Monday, April 21, 2008

I Won You!

Andrew's family took a little trip to Elmo, Utah over Spring Break. There is nothing of note about Elmo--about 350 people live there--they just went to say that they had been. Since they were down in that part of Utah and discovered there was little to do in Elmo, they visited the dinosaur museum in Price.

While walking around they had a discussion about Utah's state dinosaur, which apparently used to be the Allosaurus but is now the Utahraptor. Having just ended the discussion they stumbled upon the Utahraptor display, whereupon Jacob whispered to Emily,

"What's a Uta-ha Raptor?"

Utah, Jacob, Utah. Not Uta-ha.

He's lived here, in Utah, his whole life, which only adds to the hilarity.

Of course, I wouldn't doubt that, having been a Utah resident for almost seventeen years, he's picked up on the phrase "I won you!" to express a triumph, where others might say, "I beat you!"

That phrase has always bothered me. I first encountered it while playing games with a group of friends shortly after moving here. Since I was the only non-native Utahan in the room, I was severely outnumbered. I don't remember much about the game, except that I didn't win.

Whoever it was that won declared, "I won you!"

"Don't you mean, 'I beat you?'" I asked naively.

Everyone in the room was quite sure that the correct phraseology was in fact, "I won you!"

I have yet to be swayed, but I do like to use the phrase periodically in derision. Such was the case tonight. We were playing Triominoes. We like that game.

I had just won three games in a row and, contrary to Utah-belief, I didn't win Andrew at all. I won the game. I beat Andrew. I beat him over and over and over again. He was feeling a little sad so decided to challenge me to a "winner takes all" match, which I promptly declined. That would be like putting all my bragging rights on the line.

"What are you?" he asked, "Chicken? Come on, double or nothing!"

"That doesn't even make sense," I said calmly, "We're not gambling."

"Chicken!" he accused.

"Fine," I said, "If you get up and dance around the room like a chicken, I will think about it. If your dance is good enough, I'll play."

Apparently he really wanted to play another round because he stood up so fast that he chair fell over. His first attempt at a chicken dance was a little pathetic, due in part to the shock of knocking his chair over. I told him it was a no go. He got much more enthusiastic after that, flapping his arms just so and bawking at just the right time.

He was busy strutting around, bobbing his head, and pretending to peck at invisible feed when I finally gave in to his request under the condition that even if he won this round I would maintain my bragging rights.

And wouldn't you know it--I lost! But I'm perfectly fine with that because the truth is that I beat him fair and square in 3 of 3 games and he danced around the kitchen like a chicken for a good five minutes. He may have beaten me, but I certainly won him!


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  2. I have always cringed at the "I won you" thing too. The other one I hate is "Borrow me a pencil." Borrow me? You've got to be kidding. As another non-native Utah resident, I feel your pain.

  3. I too hate it when people use the the phrase "I won you". I remember as a child and when one of us kids would use that phrase my mom would reply "Did you take them home with you and put them on your shelf?"

    She would have to explain to us kids the difference between winning and beating. Winning usually means you actually get something physical like a trophy, an award, a toy, etc. but if you won the game then you BEAT your oppenent you don't win them. You don't get to take them home!!!

    Anyways, the other phrase that I have noticed over my 12 years of living here that I absoultely hate is "WE WAS"'s not WE WAS it is we are, or we were. Who taught these people how to speak?

  4. You make me laugh! I have to admit, as a native Utahn, I find myself slipping into the "I won you" phrase occasionally. My inner English major cringes every time!

  5. As a Utah native (and probably one of the people in that original group of game-players you mentioned) I take a bit of offence to this comment... though I tend to use it frequently. I don't think Joe's ever noticed it but he always talks about how I 'win him' at games. The other Utah-isms I don't do as much (maybe the English teacher in my mother was able to help with that?), but even if I have to 'beat' you at games, I'll always 'win' my family at them. :)

  6. The Utah-ism that bothers me the most is the use of the glottal stop instead of a "t". Since our last name is Layton and it comes out Lay[]n, I hear it enough so that it really bugs me. I know that it happens in moun[]n also, and last week in church while a young girl was talking I also heard impor[]nt. Okay, so that is pronunciation and not grammar, but still, it really is not the way I like to hear English spoken.

  7. First Grover, and then Elmo. I think your next stop should be at Big Bird, Utah--oh, but I hear Snuffleufagus, Utah is quite fun as well.