Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Sounds Like Utah

Utah, like most places, is home to a regional dialect. Unfortunately, it is one of the most annoying dialects in any region, anywhere. It doesn't have the soft lilt of a southern accent, or the blue blood lineage of a northeastern twang. It doesn't even have the gentle nasality of the great lakes region. It's just, well, Utah. And while I love Utah, I really do, the sound of a strong Utah accent just makes me cringe. I think it pretty much makes everyone else here cringe as well, even if they have it. In any play, or piece of writing written about Utah by a Utahn there is always something in there about the accent -- and it is usually far from complimentary.

The hallmark of the Utah accent is the change of any oo sound to an ah sound. Instead of to it is ta, instead of so it is sa, and sa on. Another telltale sign is the shortening of the ee sound sound. The words creek, and heel,or as they are pronounced here, crick and hill, come to mind. Oh and, of course, the word for is always pronounced fer. There are many more linguistic traits to the Utah speech pattern, but those are the three that stick out the most to me.

I grew up here almost my entire life, and yet, because of a severe speech impediment, I never developed the twang. My speech therapists were so concerned with making sure my s wasn't sloppy and my t was terrific that they trained me out of any kind of dialect at all. Of course, their influence only gets part of the credit. The rest goes to my Mother, the easterner, who hated it when she heard the Utah influence in her children's voices, and teased us when she heard it. I am shy about saying the word nuclear around her.

Now, though I think I am slipping. Today I called to make a doctor's appointment and was sent to the nurse's voice mail. I left all the pertinent information, and at the end of the message, out of nowhere, said "Thanks sa'much."

I hung up the phone and screamed.

"So! So! So!" I yelled as I marched around the house. Sally looked at me like I was insane. I ran to my Blackberry and Twiittered about what I had said, and how I would be drinking a bottle of whisky to get the Utah got of my mouth. And then the phone rang. It was the nurse, we had a short conversation, I made an appointment, and then... I SAID IT AGAIN!!!

Tonight I will be staying in, and watching the BBC. I will not be talking to any of my neighbors, or to Ryan, until I am absolutely sure that I know how to pronounce my o's and r's. Or I guess I could just give into it, head to Provo and have dinner at one of the many buffets available... They do have better food than the English.

10 comments:

Sandi said...

I didn't realize how bad we were until the Olympics came to Utah. Everyone said it was the "Winner Olympics". Not the "Winter Olympics." Leave it to Utah to make everyone a winner before they even compete!

Logical Libby said...

We got a gold medal in confusing foriegners!

Princess Consuela Bananahammock said...

I was always annoyed at how everyone abbreviated the city names. Instead of American Fork (which, by the way, is pronounced "American Fark"), it was AF. Same with Spanish Fark. But I did pick up a few things while I was living there. Now I say "oh my werd." I started saying it out of mockery, and then it became habit! WATCH OUT! We all get sucked in.

Oh yeah, and I still say "fer." *sigh*

Ellen said...

I have pretty good pronunciation... and growing up I often made fun of other kids for their weird way of speaking.

I still squirm when I think of how Dick Nourse would say: May-sure (measure) or Tray-sure (treasure). eww!

However, I have no problem saying "mount-un" and "Layt-un".

Amanda said...

It really bothers me watching the news, when some anchors use the wotd "sell" instead of sale.

Good lord, Utahns need help.

Janine said...

I totally get this. I'm from Massachusetts where they don't believe in R's. I worked hard to lose most of that accent, but still every once in a while I'd he-ah myself say something new englandy.

So I moved to Canada.

Andi said...

GAH!! The Utahrd accent drives me insane! The one that bugs me the most is 'preciatcha'. What the HELL is that????

Heather said...

Wow, for a minute I thought you meant to say "Kentucky" instead of fer Utah.

Mandaladreamer said...

My parents were from the west coast and tried very hard to keep us from developing a Chicago accent when my dad was in school there.
Unfortunately, they then moved to Kansas when I was four... land of "Feb-yew-ary" and "anyways"... I fight it all the time!

mark said...

GNPE says: So; a) where is the geographic Center of the Utah TWANG?, and b) I just realized... I've NEVER heard anyone at LDS GC speak it before the audience (non-mos would throw up their hands in DISGUST!). btw, I broke OUT OF THE MORG a few yrs ago...