Heater, Mother of Lance

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.

  • Kazzer

    2006/05/16 at 10:24 am

    That’s a pretend voice, right?

  • Tanya

    2006/05/16 at 10:33 am

    Are you from Memphis? And do you pronounce Memphis with only one M? (Meh-phis) An ex-boyfriend of mine has the same speech patterns you have.

  • bud

    2006/05/16 at 9:37 am

    sorry, heather, but as above, Crayon comes from the French, both from “to write” {écrire, say: “eh-kreer”} and “chalk” {craie, say: “cray” (but with that rolling “r” the French do)} (think of a crayon as waxy chalk…)
    hence, it’s a two-syllable word!

    but you have the coolest accent!!!

  • Barefoot Cajun

    2006/05/16 at 9:38 am

    Man, can I relate.

    My ex-Mormon, raised mostly in Orem husband pronounces wash as warsh. I am often thankful that we don’t have children.

    I can solve the crayon issue for you.

    Call them colors as we do here in the deep south.

  • syzygy

    2006/05/16 at 9:49 am

    California native weighing in here : It is Cray-on. However I grew up with a mother who is a native of West Virginia so Lawyer is LAWYUR, woman=WOLMIN, and Teasure= TREYZUR. And in high school I was laughed at mercilessly by my french girlfriend’s family who pronounced “how have you BEEN” as “how have you BEAN” and mayonaise as mayo-NEZ. whatever…so uppity.

  • Melissa Shea

    2006/05/16 at 9:59 am

    Given the southern heritage, it’s surprising that I vote for “cray-on” here… But as for something like pecan it’s definitely “puh-cahn”. But then again I’m weird because toilet is “tole-et” and not “toy-let”. Oil is “ole”, boil is “bole”. Yah. Howdy y’all.

  • Shash

    2006/05/16 at 10:04 am

    You are a true southern gal with the crown pronunciation.

    It’s a tomato/tomahto thing.

  • HeathsB

    2006/05/16 at 9:27 am

    my head thinks cray-on but cran is all that comes out. i need some help on a word that was debated this weekend… foliage… fol-i-age or foll-age? and i am from washington state not warsh-in-ton, who puts an “r” in there?! my bet is on the people who say crown.

  • Ty

    2006/05/16 at 9:27 am

    I think the only way CROWN makes sense is that you are clearly pronouncing it CRAYWN.

    My ears are hurting from trying to imagine the “l” in walk, talk and chalk.

  • flytrixie

    2006/05/16 at 8:49 am

    Smark! has got it right. Now it’s your turn, Heather. Remember, Cray-ola makes cray-ons.

  • cate

    2006/05/16 at 8:54 am

    My Nana called a couch a davenport.

    She also said thinks like “I was up ta the Market yesterday”

  • Mack'sMom

    2006/05/16 at 9:03 am

    A Davenport is a name brand….just like a lot of people call “tissues” Kleenex. (Or like the English say they are Hoovering…when they are vacuuming)

  • edie

    2006/05/16 at 9:05 am

    WOW! Judging by the number of comments here I guess there’s quite the debate over cray-on and crown. I’m of the cray-on persuassion myself. I used to know a girl who said “crown” and it took me forever to figure out what she was talking about, heh.

  • Nat W.

    2006/05/16 at 9:09 am

    Wait, there’s a difference between fool and full?

  • Antennapaedia

    2006/05/16 at 9:20 am

    Late to the party, as always. But to this Southern girl? “Crayon,” not “crown.” And it’s Tawk, Wawk, etc. no L.

    Sorry, I side with Jon, too. And the “crown” think actually struck me as a Northern speech variant (although, Tennessee IS significantly north of where I grew up.”

  • rodona

    2006/05/16 at 8:43 am

    Oooh! I actually considered saying something about “davenports”.

    My grandma said “davenport” (Chicago), but she was the only one I ever heard say it (maybe some of her neighbors, but I don’t know about them). Mom says it was a brand name, but we kids always thought it was hilarious.

    It’s definitely “couch”. Sofa is what you sit on when you lift your pinkie while drinking your tea and later on color with cray-ons.

  • lainofthewired

    2006/05/16 at 8:48 am

    Oooh, speaking of pet peeves with phrasing, I own a restaurant, and people from South Florida frequently say “what does it bring” instead of “what does it come with” when refering to side items for an entree. It drives me insane!!!!! Food does not bring anything!!! They even say it when describing the food to someone else, “Yeah, the chicken teriyaki brings broccoli and carrots”. OMG… Oh, yeah, and “you might could” when making a suggestion. STOP IT NOW BEFORE I EXPLODE! That is all.

  • lainofthewired

    2006/05/16 at 8:40 am

    Well, I have to say it’s definatly cray-on, BUT I have heard many people pronounce it CROWN. In fact, there is one in my office right now. I live in northern Florida where we have a mix of three distinct accents: the neutral, non-accent (me), Scarlett O’Hara, and the Beverly Hillbilly (thanks, Wakulla County). The Beverly Hillbillys always say CROWN. So it is not a southern thing, per se, it is a redneck thing. Sorry to lay the redneck label on you, Dooce.

