it’s all about the nookie

June 17, 2009

I am bothered by a few words. I’ve mentioned my dislike of the words “nostril” and “ointment.” And while I’m not particularly put out by the way my kids drop the “t” from “mountain,” I am extremely put out by the extra “a” in “triathalon.” I mean, I don’t like triathlons anyway, and I can’t really get behind something that extends the word or the idea.

On the other hand, it makes triathaletes look and sound stupid, so I take that back. Insert all the letters you want in “triathlon.”

I realize I’ve gained a bit of a reputation for hating the superfluous apostrophe s in “Hog’s Hollow.” I will not be drawn into that discussion. I’ve made my position clear. The hollow does not belong to the hogs. I don’t think, in fact, that there ARE any hogs there.

But there is a local word whose widespread mispronunciation continues to drive me CRAZY.

Please, consider the following. Here is the word:


Let’s break it down:

Timp-oo-neke. I mean, sure, at first glance, it’s a weird word, Indian in origin, and all that. The word describes a section on the backside of Mount Timpanogos (A word that is NEVER mispronounced). It’s pronounced timp oo neekie. Say it with me.

But really. From timp oo neke, the worst you could come up with would be timp oo nekie, where the “neke” has a schwa for the first e. Right? Or maybe a short e instead of a long e. Eck. Whatever.

Instead, here is what gets said by 90% of the local population:

Timp a nookie.

These are not just the uneducated masses. No, I hear the gentry and the nobility saying the word like this all the time. “Nookie.”

Because even these people can’t screw up “timp.” But give them “neke” and somehow they turn that into “nookie.” As in “Wookie.” As in Chewbacca. Whose IQ we’re apparently averaging here. How does “neke” turn into “nookie?” Without a lobotomy?

I am annoyed. Perpetually.

41 Responses to “it’s all about the nookie”

  1. Jenny-Jenny Says:

    Never heard the word before and I live in WA state. But… how is it pronounced?

  2. Annie Says:

    I’m a realtor, and I’m still trying to live down the time I described a breakfast nook to a client as a “nook-ie area.”

  3. dug Says:

    annie, at least you don’t claim to be a real a tor.

  4. Rachel Says:

    Maybe the hollow belongs to Boss Hogg. And they dropped the extra g.

    I’m not native to Utah, so maybe that’s my disadvantage, but I continually catch myself deciphering what someone (often on the radio!) just said when using the short ‘i’ sound for a long ‘e’. Constantly frustrated. So I guess I understand.

    Does Timpooneke come up often in conversation? You could give up biking. Or skiing.

  5. Tailchaser Says:

    Let’s go grab some Chi-pole-tay… you’ll forget the whole thing!

    • Sophia Says:

      That Chipotle – Chipoltay thing drives me insane. Even if you’re confused about the pronunciation, it’s a pretty safe bet that the ‘L’ sound isn’t going to migrate around in the word. I mean, you can graduate second in our class in law school, and you can’t read a sign? Um, not that I’m thinking of anyone specifically.

  6. chtrich Says:

    Sinmce you started this line, how does Tooele even closely start to be pronounced Towilla?

    • dug Says:

      chtrich, i hear ya, i really do.

      but at least with tooele, they’re not just making it up. it really IS pronounced too will a. it just is, weird as that might be.

      but timpooneke? people are looking at the word too fast or something, and just whipping out timp a nookie.

  7. KanyonKris Says:

    Rage on, word crusader!

    What would a Timpooneke Triathlon do to dug?

  8. bikemike Says:

    isn’t it amazing that people think hogs can actually own property.

    living in florida, try wrapping your tongue around Withalacoochee. one can only guess at the numerous variations this word envokes. Native Americans seemed to have a facination with “poo” and…uhh…yeah, other things.

  9. Gary Says:

    While we’re on Utahans creating their own pronunciation for names, what’s with Hurricane? Why is it pronounced Hur-a-cun and not like the metrological phenomenon?

    The Utah Summer Games triathlon is in Hurricaine this year. Go figure.

    • dug Says:

      in truth, i have a certain fondness for the way southern utahns say “hurricane,” making that “cane” flat with a schwa. i’m not proud of it, but i like it.

      but at least it’s not a transposition of the letters. it’s just a flattening of the vowel sound. and at least it’s their town.

      timpooneke. not timpanoooookie.

