the smell of my desperation has become a stench

For your reference

There is an ongoing argument in this house concerning the correct pronunciation of certain words, and it has only become more heated now that we are helping our child shape her vocabulary. One of my worst fears about living in Utah has always been that Leta would develop a Mormon accent, that there would be nothing I could do to stop her from dropping the T’s in the middle of her words — mountain sounds like mao-in — or constantly speaking at a deafening volume so that she can be heard over her 14 brothers and sisters.

Jon was raised in northern Utah and is descended from polygamists. Consequently, he can rarely speak a whole sentence without butchering the English language. I just recently noticed that he drops the L’s in the middle of his words so that walk becomes wok, talk becomes tak, and chalk becomes a furball caught in the back of his throat. When I pointed out his mistake he claimed that the L is supposed to be silent, and to prove it to me he looked up each word in two separate dictionaries. Both references backed up his claim, but this doesn’t surprise me. Dictionaries have always been written by Yankees, and have you ever heard one of them talk?

The one debate that will not die is the one over whether crayon is pronounced cray-on or crown. Jon maintains that crayon is a two-syllable word, CRAY ON, but he also listens to jazz. Both are forgivable but indicative of soft spots in the brain. My sister and I have always pronounced it CROWN. Why use the energy on two syllables when you can get it done with one? Save that second syllable for the precious list of demands you’re going to bark at your husband later.

Here is an audio clip of the correct pronunciation of crayon. Also, if you are one of those people who pronounce it CRAN, my hope is that the next time you allow yourselves to release such an obnoxious sound into the world you temporarily go deaf so that your ears don’t rot off from the pain.

  • Candice

    2006/05/16 at 5:15 pm

    I’m with you, Heather. It’s totally pronounced “crown”.

    I loved the audio clip. I (the straightest woman on the planet) think your voice is crazy sexy.

  • Steph

    2006/05/16 at 4:32 pm

    My people descend from Brooklyn and Long Island respectively, and pardon me, but it is CRAY-AWN. As in “Hees yah freakin’ cray-awn, auvright?!”

  • manda

    2006/05/16 at 4:58 pm

    I had no stinking clue people pronounced it something other than cray-yon, until I had been married for a few years, and my husband called it a crown. The man I married? I felt like I had been living a lie. What else does he mispronounce? At least he doesn’t add the “L” sound in walk. That may just qualify us for a divorce.

  • MamaPajama

    2006/05/16 at 4:50 pm

    Now, I say Cray-On but that’s just overcompensation for my immediately family that use the dreaded Cran. They also pronounce wash as warsh. It’s a hard world.

  • Pioneer Woman

    2006/05/16 at 4:13 pm

    My high school boyfriend pronounced it “CRAN” and it made me want to bash his head in with sports equipment.

    It’s CRAY-ON.

  • Alexandria

    2006/05/16 at 4:26 pm

    I listened to the voice post three times just because I love giggle-fits so.
    Wow. Now I want to hear what Jon sounds like.
    I grew up in Mississippi (I live in Kentucky now) and it’s amazing how different people from around the US can sound. Fascinating.
    It’s Cray-on, btw.
    I would go back and listen to my voice posts on my blog and see how I sound, but most of them are of me singing and sound horrible (not sure why I torture the three people that read my blog with them as even Dido sounds awful when recorded through a cell phone. sadly, the voice of experience speaks), and I’m not sure which are which, and I don’t want to scare myself by listening to myself. Maybe another day.

  • Piglet

    2006/05/16 at 3:54 pm

    How on earth can you read that many comments. You are truly a saint for reading all your comments 🙂

    You know how crazy these yankees get when you start teachin’ em’ how to pronounce words right. Just smile and nod, and let them think they are right (even tho hearing real yankee’s tawlk makes my ears bleed out right). God love em’

    Obviously Jon is no fool for marrying a real woman right?! My husband is a Yankee and is much happier now that he is with a Southern woman.

    No offense ya’ll…

  • Alien Brit

    2006/05/16 at 3:28 pm

    OMG, you cant go around saying crown for crayon, are you crazy! Americans already drop their t’s, well change them to d’s, its confusing enough and im English, what if i were german or french – they’d have no clue wot you’re on about.

    btw i love the blogging.

  • thegiddykipper

    2006/05/16 at 3:15 pm

    Brilliant! ‘Crown’?! That’s the same as pronouncing ‘ham’ as ‘keifer sutherland’. I know, I’m Enlgish and therefore my forefathers invented your language.

    PS Sigur Ros do indeed ROCK. I lost my virginity to them.

