Over on the Dorkly YouTube channel (where we've been doing some neat live videos about how things work behind the scenes here) a small kerfuffle erupted over the name of Pidgey's final evolution, Pidgeot. I referred to the creature as "Pid-jet", causing the majority of the room to question my sanity. How could I possibly think the name of Ash's original bird confindant was anything besides "Pid-Jee-Aught"!? The consensus of my coworkers was that I was 100% wrong and stupid and also I smell like medium-sized farts.

Later that evening I found my social media flooded by fellow outcasts who not only agreed with my pronunciation, but also had felt the sting of ridicule for fighting on the side of accuracy. It's time we settled this once and for all: What do we call this big damn birdo?

Exhibit A: Localized or not?

One of most challenging parts of localizing pokemon is how do you change or convert their names. There's a balance between keeping the Japanese creators' ideas intact, but also adapting and adjusting the parts that would sound "off" or "uncool" to the American audience. One of my favorite examples of this challenge is Sudowoodo:


The entire premise for Sudowoodo is based on a Japanese pun (the word for "liar" sounds like the words "false tree"). Without that knowledge you'd have no idea that this arboreal asshole is actually a rock type. To adapt that same idea across linguistic borders is a real head-scratcher. These kind of adaptation puzzles are solved by localizers every day, and in the early days of Pokemon it was really hard to get definitive answers from Game Freak (who had about 6 people on staff when making the first games). But other times, such as the case of Pikachu, Caterpie, and Nidoran they let the naming and pronounciation stay put, this could easily be the case for Pidgeot.

But it's interesting to note that Pidgeot's official Japanese name is "Pigeot" which is only one letter off from the English "Pidgeot". According to Bulbapedia:

Pidgeot and Pigeot are combinations of pigeon and jet (referring to its great speeds), 

From ???? pijon and ???? jetto

The evolutionary lines do diverge earlier though, as the original name for Pidgey is "Poppo", a shortened version of the Japanese onomatopoeia "poppoppo" sound that pigeons make. The weirdest one of all is Pigeotto (known simply as "Pigeon" in Japan), which appears to be a combination of "Pidgey" and Italian word for the number 18 "diciotto" (which is the level needed for this evolution). Despite all these confusing elements it's still pretty clear that the name goes back to the Japanese precedent the third evolution. 

Exhibit B: The Goddamn PokeRap

In case you don't want to spend several minutes consumed in 90s nostalgia, the relevant bit is at 2:48 on the progress bar. 

Accepting that the PokeRap was Nintendo of America's unstoppable ploy to make sure every kid in the country knew all 150 (and more!) Pokemon names by heart AND that no other Pokemon seemingly suffer from a mispronunciation in the song, we can only conclude that the correct way to say Pidgeot's name is "Pid-jet".

But wait, there's one complication...

Objection!: The English Anime Dub

Well, shit.

In the video above you can hear Ash's original dub voice actress Veronica Taylor saying "Pid-jee-aught" multiple times as she did throughout her tenure on the original 4Kids version of the anime, thus imprinting an entire generation (incorrectly, I'm arguing). It's not a controversial thing to say that 4Kids played fast and loose with the source material in the 90s and early 2000s, it's easy to imagine an overworked staff in the recording booth, filling hours of tape to churn into family-friendly marketing entertainment.

In their defense "Pid-jee-aught" sounds "right" phonetically after Pidgey and Pidgeotto, so the mistake would have gone unnoticed to the staff that were being exposed to the Pokemon franchise before anyone else on the Western Hemisphere. 

Conclusion: What's in a name?

Pokemon is an international multimedia franchise and things are bound to get lost in translation. If you're living in France this whole argument is pointless because there this Flying-type pal is called "Roucarnage" and we're all just a bunch of squabbling Américain swine. When diving into the popular "Pronunciation Guide" channels on YouTube, even THEY couldn't agree!

This one says "Pijit"

This one says "Pi-Jee-Oat"

And I don't even know what's happening here:

Since this magical bird creature doesn't actually exist and can't clarify how it actually wants to be called, the world may never know for sure, but I hope I've made my case.