Playful, elegant, and not above the judicious use of the word “shit."

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.

  • Amy

    Hate to say it, Heather, but I’m with Jon in the great crayon debate. I battle with my family in south Louisiana over the correct pronunciation of mayonnaise. These people think MY-nez is the way to go, but it really doesn’t sound like anything I’d want near my sandwich.

  • paper

    it should be obvious, “colored pencil” is both the prefered writing/coloring instrument, and the preferred pronunciation!

  • Jaida

    Arkansan here and there are people who pronounce “water” or “Washington” with an “R”. WaRter or WaRshington!!!

    Go ahead and color with a CROWN! I’ll be using MARKERS! hehehe!

  • I was raised in Northern Virginia and have always subscribed to the two-syllable version. I’m raising My Kid in Memphis and now I understand why he says “crown.” Here I thought maybe he had a speech impediment.

  • SMD

    Having spent time in Easton, PA, home of Crayola, it’s two syllables – cray-on. Sorry Heather!

    I love all the accents in this country! I’ve rotated through the Jersey, Boston, Texas and NYC accents – maybe I’ll move to Utah and try the Morman one next!

  • cray-on. but then again, you’d call me a “yankee” 🙂

  • jacks

    A midwesterner weighing in – CRAY-ON.

  • Mine

    I say CRAY-ON (say what you see)

    so how do you say Crown then H??

  • My best-friend/hetero-lifemate pronounces the word pillow as PELLow, and it drives me nuts. I always ask him, “what do you snort a lot of?” To which he replies, “Pills.” And then I ask him what he rests his head on at night and he says, “My pellow, dude.”

  • Ms. Pants

    California native, currently living in Texas. I’m a “cray-on” gal. But here, I’ve also heard “cray’n” which doesn’t bug me too much.

  • kendall

    I’m from Baltimore and say CROWN with pride.

    I’m with you Heather and GEORGE! Screw everyone else.

  • creed_nm

    Absolute, utter proof it is cray-on from those nice people on Seseme Street:

    http://www.sesameworkshop.org/sesamestreet/games/flash.php?contentId=7209016&

    How many times do they have to say it before you get it right Heather, and do the decent thing and apologise to Jon?

    🙂

  • Herb Fairy

    I am from Pittsburgh. We say Cray-on. But of course I also call pepsi and coke pop and not soda.

  • AAAHHHH!!! Most of my relatives speak with that Utah mountain accent. It drives me insane. My husband (a lapsed presbyterian) doesn’t understand Mormon Utah and its specific idiosyncracies.

    Until I made him watch the new episode of “what not to wear” with the chick from SLC. The verbal equivalent of fingernails on a chalkboard for me. He finally went “Ohhhhhh… so THAT is what you are talking about. Yeah. Pure Mountain Evil.”

    Crowns. Definitely. Having nothing to do with the fact that I spent most of my formative years in the south. I swear.

  • kenniecat

    CRAY-on.

    I grew up in Salt Lake City and lived there 30 of my 35 years.

    People that said “crown” were definitely from somewhere else. 🙂

  • I feel like I need to come to your defense! I say “CROWN” and always have, so does my sister. We both spent our formative years (she until 11, myself until 8) in little pockets of Mid and Mid-to-South Virginia. I’ve been in the DC Metro area since I was 8, and I’ve lost almost all of my accent, but I still say “CROWN”. So there.

  • clhannah

    If you really want to start a firestorm – debate the pronunciation of BAYOU.

  • Another Yankee (Pittsburgh) weighing in with CRAY-on.

  • A solid vote for the Midwestern CRAN. I think in the years that I’ve lived in Tennessee, it’s degenerated into CRAY-un, but just about every word in Tennessee has one more syllable than it did in Illinois. Except for “fire,” which has been shrunk to FAHR, instead of FY-yer.

    In seven years of living in Tennessee, I’ve never heard anybody say “crown.” What backward, pestilent, sibling-marrying part of the state are you from?