      • jruss Says:

        Guilty as charged. I was growed up right here in the Utar, and Timpanookie camp ground is all I have ever known. Thanks for the heads up – I will say three padre nuestros and one ave maria.

        Hurricun on the other hand drives me crazy. I make a special effort to pronounce it with a cane, and not a cun. Geez – right around the corner from Hurricun you have the lovely town of La Verkin, which was obviously derived from La Virgin. I guess Verkin is as close enough. I perfer to call the place L.A. Verkin. Way better. Let’s not even bring up Louisville KY. I am pretty sure a full mouth of mashed potatoes spawned that slur.

  10. mark Says:

    I’ve almost been shamed into mispronouncing that place name, since, after all, Utah is home to Hurricane (HURrikin) and Mantua (man new AY), in addition to the aforementioned Tooele. How the hell was I supposed to know that we were actually supposed to sound words out around here?

    Forthwith, I will vigilantly forgo the “nookie.”

  11. HowardBollixter Says:

    Real-a-tur, jew-ler-ry, and nuke-u-ler, the Big Three mispronounced words. I feel your pain.

    Once a national TV reporter was in Humptulips, WA, and asked a local where they got that name. “I think it’s named after the river.”


  12. bikemike Says:

    Vehicle…is it vee-hicle or veeicle? ooooo, good topic.

  13. Rick S Says:

    Isn’t Timpooneke a light chicken gravy?

  14. mtb w Says:

    “Timp a nookie” – it’s because its fun to say! The real pronunciation – too much work and not so much fun.

  15. jjamz Says:

    jagwire for jaguar. I tell my neighbors timpooneke and they look at me funny like I’m the one that doesn’t say it right.

  16. Jeff Says:

    Wouldn’t it be a single hog in possession of “Hog’s Hollow”? Were there to be several hogs there it would be “Hogs’ Hollow.”

    • dug Says:

      jeff, well, that’s an excellent point. except for the total absence of hogs. that’s all i’m saying. no hogs, owning or not.

  17. grizzly adam Says:

    It will always be pronounced as “nookie” for me. That is just the way it is. I will over-emphasize the nookie whenever you are within earshot.

    Meanwhile you pronounce it your way and then enjoy taking the time to explain to the local youa re speaking to what it is you are talking about.

    “Oh.. you mean TIMPANOOOOOOKIE?”

    Oh and by the way, Frank’s Trail was in fine form this afternoon.


    • dug Says:

      adam, i have only one thing to say to you:

      The God that holds you over the pit of hell, much as one holds a spider, or some loathsome insect over the fire, abhors you, and is dreadfully provoked: his wrath towards you burns like fire; he looks upon you as worthy of nothing else, but to be cast into the fire; he is of purer eyes than to bear to have you in his sight; you are ten thousand times more abominable in his eyes, than the most hateful venomous serpent is in ours. You have offended him infinitely more than ever a stubborn rebel did his prince; and yet it is nothing but his hand that holds you from falling into the fire every moment. It is to be ascribed to nothing else, that you did not go to hell the last night; that you was suffered to awake again in this world, after you closed your eyes to sleep. And there is no other reason to be given, why you have not dropped into hell since you arose in the morning, but that God’s hand has held you up. There is no other reason to be given why you have not gone to hell, since you have sat here in the house of God, provoking his pure eyes by your sinful wicked manner of attending his solemn worship. Yea, there is nothing else that is to be given as a reason why you do not this very moment drop down into hell.

      • Grizzly Adam Says:

        You just used Jonathan Edwards on me.


        • mark Says:

          The real question is whether you recognized it right away or had to look it up. I, um, fell into the latter camp.

          • Grizzly Adam Says:

            Oh I looked it up. right after I tried to look up the correct pronunciation of Timooneke. Which incidentally, does not exist, that is, nobody knows…. Therefore “nookie” is as correct as calling it Canada.

            Although I think I will now call it Timpanookie’s, just to further annoy Dug.

            • stevenbpt Says:

              Wow, I just figured dug made that up. Especially the part with “that you was suffered…” Did John Edwards name Hog’s Hollow or Timpanookie’s campgrouind?

  18. KanyonKris Says:

    Wait, you just like Timpooneke because it has POO in it. It’s all clear now.

  19. Jen Says:

    Don’t be surprised (or is it sue-prized) when people quit talking around you. It is too much pressure!!

