Zubat has the same name in English and Japanese, but it has a different name in France, and it’s way better than the one it currently has.
Zubat’s English name has never made sense in the Pokémon franchise, so it might be surprising to learn that its French name is way better. Zubat is one of the original 151 Pokémon from Pokémon Red and Blue, where it plagued players who were just trying to get through Mt. Moon.
The majority of the Pokémon in Pokémon Red and Blue had their names changed during the localization process. A few Pokémon kept their Japanese names, like Pikachu, but most of the other Pokémon had their names changed to puns or real-world references. In Japan, Charmander is called Hitokage, which means fire lizard. The Charmander name is similar, by combining char (as if to burn) and salamander. Some countries were able to create their own names for Pokémon, while others used the English names, like Italy and Spain.
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Zubat is one of the original 151 Pokémon that uses the same name in English as Japanese. The name Zubat actually makes sense in Japan, as it’s a play on the word zubatto, which is an onomatopoeia for the sound something makes when hitting a target, with the obvious play on the word bat. Zubat’s name doesn’t have the same meaning in English, so it’s always been an anomaly among the names of the other Pokémon.
Why Zubat’s Name Is Different In French Versions Of Pokémon
Zubat has a different name in France. According to Serebii, the French name for Zubat is Nosferapti, which combines the word Nosferatu (a name often used for vampires, which was popularized by the 1922 movie of the same name) with petit, which means small. The word petit has made its way into the English language as a borrowed word, so the Nosferapti name could have been used instead of Zubat. Unfortunately, the English localization and release of Pokémon Red and Blue happened a year before the European language localizations, so the French name wasn’t created when Zubat’s name was chosen.
When Pokémon Red and Green were being created, no one could have anticipated that they would have launched the biggest multimedia franchise in the world. There certainly wasn’t much thought put into turning the games into a global product, which is why Pokémon Red and Blue have more content censored compared to the modern games. Zubat may have been given a throwaway name in the ’90s, but there’s nothing stopping fans from using the French name for their own personal Supersonic spamming Pokémon now.
Next: Pokémon Red & Blue: What Happened To Your Rival After The Games
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