    BTW, it’s fascinating to me that you say Mormons drop the “T” in “Mountain.” I’ve never lived in Utah, but I noticed people doing that when I lived in New York: they didn’t pronounce the t in “bottle”–there’d be this little stop in the middle of the word: “bo–ul.” Are you sure they’re Mormons and not old Jewish people from Brooklyn?

  • Amber of Norfolk, Va., via Valdosta, Ga., backs you. It’s CROWN.

    Also I’d love to hear you pronounce “pecan” and “aunt.” Where I come from it’s PEE-can and ANT. In Virginia now it’s puh-CAHN and ONT. Ugh, not even.

  • I will never read a post again without hearing your accent. Don’t worry, it just increases your snark factor. There is nothing more snarky than a smart ass woman with a southern accent. Nothing. In college, since there were folks from places like NJ, Minnesota, and South Carolina together in one place, there were many entertaining conversations regarding the pronounciation of various words. I used to get slack for the way I pronounce antenna, but have never gotten anyone to explain exactly what was so gd funny.

  • thleen

    Hey Heather…
    We say cran in our family…but I say go for it. Start a revolution. Crowns Bitches!
    And I am with cassie_paige…gimme the purple one and stopping eating the blue one. and color outside the lines!

  • tinam

    It’s cray-on. And I’m as southern as they come (Tennessee). I’ve never heard it pronounced *crown*!!! LOL Nor can I imagine walk, talk, chalk without the *L*.

    My first time commenting here – love your site and love the pictures of that cutie patootie – Leta.

    tina

  • iggygrl76

    Its Cray-on always been Cray-on thats kinda why its spelled crayon Crayon not CROWN thats you know kinda hillbilly.

  • As an English type person I say CRAY-ON

  • ksdavies

    OK…seriously, people. If you don’t have one handy, try dictionary.com. Cray-on. Two syllables. Tour…one syllable.

    I’m in the South…born and raised here and haven’t managed to escape, yet. But even *I* can prounounce crayon correctly. Let your fingers do the walkin’.

    Thank you Kookie! I hadn’t checked caramel and I really perfer the 3 syllable pronounciation!

    And while we’re on the topic…was my Dad pulling my leg about the pronounciation of flutist?! He insisted on saying flout-ist…

  • You 2 can argue all you want over pronunciation. But in a few years Leta is going to have the same accent her friends do.

  • KookieDangerous

    Ok, this is the definitive answer. It comes from an English teacher who is twice descended from English teachers. The fluent use of three other languages helps, too, so there’s a good point of reference.
    PLUS it comes from a dictionary studier who was raised in Central Western Pennsylvania-long known as the research-supported region that speaks the purest un-accented form of American Standard English.
    walk talk and chalk all have an ever so slightly glottal recognition of the l and crayon is indeed cray-on, and it’s cah-rah-mel.
    Now you know why my nickname is what it is. =-)

  • Teeny225

    Sorry Dooce, love the site, but how in the name of all that is good and holy does cray-on become crown??!! It’s just wrong, people. CRAY-ON.

    ‘kay?!!

  • ErinG

    Lucie- on the same token words that end in “a” do not have an “r” sound attached. *wink*

  • munchlove

    Ah! It hurts!!

  • bexcetera

    I can’t come with you on this. A CRAYon is something you colour with, a crown is something the Queen wears/avery expensive dental experience.

    *sips tea*

    *jams u’s into words that don’t need them*

  • Kelli

    OH MY GAWD!
    This is such a sore subject in my house. My husband and I are both native Texans, but he has MUCH more of a drawl than I do. And he says ‘crown’. It makes me crazy. It’s CRAY-ON. CRAY-ON.

    Of course, I think I have issues with the whole mispronunciation thing. My grandmother used to pronounce Colorado as Call-uh-RAID-uh and Hawaii and HUH-WHY-YUH. ACK. When we visited her, you could often find me huddled in the corner of the back room, fingers in my ears, rocking back and forth to comfort myself.

