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.

439 Comments
  • stephanie

    2006/05/15 at 3:18 pm

    i’m just confused. i thought the audio clip would totally clear it up for me and i too would be going “crown! i get it!” except what happened was totally the opposite. i admit, i say cran, because if said “cray-on” it would sound like i was leta’s age trying to sound out a word for the first time.

    seriously, i don’t get the crown thing, at all. like, to the point of, if i was in your house and you said “can you hand me the red crown?” i would have no idea what you meant, unless the king’s royal headpiece was laying around, which is what i would hand to you.

    part of the reason that i say “cran” may also be that i am from the northeast, and not only the northeast but rhode island, where we certainly have our own dialect too as i’m sure you know, the least of which is never using the letter R. thankfully, i have outgrown my hideous r.i. accent [although it still haunts me in the form of old home movies] but i guess some things just stick with you.

    in conclusion, i vote you both lose 😀

  • Kate G.

    2006/05/15 at 3:17 pm

    It’s pronounced “cran”, thankyouverymuch. No two syllables. No O. Cran.

  • GingerLane

    2006/05/15 at 3:17 pm

    Ok, I’m from Southern California (and no, I’m not in the Gen Y group that makes everything sound like a damn question). I am not from the valley; I am just an ordinary girl speaking like they do on the news.

    CROWN is crazy talk. How can it possibly be “crown”? I can’t even wrap my brain around that one, hon and let me tell you, I’m willing to follow many the places you go. But this, dear Heather? I cannot agree.

    While I’ll accept that two syllables is more than required, I am a CRAN gal. So as far as I’m concerned, you’re both wrong.

    That’s all I’m gonna say ’bout that.

  • sonjaag

    2006/05/15 at 3:18 pm

    Born and bred in Alabama, albeit north Alabama, but even I say Cray-on. However, I can’t even fathom how one could say walk, talk, and chalk without pronouncing the L. It’s right there in the middle of the word, people. You can’t miss it. Begging to be spoken!

  • Notorious M.I.L.F.

    2006/05/15 at 3:15 pm

    “Elmo loves his goldfish…..
    His CRAY-on too”

    I know you know this song.

    Sorry Heather. Elmo says. Case closed.

  • Bird Lover

    2006/05/15 at 3:15 pm

    I’m just going to beat a dead horse and repeat what others have written: it is Cray-On not CROWN or any other variation thereof. How would you pronounce Crayola? CROLA? No, it is Cray-Ola. It is Cray-on.

    I’ve got a word for you – Iron. Being from the north I pronounce both syllables like “I-ern”. My baby daddy, who is from Alabama, says “ern”. I’m guessing it’s short for Earnhardt, but I’m putting it out there for you to tell me. Who’s right, me or him?

  • Erin

    2006/05/15 at 3:11 pm

    Ohh, the point about Cray-ola and cray-on is spot on!

  • emily michelle

    2006/05/15 at 3:11 pm

    CRAY-on

    none of this “crown” foolishness, they’re coloring implements, not headwear

  • salmonday

    2006/05/15 at 3:14 pm

    I’m sure that on “Hard L Sound Island” where you come from, the indiginous peoples say “crown,” but the overwhelming majority identifies it as a CRAY-on. No amount of screaming into the wind is going to change that. Just like, as a Minnesotan, I know that the correct name of the game is “Duck, Duck, Grey Duck” and that somehow the entirety of the planet Earth manages to get it wrong by calling it “Duck, Duck, Goose,” but I have learned to live with it.

  • Catrain

    2006/05/15 at 3:11 pm

    Cheese and crackers will ya? What’s this “crown” buzinazz? I grew up in the Nasally Northwest not really coloring with crowns. But now I’m confused in how I myself pronounce it. Stage fright is gripping my ankles. I think I almost mush the two syllables of “cray-on” into a “crane”…

  • langus

    2006/05/15 at 3:10 pm

    I am from Seattle. I talk (with a silent L) like people on TV. It is cray-on. A crown is what you get on your teeth or you put on your head.

  • kelley

    2006/05/15 at 3:08 pm

    I hail from California, so I have no accent AT ALL.

    CRAY-ON.

    And, wok, tak, chok. All correct. Sorry, Heather.

  • Tracey

    2006/05/15 at 3:09 pm

    As an Aussie, I’ve never _heard_ of crayon being pronounced “crown” !!! (I mustn’t watch enough American shows on TV!!) A crayon is a cray-on – and it’s got nothing to do one’s personal music preferences!!! If you pronounce crayon as ‘crown’… how do you pronounce ‘crown’ ???!!!

    I am however enjoying this within-US debate on pronunciation.

  • jes

    2006/05/15 at 3:07 pm

    Oh, wow. Until you actually spelled “cee-arrr-aee-yiiy-ohh-iiin” I never realized just how deeply the South affected your accent. No wonder you pronounce it “crown.”

    I’m with Jon on this one.

  • Paul Bailey

    2006/05/15 at 3:07 pm

    Pronunciation variation is a delightful source of disagreement in my household, northern Englishman versus occasional Californian valley girl.

    Of particular teeth-grinding heinousness to me are ‘months’, pronounced as ‘munce’, and ‘clothes’, pronounced as ‘cloze’. And it seems to be that the standard US pronunciation of ‘mirror’ is heading very quickly to ‘meer’, if it hasn’t got there already.

    (Oh, and it’s cray-on, by the way.)

  • Carli

    2006/05/15 at 3:07 pm

    As much as I love ya Heather, Jon is correct. Your dialect is just a bit too Southern. Cray-on. And yes, lots of silent “L’s.” But hey, you’re much better looking, so maybe you could do a puppet show and he could do the talking and you could mouth the words. My mental picture is getting a little x-rated, so maybe share that when Leta’s asleep.