  • LadySincere

    2006/05/16 at 2:55 pm

    and holy shiznet…..i just asked(not axed) my 6 year old how she said crayon and can you guess what came out of her sweet lil head……

    CROWN…wtf! who is this child? ack…so i said “can you say CRAY and then ON” she did but when i said to put them together….CROWN was all that came out.

    AHA…so i ask my 3 year old….and guess what he says? CRAY-ON 🙂 WOOT!

    now to quiz my 19month old. im pretty sure he will just eat it though.

    as a sidenote….we are military, so transplanted here to the KY/TN border.

  • mslizardc

    2006/05/16 at 2:35 pm

    First time to comment! Love this site. One of my daily must reads…

    I think the dropping of consonants is NOT strictly a Utah thing. I grew up in Jersey and always say “mou-in” (mountain) which dives my Malibu, CA raised BF nuts. But then again he says “bra” (as in yo, bro’). I think that’s worse!

    And for what’s it worth-I’m a 2 syllable cra-yon pronouncer.

  • AuntyJaney

    2006/05/16 at 2:33 pm

    I can’t believe you could do a trick and change my MSN messenger to have a message saying CROWN. You are SO wrong there by the way
    it is so CRAY – ON
    crown….wha? I can’t believe your accent. In my head when I read you, you sound Canadian!!!

  • jaclyng

    2006/05/16 at 2:15 pm

    heather, you’re high. cute, but high.

  • TripTikGirl

    2006/05/16 at 2:21 pm

    I say “CRAN”…so I guess there’s something wrong with me?

    Then again, I have a Midwestern accent, and we sound just like people on TV…so nanner nanner nanner! 😛

  • GA_GAL

    2006/05/16 at 2:02 pm

    I grew up in rural GA, and even I know the answer to this question.

    It is pronounced “CRAY-ON”. You can’t even blame that on the South, lot’s of things you can, but we’re not going down for this one!

    This is way too funny!!! I visit this site to brighten my day, and I just HAD TO chime in.

    What about people from Oklahoma who think you pronounce ‘right’, “rhaaaaaaaght?” Doesn’t get more country than that.

  • Amy

    2006/05/16 at 2:04 pm

    I had to wait to get home to listen on my computer to you saying “crown”. I just couldn’t figure out how you’d get “crown” out of cray-on. Now that I’ve heard it…I still don’t get it. Guess it’s a southern thing!

    I also grew up in Utah and drop letters from words, add r’s where they don’t belong and make one syllable words into two. In my world, pool is pronounced poo-ul, same with schoo-ul and coo-ul. I got corrected once by a friend in NYC and I had no idea how I was saying it wrong. Oh my poor daughter!

    Wonder how Leta will say crayon… keep us posted!

  • Jewels

    2006/05/16 at 1:50 pm

    Okay, so I totally pronounce it Cray-on. And it works for me. But I also say the l in WALK. If you don’t say the L, it comes out WOK, and to me, that is something you cook with. To stir fry. Right???? Oh yeah, and I grew up in surburbia, and not a trailer park. If that helps!

  • chollyson

    2006/05/16 at 2:02 pm

    Why would it be pronounced “crown?” That is like saying poem should be pronounced “pom.” You are totally taking out the middle syllable. Oh dooce, if you awesomeness had not already been proven to me, this would be a good enough reason not to like you.

  • Daugher In Law

    2006/05/16 at 1:39 pm

    C-R-O-W-N is crown.
    C-R-A-Y-O-N is cray-on.

    I hail from Easton, PA. Yes. The home of Binney and Smith. Don’t mess with cray-on!

  • Shazza

    2006/05/16 at 1:45 pm

    okay, I speak english (as opposed to American), I’m scottish (which means I know what I’m talking about, obviously) AND I live in France, which gives me the authority to tell you that lovely hubby is right all the way, Beaufort is pronounced bo-for (have been reading your archives).
    and if you can’t agree that crayon is pronounced cray-on then I suggest you switch to pencils…can’t go wrong saying pencils can you?

  • Eilu J

    2006/05/16 at 1:33 pm

    I’ll say it however Leta says it.

    But until we get a sound clip of that, I’m going to have to stick with my old Midwestern-born-and-bred way of saying it.



    If, as a child, I would have asked for the “cray-ons,” someone would have asked me if I needed a “crown” too, because who exactly did I think I was, the Queen of England?

    Too bad I can’t hear the sound clip. But I’m already laughing so hard from reading these comments that I might as well stand up and yell, “THIS IS NOT A WORK-RELATED ACTIVITY!”

    Carry on!

