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This question has been quite bothersome. As mentioned in the title, how exactly does it work? Do Pokemon get their species names from the only thing they're able to say? Or do they say (and repeat) whatever species name they're given?

(I think it's the former reason. But I haven't found any factual description that proves it. So I'm looking for answers supported by facts considered cannon.)

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  • by name your referring to species name right? like Pikachu and Squirtle? and not the names their trainers give them like Richy's Pikachu Sparky
    – Memor-X
    Commented Jul 4, 2016 at 10:58
  • @Memor-X: yes, species name. I'll add that in. Thanks :) Commented Jul 4, 2016 at 11:00
  • I think they say their specie name like "Pickachu" so they're named as such. Some that don't say anything, are named by the discoverer. My two cents. Commented Aug 9, 2016 at 7:11
  • I don't watch show at all but a possible explanation. The pokemon are trying to speak in human and that is the important noun they hear the trainers saying in their presence. Pets often can learn their name if no other words. I can't develop this further as I've not seen anything since the first movie.
    – kaine
    Commented Sep 2, 2016 at 13:38
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    Chicken or the egg?
    – Theyna
    Commented Oct 2, 2016 at 22:18

2 Answers 2

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I found a good episode recently that shows the anime contradicts itself on this matter. In the Black and White episode Archeops in the Modern World, Professor Juniper and Dr. Fennel revive an Archen from a fossil. Professor Juniper specifically mentions one benefit of a live specimen is that they wouldn't know what Archen's cry was just from the fossil. But Archen is mentioned as being a Pokémon from millions of years ago. This is contradictory because Archen's cry is its name but they somehow knew what its name was before reviving it. Additionally, there is no way that humans could have taught it to say its name because humans weren't around millions of years ago. Because of this contradiction, it cannot be said one way or another whether Archen says the name of its species or whether it is named by the word it says. Therefore, I conclude that there is no canonical answer to this question in the anime.

It really doesn't make much sense at all for Pokémon to say their names like they do in the main anime. That's why they don't do this in Pokémon Origins, Pokémon Generations, or in the games. In all three of these, each Pokémon's cries/growls are more similar to real animal noises. In the main games, the cries in the Pokédex are animal shrieks and noises (well, sort of... as noted in the comments, they do sound electronic and staticky). Sometimes if you talk to Pokémon on the overworld in a game they'll say part of their name, but an audio clip of that Pokémon's cry will also play, so I interpret the Pokémon's dialogue to be an onomatopoeia.

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  • Tbh, the cries on the GameBoy games (RBY) sound a lot more like random electronic … stuff that just happens to be easily programmable.
    – Jan
    Commented Oct 6, 2016 at 16:33
  • @Jan That's true. I'll try to make an edit to include that information. I can't think coherently on how to phrase it right now, though. Commented Oct 6, 2016 at 17:04
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don't think they ever really mentioned this issue (watched everything till x and y) but something to consider could be the meaning of the names

http://pokemondb.net/etymology

a possible theory could be that the names that describe the pokemon itself came first. Especially since there are some pokemon that don't even say their names.

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  • Probably the other way around, no way that someone would go in the field and train random Pokemon to say something
    – Riley
    Commented Jul 4, 2016 at 11:48
  • by made to recite their names i meant they were designed that way. as in the species itself
    – Gilbert
    Commented Jul 4, 2016 at 11:50
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    As by a creator or something? In any case, there has never been given info on this topic, so there will most likely be only speculation
    – Riley
    Commented Jul 4, 2016 at 11:51
  • yea by creator. And true about lack of information but some speculations are just flawed since some pokemon don't even yell out what they're named. Easy examples would be zubat, onyx and such. So most likely they were just named according to how they look
    – Gilbert
    Commented Jul 4, 2016 at 11:55

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