  • yogurtweaver

    2006/05/15 at 3:06 pm

    Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo.

    CRAY-ON.

    CRAY-ON.

    CRAY-ON.

    [deep breath]

    Sorry Dooce, but I’m with Jon on this one.

  • Mark B.

    2006/05/15 at 3:07 pm

    I am neither a Yankee nor a Mormon and I have neither of the respective accents.

    I say: Cray-on
    I say: Tak
    I say: Wok

    And so on.

    I’m actually curious Heather, if a dictionary didn’t convince you (at least) that Tak and Wok, what on earth could convince you? I.e. what would it take for you to say: “Ok John you are right.”?

  • iwouldlovetohearfromyou

    2006/05/15 at 3:05 pm

    My Yankee blood says it Cran, like gram, bam, slam, jam…crayon. I never understood how people can say, Cray-on and be ok with it. That sounds like some disease, or maybe an undiscovered fish at the bottom of the Yellow Sea.

  • Very Mom

    2006/05/15 at 3:02 pm

    It’s CREN, people. CRENS.

  • Babs

    2006/05/15 at 3:04 pm

    Crens?

  • junkyardlove

    2006/05/15 at 3:04 pm

    Try being from Upstate NY (we’re talking up by Canada)where “crayon,” is pronounced “cran.” One syllable, and make it kinda nasal-sounding.

  • Hope

    2006/05/15 at 3:04 pm

    when I saw this post I HAD to comment, (I LOVE your site by he way; my husband always knows i’m reading dooce when I laugh so hard I fall off the couch!)

    We have this argument all the time in our house, but my husband is from Boston so he says Cray-ON with a boston accent while I say Crain, with my horrible New England accent.

    I will say nothing is as bad as my grandmother that say Ohio as Oh-he-o

  • Babs

    2006/05/15 at 3:04 pm

    Oh my God.

  • Megan

    2006/05/15 at 3:05 pm

    One vote for CRAY-on. At least that’s how we pronouce it here in the Northeast. Love the accent, by the way.

  • floydwood

    2006/05/15 at 3:05 pm

    it’s cray-on in australia

  • fabulousgirl7

    2006/05/15 at 3:02 pm

    I absolutely agree with Jon on this one. Up here in Canada, I’ve never heard it pronounced CROWN. Besides, if it was CROWN, it wouldn’t sound like CRAYOLA, and why else would one name a CRAY-ON brand CRAYOLA? Yup, definitely CRAY-ON.

  • Askew Adventures

    2006/05/15 at 2:53 pm

    I’m with you Heather, totally crown. I am exceptionally picky when it comes to pronunciations. I’m sure many of my friends and coworkers over the years have wanted to hit me for correcting their pronunciation on a totally meaningless word. I had a coworker at my last position that was from Northeast Philly, which is positively THE WORST accent and pronunciation problem prone area I’ve ever heard. I cringed listening to her talk, which was often since I sat in the cube directly in front of her.

    I haven’t noticed the “mormon” accent, but now I’m going to be on the listen for it.

  • Tara Whitney

    2006/05/15 at 2:56 pm

    crown is what sits atop a king or queen.
    CRAY-on is what my kids color with.

    sorry h. siding with the other half on this one.

  • jennifer curry

    2006/05/15 at 2:56 pm

    i definitely do not have a mormon accent — but i still think it is cray-on.

  • Dayna Lee

    2006/05/15 at 2:56 pm

    Daaaaaang! I thought my Arkansas/Oklahoma accent was bad. =)

  • Tara Whitney

    2006/05/15 at 2:57 pm

    atop the HEAD of a king or queen. sorry.

    one more thing-if you asked me for the magenta crown i would say wtf are you talking about? lol

  • Babs

    2006/05/15 at 2:58 pm

    Hmm.

    Can’t go with you on this one. I have always pronounced it cray-on.

    But then again, I have always listened to jazz.

  • Diana Schnuth

    2006/05/15 at 2:59 pm

    My Mom grew up in southern Ohio, for the most part, and her mother was raised in Florida, just for reference. I grew up in NE Ohio, with their influence.

    I pronounce the word CRAY-on. However, I also used to pronounce the word “coupon” as Q-pon, until my husband trained me to say it KOO-pon. I also grew up thinking we put our clothes in a chester drawers (rather than a chest of drawers), and attached a hose to a spicket (instead of a spigot).

    Here’s one for you: does the word “tour” have two syllables or one? That argument between my high school band director and the rest of the band was never satisfactorily settled.

  • R

    2006/05/15 at 2:49 pm

    CRAY-on!!

    I’ve said my peace.

  • blurb

    2006/05/15 at 2:51 pm

    It’s a non-stop Block Party Jam™ of Steely Dan for the next three weeks, baby.

  • Erin

    2006/05/15 at 2:52 pm

    http://www.mirriamwebster.com has a handy little audio tool that pronounces all the words for you.

    I’m sorry to say that crayon has two syllables, and the Ls in walk, talk, and chalk are silent.

    I would, however, love to hear how one would actually pronounce those words with a spoken L. Another audio clip, please? I love them!

  • Trish

    2006/05/15 at 2:48 pm

    we say cray-on but then I also sound like I’m on Coffee talk with the ladies when I say dawg and tawlk. I’ll have to ask my best friend in SC (born and raised there) how she says it.

  • Galatae

    2006/05/15 at 4:44 pm

    And then the alternate pronunciation via merriam-webster:

    http://www.m-w.com/dictionary/crayon

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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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