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.

  • lbrum

    2006/05/16 at 7:26 am

    I think you may have made up a word and applied it to an object previously known as a cray-on. But I am a Yankee, so I’m probably just being ignorant.

  • Lynnlaw

    2006/05/16 at 7:26 am

    I think I just got a spanking. Ouch. I’m going to have to pack up my “crans” go up to my room and think about my mispronunciation.

  • Mack'sMom

    2006/05/16 at 7:27 am

    Hey moonrattled…if the English say everything right, we should be saying the SCH in SCHEDULE, instead of “SECDULE.” The English have butchered their own language too…

    I hate how people say ANT, when they are talking about their AUNT. There’s a “U” in their people!! You wouldn’t say HANTED HOUSE, you’d say HAUNTED HOUSE!

  • Katie

    2006/05/16 at 7:17 am

    I’d say you were goofy for thinking it’s pronounced “crown,” but I’m one of those crazies who pronounce it “cran,” and I full well know it’s wrong, so I can’t really speak to that. My girlfriend is from the same hometown as I am, and she also calls it “cran.” This is a wonderful debate, though… a friend of mine used to tease me for saying the word “full” like “fool.” I insisted that I did no such thing, and that I was saying it the proper way. Then, the other day, I overheard a girl from Ohio (which is where I’m from) say “fool” when she meant to say “full,” and I was so ashamed.

    As a kid, I was always dismayed that living in Northeastern Ohio (Youngstown) came with absolutely NO ACCENT. I’d visit my cousins in Florida and be extremely jealous of how interesting they sounded. Even Cleveland, and hour west of me, sported folks with accents. I learned recently that the pronounciation editor of the 2nd edition of Webster’s in the 30s, John Kenyon, grew up in Northeastern Ohio, and he helped to make that dialect the standard American dialect. (http://www.newyorker.com/talk/content/articles/051114ta_talk_seabrook)

    I still don’t know why I was ever taught to say “crayon” like “cran.” That’s just plain stupid.


  • moonrattled

    2006/05/16 at 7:13 am

    I’d be more afraid of your sister than Jon, who pronounces words like Canadians do, and Canadians pronounce like the English, and the English have correct enunciation.

  • Princess of Power

    2006/05/16 at 7:03 am

    Oh hell. I say Cran. It sure looks stupid written out though doesn’t it?

  • honey bunny

    2006/05/16 at 7:04 am

    i’m a new yorker and we say it with two syllables. CRAY-On. i lived in MA for 12 years, and many of the locals pronounce it with one syllable, but it sounds like CRANE. i’m not sure how people here in Mpls say it (since i’ve only been here 3 months), but i’m sure it ends with a “youbetcha!”

    but i have to admit, i’ve never heard it pronounced the way you say it!

  • 6degrees

    2006/05/16 at 7:13 am

    Dude! (pronounced “Dood”, not “Deewd”) Crawn? Crown? I think if you loop you pronunciation of crown, I mean Crayon (pronounced Cray- On!!), you might sound like somebody trying to start their car which has run out of gas! By the way, Crayola is pronounced Cray- O- La, not, crowola, or Corolla, or Coca- Cola. BTW, I thought Utah was by Nevada and Colorado, not Tennessee and Alabama.

    In all reality, love the site and you guys. Just putting in my $.02, and siding with Blurb on this… Sorry…

  • Jennifer

    2006/05/16 at 7:01 am

    Cray-on. Say it with me now: Cray-on.

    But seriously? I would hate it if you started pronouncing crayon correctly. Incidentally, my husband teases me about saying “wooder” instead of “water.” It’s just the way marriage goes when you have two overly verbal people in it.

  • jen

    2006/05/16 at 6:56 am

    I am from Florida (not something I am proud of, lol) and I say craaaan. As in, my mouth is too lazy to actually form the two distinct syllables of CRAY and ON (which would be correct), so instead the CRA part just goes on a few extra nanoseconds.

    Regardless, here is a shirt elucidating on this topic that you may enjoy :

  • goodapple

    2006/05/16 at 7:01 am

    CRAY-on… two sounds… not one…

    I’m from Canada, my husband is from Indiana… we both say CRAY-on. But your version sound so sweet!

    Hint: if you have to pause during the spelling of the word… it’s probably two syllables!

  • lizneust

    2006/05/16 at 6:56 am

    Um, sorry Heather. My Dad’s from the deep south, my Mom’s from NY state near Canada, and I was raised in Baltimore. We ALL pronounce it cray-on.

