Utahns who drop the T in words like 'mountain' not so unusual, Y study says

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  • Lasvegaspam Henderson, NV
    Jan. 13, 2013 9:11 p.m.

    I enjoy wearing high "hills".

    I'm goin' "up to" the grocery store.

    Do you want that in a "sack"?

    He doesn't hunt anymore, but he "used to could".

  • Wally West SLC, UT
    Jan. 12, 2013 5:52 p.m.

    On my way to Ogden, do I pass through Layton or Layuhn??

  • Raeann Peck Salt Lake City, UT
    Jan. 11, 2013 4:03 p.m.

    The one that gets me is "axe", as in "I will axe him that question".

  • OnlyInUtah Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Jan. 11, 2013 7:18 a.m.

    Who gives a flip? :)

    I was born and raised in Utah but I've lived in California, Texas, and Tennessee. I've traveled extensively in the South and I love the regional dialects. If I drop the T in mountain or kitten it doesn't matter. It's part of who I am and where I come from.

    I have an accaintance from Idaho who tries to speak "proper" English. She does it so well that many people ask if she is from England. But while her speech is beautiful she comes across as a pompous twit and has very few friends.

    My point is that speaking "proper" English doesn't make you better than someone else. So get your noses out of the air and rap Mrs. Tracy on the knuckles for giving you the impression that it would.

  • Reasonable Person Layton, UT
    Jan. 10, 2013 12:37 p.m.

    The headline! Oh, the humanity!
    "Utahns who drop the T in words like 'mountain' not so unusual, Y study says"

    Should be:
    "Utahns who drop the T in words like 'mountain' ARE not so unusual, Y study says"

  • l.cee Ridgefield, WA
    Jan. 10, 2013 2:24 a.m.

    My friend would tease me when I went to Utah to visit my cousins (I left there to live in California when I was 8) because I would come back with an accent. Only thing is she would call me "an Alabama grandma".

    I have lived in Washington state for 37 years and have chuckled at the words mentioned in the previous comments and realized that there are several that I still pronounce like a Utahn ("layg" for "leg" is an example).

    Lastly, there is an ex-governor from Wasila, Alaska that also pronounces "real" as "rill". Just saying.

  • hoost Walnut Creek, CA
    Jan. 9, 2013 10:19 p.m.

    Never noticed much of an accent in Utah when I lived there. The only weird thing about Utah pronunciation I ever noticed was how some of the old fogies there changed OR sounds to AR. Never heard that anywhere else. Barders and Carners and Farks, oh my.

  • Osgrath Provo, UT
    Jan. 9, 2013 9:13 p.m.

    Mike in Sandy - you attack two disparate points in your initial post - language usage and orthography. The large majority of people have been illiterate through history, but were still able to speak and communicate well.

    In fact, many cultures have maintained "oral literature," since they had not yet developed writing. The Iliad and Beowulf were both recited by various performers for centuries before being written. The poetry in either case, along with various formulae, served to stimulate the memory of the reciter.

    The article is about pronunciation, therefore observations on orthography are irrelevant.

    As to spoken English, you should grab a copy of Shaw's "Pygmalian" or even watch "My Fair Lady" to hear the statements of a true language pedant. Henry Higgins wonders why the English don't teach their children to speak correctly, lamenting the presence of dialects, using Norwegian and Greek as models of consistency. As one travels either country, one finds dialects. In German - a truly scholarly country - a native of Hamburg can barely follow conversation in a Munich tavern because of dialect difference.

    Turning a medial “T” to a lenis occlusive is normal. Compare Latin Pater, Spanish padre & French.

  • On the other hand Riverdale, MD
    Jan. 9, 2013 9:14 p.m.

    @kargirl, what is your definition of a "real" word? There's no question that prescriptive grammarians prefer the spelling "all right" over "alright", so if the definition of a "real" word is "whatever the high school English teacher prescribed" then you're set; you need never think for yourself again. If, however, you were to come up with linguistic criteria for a "real" word, you might consider that in conversational American speech, "all right" has only a single stress and undergoes considerable phonetic assimilation between the 'l' and 'r' (contrast with "all wrong" which has two stresses and typically less phonetic assimilation at the shared word boundary). You might also consider how tightly bound "all" and "right" are syntactically--you can't insert anything in between them (for example, "all quite right") and retain the same meaning. Speaking of meaning, the semantics of "all right" are not simply the sum of the semantics of "all" and "right", although English speakers can see the connection.