  • Vicky

    2006/05/16 at 12:39 pm

    hehe, loving the comment above 🙂 Sorry Heather, but I’m going to have to go with the CRAY-ON camp on this one. Crayyyy onnn. At least, here in the UK that’s how most people I know say it…

  • spinsteraunt

    2006/05/16 at 1:11 pm

    I’m from Chicago and we like our hard A’s, so I say “cran.” Don’t see where someone who says “Crown” for crayon and pronounces the “ls” in walk and talk gets off making fun of “cran,” though.

    Gonna have to call in Chomsky on this one, I think.

  • girl

    2006/05/16 at 1:17 pm

    it’s definitely cray-on, but I’m from Michigan (and now living in Texas), so I could just be really confused.

  • plantain

    2006/05/16 at 1:24 pm

    It’s car-a-mel… not carmel… that’s so annoying. My pet peeve is American’s mis-pronouncing Australian cities. Brisbun not Brisbain, Melbun not Melborn. And it’s Ozzie not Assie. And we call them prawns not shrimp… I’ve actually never seen anyone put shellfish of any kind on a bbq in Oz… it’s usually sausages (snags) or burgers.
    Sorry to pick on the Americans…
    Australians are quite bad at creating words and pronunciations that mangle the english language.. my favourite (not) is ‘anyfink’ ’nuffink’ ‘somefink’… this is usually backwards Queensland country people – think Steve Irwin, but not as articulate…. yeah, exactly!

  • Deja Cain

    2006/05/16 at 12:26 pm

    CRAY-ONS are for kids who grow up in trailer parks.
    CRANS are for kids that grow up in two parent households.

  • American Wife

    2006/05/16 at 12:35 pm

    Oh Dear. Crown? Crown? How can you ignore all the letters and their natural pronunciations like that? Okay. Did you ever hear the phrase “When two vowels go walking the first one does the talking”? The letter Y being it’s versatile self and working as a vowel in this word, creating the long A sound: “crA-on”


    You are absolutely my favorite daily read but please do not home school your adorable Leta.

  • jeffeners

    2006/05/16 at 12:25 pm

    Crown? Cran? WTF? It’s cray-on, dudes!

    Here’s one from Maine that I haven’t gotten used to after being here for 25 years. I grew up near Campbell, California, which we prounounced camble, rhymes with gamble. Here it’s Camp-bell, whether it’s someone’s last name or the soup. Makes me crazy.

  • Carole Karnofski

    2006/05/16 at 11:53 am

    An Oregon gal here throwing in her two cents. I don’t believe there is one correct way to say “crayon.” It’s like CaRIBbean and CariBBEAN. Or HARassment and harASSment. Although I will admit that my mother, who spent a number of years living in Texas, says cray-ins. CRAY-INN. When you say it fast it kinda sounds like “cranes.” I don’t know if it’s right, but it’s all I have.

  • Carole Karnofski

    2006/05/16 at 11:56 am

    Oh, and my mother has been known to pronounce walk, talk, etc. as WOWK, TOWK. So it seems that not only is the ‘l’ silent, but you need to add a ‘w’ as well.

  • Scarlett

    2006/05/16 at 11:57 am

    I already weighed in on CRAY-on, but it does occur to me that I overlooked the more pressing issue: that of walk, talk, chalk… I mean, the L is there, people, and should be spoken. A “wok” is something I make spicy curry noodles in; a “walk” is what I take afterward so they don’t end up amassing on my thighs.

  • jennifer_starfall

    2006/05/16 at 11:13 am

    when i was 6 years old, my parents moved me out of the city and into a little town i like to call east overshoe. i finished the last two weeks of my first grade year in a new school filled with hillbillies. on the last day of school, i got into a fight with two girls named kelly and a boy named chris over the pronunciation of our chosen art supply. this caused such a rift that for the next 11 years, we never spoke. they disagreed with me, but i still think they were wrong. oh so very wrong.

    it says so right on the paper wrapping and all over the box:

    CRAY. ON.

  • toph

    2006/05/16 at 12:05 pm

    The “L” in Walk, Talk and chalk are there, just not enunciated. If they were to be spoken, Tom Brokaw would have choked to death on his own tongue ages ago.

    And after giving it some more thought, I could see someone the likes of Justin Wilson pronouncing the word Crayon “Crown”.

  • Tina K.

    2006/05/16 at 12:19 pm

    I was born in and still live in Los Angeles County. I say it with two syllables, but it’s more like CRAY-in. But my daughter, heaven help her, says CROWN. How is that??? Where did she come from?

