks, I'm using Rukario!" "I'm calling it Diaruga, no matter what NoA says!" "Gallade is an absolutely awful name and I'm going to refer to it as Erlade!" "Lickilicky? What were they on?" So let's not even get started with the fifth: "Oshawott? Unova? RUINED FOREVER!"

Too bad everyone's forgotten they thought just the same of the previous generations' names - until they got used to them and stopped caring. No, you will not always refer to this Pokémon by its Japanese name. The Pokémon names before it were every bit as stupid and lame, and I assure you that you will stop noticing the apparent awfulness of the newer names just as you stopped noticing the older ones.

And guess what? I was right. Nobody's using the Japanese names of those fourth-generation Pokémon anymore. Are you really going to insist that this time it's all different?

Please, stop complaining. The English names only sound weird to you because you're not used to them yet, and once they grow on you you'll forget you ever had a problem with them. The Pokémon names have always been horribly cheesy and lame-sounding - it's part of what makes them fun. Get over yourselves.

Page last modified August 12 2016 at 22:34 GMT