  20. Car in Bluffdale Says:

    Native Utahns, especially those in the 60-something age range, have their own special way of pronouncing lots of words. Hearing my mother in law speak is painful sometimes.
    I agree with HowardB’s gripes and add a few of my own:
    Especially=Exspecially. Across=Acrosst. Oregon=Oree-gone. Sherbet=Sherbert. Familiar=Furmiliar. Espresso=Expresso. In the slack-jaw teenager category: Kitten=Ki’un. Mountain=Mow’un. Oh no you di’unt!

  21. As if all the words mentioned above weren’t enough, here’s 100 of ’em for ya: I think some of these are made up (Heineken remover?), but some are all too familiar. Irregardless… not a word!

    • stevenbpt Says:

      oooh, the forever used irregardless!! I didn’t know that wasn’t a word until AFTER college. Of course, I apparently didn’t use it in front of those who knew.

  22. Annie Says:

    Oh, and the one that’s driving me crazy right now is “furtographer” instead of photographer. Though perhaps that might be a good description for paparazzi…

  23. Amy Says:

    Just came across your blog from Fat Cyclist, which I also just found. I’m thoroughly entertained by everything I’ve read, but am leaving a comment here because I’m totally guilty.

    Thanks for setting me straight on Timpooneke. I laughed out loud at the beginning when I could see where this was going. It was like I saw the actual word for the first time and realized years of mispronunciation.

    Again, I’m thoroughly entertained by your funny and well-written and well-referenced blog. Scheherazade and Jonathon Edwards? I’m super impressed.

  24. Jim Says:

    Stumbled across your post doing a Google search for Timpooneke and couldn’t resist commenting, even though I’m two years too late!

    I’m a local, know full well that Timpooneke SHOULDN’T be an “ookie”, but still pronounce it that way. Why?

    For the same reason I pronounced “Rio Road” “RIo” (with an long i) and “Buena Vista” “Biuna Vista” when I lived in Virginia: if I’d pronounced them “correctly” no-one would have known what the hell I was talking about.

    Because at the end of the day, language is about communication. If local usage flies in the face of orthography, you’d better err on the side of communication.

    Agree colonel?

  25. comicsagogo Says:

    So*, the one that grates me is “Tia-juana.” Since the generally accepted etymology is “Indian” (another HUGE teeth clencher — see below) in nature, the average person’s approach of adding an “a” since it sounds close enough to “Aunt Jane” in Spanish is as lazy as “realator” or “triathalon” as you’ve described above. Good gravy! Where has that damnable extra “a” gotten to I wonder?!

    Another bothersome mispronunciation that got me into trouble with a local Utah guy occurred when I was talking about a trip to the Indian city of Simla at the base of the Himalayas. I pronounced it “HimALLya” as my Nepalese friend did while I lived in India. I just assumed he would have been more correct than outsiders. The Utah dude went off on me about how arrogant and elitist I was. I told him it wasn’t my fault his insecurity and lack of educational pursuit made me sound superior to him. Saying as much wasn’t such a good idea. He was bigger than me and quite the hothead. Fortunately, a mutual friend intervened. “Himalaya” is actually pronounced with slightly different variations in that neck of the woods, so there really isn’t a correct way to pronounce it. I’m just bothered by the colonial pronunciation. It seems to me that altering the pronunciation of someone else’s word is actually arrogant and elitist.

    As for “Indian” being used for the peoples of North and South America, it’s a shame that we haven’t corrected that after all these years. The “Bureau of Indian Affairs” makes me want to put a bullet into my head. I don’t like “Native Americans” either. I prefer “Mongolian Plains Lamanites” or “Smooth Skinned Siberians.”

    * By the way, we must have missed it. At what point did “so” become the introduction not only to an answer but a statement in general? We just can’t keep up.

    And speaking of lazy, all I said above is hypocritical since I tend to slaughter the language in my own way. Feh.

  26. Utah Guy Says:

    Thanks for this post. I was trying to figure out why everyone was pronouncing it wrong. I think your theory of “reading it too fast” is probably correct.

  27. Anonymous Says:

    I feel your pain. I try to tell folk I’ve been up to Timpooneke and they say “Timpanookie” are we French now? Just gonna reverse our vowels in pronunciation and make spelling a forgotten art?

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