    Of course, my father does refer to events like Katrina & Rita as HARRAH-canes, so he does brutalize the English language to some extent.

  • Msyvone

    2006/05/16 at 6:50 am

    I just noticed the “link” i included in comment 165, was not a “qwaldy” link.


    Ah hopes yinz injoys dat.

  • napangel

    2006/05/16 at 6:52 am

    OF COURSE it’s pronounced CRAY-on. Crown? CROWN?! What, are you hopped up on dope?!

    Enjoy the Steely Dan.

  • kellbee

    2006/05/16 at 6:52 am

    Well, I’ve had an interesting experience with that word, along with other words in the Redneckish English language. My mother grew up in Iowa. My dad grew up in Arkanas. My step mother grew up in various places, including the proper Southern Belle south and Alaska. I was born and rasied in Northern Arkansas in the Ozark Mountains. That creates for an interesting dialect. Now, in Tennessee, people always ask me if I’m from up North. I’m not sure what to take of that…but I degress.
    I started my younger years saying “crown”. But around 6, my stepmother forced me to say “Cray-on” She also make me say “Nap-Kin” instead of “Nat-kin”. And, by the way, praline, is pronounce PRA (like Bra)-lean. (This is an exact quote from my dad). When I got to college in west Tennessee, I was informed that I like to say “Bol-th” for both. And it should be pronounce “Bow (like Hair Bow) -th” Oh…God forbid you say ten and pen instead of Tiiiin and Piiiiiin. Geez whiz. It’s impossible to find a dialect with that many influences. OH. To top it all off, my first boyfriend (we know what kind of impression they can leave) was from North Dakota and insisted I say aunt like “aUNT” like Aussie. B/c Aussie is aussie, not assie. (again, exact quote.)
    The whole point is to communicate your thought. Who cares who you say it. But please, oh God, please, don’t teach your daughter the Tennessee way of saying forward. I had the hardest time understanding what people were saying with that one. It’s FOR-WARD, not “ford”.
    Love you so much dooce!

  • omar

    2006/05/16 at 6:49 am

    I’ve lived in this great country my entire life, and I’ve never known there was another way to say crayon. Other than the correct way of CRAY-ON, that is.

    Here I was thinking that the biggest regional debate was soda/pop/coke.

  • Marie Freeman

    2006/05/16 at 6:40 am

    Here in the Blue Ridge mountains, I’ve heard it pronounced both ‘Crowns’ and ‘Ka-Rans’
    How do you say the word, ‘on?’ as in Please turn on the lights.

  • utmr

    2006/05/16 at 6:49 am

    Grew up in Texas – never heard it called “cran” until my Chicago-bred MIL taught my daughter to call it that. I can’t get her to call it a cray-on to save my life. She also refuses to say ya’ll or fixin, and insists on prounouncing been like “bean”.

    How will my child ever survive in Texas if she can’t clean her clothers in the “warsher” before she puts them in the chester drawers? She also thinks that a pitcher on the wall is pronounced differently than a pitcher of (sweet) tea. Sheesh. Next thing she will tell me that Mary/merry/marry sound different, along with pin/pen and bury/berry/Barry.

  • JennyRebecca

    2006/05/16 at 6:37 am

    Don’t forget caramel!! Is it CAR-mel or Care-A-mel!?!?

  • be OH be

    2006/05/16 at 6:39 am

    I grew up around Pittsburgh and we tend to mumble and mash our words up quite a bit. A lot of multisyllabic words become one long syllable. I say cray-on if I think about it but often it comes out as something like cren, cran, or even crane.
    After moving a away from the area and then attending college, I became more and more aware of the accent (we call it Pittsburghese).
    I still mispronounce (pronounce differently?) a lot of words in the midst of normal conversation when I’m not concentrating on it but if you specifically asked me what the correct pronounciation of the word is, I could probably tell you. I don’t mean to be too judgemental, but your insistence on that pronounciation seems like willful ignorance. You could spend the entire afternoon at your local library and never find a dictionary or pronounciation guide that would even come close to validating “crown”. That doesn’t make it wrong, but try explaining that to Leta’s immature classmates.

    This is a great discussion btw. Very enlightening.

  • vinsanity

    2006/05/16 at 6:24 am

    Minnesota weighing in … CRAY-ON.

