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Staff column: Speaking Carbonese to the laymen

Sun Advocate publisher

"That was a lot funner than I thought it would be," I commented to a friend of mine as we returned from a trip to an undisclosed location with undisclosed people.

He looked at me kind of funny.

"Where are you from?" he asked matter of factly.

"What do you mean?" I asked back.

"I mean I have known you for a very long time, and your use of the English language used to be quite commanding," he stated. "However I am beginning to question that now, particularly when you use non-words like 'funner.'"

"Oh that," I said with a smile. "It's Carbonese, or the language spoken in Carbon County."

He raised his Ivy League educated eyebrow at me.

"It's a funny thing about language," I said as we whizzed down the freeway on an asphalt path back to my car. "It's always changing. And while it has rules, the use of non-authorized words, phrases and spellings eventually make it morph into something it wasn't. Particularly in localized areas."

He looked at me again.

"You were a language major in college," he stated. "How can you say that."

"I wasn't a language major," I said. "I was a speech pathology and audiology major. Speech path isn't about getting the right words in the right place for the most part; it's about correcting distortions, omissions and substitutions. It's about helping people who stutter. It's about rehabbing people who have language dysfunction."

"What you said seems like a language dysfunction to me," he stated with fervor. "Don't you think funner is a substitution or something like that?" he asked..

"For what?" I asked.

"Well you could have said something like 'That was a lot more fun than I thought it would be' rather than use a made up word like 'funner."

"You're right, I could have," I admitted. "But would you have corrected someone from Tennessee who said 'How y'all?'. I asked.

"That's a dialect, not the misuse of a word," he told me.

"'Funner' is a part of Carbonese," I told him. "It's as much of a part of where I now live as funeral potatoes, jello with fruit cocktail and cookies baked up the side of the pan are at the church you go to."

"They're not even close to the same thing," he yelled.

I had now touched a nerve.

"I'm just saying each area has its own little differences," I said. "You know when I lived down in Hurricane, they called it Hurricun. Everyone one else would call it Hurricane. They also said things like "Gall that's a gargoeus ornge formul yur wering ther."

I gave that example because my friends family is from the St. George area. He didn't like that example much either.

"Hey they also called that little town north of Laverkin Toquerville (pronounced Tokerville) but I drove through there on I-15 one day with a friend of mine from Wisconsin and he started to laugh because he thought the sign on the freeway was pronounced To-queer-ville," I told him. "Yet we all know that isn't the way it is pronounced. When in question always go with what the locals call something or use the words they use. Hence I use 'funner.'"

I thought my logic was impeccable. He didn't see it that way.

"There are rules about words and things," he said concerning my obviously flexible logic. "Words should only be used in certain ways, particularly basic words like fun. Fun was originally a noun, and then later it could be used as an adjective, although truly educated people would hate to see it used that way."

"Well I see it as a reflective adjective or one that changes into all kinds of meanings depending on the letters added to it," I said.

"That's crazy," he said.

"Good example," I stated.

"What do you mean?" he asked.

"Well if crazy can also be modified to be crazier, why can't fun be modified to be 'funner?'" I asked.

He looked at me and was speechless.

"I have a whole list of Carbonese that I could recite to you just like this example, but I won't do it because I can see you do not take change easily," I told him.

He pulled up to my car, with this strange look on his face and said "Goodbye" and pulled away rather quickly. I smiled.

It was one of the funnest conversations I had ever had.

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