    In spite of all that, I'm going to continue to follow the prescribed (snobby?) practice of writing "all right" as two words. But I don't fault those who choose the more linguistically defensible spelling.

  • Straitpath PROVO, UT
    Jan. 9, 2013 8:52 p.m.

    Knew somebody who said, wau ter rather than wadder.

  • Straitpath PROVO, UT
    Jan. 9, 2013 8:43 p.m.

    Fascinating. My grandmother was from Lakeshore. People there said rocheer for right here. "The pencil is rocheer." I learned the Cajun dialect does the same. What is the connection???

  • kargirl Sacramento, CA
    Jan. 9, 2013 8:03 p.m.

    And since the subject, one dear to my heart, has come up, let me state that, in spite of the height to which the particular writer has risen, there is still no way that "alright" will ever be a correct or real word. It is a two-word phrase, "all right". Personally, it has the same effect on my grammarian's eyes as fingernails on a chalkboard do on my ears. I absolutely had to use this occasion to mention this. It may not be my only complaint, only my biggest one. Thank you, to every teacher who had anything to do with teaching me grammar, spelling, syntax, punctuation, and all the rest, who held my feet to the fire, and insisted, no matter which subject they taught, in seeing the correct use of language on my paper. That includes my ninth grade English teacher, when I did papers in French, who expected no less than the same things from me as she did when others did the same work in English. Mrs. Madison, you were the greatest!

  • Avengerscap Spencerport, NY
    Jan. 9, 2013 7:37 p.m.

    Wow, I thought *everybody* dropped the "t" in "mountain." As a former Californian, I can attest to the fact that a lot of ugly language trickles its way across the country via TV--usually through woman (and I am a woman!). Pet peeve of the day: Girls/women who say "Think you" instead of "Thank you." The language has become too nasal and whiny!

  • DSB Cedar Hills, UT
    Jan. 9, 2013 4:55 p.m.

    @Mike in Sandy - in addition to having lived in several regions of the United State, I also travel all over the country in my work. However, my work requires me to interact with the common folk, not legal professionals. If you're comparing common folk in Utah to legal professionals across the country, I would certainly expect you to find a great disparity. I can assure you that common people in many parts of the country certainly butcher our language far worse than you'll generally find here in Utah. Common Utahns are not even close to the worst language offenders.

  • T A Bountiful, UT
    Jan. 9, 2013 4:50 p.m.

    Um gunna git miself up ta laytun reeeeal soon.

  • Mukkake Salt Lake City, UT
    Jan. 9, 2013 3:53 p.m.

    [There is wrong and write.]

    Right? Not sure if you're trying to be ironic, but this actually brings up an important point.

    Too many people on this board don't seem to understand that written and oral communication are two separate things.

    Several comments on here have complained about 's' use. Some were complaints about written forms ('s) some were oral forms (the Minnesota/Michigan use). Nobody can tell if you're adding an apostrophe to a non-possessive 's' when you're speaking. Same with when you say "Should of" or "Should've".

    The "English" you learned in you "English Composition" classes was just that, for PROFESSIONAL written communication. It's a standard form used in formal circumstances, and has little to do with day-to-day communication. Historically, English wasn't even considered good enough for written communication, and Latin and French were used instead.

    However, Standard usage does change too. You can use "May I" instead of "Can I", but it doesn't make you educated, and will probably just make people laugh at you, as most educated people use "Can I".

    Language does change and your grade-school teacher is a poor authority.

  • horsebuckets West Haven, UT
    Jan. 9, 2013 3:23 p.m.

    Years ago my language teacher told me a story about "Dave Martin" who manufactures garage doors in Salt Lake City. In the 80's he would sign off on his tv commercials with the phrase "Tell them Dave Martin sent you.". He tried to carefully enunciate his last name making sure the "t" in the middle of Martin was clearly pronounced. He was contacted by a linguist who taught him to pronounce his name with a soft, comfortable "t"; not a hard "t".
    This story taught me that language should fit into a comfortable range. Saying "Mountain" or "Martin" with hard "t" may be fine or proper for an English Lord. However, it takes more effort, and is less "comfortable", than just using a soft "t" instead.
    So, whenever I hear my Frontrunner engineer say "Welcome to Layton station." with a hard "t" in the middle of Layton, I know he means well. However, he could probably tone it down a bit, just like the lesson taught to Mr. Martin so many years ago. Come to think of it, one of my Frontrunner engineers does have an English accent; maybe she's exempt from the comfortable "t" rule.