    2 syllables.

    It rhymes with Rayon.

  • UWSParent

    2006/05/16 at 6:24 am

    Why is it that you don’t allow for comments on your AlphaMom related posts? Very suspicious. I think it’s your subconcious way of convincing yourself that it’s OK to dance with the devil.

  • UWSParent

    2006/05/16 at 6:25 am

    Oh – and it’s CRAY-ON. The word has two syllables.

  • HalfwayCrucified

    2006/05/16 at 6:26 am

    My best friend is a master at not only mangling pronounciation but not getting the right word to begin with. My favorite is when he talks about someone’s “self deficating sense of humor.”

    I know I should correct him but it’s so damn funny.

  • Trish

    2006/05/16 at 6:33 am

    I am a native Texan and I swear I am saying cray-on but am told it sounds like crown. Texans do the same thing with the word ‘oil.’ My mouth makes this change when it comes out to ohl. It’s one long syllable.

    And doesn’t everyone know that the actual word ‘crown’ has 2 syllables and ‘crayon’ only has one?

  • Claire Phipps

    2006/05/16 at 6:23 am

    I say CRAYUN… But then my opinion/pronounciation probably doesn’t count for much seeing as I don’t have a US accent.

    (I’m from England – an “Essex girl”, which means for the mostpart I talk in a strong Estuary English dialect… which is kind of like London Cockney, only its slightly slower, even less attractive and far more common…)

    Sounds great, doesn’t it?

  • Jessica May

    2006/05/16 at 6:20 am

    No no no. C – R – O – W – N is “crown”. C – R – A – Y – O – N is definitely “cray-on”. I speak with some authority on this subject as I am Canadian, and Canada is a constitutional monarchy. That means that the Queen is our head of state and as everyone knows, the proper way of speaking is to use the “Queen’s English”. Your head of state is George Bush. I don’t think it’s necessary for me to further elaborate on this point.

  • vibegrrl

    2006/05/16 at 6:22 am

    Yea, it’s TOTALLY cray-on.

    Or, as my 3-year old niece says, “cray-non”

  • liz53

    2006/05/16 at 6:23 am

    Sorry Miss Heather, here is Bartleby’s (correct) pronunciation of crayon, as a two syllable word: http://www.bartleby.com/61/wavs/13/C0731300.wav

    I think that you must concede.

  • Jordan

    2006/05/16 at 6:16 am

    Whoa. Hellooooooo accent. Sorry Heather, I definitely have to go with Jon on this one. It’s cray-on.

  • brandy

    2006/05/16 at 6:17 am

    Crayola Cray-ons.
    I honestly had to listen to that clip 4 times because I just couldnt believe that you really said crown instead of cray-on.

    Now if you could please put up a clip of you saying the words: aluminum, tuesday and saturday.

  • HalfwayCrucified

    2006/05/16 at 6:20 am

    Aren’t there more pressing matters we could be talking about? I mean really. . .crayons?

    Could you post another picture of those shoes?

  • plantain

    2006/05/16 at 6:20 am

    My mum says ‘restaurong’.
    My husband says ‘spere’ and ‘spincter’ and the most annoying of all ‘pom from’ instead of ‘palm frond’.

  • kerry

    2006/05/16 at 6:20 am

    ok, just to add my two cents: i’m from southern ohio, i say cray-on. but i also say a faint l in walk, talk, etc.

    i may part ways with other southern ohioans, though, when it comes to roof (rooooooof0, wash (wahsh), route (rowt).

    my hubby, who was born and raised in south wales says crayon, too. but then he says there’s a difference in the pronunciation of kerry and carrie. even when he says it i can hardly tell a difference, but it drives me nuts. as long as you spell my name correctly, i don’t care.

    and here’s something to throw out to all of you: does anybody pronounce protein pro-tee-in? my dad does this and it about drives me up the friggin’ creek! (not crick)

  • plantain

    2006/05/16 at 6:12 am

    Then again I’m a fucking mess. Growing up in Ireland for the first eight years of my life means I say things like “I’m going to dress the bed, can you get the sheets out of the press. Then after that I’ll do a little hoovering. Would you like me to go up the town for your messages (groceries)”.
    Then living in Queensland, Australia till I was 21 means I talk like I’m a hurry. Everything is shortened in OZ eg this afternoon= this arvo and I still drop my r’s half the time, but now that I’ve picked up a Cali twang from being here for 9 years I’m all over the shop.

