Pokémon, one of the most popular video game franchises of all time, has recently gotten even more popular with the release of Pokémon Go. Yet for how many people play this ubiquitous game, so many still don’t seem to know how to pronounce the name–including the CEO of the company that makes it.
Those of us who play Pokémon Go regularly (or religiously) have learned to put up with the game’s quirks. Rattatas and Pidgeys? We’re good. That tracking system that’s supposed to help us hunt Pokémon more efficiently rather than randomly walking the cardinal directions, hoping we luck out? It’s fine, we’ve learned to do without it.
But we’ll continue to deal with all of that, because it’s good, clean, free fun. We’re even willing to forgive the fact that the founder and CEO of Niantic–the company that makes Pokémon Go–showed up to Apple’s iPhone 7 Event looking like he slept in his clothes.
What we’re not willing to look past is that the man in charge of Pokémon Go doesn’t even seem to know how to pronounce it correctly.
We realize there are slight variations between how Japanese and Americans pronounce it, but neither pronounce it po-KEE-mon. The true pronunciation is po-KAY-mon, or po-KAH-mon, both propagated by the cartoon, which is available on Netflix just in case you need a refresher.
Admittedly, he’s close (a lot closer than Siri gets it), but close isn’t good enough. We hate to sound pedantic, but at this point, Pokémon Go could be just the thing that unites all nations, so let’s try to get it right. After all, Nintendo–who also owns a very large slice of the Pokémon brand–doesn’t seem to have any problem pronouncing Pokémon.
It may seem like a subtle difference, but it’s important, and since this has been going for a long time, we felt it’s time to set the record straight.
This isn’t just about Niantic overseeing one the biggest cultural phenomena in recent memory. It’s about the source on which it is based, one which far outstrips any one mobile game.
After all, Pokémon has been around since 1995 and is now a globally recognized franchise, leaving an indelible mark on popular culture. To that end, there’s no excuse not to say it right. Pokémon Go will likely come and go in time, but the TV shows, movies, video games, trading cards, and legions of fans behind it will remain and continue to grow, just as it has for over two decades. It’s not like it’s something new and unknown. In fact, we’d wager most of the people still pronouncing it “po-KEE-mon” know it’s incorrect, as if to say, “I’m too cool to know how to pronounce Pokémon correctly–not like the rest of you nerds.”
In closing, we’ll leave Niantic’s free-to-play game and its many flaws alone because truthfully, it has provided many hours of fun. And to be fair, though many of the criticisms aimed at it have been justified. Others are not. It’s impossible to please everyone.
But please, for the love of Pikachu, everyone, let’s at least pronounce Pokémon correctly.