  • cate

    2006/05/16 at 8:34 am

    Cray-on dooce girl!!

    Now post an audio of your apology to your luvin’ husband!!

  • blogthemagnificentferret

    2006/05/16 at 8:38 am

    Ain’t regional variations fun?

    I find myself in agreement with the people who stick up for “colors,” too. “Crayon” (which, as I posted above, I say CRAN) is too fancy, reserved for cocktail parties and meetins with the royal family.

    My mom, who grew up in like western Illinois, said “warsh,” but my first grade teacher told the class during a reading lesson that there is no r in “warsh.” Heavily traumatic – my parents showed me the dictionary, which proved the teacher was right, and I ran off to get a pen to correct the dictionary.

    Anybody have any opinions on “sofa” vs. “couch” vs. “davenport”?

    Heather, when you pronounce “Crayon,” it’s a two-syllable word, because the “o” sound in “crown” is actually two sounds, kind of like “ah-oou.” If you focus, you can feel your lips moving in the middle of the vowel . . . and of course, it’s more obvious in Southern pronunciation.

  • zan

    2006/05/16 at 8:26 am

    From the Harvard/MIT dialect survey:


    For me, from Southwestern Ohio, it’s “cran,” with a bit of a lilt between the ‘a’ and the ‘n’ (“cray-in”).

  • bellybuttonbugs

    2006/05/16 at 8:30 am

    I grew up in Australia where it was definitely Cray-on. I too haven’t heard the crown version.

    I’ve checked with some colleagues here (London, UK)and they all say it is cray-on too. Sorry Heather. But, don’t know if you can believe them, as some cockney londoners say ‘fings’ instead of things and ‘free’ instead of ‘three’. Now that does my head in.

    B x

    PS. thank you for brightening up my day

  • bloomingyou

    2006/05/16 at 8:20 am

    Dictionary.com has it as two syllables Cray-on.

    Sorry Heather but Jon is right on this one.

  • Betsy

    2006/05/16 at 8:21 am

    Look at all these comments – dialect makes people crazy!

    I am a Southern OH girl married to a native westerner. We (lovingly) argue about dialect differences all the TIME.

    Our latest: I say /bowl/ and /bull/ are homonyms. DH disagrees. Alas the dictionary backs him up. But I’m the English major and he’s the software engineer so no matter: I win. 😉

    PS: I’m pretty sure I pronounce the /l/ in /walk/ and /chalk/. I *have* however broken myself from the following hillbillyisms:

    Crick for creek
    Warsh for wash
    Ohiya for Ohio

  • JennJenn

    2006/05/16 at 8:22 am

    Holy Crap that’s a funny post!
    (and I needed it this morning)

    And by the way, when you say, “I asked you if that was your poopie diaper”, it’s pronounced Assked, not Axed.

    And when you say, “That’s especially delightful Ragu”, it’s pronounced esssspecially, not exxpecially.

  • andrea

    2006/05/16 at 8:22 am

    I even created a typepad account so I could chime in on this one!

    Either cray-on or cran…. never crown

  • rodona

    2006/05/16 at 8:25 am

    It’s cran if you’re from Chicago.

    Every time I read the cray-on pronunciation it seems like you should lift your pinkie when you drink your tea.

    I got in trouble at my in-laws’ when they asked me to “take stuff up” (take food off the stove and put it in bowls on the table) and didn’t know what they meant.

  • kate

    2006/05/16 at 8:17 am

    Um, I don’t know which Chicago GoCubsAmy is from, but–no accent? Honey, seriously now. When I went to college in Missouri, I got made fun of for the ridiculously hard/nasal vowel sounds in such inoccuous words as “box” and “dollar”. And, I gotta disagree with you. Everyone I know says “cran” around here. It’s not right, but there it is. And, it’s got the hardest sounding “aah” sound ever.

    No accent in “tchicahgo”. Must be an uppity north-sider. (I kid!)

  • jessica

    2006/05/16 at 8:14 am

    after saying it a few times, i find myself saying cran, but there is something weird w/ the “a”, as if it strains to last a bit longer than it should, maybe as if it is blocking an “yo” in there? i don’t know. i never liked saying that word in the first place.

    i grew up in MN, have lived in TN for about 5 years now. and i never, until moving here, heard the thing where people would drop the L in words like cold and old and it just makes my skin quiver. unless they actually have a cold. then it’s ok.

    my born and raised tennessean friend votes cray-on. just for the record. but she also purposely avoided the accent somehow.

  • AuntEliz

    2006/05/16 at 8:16 am

    I would say cray-on. The only single syllable pronunciation I’ve ever heard is the painful CRAN. Yikes! But I have a confession. Being from the South (Louisiana, Arkansas, Texas)…deep in my heart….they’re not cray-ons; they’re not crowns; they’re not crans. They’re colors.

