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Utah organization wants to make it clear: It's 'Utahn' not 'Utahan'

The Utah state flag, top, and a commemorative state flag, below, fly atop the Capitol in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, July 13, 2021. As Pioneer Day nears, the Utah League of Cities and Towns released a new lighthearted campaign Thursday aimed at getting national outlets to call people from Utah "Utahns."

The Utah state flag, top, and a commemorative state flag, below, fly atop the Capitol in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, July 13, 2021. As Pioneer Day nears, the Utah League of Cities and Towns released a new lighthearted campaign Thursday aimed at getting national outlets to call people from Utah "Utahns." (Spenser Heaps, Deseret News)



SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah League of Cities and Towns has a bone to pick with how some people spell the word for people from Utah.

Stop spelling "Utahn" U-T-A-H-A-N.

Yes, as the Pioneer Day state holiday nears, the organization rolled out a new campaign called "Call Me a Utahn," aimed to get people to correctly pronounce and spell Utah's demonym. The lighthearted campaign took aim at national news organizations like the New York Times, USA Today and the Associated Press for spelling "Utahn" with an extra "a."

"I'm not sure what a UTAHAN is, but it is not me!" said Bountiful city manager Gary Hill, and the league's vice president, in a written statement released Thursday.

Utah League of Cities and Towns also enlisted the help of Y2 Analytics to conduct a poll among Utahns about what they call themselves and how they spell it. In an adjoining report, they found 90% spelled it "Utahn." Nearly half of those polled didn't just prefer "Utahn" but also believed "Utahan" wasn't acceptable. Another 43% preferred "Utahn" but didn't mind "Utahan."

Quin Monson, a partner at Y2 Analytics, wrote in a report Thursday that finding 90% agreement on anything is "rare," especially because large groups tend to have "a few contrarians."

"That's probably higher than the proportion of Utahns that consider themselves fans of the Utah Jazz or that listen to the Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square," he wrote of the 90% agreement, adding that it was higher than the number of people who approved of Pioneer Day as an official state holiday — which received an 84% favorable rating among Utahns who responded to the survey.

What they also found is that calling people "Utahns" was something even opposing groups could agree on. Ninety-three percent of Democrats polled favored "Utahn," and so did 90% of Republicans. Whether you voted for Joe Biden or Donald Trump, Spencer Cox or Christopher Peterson, or are a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or not, it didn't seem to make a difference. All of those ranged from 88% to 92% in favor of "Utahn."

"Overwhelming majorities of Democrats and Republicans, Biden voters and Trump voters, as well as Cox voters and Peterson voters agree that Utahn is correct. These are groups that normally see the world differently," Monson added. "Given the long-term religious and cultural divide in Utah, you might expect some differences on the preferred demonym by religion. That expectation would be incorrect.

"Whether you are a Latter-day Saint, some other religion, or no religion at all, you prefer to call yourself a 'Utahn.'"

In addition, Y2 Analytics found nearly all Utah news publications use "Utahn." For the record, KSL.com's internal style also prefers "Utahn" over "Utahan."

Meanwhile, outlets like the New York Times used it about 37% of the time, USA Today used it half of the time, and out-of-state stories from the Associated Press use "Utahn" about 63% of the time.

The Utah League of Cities and Towns' message to those who don't pronounce "Utahn" correctly or spell it U-T-A-H-N?

Get on board.

"Please, the next time you refer to us, call us Utahns. Really! We would appreciate it," said South Jordan Mayor Dawn Ramsey. "In fact, we'll probably send you a thank you note with some fry sauce and green Jell-O salad!"

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