  • Weston Jurney West Jordan, UT
    Jan. 9, 2013 3:01 p.m.

    In my work I speak with people all over the country. Sometimes they meet stereotypes. A lot of Minnesotans sound like the caricatures on "A Prairie Home Companion." I've spoken to a couple of women in Tennessee who sounded for all the world like Dolly Parton. And a lot of ladies in Indiana sound like David Letterman's mother.

    OTOH, sometimes people ask me where I am. They usually seem surprised when I tell them.

    That said, do you know how you determine your inseam size in Utah? You maysure your layg.

  • SillyRabbit Layton, 00
    Jan. 9, 2013 2:24 p.m.

    To Cat

    If it is strictly organic, why did you follow the contemporary, nailed-down, inorganic rules in your unmistakeably well-crafted response?

    Because language needs order. I'd say that it does need to be nailed down, now and again, before and after growth. Not saying it won't adopt or adapt, just that all this "Everything can be right" nonsense makes me roll my eyes.

    There is wrong and write.

  • xscribe Colorado Springs, CO
    Jan. 9, 2013 2:25 p.m.

    Is this the same as saying and writing "could of" instead of "could have" or "could've"? I see "could of" on these posts all the time!

  • Peter Coyotl West Jordan, UT
    Jan. 9, 2013 1:54 p.m.

    I grew up in inner-city Chicago, in a neighborhood of mostly Italian immigrants, and most folks I knew pronounced words like "center" as "cenner." Wilt Chamberlain was a dominant cenner for the Warriors, 76ers, and Lakers.

  • Cool Cat Cosmo Payson, UT
    Jan. 9, 2013 1:52 p.m.

    @ Counter Intelligence;

    You are absolutely correct. Wherever you go, in the U.S. or elsewhere, you''ll find lots of local dialects, in English as well as other languages. Spanish (or Portuguese), depending on the country you live in, can be quite varied, and within larger single countries, specific regions have unique dialects as well, where they may say words differently, or use different words, etc.

    I have learned from experiences, as well as schooling (I am a Social Studies / Spanish Teacher) that language truly is a fluid and changing thing (like Brave Sir Robin stated), and people who like to nail it down as a hard and solid thing are trying to assign inorganic characteristics to an organic thing. Language is alive, it evolves, changes, morphs, etc. Also, having taught history, if you study linguistics you will find many of the "incorrect" things that people say have a basis in history.

    For example, "ain't" is something that has been said for centuries, going back to the 1600s and King Charles II (England), yet many consider it "vulgar" or "incorrect." I personally think that such distinctions are simply another way for people to imagine themselves better than others.

  • Counter Intelligence Salt Lake City, UT
    Jan. 9, 2013 1:01 p.m.

    It is my observation that many of the people complaining about Utah grammar are merely sublimating their hostility towards other parts of the culture; Otherwise they would also be whining that words like "Los Angeles" are seldom pronounced accurately (even in Los Angeles).

    "Layton" is accurately pronounced however the locals choose to pronounce it.

    When people say "only in Utah"; it provides a red flag to me indicating that they either hate Utah or have never actually been anywhere else.

  • srw Riverton, UT
    Jan. 9, 2013 12:55 p.m.

    I think there's a fine line between "evolving" and "butchering". When I see a nonstandard punctuation or hear a nonstandard pronunciation, I normally don't say to myself, "Wow, that guy's a real trendsetter." I normally say, "Wow, that guy doesn't know what we learned in elementary school."

    Someone commented about apostrophes. It's mindboggling to see plurals formed with apostrophe + s. But recently I saw something even worse: "Include's fries and drink".

    I don't think use of "to be like" or "to be all" or "to be all like" in place of "to say" is successful communication.

    Finally, the missing "t" seems like a nonissue compared with Utahns' bizarre vowel sounds, e.g., long a -> short e, long e -> short i. As in "Enjoy your-guys's mill", or the regrettable mispronunciation of "Hail" in the hymn "We'll Sing All Hail to Jesus' Name".

  • 79Ute Orange County, CA
    Jan. 9, 2013 12:32 p.m.

    @Mike in Sandy

    In your English classes did you learn about the subjunctive case?

    Mrs. Tracy would circle the "wasn't" in your statement "Maybe if Utah wasn't dead last in education spending..." and write in big red letters: "weren't" to correct your mistake.