  • Mel

    2006/05/16 at 8:11 am

    Save yourself the trouble and just call them “colors” which is what we did when I was a girl. However, I must say that cray-on is clearly the winning choice.

    And now that my daughter just bonked her head on a table, I must depart.

  • ritsgirl

    2006/05/16 at 8:03 am

    I believe the correct pronunciation is cray-in. I’ll also admit to saying cee-ment and inkpen. This must be endearing because sometimes when I’m talking, my husband will smile and shake his head, and give me a great big hug making me forget what I was saying. Either that or he’s trying to shut me up out of the goodness of his heart.

  • BigA

    2006/05/16 at 8:06 am

    I had to listen to that several times just to make sure I was hearing what I thought I was hearing. Wow. Now my father is a yankee (from NYC) and my mother is a southerner (from SC) so I’ve spent a good bit of time in both areas. NEVER have a heard such a pronunciation. It is truly remarkable and you gets points for that alone. Still – Jon is right. Yankees won the war after all.

  • cagey

    2006/05/16 at 8:07 am

    Here in Kansas we say “crayon”, but I’ll be a monkey’s uncle – I sure as hell can’t vouch for what the Kansas Bored of Education would say is the correct pro-nounce-iation.

  • Kerri

    2006/05/16 at 7:56 am

    Oh my. I love that this post has already inspired 353 people to comment. I agree with John on all counts, and submit that perhaps it is you, dear Dooce, who is butchering the language. Crown? WaLk? Who says that?

    Please don’t let the fact that I’m from NJ color your judgement of my comment. Although I do, in fact, say “wudder” for “water”, most of that Sopranos-esque accent comes from NEW YORK, not NJ.

  • LeafGirl77

    2006/05/16 at 7:57 am

    You know… I read this post and thought “Everyone KNOWS it’s Crayon”.

    Then I said it.

    I say Cran. Shit.

  • Kari

    2006/05/16 at 7:51 am

    So is Leta going to think there’s two different kinds of coloring implements? The ones she uses with Mama and the ones she uses with Daddy?

    (I have heard it pronounced “crown” before, but it was by a Jack Mormon. Sorry.)

  • curlygirlymm

    2006/05/16 at 7:43 am

    I’m a southerner born and raised (Georgia), and everyone in my family pronounces it cray-on. On the other hand, I’ve never imagined that you COULD pronounce walk and talk without the L. Someone earlier is right- they’re soft, but definitely there.

  • GoCubsAmy

    2006/05/16 at 7:49 am

    In Chicago it’s CRAY-on. We don’t have accents here!

  • Killeen

    2006/05/16 at 7:42 am

    Question, how do you pronounce “rayon”?

    Love ya doocer but I’m also with Jon on this one.

  • Mack'sMom

    2006/05/16 at 7:29 am

    Imagine that, a typ-o….

    I meant to say that we say SCHEDULE as SCEDule….whoops.

  • Jennifer in Ohio

    2006/05/16 at 7:29 am

    Ok, I’m sorry but the person who said that it’s ok to say nuculer instead of nuclear is just wrong. It grates on my nerves to hear it said like that.

    That’s like the people who say ath-a-lete. It’s athlete, two syllables! No more!

  • jw

    2006/05/16 at 7:29 am

    CRAY — own

  • PK

    2006/05/16 at 7:31 am

    Amen, sister.
    Also, w-o-l-f, pronounced “woof”, and b-u-t-t-o-n, pronounced “buddun”, and w-i-s-h, pronounced “woosh”.

  • lilaclifter

    2006/05/16 at 7:31 am

    I’m afraid I agree with Jon on this one. I have never heard crayon pronounced crown and I’ve lived in many states. I’ve always heard cray-on or cran.

  • Scarlett

    2006/05/16 at 7:39 am

    As a beneficiary of a Tennessee childhood myself, I have to say… CRAY-on. Sorry.

  • Mommy-Brain

    2006/05/16 at 7:42 am

    Northern California girl checking in with CRAY-on, wok, tok, chawk. File me under never having even considered another way.

    The one that fascinates me, aside from woof (wolf), is foyer. Is it foy-yay, foy-YER, or FOY-yer?

    At least Leta will be considered bilingual, given that her parents speak two completely different languages!

  • Mack'sMom

    2006/05/16 at 7:22 am

    Do we need to discuss the word AUNT??

    It’s not ANT!!!!! You step on ANTS you hug your AUNT!

    You wouldn’t say “Hanted House,” you would say “Haunted House!”

    It drives me crazy!!!!!

  • Fyse

    2006/05/16 at 7:22 am

    Oh dear god Heather. I can’t begin to tell you how wrong your pronunciation of crayon is. So, so, SO wrong. I think we need a recording of John saying it too, though. Perhaps you’re both way off, and Leta is completely screwed…

  • Smark!

    2006/05/16 at 7:24 am

    Say it with me now….

    Cray-ola makes cray-ons!

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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