Scandal Rocks Utahans Utahns In Sister Wives Case

240px-sister_wives_tv_series_logoScandal gripped the Sister Wives case last week with the statement released on this blog. In my statement responding to the decision to appeal the decision striking down the criminalization of cohabitation, I included the following line: “these are not Utahan rights but American rights.” I consciously used “Utahan” rather than “Utahn” as preferred by many in the state. This results in a couple news sites running the quote with a correction for a misspelling: Turley wrote. “Nevertheless, these are not Utahan (sic) rights but American rights. It will be an honor to defend this decision, and the rights of the Brown family, in Denver.” I stand by my decision in the use of Utahan as correct despite the disagreement from many of my Utahn friends.

Utahan is the spelling often given by the U.S.government while Utahn is treated as a local usage. I just do not see how one can place a consonant “n” after the consonant “h”. Nevertheless, I do not view Utahn as ungrammatical but a “local usage” as does Webster’s dictionary. Indeed, in a case that embraced pluralism and tolerance, I view it only fitting to welcome the use of both Utahan or Utahn, but I fail to see the basis for including sic (or sic erat scriptum, “thus was it written”) to indicate a grammatical mistake.

What do you think?

38 thoughts on “Scandal Rocks Utahans Utahns In Sister Wives Case

  1. I read several books on Butch Cassidy and Utahn was sometimes used. As long as you don’t do a Joe Pesci, “Youtes” when referring to the children, ala My Cousin Vinny, you should be ok.

  2. I meant “Utahan”, I’m up past bedtime. I’ve been truing to reach a crack whore witness on her cell phone and these are her hours.

  3. People from Arkansas have a similar problem. Is it Arkansawyer, or Arkansan? Throw out that question and you can get a lively debate going at any barbershop in the state on a Saturday afternoon.

  4. I think English is a peculiar and flexible language, especially in “isolation”.

    For example, “giving someone their oats” and “oatmeal” were originally mid-18th Century rural English slang terms for beating the Hell out of someone. “Next time I catch that parson rubbing against my wife, I’ll give him some oatmeal.” It wasn’t going to be a good breakfast for the vicar. What we think of as oatmeal was called porridge at the time (also spelled porage, porrige, or parritch).

  5. i’ve never understood why putting ar in front of kansas changes the pronunciation of kansas.

    Utahan is what my spellcheck comes up with.

  6. I think the professor nailed it but I am partial to the idea ‘when in Rome or Utah…’ Presumably the natives are the leading experts on their name, how to spell it and how to say it.

  7. Now that my fingers seem to get silly on occasion, I tend to prefer creative spelling. It adds a bit of zip to otherwise dreary writing. I’d probably go with “folks (or whatever) from Utah” and avoid the question.

  8. There are a few times where pointing out typographical or other errors are necessary.

    In general to me it harks of arrogance or trying to demean the author. A quotation should be respected as such. If it is necessary to correct minor typos they can be corrected out of respect.

  9. Those from Baastun Town (and probably all of Mass. too) put an “er” at the end of a lot of worlds (e.g. “Obamer” for Obama) amidst a plethora of other right regular irregularities of American English.

    England and America are two countries separated by a common language.” -George Bernard Shaw

    What JT points out in this post is that America and Amurca are also two countries separated by a common language: American English.

  10. And I always thought people hailing from Utah were called either Utes or Piutes! My dad graduated from the University of Utah and he and his fellow graduates are called Utes. I’m a Cougar!

  11. I support the use of sic to help people know how to spell, but in this case, I consulted two dictionaries and there was no listing for Utahn but there was for Utahan. Even typing now, my spellchecker in Google Chrome flags Utahn as misspelled but not Utahan. My spellchecker even suggests for me to change Utahn to Utahan. If a local paper uses “sic” to emphasize that this was how you spelled it in the original quote, fine, but if they are criticizing your spelling, I would tell them to consult the dictionary. Your spelling is correct.

  12. Dale,

    I think you’re on the right track.

    If they are from Utah they are called Utes after the Native American Indians of the area.

    And if they are illegal immigrants like the Morons they’re called Mutes. lol

  13. I think of the words Hahn and Vaughn as examples of the n following the h. However, these are proper nouns, and possibly not of English derivation. So if you are using “Utahn” as a noun, then it looks okay, but if you are using it as an adjective then it seems weird and shakey. For example, “utahn soil” seems so wrong. I would use one of many work-arounds like “the people of Utah” or “Utah residents/citizens” depending on my intended meaning. In my opinion, this is more elegant than employing either moniker. When you use the local lingo, you align yourself and reveal bias just as when you use an imposed label that hasn’t been locally adopted. You have always been mindful of and strategic in revealing alliance through your writing and speech. It is the responsibility of a good editor to allow your meaning to come through your writing.

  14. Reminds me of the famous floor debate of the Delaware legislature witnessed by Taxi character, Jim Ignatowski. What would it be? Delawarians or Delawarites?
    The “ites” won.

  15. Alex: I cut myself shaving. Anyone have a styptic pencil?

    [Rev. Jim pulls a styptic pencil from behind his ear, handing it to Alex.]

    Rev. Jim: Here you go.

    Alex: Jim, what are you doing with a styptic pencil behind your ear?

    Rev. Jim: I think the better question is “What are you doing without one?”

  16. I think of myself more as a Utalite, a Beehiver, a polygamon, its been fun here for the last 40 years of holier for profit competition. Great skiing too.

  17. ** 6. Utah
    A “pretty, great” state. Home to most Mormons in the USA. Utah is usually mistaken for the most closeminded state (seriously, have you been to Wyoming or Oklahoma?) NOT a diverse state, mostly caucasion mormons (but they are nice). Most of Utah’s new generation is very open-minded and mostly Catholic. Utahns are usually happy, cheerful people who bring you batch after batch of brownies and cookies after you move in. Home of the ’02 Winter Olympics, The Used, Fry Sauce, Arcitic Circle, Ice Berg and “The greatest snow on Earth”.
    If you are from Utah, you should have Utahn pride no matter what. **

  18. Oky, I love Utah. Maybe the most beautiful state. But, it’s real tough to get an adult beverage there. They got to get their minds right on that issue.

  19. Nick, I’ve flown over it but never been on the ground there.

    I think the spelling is St George, stay clear of that city as it’s a cancer cluster as I understand it.

    In the age of the internet acronyms are the major tend thus: Utes/Okies/Arkies/Texican’ts, etc..

    My $0.02 anyway

  20. Oky, The diversity of the state geography is incredible. Only driven through St George. Like you, I had flown over Utah on biz and pleasure trips west. But when I started driving to San Diego every winter is when I discovered this state which I bet 90% of the country have never visited.

  21. In Missouri they adopt a contraction that relegates them to the likes of the Saint Louis Zoo. Mizzou. Went in dumb, come out dumb too.

  22. Does every US state name have a derivative likr that? Does anyone actually say Oklahoman or Mainer (or Mainite)? And what do you call people from Illinois? or Connecticut? or indeed Massachussetts?

    BTW, had sme very nice local beer in Utah once, called Polygamy Porter. Slogan “Why stop at one?”

  23. As a long time resident in MA, I always preferred “New Englander”. However after moving to the Southwest I find that the local pronunciation is closer to “pinko commie pervert”.

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