Time for some more Pokémon move trivia. Today’s post is a brief comparison of the Pokémon move name: “splash.” Many have written on the subject already, I’m sure, but I thought to add my own post about it.
This Normal-type move has caused a little bit of confusion and is an example of where better word choice could have been used in the translation. However, to be fair, there are reasons it was chosen to become “splash” which made more sense at the time.
In Japanese, the move is called はねる (haneru). It is a verb that can be used to mean “to splash,” but is more often than not used for “to jump” or “to hop.” That covers a much broader range in terms of actions in English, as many things can hop, but splash implies it has to do with water somewhere along the way. Note that the move itself is a Normal-type move too, and not of the Water-type.
Now it makes more sense why Pokémon like, say, Hoppip (Grass/Flying) can use “splash.” (Hoppip’s Japanese name is Hanekko too, with it being a likely pun that includes “haneru” for “hop” above). That makes it more interesting how it was translated as Hop here for the name, but not for the move.
So then, where did that all go wrong? I would not blame the translators, because one must simply look at Generation I to understand why.
In Generation I, the only Pokémon that could learn “splash” was Magikarp, a Water-Pokémon. It was its signature move, even. As a translator wanting to convey a meaning, they could have used hop, but when faced with a fish doing a hopping motion, they likely opted for “splash” because that would make sense for a fish to do, right? It seemed the better word choice in English. Without any context or future sight, this made perfect sense to do at the time.
Then as the next Generation came around, suddenly more than Water Pokémon were “splashing” rather than hopping. I guess it was left for the sake of consistency. It probably didn’t help that future animations showed the little blue pixels flying to the side. Is that water, or is that sweat?
Regardless, it made both words work for their respective languages. It just causes a bit of wonder in English, but nothing seriously wrong with it.
I hope this explains why non Water-types or those with any affiliation with water can use this move for those who were unaware. : )
Interested in more Pokemon move trivia? Give me a move to look into and I’ll make a post on it!
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