  • It’s definitely CRAY-ON. I say that as an actual English person, speaking English, not American 🙂 But pronouncing it CRAWN with a cute southern accent is just WAY funnier!!!

  • noodlebugs

    sooo…..how does everyone pronounce “caramel”?

  • ErinG

    Cran. We color with crans!

    And I completley understand where Heather is coming from on the walk/talk/chalk thing. The “L” may be silent, but it is inherent in the actual pronunciation and sounds odd when left out. This is best learned by obtaining a foreign husband, who adds and subtracts all sorts of different letters and sounds from words that are best left alone!

  • ErinG

    Care-a-mel! It’s just funner that way!

  • Lucie

    Now, come on. I know you Americans like to cut 2/3 of the syllables in most words (while inexplicably making the remaining syllables really, really drawn out) but this is getting a bit silly.

    MY dictionary wasn’t written by Yankee or any American, and it says ‘crayon’ is two syllables. 🙂

    And while we’re on the subject, please re-insert the I in ‘aluminIum’.

    Regards,

    The Pedant.

  • SueFromOhio

    OOH OOH (and for the sake of phonetics, I’ll spell the words the way I pronounce them) WHEEL-BAR-O not WHEEL-BARREL…GROSS-ER-EE not GROSH-ER-EE…hmmmm, SHER-BIT not SHER-BERT

    HEY, this is fun 🙂

  • Kelly

    Crown? Noooo.

    Love your site, been reading it for well over a year now (believe I stumbled upon it after reading the definition of being “dooced” at urbandictionary.com and was hooked ever since), but it is so NOT crown. Cray-on.

  • Magellan

    I like the brown crown.

  • Kathleen

    I say Cray-on.
    And I think I drop my L’s too (please audio clip the non-dropprd L’s!)
    My mother’s family is from Tennessee, and they all say Cray-on, but they DO say it fast and southern-like, so I guess they COULD be saying CROWN.

    I know how you feel about pronounciation, though. My husband’s family is from just outside of Boston, and they speak pure Good Will Hunting. Most R’s are dropped (Get in the CAH, You’ah Wicked Smaht!) and certain one syllable words have two syllables (This is My-un, Stand ovah They-ah.) I make my kids watch TV so that they are exposed to what I consider correct pronounciation.

  • Amy

    I grew up pronouncing it crown. Of course, I was raised in a family that pronounced Bower as Bar.

  • So how do you pronounce “crown” then?

    I’m with John on the pronunciation.

  • Mari

    In Connecticut, it’s CRAN. I’ve actually never heard anyone pronouncing it ‘crown’ before in my life. It’s quite pleasant.

  • SueFromOhio

    Are you sure Jon isn’t from Ohio? We Yanks here pronounce it with 2 syllables also…however, we have been known to say WARSH instead of WASH, AMBLIANCE instead of AMBULANCE and NUCULAR instead of NUCLEAR–hehehe

  • Take it from an englishman – it’s cray-on not crown. 🙂

  • I don’t have an American accent because I’m English. Here in England, crayon has two syllables. So.. really.. he is right as far and how you pronounce crayon in English.

    But then, you are right as far as how you pronounce crayon in your accent.. it’s just not the ‘official’ pronounciation I guess (although I still really don’t understand how you got crown out of crayon – but then you do live in a country that calls a fringe bangs.. what’s that about?)

    P.S. I really don’t listen to jazz.

  • Verity W

    The whole of England (and as far as I know the rest of the United Kingdom) say Cray-on. Sorry Heather! I can only assume that the American nation have done some weird things to the English language over the years to get to “crown” for crayon. I know you all hate us, but still!

    And whoever mentioned Aluminium, don’t even get me started…

  • Kate

    cray-on.

    is that really how thick your accent is? that’s fabulous.