Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Moving at age 12: learning to speak like a Utahan.

My recent move has brought back some memories of the first move of my life. I grew up near Seattle and lived in the same house from the time I was born until  I was almost 12 and moved to Utah.
Moving in sixth grade was quite the adjustment. That age is a hard time for everyone to go through, so moving was only one added stressor to my hormonal, pre-adolescent life. Initially, I was shocked at the lack of diversity. Everyone was just like me. That threw me for a loop. I also couldn't believe the agricultural lay-out of the place.
But the thing that was probably the most confusing was the way people spoke.
"Hey can I borrow an elastic," someone asked me. like from the top of my pants? 
Apparently in Utah "elastic" can mean a rubber band...

Or I heard about kids who "sluffed" school. Isn't that what a snake does with its skin in the winter?
I leared that "sluff" in Utah just means the same thing as "skipping" or "ditching" school in Seattle.

Someone asked me if they could butt me in the lunch line. like a head butt? Here? Right now? I guess that was nice of you to ask...
It turns out all they actually wanted to do was stand in front of me in the line. A term I'd always thought was called "cutting".

I remember my band teacher said that he had ordered some still drums. He told us they play them in the Caribbean and got us all excited about it. I figured they must be very quiet drums since they were still.

Once they arrived, I realized that they weren't still, they banged just like another drum. But they were STEEL drums. Apparently "ee" and "i" are the same sound in Utah.

My favorite story though is the time I was sitting in church and the leader of the congregation announced that the hymn we would be singing was "We'll sing all hell to Jesus' name." WHAT? I couldn't believe it. What a weird hymn. When I opened the hymnal, I soon learned that it was "We'll sing all hail to Jesus' name"--much more appropriate. "e" and "ai" are the same sound in Utah too.

Oh wow, that all happened 13 years ago. Since then, I learned to speak just like the rest of them. My hair things turned into elastics, I butted people in line, and I sang all Hell. 

Now I'm in Oregon. I wonder what sorts of things I will need to learn here. Let the learning begin!

What things have surprised you when moving?


  1. Haha...I remember one time when a girl giving me a pedicure in Provo was telling me all about how a "chemical pill" can soften dry, cracked feet...I was surprised; can you really take a pill for those things? Finally one of the other workers specified that she meant a chemical PEEL. That made a bit more sense.

    Also, about all the substituted words you mentioned that Utahns use (sluffing class, elastics, butt in line)...we Californians use the words you were used to in Seattle (skip/ditch school, rubber or hair band, cut in line). Funny how places seem to develop languages of their own.

  2. All hell to Jesus' name... lol, yeah I've definitely heard that before. Miriam, I love your blog! I can always count on you to make me laugh. Keep it up!