  • ErinMqt

    2006/05/16 at 6:12 am

    Since about 10,000 people have already told you that it’s cray-on, I won’t tell you that I agree with them. I will just tell you that I am sorry about the Steely Dan Block Party. My dad (who was born in 1952) is a huge Steely Dan fan, and Steely Dan is the bane of my existence. Stay strong!

  • Nee

    2006/05/16 at 6:12 am

    I had a roommate from Cedar City, UT who pronounced the word poem as “poy” with an “m” on the end. My other roommate and I laughed hysterically seeing as we were raised and lived in the midwest, the only place in the country void of an accent. Unless you’re my relatives in the sticks of the midwest. Then you slap an “r” into words like wash=warsh. Like friggin nails on a chalkboard.

    Just be sure you educate Leta on the virtue of “oh my heck” and “fer fun” and “fer cute” so she can assimilate accordingly.

  • katy66

    2006/05/16 at 6:08 am

    I was born in Northern Ohio and lived there until I was 11. Then I moved to Kentucky.

    Everyone I know claims I have the ugliest accent ever. Think Chicago Mid Western Accent meets Kentucky drawl.

    I say Cray-On, but I say wack, tack and chack.

    I should just mime.

  • Sunni

    2006/05/16 at 6:10 am

    Poor Heather, your readers (with the exception of GEORGE!) are rebelling against you.

    I am a big fan of the word crayon, which is pronounced cray-on. I love to say both of its syllables.

    I am an annuciation freak and simply can’t tolerate how some people kill the English language. Kind of like when my husband says punkin or birfday. Ugh, I even had trouble typing those words!

    I also have to agree that the Ls in walk, talk and chalk are not annunciated but are silent.

    And George!, groceries are what you BUY at the grocery STORE sweetie!

    However, WATER, is pronounced wooder. It’s a Philly thing. lol

  • Byron

    2006/05/16 at 5:54 am

    Hi Heather, first time to comment – but just had to 🙂

    Cray-on – definitely 🙂




  • Territorial

    2006/05/16 at 5:59 am

    This Canadian pronounces it Cray-on eh!

  • riot_siren

    2006/05/16 at 5:59 am

    I say CRAN, but I’m from Western New York (Rochester/Buffalo) and we extend our vowels until they sound like nasal, abstract sounds that stand apart from the word they belong to. A third of the state talks that way. Don’t hate the player, hate the game. 😉

  • thejoyof

    2006/05/16 at 6:04 am

    I’m with Jon – cray-on. But I have to say your version fascinates me….

  • Hali

    2006/05/16 at 6:04 am

    I’m one of the mentioned Yankees who says “cran”. I’ve never heard it pronounced “crown”…

    And Public Enemy says “cray-on” in the song “Crayola”, so I think “cran” or “cray-on” is what’s right…

    and that’s coming from another English major…:)

  • Mack'sMom

    2006/05/16 at 6:08 am

    I’m sitting at my desk saying these words out loud! People have got to think I’m nuts!

    Sorry H. but I have to go with Jon here too…Cray-on. BUT…I think my Minnesoooota accent also gets in the way and I hear CRAY-ON in my head, but say CRAN.

  • mkdaugherty

    2006/05/16 at 5:48 am

    Wow. This may be the first time I’ve read your site and disagreed with you 🙂 You don’t have to tell Jon he’s right, though – husbands do not need that sort of leverage.

  • guinnevere

    2006/05/16 at 5:49 am

    oh lord heather you dont really talk like that. honestly. i can tell youre one of those people who spent their entire young adult life training the hick right out of yourself with foreign films and too much booze. which was counterproductive, by the way.

  • flytrixie

    2006/05/16 at 5:47 am

    Sorry, Heather…I work for that big greeting card company (yeah, you know the one) that owns Crayola, and trust me, Crayola makes ‘kray-ons’. A ‘crown’ is what appears above the company name in our logo.

  • Teresa

    2006/05/16 at 5:47 am

    In our household both my husband and I pronouce it Cray-on, but our oldest child says Crown. Now you choose the smarter grouping, child or adult.

  • wealhtheow

    2006/05/16 at 5:44 am

    CRAY-ON!! But thanks to my Bostonian mother, I was propbably 20 before I realized that everyone around me pronounced “loafers” as “Loaf-errrrrs” instead of the far more civilized “loaf-ahs.” Barbarians.

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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