    Hold out your hand so she can rap your knuckles again!

  • nairbnosral American Fork, UT
    Jan. 9, 2013 11:20 a.m.

    Wasn't this subject already covered in the Deseret News by John Hollenhorst in his article titled "BYU professor researches Utah linguistic quirk"?

  • Say No to BO Mapleton, UT
    Jan. 9, 2013 10:49 a.m.

    U peeple R ignernt.

  • Mike in Sandy Sandy, UT
    Jan. 9, 2013 10:45 a.m.

    I contract my law practice out to various firms, and have done business in 22 states.
    I know whereof I speak.

  • DSB Cedar Hills, UT
    Jan. 9, 2013 10:40 a.m.

    @Mike in Sandy - by your logic, we should expect the citizens of Washington, D.C. to have the best grammar, since their educational spending is highest, per pupil. Utah consistently gets around the best value per educational dollar spent. Having lived in various parts of the country, I wholeheartedly agree with "Me, Myself and I" above. If you really believe Utahns butcher the language worse than people in other parts of the country, you need to get out of the state much more.

    @Me, Myself, and I - my experience is that, with regard to words ending in "ing," there are equal parts correct pronunciation, dropping the g, and what I find strange - putting a hard g at the end of the word.

  • Mike in Sandy Sandy, UT
    Jan. 9, 2013 9:47 a.m.

    Touche, Sir!
    "With regards to" or "in regard to".
    Nice catch!
    Thank you...Somewhere, looking down from above, Mrs. Tracy frowns upon my mistake, eagerly awaiting the chance to rap my knuckles with the ruler....

  • Me, Myself and I The Promised Land, UT
    Jan. 9, 2013 9:42 a.m.

    Most places have peculiar aspects to the local jargon.

    Mike in Sandy

    I would be willing to bet you have never spent much time in the upper midwest, especially around southeastern Michigan. If so you would know they use what some refer to as the Michigan "S". Many of the locals tend to drop the S from words which should have it and add them to one's which shouldn't. For example "I work for Fords,.four twelve hour shift a week."

    I'm glad this article shed a little light on the "Utah T". I couldn't figure out why people would say Utahn's drop their T's when in the middle of words. I could always hear it, although it's more of a soft T. The part of speech I hear missing the most in Utah is the g missing at the in of words, which I'm as guilty of as anyone.

  • Mugs Idaho Falls, Idaho
    Jan. 9, 2013 9:20 a.m.

    Mike in Sandy,

    I believe you meant "in regard to." :)

  • Mike in Sandy Sandy, UT
    Jan. 9, 2013 9:21 a.m.

    You defend the indefensible.
    Mediocrity in many things is the accepted norm.

    Maybe if Utah wasn't dead last in education spending---another hot local topic---
    perhaps if would be different.

  • Irrelevant Provo, UT
    Jan. 9, 2013 9:18 a.m.

    This is fun news!

  • iamrightandyouarewrong Park City, UT
    Jan. 9, 2013 9:16 a.m.

    Is this for "rill"?

  • SillyRabbit Layton, 00
    Jan. 9, 2013 9:01 a.m.


    Change forces adoption and confusion forces adaptation. The times are changing and possibly confusing. Your logic is unassailable.

    But if the bottom line is what one shoots for, congratulations to the teens, because anything that comes easy is not worthwhile.

  • VD SLC, UT
    Jan. 9, 2013 8:52 a.m.

    I've lived all over the country and people use the same kinds of "bad grammar" everywhere. Utah is no different.

  • Brave Sir Robin San Diego, CA
    Jan. 9, 2013 8:46 a.m.

    @Mike in Sandy

    No doubt that, as an English major, you understand that (a) the English language - just like all other languages - is constantly evolving, and (b) that evolution is accelerating in the information age. So instead of whining about how people, especially youth, have "butchered" the language, maybe the onus is on us to adapt our archaic and obsolete form of language. You may revile the shorthand used by today's youth in texts and instant messages, but the bottom line is they are successfully communicating, which (as you no doubt know) is the point of language.

  • Mike in Sandy Sandy, UT
    Jan. 9, 2013 7:53 a.m.

    As an English major, perhaps I'm way on the other side of the spectrum, but never have I heard elements of the English language--syntax, usage, pronunciation--butchered as enthusiastically as here in Utah.
    And don't get me started on the complete and utter confusion abounding in regards to the use of the apostrophe, and how the letter "s" should be used in plurals and possessives.