  • bonkersmomof4

    2006/05/16 at 11:38 am

    Heather, your Memphis roots are showing. I was born and raised here (went to high school with your brother) and was always very confused when other kids would ask me to give them the blue crown. But they do it. Almost all of them! I don’t know how I escaped, but I say cray-ahn.
    You are however, correct in pronouncing the L in walk, talk, and chalk. How the heck can you not say walk differently from wok?

  • Kaymadmom

    2006/05/16 at 11:39 am

    crayon=CRAY.ON. (even the brand is CRAYola)

    I need to go breathe deeply in a bag, I am way too worked up by this mispronunciation.

  • toph

    2006/05/16 at 11:42 am

    Pronouncing the word Crayon as Crown would be like pronouncing the word Biscuit as Basquiat. It just makes no sense.

    And it’s cray-on.

  • MissDirected

    2006/05/16 at 11:43 am

    You’re one of those people that say things like peench and poime instead of pinch and poem, aren’t you?

  • LisaG

    2006/05/16 at 11:47 am

    I predict you will learn to love Steely Dan. Holy shit. Crown? Really?

  • rosie

    2006/05/16 at 11:50 am

    I moved around a lot at the pivotal crayon using age.

    It was “crown” in Austin, “cray-on” in Chicago, “cran” in Michigan, “cran” in Baltimore, and “cray-on” again here in California. I’ve stuck with “cran” mostly, though I’m positive “cray-on” is correct.

  • nooccar

    2006/05/16 at 10:56 am

    My wife and I deal with this all of the time. For us it’s “color”… She pronounces it “keller”. Her people are from Philly so that explains it.

    BTW I am also a CRAY ON-er.

  • Croupier

    2006/05/16 at 11:00 am

    Every time you upload a video clip, or an audio clip, or any kind of clip really, I secretly always think, “Yeah, but what we REALLY wanna see is one of these legendary Leta fits we’re always hearing so much about!”

    I know I’m a bad person. You don’t have to tell me.

  • jenjifer

    2006/05/16 at 10:47 am

    Haven’t gotten through all nearly 400 posts yet, but I have to ask — how do you pronounce that synthetic material “rayon” — “ROWN”? I guess it’s just Dooce-bonics.

    Jon is sooooo right on this one. Did you actually think you’d get validation by anyone (except from those with more appliances on the front lawn than teeth in their mouth?)

    Now for my personal favorite mis-pronounciations — Mine, pronounced like the empire (My-an) and fustrated, without that first (and necessary) R.

  • mindylou00

    2006/05/16 at 10:51 am

    Just so you know, my friend kelly used to pronounce it CROWN as a child, and she got sent to speech therapy. Food for thought.

  • monkey

    2006/05/16 at 10:51 am

    As someone mentioned before, living in Southern Ohio comes with its own dialect for words such as wash, creek and roof, so I’m told. I have never picked up any of them. Go figure.

  • Jessica

    2006/05/16 at 10:52 am

    I always thought crown was a messed up Utah pronunciation.

    I want to hear how you pronounce walk.

    My favorite that I’m guilty of are measure and eggs both using a long “a” sound instead of an “e”. Will you maasure me a cup of aagg whites?

  • ErinJ

    2006/05/16 at 10:33 am

    Through the entire post I was repeating the word in my head “cran, cran, cran”!!!!!!!!

  • Kiki

    2006/05/16 at 10:41 am

    I grew up in Provo, Utah, and I’m a Mormon, and I say CRAY-on. However, I like the way Heather says it much better, so now I am going to say, “crown,” and I’m going to make my kids say it like that, too.

  • ladylivewire

    2006/05/16 at 10:17 am

    “Dictionaries have always been written by Yankees, and have you ever heard one of them talk?”

    I love you for this. If you say “cray-on” really fast, you can totally hear how it starts to sound like “crown,” which is how I have always said it. But what’s amazing to me is how angry people get when everyone doesn’t speak exactly like they do. That’s what makes traveling and meeting new people so interesting!

    Anyway, for what it’s worth, I think your accent is awesome.

  • Angela

    2006/05/16 at 10:24 am

    NO it is NOT. I love ya Heather, but if anyone sounds like a back woods redneck it would be the person pronouncing Crayon as Crown….and the L is silent. w-a-L-k….Seriously…you have to be kidding.

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Heather B. Armstrong

Hi. I’m Heather B. Armstrong, and this used to be called mommy blogging. But then they started calling it Influencer Marketing: hashtag ad, hashtag sponsored, hashtag you know you want me to slap your product on my kid and exploit her for millions and millions of dollars. That’s how this shit works. Now? Well… sit back, buckle up, and enjoy the ride.

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