On Monday of last week, I posed a question on Twitter: “Hey everyone, do you pronounce the word ‘coyote’ with two syllables or three?” I’ve been in the habit of saying all three syllables – “coy-yo-tee.” But a lot of people generally only give it two, “coy-yote,” and I wondered which was more common. Of course, a lot of the answers were less straightforward than I expected.
Andrew Alden (@aboutgeology) August 13, 2013
@rdeatsman Three in the city, two in the country.—
Must-see Birds (@MustSeeBirds) August 13, 2013
@rdeatsman One. 'Yote'. You'll hear that occasionally in your neck of the woods.—
Andy Warren (@AndyBugGuy) August 13, 2013
Chris Clarke (@canislatrans) August 13, 2013
@rdeatsman five: wile e. coyote.—
Matthew Wills (@backyardbeyond) August 13, 2013
@rdeatsman it's coy-yo-tee. That's how we Yankees say it.—
Miranda Rose (@Shewhotalkalot) August 13, 2013
Maureen Hurley (@Mohurley) August 13, 2013
T Karney (@pecunium) August 13, 2013
Jokes aside, three syllables seemed to be more common overall, with two syllables used more in rural areas and the west. The comment about it being a Spanish word is true, which is probably why the two-syllable version grates on my ears ever so slightly, like the Americanized pronunciations given to the many Spanish street names where my parents live in the Phoenix area. (And it’s true as well that technically, as a Spanish word, it should be coy-yo-tay, not -tee.)
Say it how you want. You say coy-yote, I say coy-yo-tee, I’m not actually calling anything off and the scrappy canine itself is to busy being awesome to care.