Don’t tell me I talk funny! The Utah accent

I personally think dialectology is fascinating – and having lived in Utah much of my life and combated the “Utah accent,” I found this study particularly interesting!

Craig, hoagie, soda, crayon, lawyer, grocery, nursery, handkerchief… all these words have one thing in common: Utahns often pronounce them differently from the rest of the United States. A new study conducted by Joshua Katz, a graduate student at North Carolina State University has revealed that Utah residents really do pronounce a number of common words differently from the rest of the country.

The study included 120 questions ranging from pronunciation to vocabulary usage. Katz then adapted maps created by Dr. Bert Vaux of Cambridge University to show linguistic differences across the nation. The maps reveal a trend in some terms: Utahns, as well as some parts of southern Idaho and Wyoming, pronounce words differently than the rest of the West.

For example, Utahns are more likely to pronounce “grocery” with a “sh” sound, instead of an “s” sound like most of the rest of the country. They also tend to agree that the second syllable of “cauliflower” is an “i” sound like “sit” rather than an “ee” sound like “see.” “Craig” rhymes with “peg” in Utah, although it rhymes with “paid” in the rest of the country.

Dialect differences are an interesting study for linguistics researchers. While they can be entertaining to look at, they have practical application in systems such as voice recognition software, automated messages, advertisements, and other scenarios where the uncommon pronunciation of a word could have a negative result.

The maps and responses to all 120 questions are available online at this link. Please also see the news report on ksl.com.

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